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Farewell to Francis Hamilton

Jun 06, 2022


Francis Hamilton with Temple Grassi
Francis Hamilton with Temple Grassi

We are saddened to report the death of Francis Hamilton on 22nd April 2022.

A talented all-rounder, both academically and with ball and racket, he represented Winchester College at both squash and tennis. Despite winning the Hampshire junior squash championship, he decided while at Oxford that for him real tennis was a more interesting and more subtle game, and he took to it with enthusiasm. But after university his career in banking and consultancy took him to various Latin American countries where there were no courts, and thus he was for a while out of the game.

By the late 1980s he was working in Washington DC for the International Finance Corporation. When he was with Haven Pell in Newport, they decided on a game only to find the court fully booked for a tournament. The only available court time was 6am. Nothing daunted, they climbed a chain link fence, retrieved the balls from the pro shop and played for an hour. Francis was immediately hooked again. He then joined a small group to raise money and build a court in Washington. After many setbacks, a court was opened in 1997 and although Francis was by then living in London, he and his wife, Catherine, returned to celebrate the opening.

Francis retired to Melrose in the Scottish Borders, and his thoughts turned to building a court in Edinburgh. With James Ferguson and Angus Crichton-Miller, they had high hopes of building not one, but two courts at the Grange Sports Club. After years of planning, the members (mainly squash) voted against the proposal by just one vote.

In 2004, when demolition threatened the Sun Court in Troon, Francis was instrumental in galvanising the real tennis community into writing letters of protest. The South Ayrshire Council received over 250 such letters, which together with other objections resulted in permission to demolish being denied.

Francis was a most unselfish, gentle man who had time for everyone.

Our heartfelt condolences are with Catherine and their children, Antonia, Olivia and Thomas.

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