Case Study - St Paul's

Court Name and Location


St Paul's Rackets Club, Lonsdale Road, Barnes, London, SW13 9JT

Court and professional's office built alongside other sporting facilities.

St Paul's
St Paul's

Key Dates

  • Start of process: 1999
  • Opening of court: January 2001

Key People

  • Project Champion: Anonymous Donor
  • Organising Committee:

    St Paul's management including the Headmaster and Bursar, with input from the Donor, Charles Hue Williams, Mervyn Dunnington-Jefferson and Duncan MacKellar.

Design and Construction

  • Architect: Barnsley Hewitt & Mallison
  • Main Contractor: Squash & Leisure Services

Cost Summary

£1m approximately including professional fees and VAT. Current cost estimate £1.75m.


The Court was built through a generous anonymous donation, in memory of E.P.C. Cotter (1904 – 1996) who taught at St Paul’s 1928 – 1965.

Problems Encountered

  • Use of dehumidifiers - in August 2000, dehumidifiers were placed in the court to hurry the drying process of the concrete screed floor; through this process, however, the floor cracked and lifted, rendering it unfit for purpose. The concrete was, therefore, removed and relayed during September and October 2000. The last phase, self-levelling epoxy resin, began in December 2000 to a successful outcome soon after.
  • Divots - during the first year of play many ‘divots’ appeared on the front wall. It was thought that, during construction, unseen air pockets that were trapped beneath the surface of the wall would pop out on impact by a ball, and thus create small holes. Most repairs needed each year are from previous repairs as they are repeatedly hit.
  • Walls - it also became apparent that the seventh and final coat of the walls was omitted during construction, leaving a less favourable rough texture and shade of colour than desired. St Paul’s Estates Dept sanded the walls approx. 4 metres high that helped slightly with smoothing out the texture.
  • Walls - a local granite/slate specialist was invited to see if a ‘diamond-disc’ sander would have good effect in smoothing the walls. The 60cm ‘test area’ proved a significant transformation in texture and colour. Funds were made available to undertake a 4-metre high sanding of three walls, but this was deemed an unnecessary expense and was shelved.

Lessons Learnt

  • Dehumidifiers should not be used to help the drying process of court construction.
  • All stages necessary to wall construction should be included in the build.

Current Status

  • Club Membership: There is a small group of local adult evening players (c 20) but no OPs
  • Active Players: around 30 boys per annum

Charles Hue Williams/Steve Tulley/RAD, August 2019