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Fruitful future for former squash court
AN historic building in Knutsford has been saved from demolition thanks to the efforts of its new owner.
On September 27 Cheshire East Council’s planning committee approved a scheme submitted on behalf of landowner John Ross permitting the Squash Court, on Sparrow Lane, to be retained in a modernised form.
The disused court, which was built for the family of Lord Simon of Wythenshawe around 1935, will be transformed into a gym and an orangery outbuilding.
John, who has built his new home, The Coach House, beside the court, said: “I am delighted to have got the permission.
“I am very happy that we can preserve a building which has so much history behind it.
“I spent 25 years playing squash there twice a day – it’s got such sentimental value to it.”
The sports facility was built on the site of an old coach house and stables as a private facility for descendants of Henry Gustav Simon, the founder of the world-renowned Simon Carves engineering company.
Henry’s son, Heinrich Helmut Simon, brother to Lord Emil Simon, 1st Baron of Wythenshawe, moved to Knutsford with his family during the First World War.
Heinrich bought an existing mansion called Manor Park, a house with many acres of land and built around 1895.
Sadly Heinrich didn’t get to enjoy his newly-acquired property for long as he was killed, along with his brother Victor, in 1917 while serving in the British Army in Belgium.
His family remained in Knutsford, and around 1935 they knocked down an old coach house which stood on their land and built the squash court in its place.
In 1964 the Simon family sold off land, which included the squash court.
Over the following four decades the court was used by squash players, The Knutsford Squash Racquets Club, which had 170 members at its peak, and Booth Lane employees as recently as 2008.
“A great number of people around the region today have fond recollections of their time playing on this court,” said John.
“All in all Sparrow Lane squash court provided a friendly facility for playing squash in Knutsford for nearly half a century.”
Now that the scheme has been approved renovations can begin on the building.
John added: “The building will retain its character and will preserve Knutsford’s connection with that great pioneering Simon engineering family of the 1870s, a family whose sons gave their lives in the Great War for our freedom.”
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