Celebrating 30 years of The Hogarth
Colin White tells how Chiswick's favourite health club replaced the Black and White Minstrels
October 1st 1981 was the opening date of The Hogarth Health Club. This historic Club will now celebrate its 30th birthday on October 1, 2011. The reference to history is relevant, as the development of the delightful grounds has been consistently devoted to sport since 1908.
With its original entrance from Airedale Avenue (by footpath only), the club was hidden behind the houses on Chiswick High Road, Beverley Road, Homefield Road and Airedale Avenue. The development of these houses and the enclosed grounds was on land leased by the original freeholders, The Church Commissioners, who had the foresight to permit the use of the land to “Chiswick Bowls and Tennis Club”. They built two pavilions, one for each sport in 1908.
Chiswick Tennis Club 1924
Sadly the Bowls pavilion with elegant central clock tower was demolished in 1966 to enable the construction of a large shed for the bowlers to play indoors. Equally sadly the new shed took the space used by the Tennis players and the total cost of the shed was far more than they had anticipated. Bowlers and Tennis players departed but the shed was put into use by sub letting it to the BBC who used it for rehearsals of The Black and White Minstrel Show. You have to be very old or a member of the Klu Klux Clan to remember that Show, but as I am now 80 I am happy to tell you, I coached one of the dancers and one thing lead to another. I bought the tail-end of the lease! The temptation at this point is to say “the rest is History” but of course it wasn’t, it was the beginning.
Leisure Polls - 1982
It was 1978, and at 48 I had become a specialist in design and construction of sports and leisure facilities and had built the most successful squash Club, The Lambton, in Notting Hill Gate. The Chiswick site, however, was in a terrible state but one of the joys of the original survey was the discovery of many original photographs that had been thrown away when the bowls and tennis players departed. There was only 14 years left on the lease and the new freeholder having declined even to discuss the possibility of extending the lease, the question loomed - what to do next?
Against much advice, I decided to go for it! I designed a health club along the lines of American country clubs. This involved converting the shed into a state of the art gymnasium with the first Nautilus equipment in the UK. We cut up part of the concrete floor and built in an under floor swimming pool with a bridge to the Jacuzzi. Tennis was supplemented with squash courts, a studio for exercise classes and yoga, beauty rooms, a new entrance road with parking and apparently one of my favourite subjects - new drains!
Colin White with 'Hogarth' the parrot - 1982
With time has come further development and Hogarth (as it’s fondly known) now offers a range of updated facilities including a much larger hi-technology gymnasium, additional studios with ever changing classes, a larger swimming pool in a different wing of the Club, remodelled changing rooms, crèche and day care, as well as The Cosmetic Surgery Clinic. There’s a specialist weight loss doctor, a life coach, chiropractor, acupuncture, physiotherapy and more.
Front court - 1984
All of these developments have been challenging and exciting, but above all, the biggest asset the Hogarth has are the staff and the members themselves. The personalities, the love, the respect, the friendships and the loyalty shown by and shared with each other are very special. Many members describe the Club as a “second home”. There is a strong possibility that these qualities are a part of the explanation for the fact that over 50% of our members have been with us for at least five years and one or two for over 30 years.
The Pool - 1993
Gymnasium - 2008
Charity spinathon - 2009
Do come and see the Club now, it really is a joyful place and yes, after 15 years of negotiation, we did manage to buy the freehold.
Colin White, Hogarth Chairman
October 1, 2011