Waterside Table Tennis Club was established in 1998, before that date we were called Esso Table Tennis Club and were based at the Esso Recreation Centre in Holbury. In 1999 we moved in to the newly built St Andrews Centre in Dibden Purlieu and then in 2008 we moved to our present venue at Testwood.
Esso Table Tennis Club for many years was always one of the leading clubs in the Southampton League. In the earlier years it had a mix of Esso employees and Associate Members of the Social club. There was a dedicated Table Tennis room which we had the use of every evening and at weekends during the social clubs opening hours. In the early seventies we had eight teams in the league which had 12 divisions. In those days all the divisions had 14 teams and there were 4 players in a team. Matches consisted of 12 games and an 11.30 finish was not unusual! The social club, like many others in the past, provided a good spread of refreshments for all of our home teams. By the 1990’s subsidies from Esso were being cut and many changes were being made in order for the club to survive. The first of these came when our TT room was used for something else and we were given a smaller room between the bar and the cinema. When the cinema closed down and was refurbished, our room became a thoroughfare between the bar and the new Waterside Theatre. Matches were regularly interrupted by groups passing through. In 1998 we were told that the TT room would be no more and was going to be a bar for the theatre. We spent the summer looking for new premises.
In 1998 we joined the club ‘Hangers On’ in using the Hardley Methodist Church Hall three nights a week. 5 teams played there and a sixth team played at Cavendish Hall in Southampton.
In 1999 a new hall was built at St Andrews Church in Dibden Purlieu, it was known as the St Andrews Centre. We moved in during November and hired the hall 2 nights a week all the year round. The week after we moved in, 3 new tables arrived together with barriers , a robot and other TT equipment. (courtesy of another successful bid to the lottery) Before moving in to St Andrews we had started Saturday morning coaching sessions at Holbury Junior School. At St Andrews we held a second junior coaching group on Mondays which was then followed by our open Club Night where 5 practice tables were in use. Thursday evenings were match nights where 3 matches took place. In the winter our lower teams played at St Andrews and our higher teams continued to play at Hardley Methodist Hall. In the summer we ran our own Waterside Summer League.
When Ken MacLeod joined us in 2000 an advanced coaching group was established. The number of juniors was increasing, so we started extra coaching sessions at Holbury Junior School. As the club continued to grow we began looking for new premises and eventually began an advanced coaching group at Testwood Secondary School. We made a successful lottery bid for new tables to be used by the school by day and our club in the evening. We also started an after school club for Testwood pupils.
In 2005, after more than five years of planning, we were successful in a bid to Sport England as part of an ETTA CCDP programme to gain funding to turn the Testwood Sports Hall and PE offices into a Table Tennis Centre. Like most building projects the budget continued to rise and when the tenders were in the cost had almost doubled and the project was in doubt. Eventually a considerable amount of money from New Forest District Council and from two of our own club members was raised and the project was given the go ahead.
In 2008 the Waterside Table Tennis Centre was opened in October. The first Tuesdays saw the STTA Premier Division being played in the Sports Hall while the rest of the building was still being built. On the morning of that day 12 new Donic tables were delivered together with 100 barriers. All were just about assembled in time for the evening. The equipment was part of a £10,000 successful bid to the lottery’s Awards For All. The centre was officially declared open by Dr Julian Lewis, our local MP, November 2008.
Waterside Table Tennis Centre is open all the year round, and has increased its opening hours to five nights a week in the Autumn and Spring term, 4 nights a week in the Summer as well as many weekend events.