TimeOut magazine March 29 2006 notes that Lambs, the Wimbledon of Squash, is under threat from a wealthy Scottish baron read article here
The Times October 20, 2006
MIKE CORBY can probably forget any thoughts of picking up a gong in the New Year’s Honours List as a reward for his long tenure as “England’s Mr Squash”. He faces an avalanche of bad feeling after selling off the famous Lambs Squash Club in North London to developers for £4 million, prompting the 1,100 members to pledge their implacable opposition to any moves to nominate Corby for an honour.
They are astonished that Corby could ditch the club — where the British Open was held only last month — when he is the serving president of England Squash. He can expect a rocky ride at the annual meeting of the governing body in November.
Yet the Lambs case has an extra dimension: despite the government mantra that it wants more sports facilities, not fewer, Richard Caborn, the Minister for Sport, has not stood in the way of the developers’ wrecking ball as they prepare to demolish Lambs — known as “the Wimbledon of squash” — to build flats.
Nor has anyone made a fuss of the seeming conflict of interest in Corby being both a leading squash official and the man who will profit most from the demolition of a leading sporting asset.
So Corby picks up his cheque, North London loses a key facility and hundreds of sportsmen and women are left seeking somewhere else to play.
The Times July 10, 2006
2006 All England Championships over, builders swarm into the hallowed
headquarters of tennis this morning to begin work on Wimbledon’s future
— but the wrecking ball hangs over the place described as “the
Wimbledon of squash”. The 1,300 members of the famous Lambs Squash Club
in North London are fighting plans to demolish a site on which some of
the world’s greatest players have appeared, to replace it with a
nine-storey block of flats and offices.
The irony is that the fight
was triggered by Mike Corby, a former England squash captain, president
of England Squash and once voted the nation’s best amateur sportsman.
Corby sold the site for £4 million to Clan Real Estate, part of the
portfolio of the Duke of Buccleuch, one of Scotland’s wealthiest
landlords. Members knew nothing of the sale until a planning
application landed with Islington council.
Ken Pottinger, a leading
campaigner, has said that members have been hurt because Corby had
spent his life promoting the sport yet he does not seem to be
interested in selling Lambs back to the members, so safeguarding its
nine courts. We turn to the England Squash website for a possible
answer. Alas, there is none and the plight of the nation’s premier club
appears to be missing from its columns.
06 September 2006
Squash fans plead with council to save courts
CAMPAIGNERS are calling on Islington Council chief James Kempton to
support getting a compulsory purchase order on the building known
around the globe as the " Home of Squash" .
The Lamb's Squash Club
in Lamb's Passage, Finsbury, has been a venue for world squash
championships for a quarter of a century. But the site has been sold to
a developer which wants to demolish it and replace it with flats and
Ken Pottinger, who was expelled from the club after
launching a campaign to keep it running, said: " The loss of these nine
squash courts would be a disaster for national and international squash
and the revitalised development of the game as one of the UK's top
He added: " We are asking Islington Council to consider
acquiring this facility under compulsory purchase orders to ensure that
the built facility - unique in offering nine squash courts in a central
London venue - is not lost to Islington."
The Lamb's Action
Team, which represents the club's 1,300 members, has created a business
plan which it claims demonstrates how it can make a viable profit from
keeping the club open seven days a week.
Mr Pottinger said: " The
current operator has a short-term lease on the building which has been
bought by a developer for an entirely pedestrian block of flats and
The campaign is supported by various schools across the borough, including Prior Weston School in Bunhill Row, Finsbury.
Council leader, Councillor James Kempton (Liberal Democrat), said: " We
had not considered a CPO for the club because there are already good
squash facilities in the local area and elsewhere in the borough.
12 Sep 2006 - Fitness First acquires Fitness Exchange
First, the world’s largest health club operator, has acquired the
privately owned UK-based Fitness Exchange chain for an undisclosed sum.
Fitness Exchange portfolio consists of 10 clubs, nine of which are in
Central London, which brings the total number of Fitness First clubs in
the UK to 177.
Waggett, chief operating officer of Fitness First, said: “We are
delighted to welcome the members of Fitness Exchange to Fitness First.
A programme of significantly enhancing the facilities at their clubs
will begin soon and we will be introducing market leading fitness
programmes that are already enjoyed by 1.3 million members in 15
countries around the world.”
10 of the Fitness Exchange clubs will be rebranded and benefit from
more than £4m of investment, which will go towards improving both the
facilities and equipment. Details: www.fitnessfirst.co.uk
Leading City law firm Lewis Silkin LLP is pleased to announce its role in advising Mike Corby, fitness entrepreneur and former England and Olympic squash and hockey champion, on the £12.2m sale of the Fitness Exchange chain of health clubs to Fitness First. The acquisition of the Fitness Exchange chain of health clubs, adds 10 new clubs, all located in prime sites across Central London and the City, to the Fitness First portfolio and brings the total number of Fitness First clubs in the UK to 177 of which 60 are inside the M25. All current members of Fitness Exchange will automatically become members of Fitness First and the acquired clubs will be re-branded to Fitness First over the coming months. The Lewis Silkin team was led by Partner Nigel Edwards, assisted by associate Karish Andrews. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised Fitness First.
The Sunday Times
January 08, 2006
Fitness First to buy Fitness Exchange?
…Elsewhere in the sector, Fitness First, one of the world’s largest
gym groups, is thought to be in exclusive talks to buy smaller rival
Fitness Exchange for between £10m and £15m.
Fitness Exchange, founded by former English squash and hockey captain
Mike Corby, has an estate of 13 clubs, most of which are in the City.
It is not the first time Corby has considered a sale. In 1998, at the
start of the health-club boom, he received a number of approaches but
elected not to sell up.
Fitness First, acquired in September by BC Partners, the buyout firm,
for £835m, hopes to grow by entering new markets and by acquisition.
Squash club protesters win reprieve
01 February 2006
HUNDREDS of protesters are celebrating after controversial plans to demolish a leading squash club took an unexpected twist.
chiefs were expected to give developers Clan Real Estate permission to
bulldoze Lamb's Passage Health and Fitness Club, in Finsbury, despite
307 letters of complaint. But the seven-storey block of 75 flats
that could replace it is on hold after dozens of squash players filed
into the south area meeting and persuaded councillors to defer on a
An in-depth study into Islington's sports
facilities may now have to be carried out before the council decides
whether to give the demolition the go-ahead. One section of
planning guidelines, the London Plan, requires the council to " refuse
planning permission to redevelop a sporting facility unless it is
proven to be surplus to requirements" and to " undertake a robust assessment of local needs" .
the meeting, Lamb's Action Team spokesman Daniel Carter said: " Centre
managers are running it down in anticipation of closure but it's still
a centre of excellence as evidenced from the number of people here
tonight. " Last month this club admitted 90 new members - this is not a
club that's dying." And he added: " There are not enough clubs in London
to accommodate the existing members of Lamb's." Dennis Kleinberg,
chairman of the Whitbread Tenants' and Residents' Association, near the
site, said: " We oppose this on grounds of invasion of privacy, noise
Clan Real Estate's chief executive Alastair
Nichols said: " The club is a private members' facility that is no
longer viable. Records show it is losing membership and many of the
members live outside the borough."
He added: " There are eight
alternative facilities - seven of them public - which have 23 squash
courts for hire between them. " This scheme provides much-needed
chairman Councillor George Allan (Liberal Democrat) wanted to put the
matter to a vote but committee member Councillor Keith Sharp (Liberal
Democrat) said: " I'm not convinced by what I've heard. The objectors
have raised good concerns that I don't think have been answered."
the meeting, Lamb's Action Team organiser Ken Pottinger said: " It's
good news. The council now has to take legal advice at the highest
level. It may be obliged to carry out an assessment of whether Lamb's
is surplus to requirement.
LS MAGAZINE December 2005 - No Silencing the Lambs
Big shots try to save threatened squash centre
THE BATTLE to save one of the UK's leading squash centres has received a massive boost from Sport England.
organisation - responsible for developing sporting facilities in the UK
- has lodged a six-page objection to controversial proposals to knock
down the Lamb's Squash Club, Lamb's Passage, Finsbury, and build a
block of flats there.
Clan Real Estates - which bought the club
from ex-squash star Mike Corby for £4million - has submitted a revised
planning application after the first was rejected back in May.
But the developers face strong opposition from more than 600 objectors, including the powerful voice of Sport England.
England senior planning manager Peter Durrans said: " The loss of the
nine-court Lambs Club would be thoroughly detrimental to Islington's
sporting infrastructure and to the Government's aim of promoting a
" Its closure, which could happen as early as
February, would threaten London's reputation as the world capital of
squash and a hub for the international squash scene."
And in another twist, calls have been made for Mike Corby to stand down from his role as president of England Squash.
Action Team spokesman Ken Pottinger, who put the motion forward at
England Squash's general meeting two weeks ago, said: " There is a real
conflict of interest which needs to be recognised.
" On the one
hand he is responsible for promoting squash and fighting to get squash
recognised but on the other hand he has sold off one of the best
facilities in the country to allow developers to turn it into flats."
But Mr Corby said that his decision was not motivated by personal financial gain but the need to pay off his debts.
" I would have loved to have not had to sell Lamb's but it was no longer financially viable.
have devoted my whole life to forwarding the cause of squash but I was
forced to sell if I wanted to keep my other clubs going.
sale of Lamb's is one of the great shames of my life but I feel
extremely hurt and angered by this vindictive campaign against me."
No comment was available from Clan Real Estates as the Gazette went to press
Cacaphony of the Lambs
By Martin Bronstein in London, Nov 17 2005
Squashtalk Independent News © 2005 SquashTalk LLS
Martin Bronstein keeps up with fight over Britain’s best known squash club.
When Mike Corby sold Lambs Club to a developer for £4million ($7million) earlier this year he angered a lot of his members and brought a load of traditionalists out of the closet. Corby, who owns a chain of fitness clubs, said he had to sell in order to keep the business afloat and planned to close it for good next February “after a huge party”.
The members organized themselves, put up objections to the planned development of a block of apartments and successfully had the planning permission denied. The developers have now come up with a new proposal which is yet will be heard by the Islington Borough Council.
Now Sport England, a government agency charged with developing sport and sportsmen in England, has got involved, putting their official voice, naturally, on the side of the 600-strong objectors.
Sport England senior planning manager Peter Durrans said:
" The loss of the nine-court Lambs Club would be thoroughly detrimental to Islington's sporting infrastructure and to the Government's aim of promoting a healthy lifestyle.
" Its closure, which could happen as early as February, would threaten London's reputation as the world capital of squash and a hub for the international squash scene."
This is, of course, utter rubbish – which, I suppose, is not surprising coming from a government agency. London has not been the world capital of squash for many, many years. Fifty years ago when the Squash Rackets Association was seen as the governing body of world squash with their offices in London, this might have been so. There was also a time, 30 years ago when the men’s professional body, - then known as ISPA – also had their offices in London. London also housed some very prestigious clubs in those far-off years. And one could make a case for London being central for that golden decade when the British Open was played at the Wembley Conference Centre and Hi-Tec money made it the most important tournament on the calendar.
But all that is ancient history. Today London houses the offices of just one governing body: WISPA. The World Squash Federation (WSF) is in Hastings, a shabby seaside town on the south coast of England. The PSA is in Wales and the SRA (now England Squash) has moved to Manchester.
London does not boast one venue with a permanent four wall glass court. It has just one doubles court, that owned by the RAC in Pall Mall. (And that is created by a moveable wall). London does not host one WISPA or PSA ranking tournament and the last world championship was almost thirty years ago.
This year the British Open was due to return to London after its peripatetic wanderings around Britain. No sponsor could be found to underwrite an event in “the world capital of squash and a hub for the international squash scene."
Toronto makes a better claim as world capital of squash with its many fine clubs, and mixture of international, American and doubles courts. If you really want to find the top venue, then New England with its Ivy League universities and prep schools simply cannot be beaten. It’s hard to travel twenty miles without coming upon a brand new state-of-the-art squash center.
In England we have the National Squash Centre in Manchester, which, while it cannot compete with Harvard, Yale or Princeton, is good enough to attract a few major tournaments and national championships.
No, Mr Durrans, you know not of what you speak. You have either been fed wrong information by the objectors, or you failed to do your homework.
Furthermore Mike Corby is getting a rough deal. Had Corby not used his corporate bank roll, Lambs would not have become the important venue that it was. To rub salt into the wound, calls have been made for Corby to stand down from his role as president of England Squash.
Lamb's Action Team spokesman Ken Pottinger, who put the motion forward at England Squash's general meeting two weeks ago, said: " There is a real conflict of interest which needs to be recognised. On the one hand he is responsible for promoting squash and fighting to get squash recognised but on the other hand he has sold off one of the best facilities in the country to allow developers to turn it into flats."
Where was Mr. Pottinger when John Treherne was the chairman of the SRA? He was also in the club business and he would buy squash clubs, close half the courts and put in swimming pools.
“If I didn’t do that the clubs would close,” he told me.
Mr Corby said that his decision was not motivated by personal financial gain but the need to pay off his debts.
" I would have loved to have not had to sell Lamb's but it was no longer financially viable.
" I have devoted my whole life to forwarding the cause of squash but I was forced to sell if I wanted to keep my other clubs going.
" The sale of Lamb's is one of the great shames of my life but I feel extremely hurt and angered by this vindictive campaign against me."
And Mike Corby has every right to be angry. But in the words of a very great man: “NO good deed goes unpunished.”And Mike, you did too many good deeds.
Famed Lambs Club to Shut Doors
Mar 22, 2005, by Martin Bronstein
SquashTalk Independent News Service © 2005 all Rights Reserved
BRITISH OPEN TO RETURN TO LONDON AND MAKE LAST APPEARANCE AT LAMBS
Exclusive to SquashTalk.
One of Britain?s best known squash clubs will close its doors for the last time early next year. Lambs Club in central London, one of the few British clubs with nine courts, will be razed to make way for a nine-story apartment building.
The club, part of the Mike Corby Fitness Club chain, was opened by Corby in October 1979 and quickly became London's premier squash club with its three glass-back courts and six traditional courts. Number one court had seating for around 200 people making it unique in southern England and the instant choice for any major tournament.
Corby ran the early rounds of the British Open at Lambs when that tournament was at its height with final rounds played at the Wembley Conference Centre, still considered to be the best venues for the tournament that was regarded as the Wimbledon of squash. (Jahangir Khan won his ten titles at Wembley).
Corby, who won 150 squash caps playing for England and Great Britain (as well as a similar number for hockey) ran one of the best SuperLeague teams from Lambs with players such as Jahangir Khan and Chris Dittmar leading his team. Matches were always followed by sumptious dinners for players, press, supporters and anybody else that Corby fancied.
Corby's contribution to the sport has been vast: in addition to his string of squash and fitness clubs (there are still 14 in his chain) Corby saved the British Open twice by putting up the money to ensure that they took place rather than being cancelled because of lack of sponsors. He was president of Squash Rackets Association (now England Squash) as well as being vice-president of the World Squash Federation.
Speaking to SquashTalk this morning Corby admitted that he was forced to sell Lambs.
" There has been a huge turn down in the fitness business. This is why so many of the chains are going private again. It was not economically possible to keep Lambs open so last October I sold the freehold to a company called Native Land with a lease-back until February 2006. I shall hold a huge party at the British Open in October and then an even bigger one next year on the day before we close for good," he said.
BRITISH OPEN QUIETLY RETURNS TO LONDON
With the early rounds now being held in the south of England, it is very likely that the British Open will return to London after two years at the Albert Hall in Nottingham. John Beddington and John Nimick, the promoters of the British Open, have been scouring Britain for two years looking for a suitable venue for the Open. They have always favoured London and with the success of the Super Series at the Broadgate Arena, and the Canary Wharf Classic in the East Winter Garden, could well be looking at both of those venues. More tradition homes could be found at the Royal Albert Hall — probably too big — or the Royal Horticultural Exhibition Halls in Westminster.
PROTEST GROUP FORMED
The impending closure of Lambs has a produced a protest group.....that is fighting to save the club from demolition. Information on: www.save-lambs-squash-club.co.uk.
Objections can be filed here online over the next five days- hurry:
(URGENT: deadline is 07 April 2005)
Death of Lambs Imminent
Lambs Squash Club in the City of London is to close
Lambs Squash Club in the City of London is to close in a move that will
shock the squash community. The club has come to fulfil a central role
in the sport providing the main squash exhibition venue in London, the
main centre for sport in the City and a London centre for professional
players to train, met and play at.
The centre is owned by Mike Corby who is president of the English
governing body of the sport, England Squash. It is believed that the
club will be pulled down early next year to make way for a nine story
Corby’s decision to sell is reportedly due to a turn down in business
that has affected the whole fitness industry. He has said it is not
feasible to keep the club open and has sold it to the Native Land
The club has nine squash courts but more importantly a 200 seat
exhibition court with two adjacent glass back courts with additional
seating for 50 each making it a popular venue for events in the world
capital of squash.
There is much consternation at the announcement and members of the club
are organising a protest. However the problem transcends members’
interests. There is not an alternative club in London with a large
number of courts with purpose built exhibition facilities. The
reverberations of this club death can be expected to be felt
internationally. London, will struggle to hold onto its position as the
sport’s world capital without a central London venue and without that
the sport will be poorer.
Squash is one of the favourite sports of the City of London, the
world’s financial and commodity trading hub. This is where the sport
interfaces with the international financial business community. This
month the ISS Canary Wharf Classic was held in the City, in May the
Brit Insurance Super Series Finals will be held at the Broadgate Arena
– a tube stop or two away from Lambs and it is possible the British
Open will return to London. Lambs could be excepted to have some role
in all of these events. The interaction through Lambs which allowed for
players, promoters and sponsors to met and in some cases to do business
will no longer exist.
Squash through its traditions in the public schools, gentlemen’s clubs
and through traditional London based competitions has maintained a
strong following with City gentleman – it provides an ideal break from
the pressures of the working day with the a quick game at lunch time or
after work before going home and perhaps a brief business meeting.
The problem with the demise of the club is that the state of the game in London and England does not provide an alternative.
Members at Lambs club are up in arms at its planned closure and a
campaign to save the club has been launched. They may be able to raise
some pressure as the sport’s bid for Olympic recognition and the
London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics cannot be assisted by such a high
profile closure. The decision though looks as if it will be Corby’s
A dedicated web site has been set up to co-ordinate the protest.
Save Lambs Squash Club
Sport, May 05, 2005
Protest launched against closure of Lambs Club
By John Goodbody
premier facility for tournaments in southern England is threatened with
closure after the president of the sport’s national governing body said
that he was forced to sell it for more than £4 million to property
It is ironic that in an imperfect world few things are more flawed with inefficiencies, inconsistencies and injury risks than the pursuit of fitness.
Members of Lambs Club, in London, are campaigning to
stop the site being used for housing. They also say that the timing of
the sale is unfortunate because squash is shortlisted for inclusion in
the 2012 Olympic Games, for which London is bidding.
significant event at the nine-court centre is likely to be the early
rounds of the Open Championships in October, before the club’s feared
closure next February. Two of these championships and a further 50
tournaments at Lambs have been sponsored in the past by Mike Corby, the
owner of the club and the president of Squash England.
“I was forced
to sell Lambs last October to clear my debts,” Corby, the chairman of
Fitness Exchange, a health club group, said yesterday. “I did it for no
personal gain, but we needed to be financially secure again.”
is on a three-year leaseback arrangement while planning permission is
sought for a proposed joint redevelopment venture by Buccleuch Estate
and Native Land. This comprises 80,000 square feet of flats, but no
The plan is opposed by many of the 1,200 members of
the club. They have set up a website and want to buy back the premises
so that it can continue as a squash and fitness club.
a spokesman for the club members, said: “We do feel that it would have
been simpler if Mike had asked us first. We acknowledge that Mike has
put a lot of time and money into squash, but (the club) was sold
without us knowing what was happening. The developer has now told us
that he sis not prepared to meet us, although we believe that this is
just a negotiating position.
“We do feel that it is odd that the
club has been sold just as London is bidding for the Games and squash
may come into the Games.”
However, Corby said: “There are misguided
attempts to link this with the Olympic bid. It is an absolute red
herring. I love the Olympics and love squash, but there is little or no
chance that squash will get into the Games for 2012.”
vice-president of the World Squash Federation, has spent ten years
trying to persuade the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the
sport should be admitted to the Games when it votes in Singapore in
July. He said that he was desolate at having to sell Lambs, which he
“For 25 years it has been part of my life,” he said. “But
there comes a time when you cannot carry on. There are a huge number of
financial difficulties in running a squash club here.”
that you would have to have a monthly membership of about £200 to make
squash viable, because most of his members only use the gym. Speaking
of club members who are opposing the redevelopment plans, he added:
“They are creating problems unnecessarily.”
From Forbes magazine
Ten Healthiest Sports
Old manners of getting in shape seem to us today as antiquated and inefficient as using Indian clubs and medicine balls. While racking up several miles on the nearby track or jogging trail may be great for cardiorespiratory health, it does nothing for the upper body and can wreak havoc upon joints. Weight training may promote muscular strength, but it has a limited effect on the most important muscle of all, the heart. And while swimming seems to be everyone's ideal activity for the total-body workout, it won't melt many calories without hard-won and proper technique, and is worthless for anyone who lacks ready access to a pool.
Given such hassles, is it any wonder that, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported, some 70% of Americans don't engage in regular exercise? Well, frankly, yes, especially when one considers the benefits of even blatantly moderate physical pursuits such as walking or gardening, which have been found to alleviate depression, decrease weight, strengthen bones and reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, colon cancer and premature death.
While that's all well and good for recovering couch potatoes, what about those gym rats who seem to spend endless hours doing sit-ups and step-classes? Alas, in some ways they're wasting their time, because besides getting one ripped there's little difference between the long-term health benefits of moderate and intense physical activity. " A lot of the argument for intense exercise is about cosmetics," notes Carl Foster, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. " If you're trying to lose weight, mild exercise is not as good as vigorous. That's fine if you want to look better, but from a long-term health and longevity standpoint it's unimportant."
Fair enough. But as anyone who has ever glanced around the departure lounge at a Midwestern airport knows, " health" and " fitness" are two different things. The former has to do with reducing the risk of disease, while the latter is about maximizing the four basic physiological components of fitness: cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility.
Of course, one can be healthy without being fit, and vice versa. But while the out-of-shape middle managers you see huffing and puffing toward the departure gate may be able to reach their life expectancy, they're going to be a helluva lot less comfortable getting there than those who strive to maintain peak physical condition along the way.
For anyone who would prefer to be among of the latter, we've compiled a list of the Ten Healthiest Sports--a bit of a misnomer, perhaps, but you get the idea. Best pursued with calculated abandon to reduce their risk of injury, as well as in cross-training combinations to cover all of the basic physiological components, each of these sporting activities is a great way to get you fit--and keep you there.
Ratings are based upon consultations with fitness experts--coaches, personal trainers, competitors and exercise physiologists--as well as a dash of personal experience. The four basic physiological components of fitness are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being " excellent," 4 being " darn good," 3 being " good," 2 being " not bad" and 1 being " nothing special."
Injury risk is rated on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being " low," 2 being " so-so" and 1 being " high." Calorie burn (in parentheses) is based upon the energy expenditure of a 190-pound person over 30 minutes and is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being 450+ calories, 4 being 400-450 calories, 3 being 350-400 calories, 2 being 300-350 calories and 1 being 250-300 calories. Calorie burn rates are from the American College of Sports Medicine whenever possible, we selected the rate for " moderate" or similar intensity.
Scores were tallied to arrive at an individual rating for each sport. Of course, physiological benefits, injury risks and calorie burn can vary widely depending upon the technique, vigor, care and enthusiasm with which you pursue the sport.
The preferred game of Wall Street has convenience on its side, as 30 minutes on the squash court provides an impressive cardiorespiratory workout. Extended rallies and almost constant running builds muscular strength and endurance in the lower body, while lunges, twists and turns increase flexibility in the back and abdomen. " For people just getting into the game, it's almost too much to sustain, but once you get there, squash is tremendous," says Paul Assaiante, head coach of the five-time defending national intercollegiate champion men's squash team at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. Assaiante recommends a regimen of yoga, sprinting and distance running for preparation. Be wary of groin pulls, torn Achilles tendons and your opponent's racquet.
Squash Site's coverage of the latest new about the second planning application October 05 2005.
Lamb's and Queen's - the same fight
The Sunday Times
|Members plan bid for Queen's
The London tennis club is up for sale — but members want to save its heritage, reports Matthew Goodman
Wednesday morning Alexander Anton, chairman of the famous Queen’s club
in Baron’s Court, west London, walked on court to play a game of
racquets against the sport’s former world champion.
Queen’s, best known as the home of the Stella Artois tennis
tournament, is one of the few places in Britain that has proper
facilities not only for racquets, an indoor version of tennis, but also
real tennis, lawn tennis and squash. Anton, who has been a member for
more than 20 years, plays three times a week.
Tuesday evening he will be back there to face a differnt kind of
challenge. Several hundred club members will crowd onto two covered
courts to debate how they can best mount a bid for the club. It has
been put up for sale by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), its owner
since 1953, and could fetch £40m.
Founded in 1886, Queen’s is one of the world’s most
prestigious sports clubs. Its members include such luminaries as Lord
Marshall, former chairman of British Airways, Lord Rothermere,
proprietor of the Daily Mail, British Land’s John Ritblat and Sir Colin
Chandler, former head of Vickers.
But having such high-powered members has done little to stop
the LTA’s plans to auction the club to the highest bidder. The
association, the sport’s governing body, is moving its headquarters
form the club to a new site at Roehampton, on the western edge of
London, and wants to sell Queen’s to raise money to fund the
development of British tennis.
Plans for the disposal have been in hand for a couple of years
and, despite what they took to be assurances that club members would be
treated preferentially, Anton now has to galvanise members to thwart
various rival bidders.
These are likely to include fitness-club chains such as Next
Generation and Esporta, as well as wealthy individuals looking for
trophy assets. It is debatable how seriously any of these bids will be
taken, however. A source at one prospective buyer said he believed the
auction was more about keeping the members’ bid honest than about
serving up genuine competition.
Anton admitted the group had to fight the perception that it consisted of “toffs” with too much time and money.
Sir Bryan Nicholson, chairman of the Financial Reporting Council
and a member at Queen’s, rejected the charge of elitism. “If you
compare the cost of Queen’s to the cost of following Manchester United,
it is cheaper,” he said. “The elitist argument does not stick.”
But Anton wondered who, aside from the members, would have the
same non-commercial aim of preserving the club’s ethos and safeguarding
its less popular, non-tennis activities.
“The club has a heritage second to none. Any commercial
operator that buys it is going to be looking for returns of 20% and the
only way to achieve that would be to cut back on the loss-making areas
and focus on the bits where they can make profits,” he said.
The members argue that selling off Queen’s would be akin to
the cricketing authorities selling off Lord’s or the Oval and that the
members are the only ones who can be trusted with owning the site.
On Tuesday evening, they will talk through a business plan
they have prepared with Long Acre, a corporate-finance boutique. The
document, which has been seen by The Sunday Times, details how the
members would finance a bid and what they would do with the club if
they won the auction.
It sets out details of a £5.5m refurbishment of the site. A
swimming pool and spa complex would be added and there would be an
upgrade of everything from the changing rooms to the restaurants.
Anton, who has been offered funding by a number of leading
banks, said financing would be the least of the members’ problems. “We
have a very engaged membership,” he said.
Under his proposals, each member will be invited
to buy shares in the club for £10,000, with those aged under 28 exempt.
There would also be some kind of debenture scheme to raise further
membership equity, which would cost between £50,000 and £250,000. The
balance of the funds needed to buy the club would come from a bank.
funding does not appear to be an issue, Anton must make sure he gets
all the members on side. “It’s a bit like asking the family where they
want to go on the Christmas holiday — you get a lot of different
Last year there was a falling out when a rebel group,
including Nicholson, threatened legal action against the LTA in the
belief that the association was reneging on an agreement struck with
the members when it bought the club. The rebels have been pacified, but Anton barely disguises his
disappointment at the LTA’s attitude. “Our intention is not to steal
the club from the LTA,” he said. “Our purpose is to put forward the
best bid, at a fair price, and the best managed vision for the club’s
future.” With the clock ticking — formal expressions of interest must
be filed by November 4, Anton must serve up a few more aces if he is to
make it game, set and match for the members. Nicholson said: “We’ve been very impressed with the way the banks
are falling over themselves to help. But then there’s no better
security than a loyal membership.”
The Insider - November 8
ENGLAND has backed a campaign to stop the closure of one of the UK’s
premier squash facilities, which has been a base for Peter Nicol, the
former world No 1.
In a six-page planning objection sent last week
to Islington Borough Council, Peter Durrans, Sport England’s senior
planning manager, said that the loss of the nine-court Lambs Club to
make way for housing would be “thoroughly detrimental” to the local
sporting infrastructure and to the Government’s aim of promoting a
Its closure, which could happen as early as
February, would threaten London’s reputation as the “world capital of
squash” and “a hub for the international squash scene”.
president of England Squash and owner of a chain of fitness clubs, sold
the freehold for £4 million to a consortium involving the Buccleuchs,
one of Scotland’s oldest and wealthiest families. He said that the move
was not motivated by personal financial gain but the need to pay off
his debts. A motion brought at England Squash’s annual meeting at the
weekend that Corby should step down as president because of a conflict
of interest was not carried.
The present planning application is the
second to be submitted after the first was rejected in May. The
deadline for objections to a revised proposal passed yesterday and the
council has heard from 600 people against the development.
petition started by the Lambs Action Group has been sent to Richard
Caborn, the Sports Minister, calling on him to save the club. The group
will learn in about six weeks whether or not its campaign has been
The Global Game Covered By Experts
|2005 British Open To Be Lambs Last Stand?
|Author: SquashNow NewsDesk
Lambs Club, the London squash and fitness centre that has been at the heart of the British squash scene for the past quarter century, is set to host the early rounds and the age groups of the 2005 British Open in October as a last fling before demolition at the end of the year.
It is ironic that, as John Beddington and John Nimick are positioning themselves to bring the British Open back to London after two years of independent operation in Nottingham, the club that saw most of the subsidiary action of the best commercial years of the game’s greatest event in through the 1980s will use the occasion only for a swansong.
Beddington and Nimick took the rights for the British Open from England squash in 2003 always with the intention of taking the event back to London if they could find the sponsorship and the venue. The Albert Hall in Nottingham proved a welcoming and effective venue, but it may not have the space for the sort of rebuilding exercise its new promoters always envisaged.
There have been suggestions that Beddington, who runs hugely successful tennis events at London’s Albert Hall, might like to swing the British Open into the same venue. But World Championships set there in 1987 were somewhat lost in the vast space and the atmosphere never equaled that found at the Wembley Conference Centre through the decade that Jahangir Khan was being followed as master of ceremonies by Jansher Khan. The early rounds in those years were played first at the Wembley Squash Centre and then at Lambs Club.
The success of the Super Series Finals at the Broadgate Arena in Liverpool Street Station and the Canary Wharf Classic in London’s Docklands has shown that the game still has its audience in the city, and SquashNow has learnt that the Royal Horticultural Hall in Westminster could come under consideration.
Situated on Lambs Passage in the City of London, Lambs was the core of the Mike Corby Fitness club chain. It was opened by Corby in October 1979 and quickly became London’s premier squash club with its three glass-back courts and six traditional courts. No1 court has seating for around 200 people, making it unique in southern England and the instant choice for any major tournament until the demountable all-transparent showcourts brought any available large space venue into the equation. In recent years Corby developed fitness and dance studios on the upper floors.
Corby was a British Open contender himself in the days when he was a double Great Britain international at both squash and hockey. He ran a strong National Squash League team out of Lambs for years, featuring the likes of Jahangir Khan, and Chris Dittmar at first string ahead of star-studded line-ups, and maintaining a long-running feud with Cannons Club. The Lambs year traditionally started in those days with the British Junior Open and scarcely a month passed by without a major final playing in front of packed galleries around No1 Court.
Lambs events were un-missable for the game’s aficionados always followed by warm and generous hospitality, often including well-made dinners for players, officials, leading supporters, press and any passing friend from Corby’s wide circle of sporting and business acquaintance.
Corby’s contribution to squash is considerable: in addition to his string of squash and fitness clubs (there are still 14 in his chain) Corby saved the British Open twice by putting up the money to ensure that they took place when threatened with cancellation for lack of sponsorship. He has been President of Squash Rackets Association (now England Squash) and a Vice-president of the World Squash Federation.
But he told Boston based Squashtalk website today: “There has been a huge turn down in the fitness business. This is why so many of the chains are going private again. It was not economically possible to keep Lambs open so, last October, I sold the freehold to a company called Native Land with a lease-back until February 2006. I shall hold a huge party at the British Open in October and then an even bigger one on the day before we close for good,” he said.
Not everyone is in agreement with the move, however: The impending closure of Lambs has a produced a protest group.... that is fighting to save the club from demolition. There is more information on: www.save-lambs-squash-club.co.uk.
World Squash Day - 26-Jan-05:
JK joins Beach in Olympic Support
Jahangir Khan once called Lambs Club " the best squash club in the world" .
He returned there this week to join World Open finalist Lee Beachill on court to be filmed and interviewed for a special
BBC TV series on the five sports which are bidding for inclusion in the 2012 Olympic Games.
JK, who used to play for Lambs in the National League, is now the World Squash Federation president. He flew over from Germany specially to take part in the programme, with Beachill travelling down from Pontefract overnight and heading off for Nottingham soon after filming had finished to play in a National League match that evening.
Both players were filmed wearing the impressive World Squash Day T-shirts, which feature smart graphics on the front and a giant slogan on the back stating " Squash for the Olympic Games 2012" .
Since being voted in as the WSF president, Jahangir has enthusiastically spearheaded squash's Olympic bid.
The paperwork has been done, and the bid has been lodged with the IOC, but the more headlines squash can capture between now and the all-important vote, the more chance we have of gaining our place at the Olympic table.
Jahangir and Lee both pointed out squash's strong points, that the game is truly international, played in every corner of the globe by millions of enthusiastic players, and is a game of great skill and stamina that provides magnificent entertainment.
While Jahangir was representing the legendary Khan dynasty, Beachill is the current leader of the Pontefract dynasty being shaped by leading coach Malcolm Willstrop.
See: Lambs to the Slaughter ... A Lamb's Club Remiscence
by Jack Halford © 2005 Jack Halford & SquashTalk LLC, all rights reserved. on Squashtalk
now features full transcript of the
BBC Radio London
Interview with Mike Corby and
Save Lambs representative Joss Hargrave
Background to Lambs acquisition
SUNDAY HERALD (Scotland)
The Buccleuch punt
The decision by one of Scotland’s richest families to set up an investment arm has drawn top-notch talent. By Julia Fields
is not easy to reconcile the name Buccleuch with shiny glass office
towers, city-slicker penthouses and sprawling shopping plazas. For
centuries the word has belonged to the aristocracy, conjuring up images
of rolling countryside, pheasant shoots and labrador pups.
the Buccleuchs, one of Scotland’s oldest and wealthiest families, are
determined to become serious contenders in the high-stakes commercial
Over the past 12 months, the duke and his son the
Earl of Dalkeith have hired some of the biggest names in Scottish
business to lead their commercial property arm.
And as part of a
wider rebranding to modernise the family’s vast business interests,
they have shrugged off the traditional image depicting a stately
country house, and opted instead for a swish bold blue “B” logo that
will be splashed across the signs erected outside all developments.
the deals are coming in fast and furious. Buccleuch Property is about
to complete the sale of a property portfolio of £30 million to an
unnamed buyer. It is also in the process of launching a new company
that will build blocks of luxury flats in central London. In
partnership with Alasdair Nicholls – who recently spun off Taylor
Woodrow Capital Development to form his own company Native Land –
Buccleuch Property will develop luxury residential projects worth
between £20m and £30m. It is currently on a short list to acquire a
mini-regeneration site now occupied by mews housing and a hotel.
swift progress has been achieved under the direction of managing
director David Peck. Formerly development director for Scottish group
Kilmartin Property, Peck was headhunted last year. The 39-year-old has
orchestrated some of the biggest commercial deals in Scotland,
including securing the acquisition and redevelopment of the old
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary site with joint venture partners Taylor
Before finishing his nine-year stint at Kilmartin, Peck
sold Cameron Toll Shopping Centre to private Irish investor John Walker
for £75m – making a £10m profit in just 18 months.
Peck jumped at
the chance to take charge of the Buccleuch commercial property
business. “It was a one-off opportunity. It’s a great name to be
associated with,” he says. “I thought they were creating the right
atmosphere and the right level of resources to build a really
He describes his aristocratic bosses as
extremely “open-minded”. “There’s no pre-conceived boundaries we have
to operate to. It’s very much a can-do attitude. If we can justify the
risk, they are up for it.”
The 80-year-old duke and his heirs are
estimated to own assets worth £450m. He is one of the largest
landowners in Europe with 270,000 acres sprawling over Bowhill,
Dumfries and Galloway, Langholm near Carlisle, and Boughton in the
Midlands, and is responsible for the upkeep of three stately homes,
including Dalkeith Palace. He also owns a considerable art collection,
which suffered a major loss last year when a painting by Leonardo da
Vinci worth £30m was stolen from the duke’s Drumlanrig Castle.
revenues from some parts of the agricultural businesses began to
decline, the family accumulated a £250m portfolio of offices,
development land and industrial schemes in Australia, the US and
Britain. But the properties have mainly sat idle as long-term
investments and fell under the same banner as a myriad of disparate
business interests. Over the past year, the family has reorganised
their holdings into the Buccleuch Group and appointed a team of senior
executives to lead three newly defined divisions: commercial property,
rural affairs and a food and drinks company.
Brands, which produces chutneys, biscuits, beers, whiskies and beef, is
in talks with supermarkets to stock a wide range of its products. The
rural division hopes to build on its tourism and shooting activities
and continue to manage rural properties.
however, could easily become the most significant revenue generator.
The Duke of Westminster has built a vast fortune through his inter
national property firm Grosvenor, which currently manages a port folio
of about £5.4 billion and has interests in 16 countries.
dedicated team of 11 professionals, Peck plans to double the Buccleuch
portfolio value from £250m to £500m within three to five years. The
company recently opened an office in Edinburgh and recruited Richard
Pardoe, former head of property at Royal London Asset Management, to
establish an office in west London.
Peck is quick to point out that
the latest modernising initiative is not just an attempt by the duke to
line his pockets. “They are not an extravagant family,” he says. “It’s
not them saying, ‘Good, we’ve made this extra money. We can go and buy
the next jet’. It’s hugely important to the family that we are able to
generate sufficient returns from all aspects of the business to ensure
they can continue investing in the countryside.”
Peck has spent
the past eight months evaluating the commercial property asset base –
of which 20% is situated in Scotland – and selling what didn’t fit into
the future strategy. Close to £45m worth of properties have been sold
since January, including the latest portfolio deal. Peck is also
considering divesting a AUS$30m stake in an office and warehouse
scheme, which has recently been completed, next to the airport in
“It’s a good time to sell. But it also gives us additional fire power to reinvest right away,” Peck says.
Property has £100m on hand for new acquisitions either in the UK or
overseas, but it also intends to raise more capital from institutional
funds and private investors, as well as set up joint ventures on larger
The objective is to buy sizeable assets,
raise their value by refurbishing or bringing in new tenants and then
trade them within a five-year period. Some of that cash will also go
towards kick-starting the central London residential company and to
develop a strategic land business.
Many housebuilders have
recently sold parts of their land banks to cut back on costs and risk
and have created what Peck sees as a money-making gap in the market.
“We see an opportunity to buy options and secure land for long-term
upside that we can deliver to the housebuilding sector.”
Peck has also not ruled out partnering with or buying a local player to develop urban flats in Scotland.
seems like a lot of bases to cover and at a time when the property
business is entering more challenging times. Some analysts have
predicted that house prices in London could fall as much as 30% over
the next few years. But Peck begs to differ: “I don’t see a fall of
that magnitude. Our residential business is looking at the very top
end. It sits in a different market. It’s dependent on the
macroeconomics of the world. A lot of the buyers will be foreign
investors. We know it can’t continuing growing as it has, but I think
there will still be opportunities this year and next.”
As for the
other ventures, Peck says the key to achieving such ambitious growth
targets will come from finding the best people to work with.
ability to get to £500m will be dependent on the opportunities out
there, how the market is performing and our ability to bring in
co-investors,” he says. “It’s about trying to find partners in all of
these bits that have the specialist skills.” 18 July 2004.
Lambs to the slaughter
By Rob Bleaney
TWO members of a world-famous Old Street squash club have been booted out for campaigning against its closure.
Club, in Lamb's Passage, near Old Street, was once described by
legendary World Champion Jahangir Khan as the best club he had ever
But it is set to be demolished after owner Mike Corby sold it to property developers for more than £4million.
are fighting the plans - and there's fury after ladies captain Tania
Loughran and spokesman Ken Pottinger had their memberships terminated
for speaking out.
Ms Loughran, 31, said: " This is totally wrong.
Mike Corby has done a lot for Lambs and for squash in his role as
president of Squash England but now he's being totally unsporting.
should be able to speak their minds when something like this happens.
This is the only proper squash club in the centre of London and there
are more than 800 players, from beginners right up to professionals.
Closing it will be a devastating loss to the community and once it's
gone it can never be put back."
Ms Loughran and Mr Pottinger
are part of the Lambs Action Team (Lat), set up by club members to stop
the site being used for housing. She captains three ladies teams in the
winter and two during the summer, and only a few months ago was offered
a free membership because of the amount of work she does for the club.
Pottinger, 57, has run the campaign to save the club. He said: " This is
totally unacceptable. Mr Corby has put a tremendous amount of money and
commitment into squash in the last 25 years but he needs to keep cool,
not start chopping off the heads of his members.
" As president
of Squash England he is responsible for developing the game at
grassroots level. It's a little invidious to start chucking out members
because they've voiced their opinions in what's supposed to be a
Lambs' members are so desperate to save the
club they want to buy it back themselves. On Tuesday they won a major
battle when the council refused developers Clan Real Estate planning
permission for a nine-storey block of flats and offices on the site.
Pottinger said: " There were over 200 letters of objection to the scheme
and one of the reasons the council turned it down was because the
sports facility would be destroyed. In squash terms this is game one to
us but the match is still not won.
" If we bought the site we
would preserve the club for its members and do outreach work with all
the local Islington schools to bring through the next generation of
squash players. We can't allow the club to be destroyed."
Corby, a former England number one squash player, said: " I borrowed the
money to build Lambs and have put my heart and soul into it for 25
years. Selling it broke my heart but the banks told us we had to.
Loughran has had a free membership for the past 18 months because she
is meant to be helping us. It was terminated because she said and wrote
things that are creating confusion and bewilderment among our staff.
" It's a shame but the campaigners have to accept that squash at Lambs is dead.
" Even if the planning permission is refused again the courts will be turned into a gymnasium."
The Lambs Action Team website is www.save-lambs-squash-club.co.uk.
Is Corby's Fitness Exchange Group in play, read on....
Suitors shape up in Fitness First auction
By Lina Saigoland Lisa Urquhart
Published: September 15 2005
Four bids are expected to be submitted today for the final round auction of Fitness First, the largest health club operator in the UK that is valued at more than £800m.
BC Partners, Blackstone, CVC and Macquarie were all understood to have made it through to the last round of the sale process.
Cinven, the UK private equity group that owns Fitness First, mandated UBS this year to conduct an auction of the business.
Mid-Ocean is understood to have decided against bidding for the business because of the recent difficult trading environment on the high-street.
However, it is thought to be looking at Fitness Exchange, a smaller UK rival.
Leisure clubs, previously considered a fashionable sector, have fallen out of favour after over-ambitious expansions and rising debts led to a number of profit warnings by quoted operators.
As a result, several companies in the sector have been taken private by buy-out houses.
Bridgepoint and Permira, for example, teamed up to acquire Holmes Place.
More recently, Mid-Ocean Partners, formed by the managers of DB Capital Partners, Deutsche Bank's private equity group, snapped up LA Fitness, a rival gym chain, in April for £150m.
Last month, LA Fitness outlined its plans for expansion, with Fred Turok, chief executive, declaring that LA Fitness was in the right position to benefit from the " inevitable consolidation" in the fitness sector.
Fitness First operates more than 400 health clubs with more than one million members across 15 countries.
The group's well-established European and international business is one of the reasons why it is considered attractive, as Europe and Asia have much lower levels of health club penetration than the UK.
Fitness First was founded in 1993 by entrepreneurs Mike Balfour and Christopher Pearce, who opened their first club in Bournemouth with the dream of making fitness affordable to everyone.
Three years later, it was the first health and fitness company to float on Aim with Mr Balfour as managing director and Mr Pearce as executive chairman.
The group is currently chaired by John Lovering, chairman of Debenhams and veteran private equity dealmaker.
Dumfries and Galloway Standard takes up Lamb's cause in the Duke's own backyard, see news report
Duke in club fight
THE BUCCLEUCH Estate, Britain’s biggest private landlord, is facing strong opposition to a proposed development in London.
is involved in a joint venture to turn Lambs Squash Club in Islington
into a development of 75 flats and offices after buying it for £4
However, it has created a
backlash from the 1,500 members of the club whose opposition has forced
London councillors to knock back the initial plan.
Pottinger, organiser of the campaign to save the club, known as the
“Wimbledon of Squash”, said: “All of the members are strongly opposed
to this plan which would see one of the most famous squash courts in
the world, bulldozed.
managed to block their plans for the past six months and we have even
made an appeal to the good nature of the Duke of Buccleuch to save the
club or to incorporate the club on the ground floor of the development.” The club was sold by founder Mike Corby
to a company called Clan Real Estates, which is jointly owned by the
Duke of Buccleuch’s estate and London-based Native Land.
Pottinger continued: “It would be a loss to the sport if this was
closed as some of the world’s most famous players have been here.
“But we will continue to fight the proposals and have had backing from people all over London.”
Proposals are set to be put forward to Islington Council for the second time at the end of this month.
are hoping the application will be rejected under government planning
guidance which states that major sports facilities can only be
redeveloped if they are “surplus to requirement”.
Estates is one of the biggest private landlords in the UK.It is based
at Drumlanrig Castle in Thornhill and owned by the 80-year-old duke who
is estimated to be worth £450 million.
At the time of going to press, no one from Buccleuch Estates had commented on the plans.
Duke's estates make £3.6m loss
biggest private landowner, the Duke of Buccleuch, made a £3.6 million
loss on the running of his estates last year - despite receiving
£790,000 in European and government farm subsidies and grants. He
stayed out of the red only by selling off land, leaving an eventual
profit of £6.5 million, according to accounts that became available at
Companies House at the weekend. In contrast, the estates made a £1.8
million profit in the previous 12 months, largely from traditional
rural practices, including cattle and sheep rearing and timber
production. The 82-year-old duke, whose wealth was estimated at £65
million in the Sunday Times Rich List, owns 270,000 acres of land,
mostly in the Borders, and has a host of stately homes, including
Bowhill, near Selkirk Drumlanrig, in Dumfriesshire and Dalkeith
Palace, near Edinburgh. He and his wife divide their time between
Bowhill, Drumlanrig and Boughton House in Northamptonshire. The scale
of the estates' losses shocked experts, who said it highlighted the
crisis facing Scotland's rural economy. James Withers, a spokesman for
the National Farmers Union Scotland, said a large part of the losses
could be explained by farmers getting too small a return on the shelf
prices of foods in supermarkets. In his introduction to the accounts,
the duke admits: " Traditional rural activities continue to struggle to
achieve profitability." To counter this, the Buccleuch Estates adopted
a strategy of diversification, including free-range egg production, the
construction of a new hardwood sawmill, several renewable energy
projects and a dog breeding and training facility. An ardent defender
of traditional country sports, the duke has been in a wheelchair for
more than 20 years after being thrown from his horse while hunting.
There are 220 tenant farmers working his lands, and his company as a
whole provides employment for 1,000 people. The estates' annual output
includes 127,000 sheep, 13,500 cattle, 18 million litres of milk,
20,000 tonnes of cereal and 50,000 tonnes of timber. The report reveals
that the Buccleuch Estates company paid £5.8 million to the Buccleuch
Heritage Trust, which contributes to the upkeep of his historic houses.
The company also paid out £4.5 million in dividends, which do not go
directly to the duke or his family but to a nominee company which is
the majority shareholder. Despite the considerable losses, the duke
remained upbeat about the company's prospects, saying: " The year to
October 31, 2004, was a successful one in terms of financial
performance and stewardship of the natural and built heritage on the
estates, with turnover growing by 17 per cent to over £29 million." In
2003, the estates made a £1.8 million profit on trading activities, but
that figure was boosted to £29 million by further property disposals
and an exceptional item relating to property revaluation. Tony
Andrews, the chief executive of the Scottish Countryside Alliance,
said: " First, the Buccleuch Estates are arguably the best-run rural
enterprise in Scotland, being entrepreneurial and well diversified. But
if they aren't making it pay, I hate to think of the problems this
indicates others might be having. " It is reflective of a deeper malaise
in rural businesses and I would argue that, as the Common Agricultural
Policy reforms start to bite, the imperative of diversification will
become all the stronger. " We now need to see a far more friendly
business environment in rural areas. The absolute key to the whole
thing would be the relaxation of the planning regulations, but only
with a clear vision for the future of Scotland. I don't see that vision
from Holyrood. " [The countryside] makes a genuine contribution to the
wealth of the nation, but we have to think out of the box and integrate
our rural policy into the economic policy of the nation as a whole, and
that is just not being done." He went on: " The appalling price of farm
produce is another reason this loss has occurred. Prices for timber
have plummeted, as have prices for crops." Although the Duke of
Buccleuch put on a brave face concerning the losses, the poor financial
performance is the latest in a long line of misfortunes to befall
In August 2003, he became the victim of Britain's biggest art
heist when two thieves posing as tourists at Drumlanrig made off with
the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece, The Madonna with the Yarnwinder, in
an audacious daylight raid. Valued at between £25 and £50 million, it
features the Madonna and infant Jesus with a cross-shaped yarnwinder,
symbolic of Christ's crucifixion, and is one of only a dozen known Da
Vinci originals. Painted between 1500 and 1510 for Florimand Robertet,
the secretary of state for Louis XII of France, it was bought in Italy
in the 18th century by the third Duke of Buccleuch, and was
conclusively identified as a work by the Renaissance master only in
1986 after scientific tests. Despite appeals by the duke and his son,
the Earl of Dalkeith, an extensive police hunt and a BBC Crimewatch
television reconstruction, the painting has still to be recovered.
Despite the priceless nature of the work, it is believed the duke
received an insurance pay-out of just over £3 million because the
collection at Drumlanrig was under-insured. In January this year, the
Duchess of Buccleuch, 75, had to stand trial on criminal charges of
allegedly leaving the scene of an accident. She was acquitted after a
sheriff ruled there was no case to answer.
The man and the mysterious title
Walter Francis John Montagu Douglas Scott on 28 September 1923, the
ninth Duke of Buccleuch succeeded his father in 1973. It was this
ascension to the status of duke which cut short his political career -
he was the Conservative MP for Edinburgh North from 1960- 1973.
Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, he married Jane McNeil in
1953, and together they had three sons and a daughter According to the
1931 revised Little Oxford Dictionary, Buccleuch is pronounced " Bukloo"
The origin was an occasion when a " buck" (stag) was killed in a
(small ravine) hundreds of years ago, by a man who saved the
king's life by seizing the stag by its antlers when it charged.
Last updated: 01-Aug-05 01:06 BST
Lambs Club to be demolished
NEWS: One of the most famous squash clubs in the world is under threat of demolition, and members are campaigning vigorously to save the club
LAMBS CLUB TO BE DEMOLISHED ...
Famously described as " the best squash club in the world" by none other than Jahangir Khan, Lambs Club in the heart of the City of London is under threat of demolition after being taken over by new owners.
Members are fighting back, and have set up a website for squash fans to register their support ...
Edited by Sophie Brodie (Filed: 24/03/2005)
Squash rivals join for game of survival
City's oldest squash courts are under threat. Lambs, behind the
Guildhall School of Music, is owned by Clan Real Estate, which wants to
demolish the courts and put up a block of flats.
racketeers, including Ian Chicken of Icap and Grant Kleiner at rival
Prebon, want the City Corporation to step in. Curious to find such
deadly rivals on the same side for a change.
Telegraph Group Limited2005.
Edited by Sophie Brodie (Filed: 02/06/2005)
Lambs squash move creates a racket
Mike Corby, who sold Lambs Squash Club in the City to a developer to
pay off debts, has cancelled two memberships and asked another member
to stay away after they campaigned to block redevelopment of the courts
They have consulted other Lamb
players, who happen to be lawyers, on whether Corby was allowed to
eject them. Their actions could cost Corby, a long-time advocate and
sponsor of the game, £1.2m that is due once the development is
complete. He says: " Squash at Lambs is dead" . Even if planning
permission is blocked again, he will turn it into a gym.
Sport in Brief 23 Mar 2005
Lambs Club, the London squash and fitness centre that has been at the
heart of the British game for the past quarter of a century, is set to
host the early rounds and the age groups of the 2005 British Open in
October before it is demolished at the end of the year.
Lambs Club to Close
In a shock move Lambs Squash Club in the City of London is to close. The club has fulfilled a major role in the sport providing a central London exhibiiton venue, financial district contacts and an international meeting place for players.
Lambs' Members launch protest
" We are launching a campaign to save squash in London. There are no alternatives and this will affect the whole squash community," said a campaigner who did not wish to be named. The campaign has a dedicated website.
'Home of squash' faces demolition
THE " HOME of Squash" is set to be demolished to make way for a nine-storey block of flats.
Lambs Squash Club, in Lamb's Passage, Finsbury, is considered the squash equivalent of Wimbledon.
It has nine courts and around 1,400 members, and ex-world champion Jahangir Khan has described it as the " best club I have ever played at" and the " most famous squash club in the world" .
It was opened in 1979 by former British squash star Mike Corby and is the flagship club in a chain of 14.
But Mr Corby is about to retire and sold the freehold for the site for £4million in September.
Now developers Clan Real Estate have revealed plans to knock down the centre at the end of the year and replace it with a nine-storey block of flats and office units.
Members have launched a campaign to save the club, which will be left homeless if the proposal goes ahead. Objectors have until April 7 to contact Islington Council's planning department.
Lambs Squash Club member Ken Pottinger, 57, who is organising the campaign, said: " We mustn't allow the club to be destroyed. All the world-famous squash players have played there. It is one of the oldest sports clubs in London and home to many world famous players."
The members are calling on Islington Council to turn down Clan Real Estate's planning application. So far 29 official letters of objection have been sent to the planning department.
Club member Tariq Tahir added: " It is the spiritual home of the game. Members are very upset about it."
Councillor Bridget Fox (Liberal Democrat), Islington's executive member for sustainability, said: " I'm aware a planning application has been submitted to the council to develop a building in Lambs Passage. As with all planning applications all residents, businesses and community groups will be able to have their say and if residents feel strongly I would encourage them to take this chance."
" When this comes to committee, councillors will have to decide not only whether the proposals meet planning guidance but also if they are acceptable for the community as a whole.
Buccleuch/Native Land jv targets London schemes
Piers Wehner 23/10/2004 10:20
Clan Real Estate's £150m war chest will be spent in the next two years
largest private landlord, the Buccleuch Estate, has teamed up with
Native Land to launch a residential developer. The joint venture - Clan
Real Estate-- has bought a site off Chiswell Street, EC1, for just over
£4m. A planning application for the site, which can accommodate 80,000
sq ft of flats, will be submitted to Islington by the end of the year.
London-based jv will start with a war chest of £150m to spend over the
next two years and will focus on mixed-use and residential developments
of up to 100 flats in the capital.
Alasdair Nicholls, chief
executive of Native Land, said: " We intend to develop Clan into a
leading player in the London market. We have the fundsand the
Native Land was established 18 months ago by Nicholls -
formerly managing director of Taylor Woodrow Capital Developments - as
a specialist residential development management company operating in
The company was recently shortlisted alongside Helical Bar as a frontrunner for the redevelopment of the Middlesex Hospital, W1.
Property is the commercial property arm of the Buccleuch Group, the
holding company owned by the 80-year-old Duke of Buccleuch, who is
better known for his passion for field sports than for his involvement
in the world of property.
The duke is descended from James Crofts, who was an illegitimate son of Charles II.
the past year, the estate, under managing director David Peck, has set
up a dedicated property team with offices in Edinburgh and London. Its
strategy is to build up the group into a major developer and investor
over the next five years, doubling in size to over £500m
TWO protesters fighting against the development of a famous squash club have had their memberships terminated.
Real Estates applied to demolish the popular Lambs Squash Club in
Lamb's Passage, Finsbury, and replace it with a nine-storey block of
The club - sold to the developers for £4million by former
club owner Mike Corby - is considered by enthusiasts to be the squash
equivalent of Wimbledon.
Club member Ken Pottinger set up a campaign to save it, gaining support from former Islington South and Finsbury MP Chris Smith.
earlier this month Islington Council's assistant director of planning,
Graham Loveland, threw out the application after more than 200
Mr Loveland said: " The existing sports facilities on
site contribute to the character and liveliness of the area, and play
an important role in the borough and the wider area in the provision of
indoor sports facilities."
But the protesters received a blow when Mr Pottinger and ladies' captain Tania Loughran's memberships were terminated.
Pottinger said: " Thanks to the success of the campaign, Mike Corby has
thrown us out of the club. This is totally unacceptable. As president
of Squash England, he is responsible for developing the game at
grassroots level. It's a little invidious to start chucking out members
just because they've voiced their opinions."
Mr Corby said:
Tania Loughran has had a free membership for the past 18 months
because she is meant to be helping us. It was terminated because she
said and wrote things that are creating confusion and bewilderment
among our staff.
" It's a shame but the campaigners have to
accept that squash at Lambs is dead. Even if the planning permission is
refused again the courts will be turned into a gymnasium.