Nuneaton and Lawn Tennis Balls

This information is from a paper published by A. W. Phillips, Ltd. in 1966. I am formatting it as it appears on the copy of the typewritten document sent to me by A. W. Phillips, Ltd. in 2005.

December, 1966.

Nuneaton and Lawn Tennis Balls
1883/4              –               1965/6

83 years ago (1883) Alfred William Phillips commenced covering a rubber ball for Lawn Tennis with cloth sewn on to the ball by hand with needle and thread. This work was first done at:-

  1. His father’s hat factory, Hall & Phillips Ltd., Meadow Street, Nuneaton.
  2. In the Brewery Buildings in Bridge Street. The last tenant after the Brewery closed.
  3. At the factory of Neneaton Wool Company, Church Street.
  4. At Seymour Road, Attleborough, in a newly built factory with F. H. Ayres Ltd.
    66 years ago (1898) broke with Ayres and
  5. Went to Albion Buildings, Attleborough Road, where the trade has continued ever since.

Harry Cleaver joined the business in  1900 as spare time accountant with the consent of his Directors at the Griff Colliery Company Ltd., 52 years ago (1914) the business was registered as a limited liability company.

A. W. Phillips died in 1919.

30 Years ago (1936) the Freehold of Albion Works was purchased by Harry Cleaver, with the Attleborough Hall Estate of nine acres. The development and improvement of this district as a residential area is due to Cleaver’s co-operation with the Borough Council. At a  meeting at the Council House (Mr. Liggins was mayor) he agreed to alter his development plan to link up with the land owned by the Council from Garrett Street, losing several building plots. He also sold land for side roads and adjoining Lister Street, to the Council – at cost price.

Opposite Albion Works is land owned by A. W. Phillips Ltd., and transferred to the Corporation following a compulsory purchase. The aim was to build a new factory for making the rubber cores for tennis balls and develop both the tennis and football business, but this idea has now been shelved. Owing to the shortage of labour the sewing of footballs has been discontinued, and this work is now being done for us in Yorkshire, where the making of all sporting goods is largely carried on. The output of Covered Balls is about one million a year, which are sold all over the world, advertising the town of Nuneaton wherever they go.

Slazenger commenced in Manchester about the same time as Phillips in Nuneaton. It has never been decided who actually was the first to put cloth on a rubber ball. Both firms have outlived all competitors since 1883, and have traded together from time to time also with the Dunlop Company.

For many years the Lawn Association have authorised after test the “Phillips” Official Ball for use in tournaments and matches.