Changing with the times

One of Crown Sports Lockers’ earliest projects stretches back to 1993, when managing director Richard Downing stepped across the threshold of Addington Palace Golf Club near Croydon, to size up the scope of their changing room requirements.

Then secretary Lawrence Dennis-Smither specified wooden lockers to transform tired, tight provision into fresh, spacious changing that heralded a new age of stylish storage for golf bags, clothes and personal belongings.

Lawrence has moved on to other clubs, and is now secretary at Seaford GC on the south coast. His commitment to Crown remains firm, recently specifying the changing room specialists for a bespoke fitout at the East Sussex coastal club.

His contact with Addington Palace continues too. “I return to Addington Palace yearly for one of their annual tournaments,” he reveals. “The changing rooms still look great. Quality tells afterall.”

The clubhouse of this 600-strong private members club is the converted stables of Addington Palace itself, which still stands regally in the original parkland estate – a former residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury – now a dramatic wedding venue.

“We’re blessed with free-draining soil here because of the chalk downlands,” says Operations Manager Sarah Burton, who came into post in 2014, “so golf isplayed all year-round “

The two nines of the Par 71, 6,404-yd course differ markedly – one woodland, the other parkland and challenge all abilities – but some things never alter, Sarah declares.

“When time is the great thief, many golfers want a quick change, shower then depart. The “more functional” men’s locker room is crisply decorated with light oak lockers, blue carpeting and cream walls. “It’s quickly in and quickly out usually,” Sarah notes.

Lady members on the hand treat their changing rooms as a home from home, Sarah adds, “often redecorating them to retain the feminine touch”, the warm red carpeting complementing light oak holdall and golf bag lockers. “They prefer a more comfortable environment as they use them far more than the men do.”

Robust and reliable, the lockers have seldom if ever caused any issues, Sarah continues, and more have been added over the years across the three floors of changing facilities.

Built in 1829, Addington Palace was the original clubhouse until 1953, when the Palace was given back to Croydon Council and the golf club relocated to the then stable block.

The club was founded in 1930, with course designs and layout by golf course architect Fred Hawtree and five times Open Champion J H Taylor.

The Grade 11 Listed Palladian-style Addington Palace mansion rests in 163 acres of Surrey’s finest countryside. Parts of the building date back to Henry VIII, who is reputed to have hunted in the park and woodlands, later landscaped by Capability Brown.

“The clubhouse retains many of its original features including beamed ceilings,” says Sarah, “giving it a sense of tradition and history. It surrounds an attractive courtyard with central putting green. Our balcony looks over the course, which in the 1950s was the base for four-time Open Champion Bobby Locke.”

Inside, Addington Palace stages a host of private weekend functions within the beautifully appointed rooms, with weddings growing ever more popular.

Spearheading a bustling community club, Sarah relishes the demands of a busy schedule indoors and out presents: “The job is challenging and enjoyable – all about keeping the plates spinning,” explains the former accountant, “but I wouldn’t change it for a moment.”