The Harry Gem Project

The purposes of the charity are:

  • To celebrate and publicise the life of Thomas Henry Gem (1819 – 1881) through publications, exhibitions, community events and a dedicated web site
  • To publicise his role, together with his friend JBLA Perera, as a lawn tennis lawn tennis pioneer here in Birmingham and the creator of the world’s first lawn tennis club in Leamington Spa in 1874 which survived for less than twenty years
  • To produce and publish the history of Edgbaston Archery & Lawn Tennis Society, the oldest lawn tennis club in the world, where Harry Gem was a member in the 1860s, including the history of the origination and rapid development of lawn tennis in Birmingham and Warwickshire
  • To distribute the book to schools and libraries in Birmingham free of charge
  • To devise and promote a Birmingham lawn tennis trail
  • To restore and maintain Harry Gem’s grave in Warstone Lane Cemetery
  • To create a lawn tennis history display to be erected in the grounds of Edgbaston Archery & Lawn Tennis Society
  • To work with other interested parties to establish a higher profile for this important aspect of Birmingham’s sporting heritage

The Harry Gem Project is a member of:


Chris & Sue Elks

Robert Holland was born and educated in Birmingham, has spent his working life in the advertising and marketing business and lives in Harborne.

Robert was a pupil at St. Philip’s Grammar School and went on to further study at Birmingham Art College and Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University).

His enthusiasm for lawn tennis was nurtured at a very early age on his grandfather’s grass court in Lincolnshire. In the 1960s Robert was a junior member of the Edgbaston Lawn Tennis Club and then a member of Edgbaston Priory Club, the amalgamation of Edgbaston LTC with Priory Tennis Club.

In 1985, after a number of years away from the game, he joined Edgbaston Archery & Lawn Tennis Society, the oldest lawn tennis club in the world. Here he spent most of the 1990s as honorary secretary, for three years he combined this role with that of chairman and is now a Trustee of the Society. He has been also a council member of the WLTA.

Among his many interests Robert is an historian of lawn tennis and passionate about promoting Birmingham’s rightful place in history as the birthplace of lawn tennis.

Vic Lyttle

Mike Roberts