Glendermott Tennis Club in 1956

Glendermott Tennis Club in 1956. Pictured at back, second from left, is Alan Roberts.
Glendermott Tennis Club in 1956. Pictured at back, second from left, is Alan Roberts.

This photograph of a Derry tennis club from 1956 is just one of many contained in a remarkable old scrapbook auctioned in the city last weekend.

The sale - which took place at a period residence in Deanfield in the Waterside - included historic items such as a clock from the old Derry Workhouse, military medals from the Boer and Sudan campaigns of the late 19th century, unique material from the 1912 Ulster Convenant period and a rare car badge - complete with eagle and swastika - reputedly from General Erwin Rommel’s staff car.

The property was formerly owned by the late Alan Roberts whose family operated a motor engineering firm at Foyle Street in the 1950s and 1960s.

However, it’s Mr. Roberts’ amazing life story which is catalogued in detail in the pages of the old scrapbook which, thanks to its new owner, the ‘Journal’ was able to have a look at this week.

The book not only reveals details of Mr. Roberts’ service in World War Two - he was a commando who fought with the Royal Marines in Normandy - but it also provides a unique look at the life and times of Derry in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

The son of Hugh and May Roberts from the city’s Northland Road, he volunteered for service in 1943, only one year into his degree course at Trinity College in Dublin, and saw service throughout France.

After demobilisation from the Royal Marines in 1946, he resumed his studies at Trinity, attaining a BA in Modern Languages.

In his civilian work life, the former marine joined the family business in 1953 - Roberts and Sons motor and agricultural engineers in Foyle Street - where he served as a director and company secretary. He passed away earlier this year.