Work has started on rebuilding the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, home of the Wimbledon championships.

Contractors have moved on to Church Road to start construction of a new Number One Court on Aorangi Park, which is used for food sales and picnics during the tournament.

The new 11,200 all-seater show court is the centrepiece of a strategy announced last year to ensure the Grand Slam event remains at its south London home into the next century.

During the next 20 years extensive development will be carried out. Phase one, which will take four years, includes the building of two new outside courts, a road tunnel to link the north and south of the club and a permanent television complex to replace the unsightly hut and tower.

The second stage will involve the dismantling of the old, 7,000 seat Number One Court and converting the space into changing rooms and media centre and 800 seats will be added to Centre Court.

Then in the next century a number of outside courts will be gradually moved further apart to make it easier for spectators to pass through the ground.

Although the club refuses to disclose how much the project will cost it will be funded through the debentures system whereby people purchase a seat for five years for around pounds 18,500. When the scheme was last renewed four years ago it raised around pounds 37m.

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