G.W.Vidal was involved with badminton from the 1870’s and influenced the early history of the game. He was Hon Secretary and Hon. Treasurer of the Badminton Association from1899 to 1906, and was made Vice President in 1907 and died in that year. . Lawn Tennis and Badminton published an article about him in the March 6th, 1907 issue and as this contains information on the early development of the game, we are reproducing this in full. The article was accompanied by a cartoon by Charles Ambrose which has been enlarged and is on display in the museum at Milton Keynes.
Mr. George William Vidal was born at Torrington, Devon on September 23, 1845, and is the fifth son of the Rev. Francis Vidal, M.A., one of the old and now extinct race of Eton Dominies, and afterwards Vicar of Sutton, in Suffolk. The subject of to-day’s cartoon spent several years at Eton, where he distinguished himself by winning the Eton School Double Sculls steering the Victory, 1860-1861, when Colonel the Hon. H.C. Needham steered the Monarch – a coincidence, inasmuch that each of these gentlemen should have devoted their later years to the development of Badminton and Croquet respectively. After being called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn, in 1877, he joined the Indian Civil Service, and ultimately held office as Chief Secretary to the Government of Bombay and as an additional Member of the Legislative Council. It is interesting to note that he played at Sattara, Bombay Presidency, on July 10 1873, in the first game of Badminton ever played in Western India (the cradle of the present Association game), and the first ever played anywhere in a covered court specially built for the purpose. This historical court, owing to the only entrance being in the middle and the whole width being required for the court, was responsible for the hour glass shape or ‘waisted’ court which was copied elsewhere, both for Badminton and early lawn tennis, like the buttress in the Eton Fives Courts. The net post, next the door – to avoid cutting the narrow entrance door in half – had to be moved inwards, and the post on the opposite side had to be moved in for symmetry, whence the hour glass. It may not be generally known that the earliest Badminton rules were drawn up in Poona in 1875. After retiring from the Indian Civil Service, Mr Vidal joined the Badminton Association in 1897, and succeeded Major Dolby as Hon. Secretary and Treasurer, and how efficiently he occupied the post in common knowledge, the membership to the Association rising from thirty to no less than two hundred clubs during his term of office. He is deeply interested in Natural History, and has contributed many valuable papers to Natural History journals, while he is the winner of innumerable medals and prizes in photographic competitions. Always found of games, and an adept at all kind and manner of sport, Mr Vidal has won the All England Veteran Badminton Doubles Championships on no less than three occasions, his last win taking place only last week. At lawn tennis he has won the All England Veteran Doubles Championship twice, and was on one occasion runner up for the Veteran Singles. On his retirement last year from the post of Hon. Secretary and Treasurer to the Badminton Association, he was presented with a testimonial to which over a hundred clubs and players subscribed as a recognition how much both the Association and the game itself owes to his efforts.