The Derbyshire Golf Club NLE
I’ve found a bit more information regarding the Derbyshire Golf Club mentioned in Mark’s opening post, my interest being that the course was at one time located on the same piece of land that my house now sits.
In its time, the Derbyshire Golf Club was located at 3 different locations around Derby and had many members of stature from the local community, giving it the sort of history and heritage that mimics that of Notts Golf Club across the county border. But the Derbyshire Golf Club is no longer around and Derby hasn’t really got another course of such stature, but why?
The Derbyshire Golf Club was established in October 1892 and play was over a nine hole course located at Osmaston Hall. The Hall itself is now no longer existing but at the time it was in a state of some decay, but still would have given a great sense of grandeur as it was used as the clubhouse.
There were originally 120 members, with Hon W.M. Jervis as President and 21 vice presidents including notable locals such as Alfred Haslam and Herbert Strutt. Cost for membership was one guinea with annual subs of the same amount. By 1898 membership was up to 200 and the course was reputed to be one of the best in the Midlands.
However, only a year later new land at Littleover Common was obtained. The new course was also nine holes, with holes varying in length from 93 to 370 yards and hazards consisting principally of hedges! The professional and greenkeeper was Mr W. Hutchings, who hailed from Westward Ho and had been chief greenkeeper at the King's Norton Golf Club.
By 1900 membership was back up to 200 after originally falling to 150 after its move and by 1901 holes had been adapted to now range from 147 to 381 yards while the putting greens were of good size and always in good condition. By 1906, the course had been extended to 18 holes, with the longest hole recorded as being 470 yards long, with mention of ponds and ditches as well as hedges, as the main hazards. Also a road had to be crossed twice. At this time the entrance fee was still one guinea but annual subs had increased to two guineas.
The boundaries of the course where the borough boundary to the east, roughly the line of the current Manor Road, Uttoxeter Road to the north, Chain Lane to the west and the rear gardens of the houses in Littleover village along Burton Road. In the middle of the common, and hence the course, lay Rosson & Co cartridge filling works of 1892 (later a private house) where this dangerous process was undertaken in isolation from the marketplace gunsmiths. The borough water reservoir of 1907 and the Elms Farm Estate also found themselves partly surrounded by the links. One hazard to be played over was Littleover Brook, which ran down the north edge of the course, a hundred yards or so south of Uttoxeter Road and gradually converged with it. The club pavilion, mainly of timber construction and with a veranda, was situated between the present Bretton Avenue and Queen's Drive.
So though the course had a good reputation and an established membership, the problem was the clubs current location. The land was owned by the Stantons of Snelston Hall, who inherited it from the Harrisons who had bought much land in Littleover in the early 19th Century, and by the late 1920s they wanted to develop the land for housing. Being to the south west of an industrial city like Derby, meant they were upwind of the smoke from the industry’s chimneys. This meant the land was prime development land for the mid war suburbs that were spreading across the country.
In 1929, eminent architect Barry Parker laid out a large housing estate on Elms Farm, which included much of the golf course, with the Borough Council took the north edge for the City (now Derby Royal) Hospital in the same year.
It is not clear exactly when the club moved from Littleover, but there is reference to the club moving in March 1910 to a new site at Humbleton Farm in Mackworth. However, the southern course boundary was punctuated from the early 1920s by Middleton and Lawn Heads Avenues, and on the former can still be found a semi detached cottage with a small stone plaque in the common gable, entitled Golf Links Cottages (which were designed by designed by L. Fred Smith in 1923 - also the Littleover club chairman at the time) hinting that there was still some eveidence of golf being played in Littleover at the time of the cottages construction?
The 1910 move from Littleover to Mackworth was to a new course, 6,200 yards in length, that was laid out by Tom Williamson (he of Notts fame, and recently mentioned in Sean Arble’s tour of Coxmoor) and another "commodious" clubhouse was being built. Mr Hutchings continued to act as professional and greenkeeper. There is some reference to the clubhouse being used during the second world war as an army training base, but by this time the course had again been overtaken by the progress of the mid war housing boom, when the land was acquired by the Borough of Derby for the construction of the Mackworth housing estate. There is some reference to the club moving to Allestree but the club that currently exists there is a local municipal, and so there is now no evidence of The Derbyshire Golf Club.
I have found an article whih states that there were “no less than seven golf clubs extant in Derby between 1892 and 1948, of which only three survive”, one of which would likely be Markeaton Golf Club also mentioned in Mark’s opening post.
In the 50s there was a golf course where the university is now situated, with the club house opposite the main drive on the eastern edge of Markeaton Park. It was frequented by Derby County players who had a base at what was until recently the Clovelly Hotel on Broadway.