The Barton on Humber Golf Club

During the late 1800s golf was becoming a popular game in England, and this was mirrored in the Barton area.  A group of well-to-do people in Barton met to discuss the possibility of starting a golf club in the town and the result was that in October 1899 the Barton upon Humber Golf Club was formed.  The Rev. H. G. C. North Cox was the first president, Mr O. Knight the first secretary and Mr G. Nowell (of the firm of solicitors Nowell and Dix) the first treasurer.  There was already a membership of 30 at this time.  This golf club had its first links in a field belonging to Mr Tombleson near the Blow Wells, it being a nine-hole course.  Having the links in this location was not ideal however, and this was emphasised by a report in the Hull and Lincolnshire Times of 28th October 1899 which stated “Barton Golf Club is now in working order, but the link is very rough, making putting and driving difficult and causing the loss of many balls.”  Despite the bad links play was still held there, and in January the monthly handicap medal, presented by Mr A. Towle, was won by Mr H. Knight.  On Monday 7th May 1900 a committee meeting was held to consider the links and other business.  The Rev. L. Mason presided over the meeting, with Messrs W. T. Gooseman, W. H. Whitty, H. R. Dix, C. Hunt jun., and others present.  One of the items considered was whether the game should be carried on throughout the summer months.  The committee decided against this as they thought cricket and tennis would demand greater attention in the town.  The provision of new links was also considered.  The present links, near to Barton Cliff, were nearly two miles from the town, so the committee decided that Mr Hunt be approached with a view to securing the use of his fields on the Bardney estate.  By September of 1900 new links had been obtained, reportedly spreading across several fields up the East Ackridge, in close proximity to the town.  Altogether these links covered about 40 acres, and the course was 1 miles long.  There were plenty of natural bunkers, and a capital nine-hole course was laid out by Messrs. A. Towle, H. R. Dix, G. Nowell, and H. O. Knight.  The season commenced on October 1st and it was hoped that some of the ardent golfers of the town who struggled to play last year, due to the fact the links were so far away, may support the club this season.  The annual meeting of the Golf Club that year took place on the 5th October at the George Hotel with Mr Whitty presiding.  Amongst those present were H. Piggott, W. T. Gooseman, H. R. Dix, L. Mason, C. Hart, H. O. Knight and G. Nowell.  The officers were re-elected as follows: secretary and captain, Mr H. O. Knight; treasurer, Mr G. H. Nowell; committee members, Dix, Gooseman, Mason, Piggott, Hart and Whitty.  The committee fixed the playing season to last until the 6th April, and also agreed to erect a club room and engage a groundsman.  The rules were adopted and several new members elected.  One of these new members, Mr P. Hunt, won the first handicap of the season, although it was reported that to some extent he owed his victory to the liberal handicapping.

Despite a lack of newspaper reports on the golf club for the next year it was still going strong.  In January 1902 Mr W. T. Gooseman won the Golf Handicap Driving Match on the links at Barton, which were still reportedly situated on East Ackridge.  The driving was 187 yards and the prize a golf club.  On the 4th January a match was played on the East Ackridge links between Barton and Brigg, which Barton won by three holes.  The golf continued to flourish during the year in Barton and the surrounding area and in September the annual meeting, held at the George Hotel on the 10th, reported that the same nine-hole course would be available, and the groundsman had been re-engaged.  The finances were in satisfactory condition, and the membership was good.  Mr G. H. Nowell presided over the meeting.

In October 1902 capital golf links were laid out at Elsham, in the Mill Field near the station.  It was not expected to attract large numbers from Barton however, as it was stated that “Barton-on-Humber, six miles away, was a larger community [than Brigg] but there was already an established golf course there in Horkstow Lane, so that a new and primitive nine-hole course on an Elsham pasture was not likely to attract any appreciable numbers from that quarter” 1.  The current Horkstow Road is not in the modern East Acridge area of Barton, but the report mentions “an established golf course” there suggesting it was not a new course.  It can be presumed that there was another lane in Barton called Horkstow Lane at this time, close to or in the East Acridge area, or the above report was incorrect, the latter being probably more likely.

Barton golf club members did visit the Elsham course however.  A great number of golf enthusiasts from both Barton and Brigg visited the course on the 25th October 1902, and the Barton club visited again on the 3rd January 1903 when “the links were in splendid condition, and some exiting play took place.”

The 31st August 1903 saw the clubs 4th annual meeting held at the George Hotel.  Mr George Winship (auctioneer) presided, and reported that the year commenced with a balance in hand of 4 7s 11d, and closed with one amounting to 5s 8d.  The officers for the following year were appointed, those being president, Mr F. Hopper (of F. Hopper and Co Cycle Manufacturers); captain and honorary secretary, Mr H. O. Knight; and treasurer, Mr T. H. Ball.  The committee was made up of Messrs. C. Hunt, P. Hunt, W. T. Gooseman, H. Pigott, G. H. Nowell, W. Whitehead and George Winship. The groundsman, J. Wright, was re-appointed.  It was also decided at this meeting to hold an annual dinner.

The Golf Club didn’t always get a good press however, and in the Hull and Lincolnshire Times of October 17th 1903 a report was made entitled “Why Game is Scarce”.  This wasn’t the game of golf it was referring to, rather game birds.  On Thursday 15th October some gentlemen were enjoying an afternoon game of golf on the Barton links when they discovered a partridge’s nest with 17 eggs.  They removed the eggs to adorn the museum in the National school.  This obviously didn’t go down too well with the local press.

Wednesday the 10th February 1904 saw the Barton club gather at the Wheat Sheaf Inn, under the chairmanship of their genial president (councillor Hopper), for their first annual dinner.  It was noted at this dinner that golfing had taken a very strong hold in the town, there were many enthusiasts, and the membership was on the increase.

The Barton Golf Club travelled to Elsham on Monday 4th April 1904, for a game against the Elsham club.  Victory did not rest with the Barton Club, but a capital series of games resulted.  Elsham won the singles four to two, and the doubles three to nil.  Not long after this date the Barton Club would suffer a major blow.  It became homeless and linkless when its tenancy came to a compulsory termination.  The landlord refused the club the use of his field any longer, which was even more of a blow because of the good sum of money the club had spent on it preparing the ground.  This forced the committee to spend the summer months looking for some fields that could be quickly converted to splendid links.

There was good news reported in the Hull and Lincolnshire Times of September 24th 1904.  It stated “the Golf Club is not to fall through, as seemed likely in the spring of this year. They have been able to secure some fields near the Humber-side, to make a nine-hole course. The chief of these is known as Clipson’s Marsh, and is fifty acres in extent, and there are others adjoining it. The members are busy marking out, and they will soon be ready for play”.  This was good news for the club and its increasing membership.  This ground must have been ideal for a golf course because in the Hull and Lincolnshire Times of November 19th 1904 it was reported that “The Golf Club is now firmly established. Excellent links have been secured off the Waterside road, mainly in what is known as the ‘Long Close’, and a course of nine holes laid out. Considerable money has been spent in laying the links, but it may now claim to be amongst the best in Lincolnshire.”  It also went on to report that the membership of the club is good and enthusiast in the town remained high.  H. O. Knight was the secretary at this time, and also the owner of the whiting mill called Bank Mills along Waterside road.  This may give us a clue to the location of the golf course at this time.

Golf continued to be popular in Barton during 1905.  The annual dinner was held at the George Hotel during May, when Mr A. Towle presided over matters.  On the 9th December the third qualifying round for the cup presented by Mr F. Hopper was played.  Mr Percy Hunt was the winner.  His card of four down to bogey was an excellent score, according to the Hull and Lincolnshire Times, considering his handicap, the state of the ground, and the difficulty of the course.  The two previous winners were Mr G. Winship and Mr H. Pigott.  There were two more competitions held in December, on the 26th, for the Captains’ and the Treasurers’ prizes.  J. P. Hunt gained the first prize (3 down) and H. Pigott the second (9 down).  Other players who returned cards were Messrs. A. F. Towle, T. H. Ball, G. H. Hunt, H. Whitehead, C. P. Hunt and G. Winship.

1906 saw closer ties between the Barton and Elsham Golf clubs, which may have been the start of the Barton clubs’ initial demise.  H. O. Knight, a founder member of the Barton club, had taken up the captaincy at the Elsham golf club.  We can assume that many of his friends played there too.  Golf was still going strong in Barton at this time though.  In October the first qualifying round of the Challenge Cup, given by Mr. Hopper the president, took place.  Mr J. P. Hunt was the winner, with Messrs. T. H. Ball, C. P. Hunt, H. Whitehead and J. W. Whitehead also competing.  The entrant numbers were down on previous years though.

At the next annual meeting, held in September 1907, Mr A. Towle presiding, Mr T. H. Ball was elected treasurer, Mr C. Hunt secretary and Mr G. H. Nowell captain, the vice-captain being Mr W. Whitehead.  There was a Christmas golf competition held that year, which created much interest amongst the members.  In spite of the unfavourable weather an excellent days’ play was reported.  The medal competition was won by Mr H. O. Knight, and he also won the first prize for the Bogey competition.  1907 also saw the Barton Golf Club mentioned in the local directory.  The captain was reported as Mr W. Whitehead, the treasurer Mr T. H. Ball, the president Mr F. Hopper Esq., the Vice-Presidents Messrs Towle and Hill, and the Secretary Mr C. P. Hunt.

1908 saw no reports at all appear for the Barton Golf club in the local newspapers, possibly a sign that it was loosing its popularity in the town, or the media.  The ties with Elsham grew stronger too, with G. H. Nowell, the captain of the Barton Golf club the year previous, becoming the captain of the Elsham Golf club this year.  March 1909 did see a report on the club, however.  On the 20th March the six monthly winners of the Hopper Challenge Cup met to decide the future of the cup for the next twelve months.  There was some very close and interesting play.  Mr C. P. Hunt was the first to finish, but Mr G. H. Nowell proved to be the overall winner with a remarkable performance.

From this point on the golf club in Barton is hardly mentioned in the local press, and had possibly fallen out of favour to the improving Elsham club, or had once again lost the use of its links eventually leading to its closure.  The Kelly’s Directory of 1909 listed seven local Golf Clubs, Barton upon Humber being one of them, C. P. Hunt being the secretary at this time.  However the Kelly’s Directory of 1913 listed 13 local Golf Clubs, including Elsham, but there was no mention of the Barton Club.  Again, the Barton club was not mentioned in the trade directory of 1918.  

Golf Club Booklet Golf Club rules
Fig 1a : The front cover of the Barton-on-Humber Golf Club card of the early 1920s. Fig 1b : The rules and hole details of the Barton-on-Humber Golf Club of the early 1920s.
Courtesy of the Barton and District History Group Archive.

The club did re-form in the early-1920s however, being listed in the Kelly’s Directory of 1922, 1926 and 1930.  F. Kimber was the honorary secretary in 1922 (Fig 1a) and Richard Wilmott was the honorary secretary and treasurer in 1926 and 1930.  The Golf Club was listed on Brigg Road throughout this time.  It is around this time that the golf course can be located with some accuracy with the help of a golf membership card of the time (Fig 1a and 1b).  The rules stated that “balls driven out of bounds (viz: Mount House, Rydal Mount, Providence Close and Mr Stamp’s garden) the penalty is the stroke played and the distance” (Fig 1b).  This would place the golf course on the land to the west of the Baysgarth estate, where Providence Crescent, Mount Avenue, Millfields etc. lay.  Mr John Tombleson resided at Mount House, along Brigg Road, at this time.  This card gives details of the subscription rates and entrance fees, being 1 1 0 and 5/- respectively for gentlemen and 10/6 and 2/6 respectively for ladies.  Visitors could use the course for 1/- per day, 2/6 per week or 5/- per month.  It also states that the club will follow the rules of the Royal and Ancient Club of St. Andrews.  This card also provides the details of the length and the bogey score of each hole (Fig 1b), the total course length being 1960 yards with a bogey score of 38.  The rules also mention that if a ball is lying in a hoof mark, or in dung, it may be lifted out and placed behind without penalty!  The Barton on Humber Golf Club continued through to the early 1930s when it finally met its second and final demise2.  It was not listed in the Kelly’s directory of 1933 suggesting it was either 1931 or 1932 when it finally closed.  

Gilbert Henry Nowell went on to captain the Elsham club again in 1921 and 1933, and Thomas. H. Kirk of Barton (surgeon) captained the club in 1930.  G. H. Nowell also became the Elsham Club president from 1940 to his death in 1951.  Upon his death his wife presented the Elsham club with the trophy her husband had won at the Barton Golf Club with the express wish it be designated the Nowell Memorial Trophy, in commemoration of his long and happy relationship with the Elsham Club.  There was an objection from Fred Hopper at the time, who informed the committee that the cup had been donated to the Barton Club by his late father, Mr Fred Hopper.  The committee changed its mind and decided to call it The Hopper Cup.  There were second thoughts to this however, as Gilbert Nowell had been a member since the early years of the century and had been very important to the club.  It was finally decided to designate it “The Nowell Memorial” cup.  This trophy is still competed for today, and is a lasting reminder of the short-lived Barton Golf Club.



1)    The Story of Elsham Golf Club, Edward Dodd, p10.
The Story of Elsham Golf Club, Edward Dodd, p55.
Barton Directory 1907.
Kelly’s Directory of Lincolnshire 1905 : 1909 : 1913 : 1918 : 1922 : 1926 : 1930 : 1933.
Various editions of the
Hull and Lincolnshire Times.


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