The Holyhead Golf Club Ltd
Lon Garreg Fawr, Trearddur Bay, Anglesey, LL65 2YL
One of the closest Golf Courses to our properties, round the corner almost…
Holyhead was basking in a period of boom at the start of the twentieth century which had extended nearly fifty years. The population of the town had more than doubled between 1841 and 1851, when it reached almost 9,000. By 1901 it had risen further to over 11,000. The catalyst for all this activity was the decision to direct the mail to Ireland through Holyhead rather than Porthdinllaen, which ensured the town’s future as the main passenger and trading route between the two countries.
One of the first significant benefits to the town was the building of the Chester to Holyhead railway line which was completed in March 1848. The first mail train named ‘The Irish Mail’ arrived at Holyhead on 1st August of that year, and was, incidentally, the first train in the world to be given a ‘name’.
Two major developments ensured Holyhead received national publicity and remained in the public eye throughout this period; the building of the Breakwater in the outer harbour, which was completed in 1873 after 28 years work, and the extensive redevelopment of the inner harbour completed in 1880. The latter project created a new station complex which gave passengers a direct route from ship to rail, a luxurious new Hotel, and large lairages to accommodate the important and increasing cattle imports from Ireland. Both developments were ‘opened’ by the Price of Wales, with Queen Victoria herself having visited Holyhead to view the construction of the Breakwater.
Although the Post Office contract to carry mail between the two countries was held by the Dublin Steam Packet Company, it was the London and North Western Railway which was the major player in these developments; its’ commercial success demonstrated by the fact that by 1883 it had 14 ships sailing from the port to Dublin North Wall and Greenore. (In 1907 it also returned to a previous port, that of Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire).
In addition to this commercial activity, Ireland, part of the United Kingdom parliament at this time, had since the 1880s seen a demand from the nationalists in the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) for Home Rule, or self-government from Britain, a demand that was eventually acceded to in 1912. The ‘Irish Problem’ as it was called, ensured that there was considerable traffic of the prominent people, particularly politicians, through the port of Holyhead.
It was therefore little wonder that the area had attracted the attention of a number of privileged and influential people, nor that Holyhead, and the attractions of Trearddur Bay in particular, became prized as a summer retreat, It was around this time that a number of the “Big Houses”, as they were known locally, were built in the Bay, and it was this influx of wealthy and prominent individuals, supplemented by a number of local professional people, that was to be the impetus for the creation of a golf ‘club’.
TREARDDUR BAY GOLF CLUB
The existence of a golf course in the area is first mentioned in a brochure dated 1893 which refers to the Tre-Arddur Golf Club which states that “enquiries should be addressed to the Hon Sec at the Tre-Arddur-Bay Hotel or to the proprietor of the Hotel, which is on the links. The links are occasionally allowed to get out of order, when visitors are few, but they provide fair golf”. It seems that a 9 hole course had been established and financed by the Trearddur Bay Hotel, although as a hotel it was then little more than the private house it had once been. The course was built to the ‘leeward side’ of the hotel on land leased from the William family of Trecastell (Beaumaris), who were substantial landowners on that side of the bay.The hotel itself was owned and run by the Roberts family, with the entries for the property included in the 1911 census showing the ‘Head’ as Margaret Roberts, a 68 year old widow, described as a Boarding House Keeper. There were three daughters, Abigail, Margaret Ann and Sarah Jane Roberts who were described as ‘Employed at home generally’, but who it is understood effectively ran the business. ‘One brother Richard, better known as Dick Roberts was a coachman; he was also a keen sailor and one of the founder members of the Trearddur Bay Sailing Club. Yet another brother and the person of greatest interest to us, was Hugh Cornelius Roberts, a single man of 25 years of age and who is described as ‘Golf Professional’. A 17 year old servant, John Williams, who originated from Portdinorwic is also included as a Golf Hand. It is believed that he was related to the Roberts family who still have descendants in the town today. The ‘Hotel’ competed with prestigious Station Hotel, and the Cliff Hotel, owned at one point by Sir R J Thomas the local M.P., as well as with the several inns and guesthouse in Holyhead, Whilst the golf course may very likely have been constructed as an asset to attract visiting golfers to the hotel, but it certainly had the support of several members of the local community, and a report in the Holyhead Chronicle of Friday, 10th May 1910 confirms that the ‘club’ existed in the area when it records.
‘Admiral Burr has kindly presented a cup to be played for the Trearddur Bay links between the members of the Golf Club, the tournament will be held towards the end of present month’.
Subsequent to this a list of players in the first round was published in the issue of 17th June 1910. They are worth recording since so many of them figure prominently in the formation of the Golf Club.
LONDON & NORTH WESTERN RAILWAY
In December 1910 a meeting of persons interested in golf was held at the Station Hotel in order to discuss the possibility of establishing a good 18 hole golf links. In attendance were the majority of those people involved with the Trearddur Bay club, together with a few other local people of professional standing. A committee was appointed to pursue these objectives. The minutes of the meeting state that from what quickly followed it was obvious that much private discussion had already taken place prior to the meeting. Not only had suitable land been identified, but also, miraculously, the L. & N.W. Railway came forward with a promise of the necessary finances so that the “capital” difficulty was overcome, sufficiently so for the project to continue immediately.
The site identified was, and still is that occupied by the present day Holyhead Golf CLub Ltd. It is evident that the development of the new course was largely, if not exclusively, due to the influence of Commander G E Holland, C.B., C.I.E., D.S.O., who was superintendent of the Holyhead Marine Department, London and North Western Railway, and who became the new golf club’s first Secretary.
The land involved was initially acquired on lease. The bulk of this, some 86 acres, on a 30 year lease, from Lord Sheffield (also known as Lord Stanley), for an annual sum of £116. This comprised the area which was known as the Warren, and included what became the Green keeper’s Cottage, which at the time was occupied by Lord Sheffield’s Gamekeeper, Joseph Hindley. It also included parts of Ty Mawr Farm.
Another 28 acres of land, much of it marshland, and known as Flagstaff Field, Cae Towyn, Cae Gors Marsh, and Cae Gors Bach, were obtained from Mr Hope Atkin, of Isallt Fawr. This area comprised part of the current third, fourth, fifth, sixth and part of the seventh holes.
The negotiations were in fact completed very quickly, again giving riseto the theory that a lot of pre-negotiation had taken place.
The final piece of land was leased after some difficult negotiations, from Lord Boston and was the area which included the current car park and the plot of land to the right of the lane from the Dormy House to Garreg Fawr Farm. It also included a small part of the third fairway near the tee.
James Braid, a master course designer who had previously been engaged by the L.N.W.R. in the design of their Scottish Courses, was appointed by them to direct the lay-out of the new course. Braid’s first visit to the area was in 1911, and by June 1912 sufficient progress had been made for the course, then 14 holes, to be opened. The event was recorded in the Hoyhead Chronicle of 26th June of that year.
The Holyhead Golf Club started it’s career on Monday last, 22nd June 1912 when the new temporary course (of 14 holes) was opened.
The first ball was driven amidst great enthusiasm by Admiral J Leslie Burr, CMG.MVO., Captain of the club for the year.
In a Foresome which followed, Admiral Burr and Mr Hockey the Club Professional, played against Commander G E Holland CIE., DSO. and Mr T R Evans with the match ending in a win for Admiral and his partner by 3 and 1.
A great deal has been done in a very short space of time in getting the course into playing order,and, although the present is only a temporary course, one can easily see how, in the future, it will make not only a first class golf course but one which is sure to become famous for the beautiful scenery and magnificent views.
A contemporary account for the opening match (by Mr Owen Henry Williams of Tan Y Bryn Road) tells us “I remember the opening of the Golf Club by Admiral Burr, he opened it and driving off the first tee. Oh! I’m sure it was one of the worst shots he ever played, it only went a few yards, but that was the start”.
Work continued on the course for a further two years before the full 18 holes were completed and Braid was able to declare his work finished.
Whilst the local members ran the golfing side, the catering and bar were under the control of Miss Hickon as managers of the Station Hotel. The L. & N.W.R. Hotels Department arranged parties for golfers and organised a car to transport them from the Hotel to Club, as well as providing them with a picnic lunch. One of the drivers who provided the transport was a man called Tommy Joseph, a Welsh International Footballer (Amateur).