A new book which charts the 200-year history of England’s second-oldest golf club has been written as a ‘labour of love’.
Author Helen Besant-Roberts spent two years researching Old Manchester Golf Club, which was founded in 1818.
Her 170-page book, called Far and Sure, tells the club’s story against the economic, political and social backdrop of the period.
Helen, who lives in Altrincham and is a partner at north west accountancy firm HURST, has a keen interest in local history and her father David has been installed as the club’s new captain.
She said: “The book has been a labour of love. I wrote it in my spare time and it was fascinating to read through the minutes, meeting records and other archive material and to explain the club’s history in the context of what was happening around the region and beyond.”
Old Manchester Golf Club was established with nine members and an annual subscription of £1. It was the second club to be set up in England after the Royal Blackheath Golf Club in London.
The founders were prominent north west industrialists of the time, ranging from silk and cotton mill owners and merchants to printers.
Members over the years have included a host of leading civic and business figures who helped shape Manchester, including Robert Boddington, chairman of Boddingtons Brewery, mill owner and MP Sir William Houldsworth and Sir Charles Shaw, Manchester’s first Chief Commissioner of Police.
Arthur Balfour, who was the MP for Manchester East and later became prime minister, also played a round at the club.
Notable events and landmarks include the admission of women as members in 1891, and the notorious ‘Dinner for One’ in 1858, when Malcolm Ross was the only member who turned up to a meeting.
Despite there being no other diners, he made loyal toasts and ate all the food – a large cod, a saddle of mutton, a goose, two brace of partridge and puddings – then drank three bottles of port before recording the minutes of the meeting. The extraordinary event is still talked about by members to this day.
Since its creation, the club has been based in three locations, all in Salford – Kersal Moor, Broughton Park and Vine Street, where its course was bombed in the 1940 Blitz during World War Two.
It lost its Vine Street lease in 1960 to the old Salford Corporation and since then has had no course or clubhouse of its own.
Members have since 1960 hired courses to play for trophies and medals which are among the oldest in the world still in use. The club has a limit of 40 playing members and is at capacity. New members are only admitted by invitation.
Last year, to celebrate the club’s bicentenary, members played a match over three holes on Kersal Moor, dressed in traditional attire. A plaque to mark the occasion was unveiled by the Ceremonial Mayor of Salford, Councillor Peter Connor.
Club secretary John McKenna said: “The book is a very good read. The idea of writing the book as a social history of the Manchester area and detailing what was happening with the club at the time was Helen’s and we are all delighted with her work.”
The book is available in hardback and costs £25. It can be ordered via firstname.lastname@example.org or via Amazon.
Pictured (left to right ) retiring club captain Phil Goodall, new club captain David Besant-Roberts, Helen Besant-Roberts and club secretary John McKenna.