Mersea Golf Club - a short history
|Mersea Island Golf Club no longer exists. In fact it hasn't operated since its sale in 1950. The former clubhouse of Mersea Island Golf Club, Essex, still stands at East Mersea, facing across the Colne Estuary to Brightlingsea, but is now used as a private residence.
The course is long returned to its original use as farmland.
The Island had much going for it. Rich oyster beds producing the claim of "Best Oysters in the World", an excellent rail link from Liverpool Street to Colchester
and on to nearby Brightlingsea which meant it was in easy reach of those who wished to holiday in the area. Boats and yachts from Brightlingsea and Point Clear made regular visits because there was a good landing area with moorings for a lengthy stay without getting ones feet wet. A ferry operated on a regular daily basis, the attraction being good beaches for bathing, good fishing, good boating and yachting and good walking with bracing sea air with great views of the sea. So, in the boom in the popularity of golf at the beginning of the 20th Century, it was an attractive place for a golf club.
The first layout was for a clubhouse and nine holes and it was completed and opened in 1910, a typical links course with a view of the sea from each hole. [ Note 1 ] From the outset the venture proved to be extremely popular with the large military garrison of Colchester and golfers from around Essex eager to try out the new course. With London one and a half hours away by rail and with overnight accommodation relatively cheap and available, it soon became a good place to have a break from city life. For the yachtsman who also enjoys a game of golf, the club provided a game for himself,
his friends and guests with his boat anchored less than a cable length from the course. He could play golf, use his boat for accommodation and the facilities of the club for refreshments and meals, an ideal situation. The club could dispense drinks of every kind and could provide snacks, luncheons and dinners.
The club had very wisely purchased the rights to the foreshore, which had a good sandy beach and anchorage.
For the next three to four years the club prospered and the investment proved to be a good one. In 1912 the first Professional was appointed. He only stayed for one year and was replaced in 1913 but this appointment was cut short by the onset of the Great War. The War had a disastrous affect on the club with visitors and the membership reduced to a trickle. The Army requisitioned the course, foreshore and clubhouse for defensive gun emplacements, placed the area off bounds and the course fell into disuse. The Army retained possession for some time after the Armistice, but eventually cleared up and handed back all facilities to the owners. Attempts to restart the Club foundered due to shortage of capital and revenue. Too much needed to be done and the facilities were sold on to a more energetic new owner, who re-laid the original nine holes. A further five opened unofficially in 1927 and the full complement of eighteen was completed two years later.
From 1927 to 1939 the Club went from strength to strength, rewarding the commitment and investment of the new owners and putting it on a sound footing. Some idea of the City-based character of the membership came from the annual dinners, which from 1935 were held at Claridge's Hotel, Mayfair. A band was hired at the substantial cost of 90 guineas, along with a toastmaster and cabaret entertainment. So popular were the dinners up to the end of the decade, that attendance had to be capped at 300.
This all came to an end with the Second World War. The Clubhouse and course were quickly taken over once more by the military, with the establishment of anti-aircraft batteries and searchlights. A number of huts were erected and a wire fence erected round the course more to keep out the locals than German Panzers. The beach was mined and a pill box built.
The Clubhouse and course were handed back soon after VE Day in 1945, but suffering from dreadful neglect and disrepair. This time there was no way back, no money, no resources and no resolve. In 1950 the course, Clubhouse and seven double-fronted dormy houses were sold for non-golfing use.
Note 1 The Golf Club is described as an 'owners club' A key person in the start in 1910 was George Edgar Roberts, who owned Ivy Farm - most of the land of Ivy Farm became Golf Course.
The above text is mainly condensed from an article by Gordon Taylor in the Mersea Island Golf Club booklet published by Mersea Museum. The booklet is available from the Museum Shop.
The Museum has a permanent display of Mersea Island Golf Club memorabilia.
Read More ...
1934-35 Official Handbook
There is a description of the golf club on
|1 April 2008
Three year old Kathleen Powell with the golf club made by her father Thomas Powell. Thomas was Professional at Mersea Island Golf Club and also a club maker.
Kathleen and Jack Powell, children of Thomas Powell who was Professional at Mersea Island Golf Club. Jack was born 1913 at the Golf House, East Mersea - he is wearing the leather hat that his father Thomas had made from the bottom of a golf bag.
Thomas was killed September 1918 and the family then moved back to Ireland.
Thomas Charles Powell. Professional at East Mersea golf course.
July 1916, the golf club was closed for the War, and Thomas Powell was working on an East Mersea farm. Thomas volunteered to join the Colours in place of another stockman on the farm. [ MMN_1916_005 ].
He was wounded at Cagnicourt 13 September 1918 and died of his injuries the next day. Thomas is buried in Duisans British Cemetery near Arras.
Thomas was married with a daughter Kathleen and son John - John was born 1913 in the Golf House. After Thomas died, his wife Mary moved back to her native Ireland.
For more details see Not Just a Name by Roger Bullen, page 152, and Mersea Island Golf Club published by Mersea Museum - Museum Publications.
East Mersea Golf Club. Members assembling on the verandah of the clubhouse on the opening day for the full 18 hole course.
The photograph was tucked into the Mersea Golf Club Minutes Book. It is from Sporting and General Press Agency.
5 April 1929
Mersea Island Golf Club Official Handbook - cover.
Golf Clubs at Home - Mersea Island, Essex. From The Bystander, 23 September 1936
Thomas Charles Powell - Professional at Mersea Island Golf Club. He was wounded at Cagnicourt and died of wounds 14 September 1918. Thomas is buried at Duisans British Cemetery near Arras.
Source: Mersea Museum