A golf course was built on Hungerford Common in the early 20th century. It ran from 1903 until c1925, and from 1929 until 1931. Some references say it was a 9-hole course, but Robert James advises (Feb 2013) that it was in fact only a 5-hole course.
- Port Down gate, c1910 showing the two huts, one used by the Golf Club
- "The Golf Links, Hungerford". On the Common near Denford, c1910
The Golf Club, cont'd:
The possibility of having golf links on the Common was first recorded in the Trustee Minute book in October 1902. The Constable was asked to seek the views of the Commoners.
In February 1903 the persons representing a possible Golf Club offered £5 per annum for a lease of three years for permission to lay out a Golf Course. This was referred to the Hocktide Jury, and a vote taken by a show of hands resulted in 19 for and none against the Golf Club, and in April 1903 a lease for three years was granted.
Later the Golf Club asked permission to put a small shed adjoining the gate-keeper's hut at the Down Gate. This was granted on payment of a quit rent of 2s 6d per annum.
In October 1903 the Golf Club complained that race-horses were being trained on the Common by Mr De Wend Fenton of Hungerford Park, who denied doing so, but said he was not aware of any rule stopping him from riding across the Common.
The Golf Club now wished to enclose the greens, offering £15 per annum for a term of seven years. The matter was left to the Hocktide Jury.
The Inquiry by the Charity Commissioners in August 1905 into all the affairs of the Town and Manor noted that "For the use of Port Down yearly rents are paid by various clubs, £5 by the golf club...".
In April 1906 the lease of the Golf Club was renewed for a further seven years.
It appears that the Gold Club closed c1925, but re-started in 1929, when the Trustees of the Town and Manor had before them an application from the Golf Club to "resume activities". The Trustees thought an annual rent of seven guineas would be appropriate. The Golf Club offered five guineas per annum and asked permission to make three bunkers. The Trustees accepted the offer but deferred permission to make the bunkers until it was seen how the Club progressed.
The Newbury Weekly News of 19 Mar 1931 recorded that "Members of Hungerford Golf Club, restarted two years ago, decided on Monday to close down the course on the Common again".
In 1932 it was suggested that the Trustees might take over and run the Golf Club. This they declined to do and that seems to have been the end of Golf on Port Down.
The NWN report (above) stated it was to closed in Mar 1931, and Angela Evans (in 2002) spoke to her aunt Mary Peart (who was brought up in Dun Mill trout farm) who confirmed there was no golf course in 1932. Alan Jackson (of "Through the Green") thought it "failed to survive WW2". He also thought "James Braid was involved in the design". Jack Williams recalled (interview 1993) that the golf club closed in the 1930s.
The NWN reported on 30th September 1937: "Golf at Hungerford: For sometime the need for a golf course has been badly felt at Hungerford. A committee of which Mr. E.W.Munford (The Constable) is chairman, has been convened to consider the possibilities of making a nine hole course on the Common. The Commoners have signified their willingness to allow the Common to be used as a course, and have given facilities for the fairways to be cut and greens enclosed. It is felt if 80 members would join, the club would be sound financially, and the course would be improved year by year."
However, plans did not go smoothly! The NEW reported on 28th October 1937: "Hungerford Golf Course: Reference to the letter from the Constable in the last issue. Really, to some people nothing is sacred, and they are daring to question the judgement of our unique local council authority. WHY, they are asking is it possible to enclose the greens on the proposed golf course, and not possible to enclose the Recreation Heaven help the unfortunate player who wings a Town Trustee. There are some who think this would be a capital thing, but it would certainly be a capital offence. The golf club, if it ever starts, will fail as most things in Hungerford fail, because local administration closes the door to youth. Even Dick Whittington would have thought twice about turning again if before aspiring to municipal honours, he had been compelled to acquire a Common right house."
It is thought that these plans never came to fruition.
It appears, therefore, that the Golf Club on the Common operated from 1903-1925, and re-opened in 1929 until it finally closed in 1931.