Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. (1895 - WW2)

Founded 1895/1906.

The Later Portishead Golf Club occupied land owned by Bristol Corporation, and was designed by Harry Vardon. The 18-hole course measured 5015 yards, and par was 77. Records indicate that the course opened in 1907, situated alongside the coast road from Portishead to Clevedon. The steeply sloping nature of the course afforded excellent views across the Bristol Channel. The 10th hole was played over the road, and the old tower of a windmill formed part of the clubhouse.


Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. Club button.

Portishead Golf Club button. 


The early club - During the early months of 1895 several meetings were held in an attempt to form a club, land near the docks and railway station had been the preferred area but attempts to reach an agreement on the lease failed, it seemed that all the efforts had been in vain.

It was reported that in the meantime an excellent nine hole course had been laid out by some of the residents and a professional had been taken on, this was to be the first Portishead course. The following report appeared in the Western Daily Press on 27th June 1895 and gives the location and a description of the course “It is, perhaps, not too much to say that there is no more sporting course in the West of England. The embankment of the Commision Ditch - resembling a line of sand hills, forms a formidable obstacle, which extends the whole length of the links, and separates it into two portions. In forming an opinion on the course, allowance must be made for the fact that no rain has fallen since it was laid out, but in spite of the abnormally dry weather, which has put a stop to rolling, the “lies” are uniformly good. The greens promise to be excellent, both as regard the quality of the turf and their position, all of them being guarded by natural hazards. It is proposed to enlarge the course next year and form a regular golf club. By the alteration of some of the tees a capital ladies’ course of seven holes has been made, and as there are no hedges, walls or stiles to be negotiated, the lady players who have been assiduous in their practise on the Downs, will find the new links a convenient place to test their powers. The links are close to the Portishead station and a temporary club-room has been secured at the Gas Works, which adjoins the course. Thanks are especially due to those gentlemen who, in the first instance, kindly offered to raise funds for starting a golf course at Portishead, to the farmers for the friendly spirit in which they have met the promoters of the game, and to the Bristol Docks Committee for adapting their iron fencing to meet the requirements of the golfers”          

The old Gas Works, mentioned above, is close to where the present day Old Mill Road Industrial Estate is located.  

Below is the result of the first recorded club match at Portishead, it was played against Henbury Golf Club on Friday 27th July 1895, it resulted in a handsome win for the hosts. The recent much needed rain had greatly improved the course. A lot of the credit for the general condition of the links was down to the hard work put in by the professional, Mr H Ball.

Portishead Golf Club   Henbury Golf Club  
M B Carter 15 T Cartwright 0
T Spencer 9 Clare Smith 0
A E G Way 6 H P Lockman 0
Mr Castle 3 W Ferris 0
J E Colthurst 3 B H Matthews 0
J Weston 0 Rev E Langley 11
  36   11

The course was constantly improving and this was reflected in the turnout for a 27 hole handicap competition, open to players of any recognised club in Somerset or Gloucestershire. It was held from September 21st to the 28th 1895. The course was in perfect condition for the week’s golf, the greens were particularly good. H Ball, the young professional, was still working on modifications and improvements to the course. The best score recorded so far for eighteen holes was 74. The following valuable prizes were on offer in the competition; first prize, “a massive silver bowl of antique design” valued at £10/10s; second prize, “a fluted silver beaker”  donated by Mr J Harvey, Leigh Woods and valued £5/5s ; third prize, “a pair of chased silver ash trays” value £2/2s. There was a tie for first place, Mr Castle won in the play off, result as follows. 

  Gross Nett
W B Castle, Bristol & Clifton. 128 114
A E G Way, Portishead and Bristol & Clifton. 133 114
W Fairbanks, Bath and Bristol & Clifton.  124 119
Capt H Broke, Bristol & Clifton. 139 126
Falconer Fry, Bristol & Clifton. 145 132
W McPherson, Bristol & Clifton. 148 132
T Spencer, Portishead and Burnham. 150 136
C H Tippett, Weston-super-Mare. 164 138
A Basil Reece, Bristol & Clifton. 150 134
S Gouldsmith, Bristol & Clifton. 168 130
B Matthews, Henbury. 163 141
W H Jefferies, Henbury. 157 142
H Allbutt, Bristol & Clifton. 163 144
F F Cartwright, Bristol & Clifton. 178 147

There were over thirty no returns.

The course was to close following the competition to allow for further improvements and alterations, it was planned to re-open in the spring of 1896. At this time Dr Charles Wigan was acting as hon. secretary and Mr J E Colthurst as hon. treasurer.

Nothing more was found regarding this earlier course and it probably it never re-opened.

The following is from a report in the Manchester Courier Thursday 18th July 1907. “The Lord Mayor of Bristol, Alderman Smith, presided at the opening of the new Corporation course at Portishead yesterday. The course, which measures 5,500 yards, is expected to meet the needs of the enthusiastic local golfers. A F Kettley formerly of Woodford, Essex, will be the club professional. To celebrate the opening of the new course, the ex-champions, J H Taylor and Harry Vardon played a match over 18 holes, Vardon winning by 3&2. Scores; Vardon, 69; Taylor, 73”


Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. Competition results from Christmas 1907.

From the Clifton Society Thursday 2nd January 1908. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. Portishead Golf Club Competition spoons dated 1910/1913

Competition Spoons for Portishead Golf Club dated 1910/1913.


In 1914 the joint secretaries were F C Bracher and T H Jones at the Clubhouse. The professionals were G A Bowyer (1908 to 1914) and Charles Jenkins (1914 to closure). Membership was 165. There was no entry fee. Subs for gents were £4/4/0, ladies & country members paid £1/1/0. Visitors’ fees 1/- a round, 2/- a day, 7/- a week and £1 a month. Sunday play was not allowed.

The final of the ladies’ knock-out competition was completed on Wednesday 8th July 1914 when Mrs J Valentine beat Mrs G Lindrea by 4&2, this secured her the silver trophy presented by the club captain, Mr C C Cowlin.

On Saturday July 11th 1914 Portishead gained revenge in a return match against Lansdown, they had been well beaten at Bath in an earlier match.

Portishead Golf Club   Lansdown Golf Club  
G D Graham 0 Rev J C Church 1
T Downie 0 G Foster Martin 1
W Blewett (half) 0 A H Fortt (half) 0
F C Bracher 0 J Henshaw 1
A J Short 1 H R Davey 0
G F Todd 1 E A Young 0
T Burras 1 T Spurr 0
R H Todd 1 W Sants 0
F N Cowlin 1 J D Allen 0
C C Cowlin (half) 0 G W Lovell (half) 0
C F Pocock 1 J Gunton 0
W E Plaister 1 I Sumsion 0
J Parrish 1 J H Colmer 0
T T Graham 1 W Jackman 0
  9   3

Result of the monthly medal played on Saturday July 18th 1914; W A Todd,84-11-73; G Robson, 97-22-75; G D Graham, 78 scratch; A J Short, 87-7-80; T T Graham, 97-14-83.

Below is the result of a club match played on Saturday 25th July 1914 against Shirehampton at Portishead. Both clubs fielded strong sides for the encounter. 

Portishead Golf Club   Shirehampton Golf Club  
G D Graham 1 H H Johnson 0
P F Toms 1 Ernest Jones 0
T Downie 0 H Hill 1
A J Short 1 C Bostock Smith 0
F C Brasher 1 C E Risdbridger 0
G F Dodd 0 C H W Davey 1
F N Cowlin 1 R Stock 0
H Prosser 0 F Kilsby 1
T Burras 1 G T Ryan 0
W A Todd 1 W P Hutchings 0
P Addie 0 W H Kinnersley 1
W E Plaister (half) 0 E C White (half) 0
  7   4

Results from the summer meeting held in August 1914; open stroke competition, 36 holes (40 entries) – W Blewett, 168-18-150; G Robson, 190-37-153; H S Broderick, 174-20-154; J E Braithwaite, 179-25-154; G D Graham, 157 scratch; open continuous bogey, (39 entries) – G D Graham, (scratch) 1up; W Blewett, (7) all square; H S Broderick, (8) all square; T Downie, (5) 2down; G Robson, (14) 2down; J G Lindrea (13) 4down; A J Short, (5) 5down; F Webb, (10) 6down.


Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. The "Windmill" clubhouse.

Close up of the “Windmill” clubhouse. Authors Collection.


In the early 1920s the secretary was F Webb telephone number 43 and the professional Charles Jenkins. The club had a membership of 160. Course records were, amateur A E Thomas with a score of 71 and professional G A Bowyer 66. Visitors fees, gents 2/- a day, 7/6 a week, £1 a month. Ladies 1/6, 5/- 10/- respectively.

Result of the Savage Cup qualifying round played in May 1923; A H Sage, 89-19-70; H P Hutchings, 84-10-74; G C Stevens, 81-6-75; A J Short, 84-7-77; J G Lindrea, 94-16-78; H C Box, 97-16-81; G Orford, 99-18-81; F C Bracher, 94-12-82; J Chaffey Glyde, 101-18-83; G Robson, 105-20-85.

Below is the result of a ladies match played at Filton in May 1923.

Filton Ladies   Portishead Ladies  
Mrs Welch 0 Mrs J G Lindrea 1
Mrs Duke 1 Mrs Hutchings 0
Mrs Lockyer 1 Miss Thomas 0
Mrs Coe 1 Miss Coles 1
Mrs Bird 0 Miss Pearce 0
Mrs Goldman 1 Mrs Ll Thomas 0
  4   2

From 1924 to 1927 the secretary was H Blackmore, 6 Channel View, Portishead. Course records were, amateur G D Graham 71, professional C Jenkins 65.Visitors’ fees gents 2/6 a day, 10/- a week and £1/10/0 a month. Ladies 2/-, 7/6 and £1 respectively. Sunday play was now permitted after 1pm. There was a licensed clubhouse.

The July 1926 monthly bogey was won by A J Short (5), all square.

Following is the result of the November 1926 monthly bogey; N H Thomas (9), 2down; H C Box (11), 3down; A H Sage (13), 3down. Result of the ladies’ quarterly cup competition; Mrs G Orford, 102-29-73; Miss B Vowles, 99-18-81; Mrs Valentine, 100-17-83; Mrs H Thomas, 110-24-86.  


Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. The Portishead Golf Course on a Harvey Barton postcard.

Portishead golf course on a Harvey Barton postcard.


From 1928 to 1937 the secretary was G Orford, 4 The Lindens, Portishead. Membership during this period was 200 to 230. Course records were, amateur J W B Box 70, from 1928 to about 1935, G Graham then recorded a sore of 69 the professional record was now C Jenkins 63.

In 1930 a new club is announced under the heading the “Rise of Portishead Club”.

The first annual dinner of the club was held on Saturday 13th December 1930 at the Crown Restaurant, The Market, Bristol. Dr J E McCormick was in the chair. Among the visitors were C W Thomas, W Loveridge Bate (secretary of the Somerset Golf Union) and W B Heyward (secretary of the Gloucestershire and Somersetshire Professional Golfers’ Alliance). In proposing the toast of  “The Portishead Golf Club” Mr W Lovering Bate referred to the early days of the club and related how he witnessed a match at Portishead some twenty odd years ago between Harry Vardon and J H Taylor who were then at their zenith. Dr McCormick replied and mentioned that it was so many years ago that the club was in very low water, but now they were in a very different position.

During the evening the following trophies were presented; Birthday Cup, S Wilmott; Ashman Memorial Cup, E Jones; McCormick Cup, A J Gillett; Billiards Cup, G Bark.

On behalf of the Bristol members Mr W Hunt presented the chairman with a handsome silver cup to be competed for. Mr B W Stirling also asked the chairman accept a trophy for annual competition.


Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. Course and clubhouse.

View of the course and clubhouse. 


Result of a ladies match played at Clevedon in May 1931.

Clevedon Golf Club   Portishead Golf Club  
Mrs Stevenson 0 Mrs Valentine 1
Miss A Brandling 0 Mrs Orford 1
Miss May 0 Miss Pearce 1
Mrs Grainger Brunt 0 Miss M Matthews 1
Mrs Poncione 1 Miss K Short 0
Miss A Wilson 1 Mrs Fowler 0
Miss E Wilson 1 Miss G Matthews 0
  3   4

Result of the January 1933 bogey competition; J W Box (3), 2down, wins the button; S Manning (7), 3down; R H Box (7), 4down; A M Tozer (12), 4down; J Low (15), 7down; J W Miller (13), 9down; L W Lovell (14), 11 down.

In April 1933 Portishead played a home match against Rodway Hill Artisans, result below. 

Portishead Golf Club   Rodway Hill Artisans  
F W Thomas 1 P Watts 0
Dr J McCormick 1 F Payne 0
A J Short 0 A Monks 1
A H Thomas (Half) 0 H Hillier (Half) 0
D Smith 0 W Elms 1
R H Box 1 A Shepstone 0
S Manning 1 J Woodrough 0
L J Butler 1 P Durnsford 0
J E Jones 1 P Sheppard 0
H Cuff 1 V Wallington 0
R Sage 1 H Cull 0
A Pearce 1 R Osborne 0
  9   2

Following is the result of the 1933 July medal; I W Thomas, 71-4-67; R H Box, 77-9-68; J W Millen, 85-17-68; E D Smith, 77-8-69; C H Thomas, 77-6-71; L J R Butler, 82-9-73; S Wellings, 90-14-76.

Following are the leading scores for the 1933 August medal; J W Gordon, 79-13-66, spoon winner; H E Cuff, 80-12-68; R L Sage, 82-12-70; T Winfield, 86-13-73; S Manning, 83-9-74; R H Box, 84-9-75.  

The annual dinner was held in November 1933. The meal was prepared by the ladies and served by six junior members. There were 60 members present to hear the captain, Rev J M D Stancomb, make the main speech. Mr E G Smith presented a cup to be played for on Boxing Day.

Results of the 1933 Christmas four-ball bogey and foursome competitions for the Miranda and Martel Cups, presented by the captain, Mr A G Smith and Mr B H Stirling (Boxing Day); F W Thomas & S Manning, 8up; N L Kelly & R H Box, 7up; C R Beecroft & J Hayman, 6up; J A Carr & C R Harden, 5up; G R Morgan & A M Tozer, 3up; A J Short & A W Box, 2up; L O’Shaughnessy & J R Mawer, 2up; W R White & F W Lovell, 2up; H Thomas & G Orford, 1up; H Cuff & E D Smith, 1up; W Hunt & P H Fowler, 3down; A G Smith & E A Pearce, 8down. Foursomes result; Mrs H Thomas & J R Mawer, 90-19½-70½; A J Short & G Rogers, 82-11-71; J W Box & J W Millen, 84-12½-71½; Miss J Thomas & J Carr, 104-104-30-74; Miss V Pearce & J E Valentine, 94-19-75; Miss M Corbett & W R White, 104-28½-75½; J Hayman & E A Pearce, 94-17-77; Mrs Q Valentine & S Manning, 92-14-78; D Thomas & P H Fowler, 102-23-79; Miss P Roberts & B Maggs, 115-33-82.

In January 1934 Dr J E McCormick won the Ashman Memorial Cup (presented by Major W E Plaister) defeating G Orford in the final by 3 and 1.  

Result of a qualifying round for the Savages’ Cup played in May 1934; W H Grubb, 80-15-65; J R Maiser, 79-13-66; B A Maggs, 88-20-68; E D Smith, 78-9-69; S D Wellings, 85-16-69; S Manning, 82-11-71; D E Hatcher, 91-20-71; J E Valentine, 91-19-72.

The first annual match between the Portishead ladies and men was played on Saturday 21st July 1934, result below.

Ladies   Men  
Mrs Valentine (captain) 1 A G Smith (captain) 0
Miss V Pearce 1 Dr McCormick 0
Mrs Orford 0 J R Mawer 1
Mrs Fowler 0 E A Pearce 1
Miss Corbett 0 H P Hutchings 1
Miss Roberts 0 F C Bracher 1
Mrs Hutchings 0 G Orford 1
Mrs Louis 0 C H Thomas 1
Miss Musselwhite 1 R C Emett 0
Miss Lilly 0 S C Louis 1
Miss O Matthews 0 G R Morgan 1
Miss M Matthews 0 W R White 1
Miss Bailey 0 C R Beecroft 1
Miss Jenkins 0 P S Bailey 1
Miss Morrison 0 J R Butler 1
Miss B Smith 1 E D Smith 0
Miss J Orford 0 D V Hutchings 1
Miss Nott 0 W Hunt 1
Miss Short (Half) 0 J E Valentine (Half) 0
  4   14

The match was followed by supper. It had been such an enjoyable day that it was decided to make the match an annual event.

There was a large attendance for the annual dinner which was held in the clubhouse in December 1934. Amongst those present were; J Cahffey Glyde, president; A E Smith, captain; G Orford, secretary; Mr Hedley Stevens, Dr Wigan, F C Bracher, W L Bate, Dr J E McCormick, B W Stirling, Rev J M D Stancomb and W L Bate. Mr Chaffey Glade presented the trophies, three of which were won by H E Cuff. 

Below is the result of a mixed match played at Shirehampton Park in June 1935. 

Shirehampton Park Golf Club   Portishead Golf Club  
Miss Jay & A J Bailey (Half) 0 Mrs Valentine & J H Box (Half) 0
Mrs Pruett & P H Ogden (3&2) 1 Miss V Pearce & C H Thomas 0
Miss M Roberts & H A Snell (3&2) 1 Mrs Fowler & Dr McCormick 0
Mrs Ardern & H J Maguire (2up) 1 Miss Short & E B Smith 0
Miss Woodward & G T Ryan (4&2) 1 Miss Musselwhite & J Baker 0
Miss Ryan & E H Elton 1 Mrs Orford & H E Cuff 0
  5   0

Result of the Stirling Cup Competition played in July 1936; C R Beecroft, 2up; G Skinner, 1up; E D Harris, all square; J W Box, 2down; C H Thomas, 2down; E O Smith, 3down.

In September 1937 B A Maggs won the Bristol Cup with rounds of 67 and 68 for a total of 135. A H Strading, 65 and 73 was second and D E Hatcher, 67 and 73 was third.


Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. Competition spoon from 1938


Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. Competition spoon from 1938

Portishead Golf Club competition spoon from 1938. Thanks to Graham Rowley.


Result of the monthly stableford competition for January1938; J W Box, 35¼; D E Hatcher, 31; R Wright, 29¾; A W Andow, 27½; B A Maggs, 26¼.

Result of the monthly stableford for March 1938; H Beattie, 38; S C Louis, 35; H Armstrong, 33; G Rogers, 32¾; D E Hatcher, 31¾; A W Andow, 30½; J Low, 30; B A Maggs, 27¼; J E McCormack, 26½; G Bailey, 25.

From 1938 to the clubs last year in 1948 the secretary was Lieutenant Colonel H J Curley, “Springfield” Nore Rd, Portishead. The professional and greenkeeper was C Jenkins. The 18 hole course had a SSS of 69 and a Par of 70 there was a membership of 280. Course records, amateur F Thomas 63 and professional C Jenkins 63. Visitors’ fees for gents 2/6 a day, 10/- a week, £1/10/0 a month. Ladies 2/-, 7/6, 20/- respectively. Sunday play was allowed. The station at Portishead was ¾ mile away. There was also a bus service from Bristol, 11 miles.

During both World Wars part of the course was used for agriculture. The Home Guard used the clubhouse as their headquarters during World War II. Bristol Corporation eventually developed the higher part of the course for housing, leaving the lower half as a municipal course. In the 1960s, the clubhouse became a public house, originally retaining its golfing links with its name, the Hole in One. It subsequently became the Windmill Inn.

Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. The clubbouse and course.

An early postcard of Portishead course and clubhouse with the Bristol Channel in the background. The windmill tower is visible at the right of the clubhouse. Postcard from the Bowen’s Series.


Portishead Golf Club, Bristol. Links and Battery Point.

Postcard published by H G Kirkpatrick & Co, Burligton Place, Portishead.