A History Of Haste Hill Golf Club
Part 3. Haste Hill Golf Course Through World War II
By the middle of 1938, World War II was seen as almost inevitable. Recruits to the recently created posts of ARP (Air Raid Precautions Warden), first-aiders, anti-gas helpers & decontamination squads, were trained in Haste Hill Pavilion. Training took place up to five nights per week. A home office van was brought onto site, converted into a mobile gas chamber, through which the ARP Wardens passed, as part of their training, being exposed to, amongst other gasses, Lewisite, Mustard Gas & Chlorine Gas. A total of 1500 volunteers were recruited, in the local area.
ARP’s who were also holding their regular meetings in the pavilion, were instructed to practice wearing their gas marks as much as possible, in everyday situations, so they were always prepared in the event of an air raid. Embracing this instruction to the full, they even scheduled an ARP's match for that July at Haste Hill, planning to play the full 18 holes in their gas masks. It raised quite a lot of local interest but perhaps unfortunately the Chairman of The Fire Brigade & ARP Committee, stepped in to forbid the competition going ahead. The Chairman, Mr R J Page who also had a close association with the course felt, 'It was not considered advisable'. By September Haste Hill clubhouse had been set up to act as a casualty clearing station / temporary hospital in the event of air raids, with alterations made to the living quarters of the club professional, Bert Pearson and his wife.
Despite everything, the council were being congratulated on the condition of the course, at this time, with one single figure handicapper writing to the Golf Management Committee stating that he played around 10 different courses a year and yet 'seldom did he find one where the fairways and greens were in such good condition.' After an association with Haste Hill going back to almost its inception, including two years as Club Secretary, two as Captain and holding a place on the NAPGC Executive Committee, A S Lowe left, to become Captain at the newly formed Rickmansworth Municipal Golf Club.
Hostilities grew ever more inevitable and in January 1939, Bert Pearson was inducted as an ARP himself, a role he preformed throughout the war.
Further large additions & alterations at Haste Hill became less likely, not just due to the war but also as on 2nd September 1939, having now acquired all the parcels of land upon which it stood, the council opened the reconstructed Ruislip Golf Course. The course was again designed by Sandy Herd and the former King’s End Farm House, which stood almost opposite the White Bear Public House was used as the course pavilion. The following March, upon the renewal of season tickets the council gave holders the option of playing both Haste Hill and the newly completed Ruislip course for an additional fee of 10s 6d.*
As you might expect, there were a lot bigger issues than golf at Haste Hill to think about during the war but the club & course continued to operate with regular competitions, albeit in the shadow of the ongoing conflict.
The next real impact of the War was in April 1941 when The Middlesex Agricultural War Committee sought to enforce the Cultivation Of Lands Orders 1939. Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council had been instructed to allow local farmers to graze their livestock on the golf course and so invited those in the area to apply for grazing rights, for their sheep. However, with the course being an open site, local farmers decided it was not viable to do so as they should have to employ shepherds to keep an eye on their animals. The Council were concerned the Committee may insist the offer was extended to herds of cattle. This would have caused the course far greater damage and necessitated a closure until such time as the Act was rescinded. In view of this the council decided to purchase 150 sheep of their own to keep on the course. It was a decision seen as cost-neutral as it was felt the sheep could be sold for a profit at the end of each ‘season’ and a new flock purchased. Whether this ever went ahead is unreported & further research is being undertaken.
You may have thought the Haste Hill area was a little remote to have seen much of the air raids durng the war but in fact there are 24 bombs recorded as having been dropped in the close vicinity of the golf course. Between 7th October 1940 & 6th June 1941, the bomb census states that to the North & East of the course, 2 bombs were dropped in the vicinity of The Drive, 2 close to Pinner Road , 1 near to Rickmansworth Road and 1 near to Chestnut Avenue. To the South, 3 are recorded as landing near Wiltshire Lane and another 3 close to Aspen Grove. Along the Western side, another was dropped by Ruislip Lido, officially recorded as near to Reservoir Road whilst a further 11 are recorded as landing around Duck's Hill Road. Looking a little further afield to include the whole of Northwood, Northwood Hills, Ruislip, Harefield, Pinner & Hatch End, the number recorded increases dramatically.
By July 1941 it was clear more of a sacrifice would be required of Haste Hill & again under the Cultivation of Lands Orders, applications were invited for the ploughing of 36 acres of land on Haste Hill Golf Course. Again it is not recorded this went ahead but given the acreage stated, it seems quite likely this spelt the end for the 9-hole pitch & putt course. This however, is still being researched.
The following month, tragedy struck at Haste Hill. Polish Pilot Officer L Jaugsch was giving a young Air Cadet from Watford his first experience of a trip in a Tiger Moth Bi-Plane. Performing loops, stall turns and low dives over the course, many golfers reported having to jump out of the way of the oncoming aircraft. Sadly, 30 year old golfer, Eric Simister was a little slower to react and died when the undercarriage of the plane struck him, the rest of his group managing to jump clear. A later inquest into the events returned a verdict of Accidental Death.
A Haste Hill team triumphed 9½ - 8½ in a match on Sunday 26th July 1942, played against a team representing 13 Battalion Home Guard. Despite the Home Guard having been on night exercises the night before the match, they clearly gave a solid account of themselves.
Bert Pearson retired from his role as Course Professional & Manager in 1945, once the war had ended. Bert had given 16 years of his career to ensuring the early success of Haste Hill, including the assistance he gave to Sandy Herd in the design of the extended 18 hole course and later the 9 hole pitch & putt course. He had also donated a notable silver cup to be awarded as the prize for an annual Mixed Foursomes Competition, which had been running from at least as early as 1933. Sadly the trophy has since been lost and the Pearson Cup no longer appears on the club calendar. He & his wife were very popular amongst the members and Bert was succeeded by Mr John G T Doe who was also to donate a cup to the club, which is still played for, to this day.
*The currency systems prior to decimalistion used '£' for pounds, 's' for shillings and 'd' for pence. There were 12 d or pence to a shilling and 20 s or shillings to the pound. You will probably have worked out there were 240 d or pence to the pound
British Newspaper Archive, Harrow Leader, Uxbridge & West Drayton Gazette (Advertiser & Gazette), Hillingdon Gazette, Hayes & Harlington Gazette, Harefield Gazette, numerous publishing dates.