A History Of Haste Hill Golf Club
Part 1. Beginnings: The Northwood Area before 1925
In late Saxon Times, under the ownership of Wilward Wit (sometimes spelt Wulfward Wight) ‘Hast Hill’ (now Haste Hill) was so named to indicate the position where a fierce ‘haest’ (battle or conflict) had taken place and fell within the Parish of ‘Rislepe’ (now Ruislip). The name ‘Rislepe’ is thought to mean ‘leaping place on the river, where the rushes grow’. The river in question, being the River Pinn. Wit was a nobleman attendant to King Edward the Confessor and as such he could do almost as he pleased with his land, the Rislepe area and beyond.
Arnulf De Hesdin (also recorded as Ernulf De Hesdin) took control of much of Wit’s land, following the Norman conquests and he is recorded as owner in the Domesday Book of 1086. Rislepe included huge expanses of woodland and was described as having parkland for woodland beasts, pasture for village livestock, land for 20 ploughs, 1,500 pigs & 20d, with a total value £20. Leaving to fight in the Holy Lands just a year later, an endeavour from which he would not return, De Hesdin passed the land over to the Benedictine Abbey Of Bec.
The first actual mention of Northwood, was as ‘Northwode’, in 1435, formed from the Old English 'north' and 'wode', referring to the area as 'the northern wood', in relation to The Parish of Ruislp, A hamlet slowly grew up along the north side of the road between Rickmansworth & Pinner and by 1565, 10 cottages & a few farms were recorded by King’s College, Cambridge, the then Lords of the Manor of Ruislip.
In the 16th Century the Great Common wood, as it had become known, covered 860 acres, which residents would use for grazing their livestock and collecting firewood. Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury achieved inclosure from Parliament and sold 568 acres of the wood in 1608 for £4000. The remaining woodland became Copse Wood.
Two hundred years later the area along the Rickmansworth Road had altered little except for the addition of Holy Trinity church and separated from the rest of the parish by the belt of woodland, Northwood took until into the 19th century to even form a village. Then, by 1887, the Metropolitan Railway had been extended from Harrow-on the Hill to Rickmansworth with Northwood Station opening on 1st September that year.
In 1891, nearly 100 acres between Copse & Park woods and the Rickmansworth Road were leased by King's College to Northwood Golf Club.
Being aware of the potential impact of the railway and in the knowledge that King's College were intent on developing the area & passing land into private hands, the process to protect the character of Northwood and Ruislip began. With a majority of open spaces as opposed to housing, transfers of land to the public began soon after, in 1899.
With the advent of the railway though, by 1902, the population had still reached 2,500 in 500 houses and with 36 shops. in view of the potential for over development, Ruislip-Northwood Council were very keen to retain as much open space in the area as possible and sought the support of Middlesex County Council in this aim. Such was the strong feeling amongst successive administrations that between 1905 and 1953 the council aquired a further 660 acres for open spaces.
The first real overt suggestion for a further local golf course came in an article in the Advertiser & Gazette, in May 1924, which suggested 'There is a growing desire in Northwood for the formation of an artizan golf club on similar lines to the Hollybush Golf Club at Chorley Wood'. The article went on to suggest a Municipal enterprise was desirable and recommended, 'Available land at Haste Hill and around Ruislip Common, such as Poors Field, could, if once the approval of the Charity Commissioners was obtained, be cheaply made into a golf course without in any way restricting public rights'. Finally, the author asserted. 'The suggestions at the moment are tentative, but so strong is the desire for an artizan's golf club that representations from an organised source to the Council are not unlikely in the near future.' The Article received letters of support in the coming days, from the readership.
By July 1927, Ruislip-Northwood Council were being held up as an example to London councils for ‘taking the long view’ as they had ‘secured the preservation of the magnificent stretch of open country all the way from Northwood to Ruislip, and a little beyond.’ They had also secured land for public use along the River Pinn, around St Martin’s Church and along the Northolt Road. More importantly to this article ‘…..sixty acres have been recently acquired in the direction of Haste Hill, for a further open space, which practically links up with the reservoir and the Poors Field so that there is now to be a magnificent stretch of open country hundreds of acres in extent, as well as a splendid view, which is going to be a permanent asset to the whole district.’
Not wanting to simply leave this land to lie fallow, a decision was soon reached to lay down a sports ground. The facility was to comprise a nine-hole golf links, sports field, putting course and a pavillion. This met with some opposition from the residents of the 18 houses along The Drive that, at that time was a quiet cul-de-sac. Enclosed at its far end by a hedge, around one third of the road was still unbuilt. The residents formed a committee, challenging the decision in view of the loss of the prinicipal charm of the road, piece & quietude. Further the council were insisting the road had to be upgraded at a cost in excess of £4500, toward which they were willing to contirbute just £84 16s 3d. The cost per household varied between £90 & £600, dependent on the width of frontage of each property, huge amounts at the time. The committee were particularly put out in view of the potential income, from the sports ground, the council would enjoy. So the issue went to court, with the magistrates finding the proposals of the council 'most unreasonable', although they were not in a position to alter the apportionment of costs. This conflict rumbled on into 1931 with the residents committee suggesting a small parking fee at the sports ground to offset the cost of the upgrade and repairs to the road. It is not clear what, if any final resolution there was, although the roadworks and the sports ground went ahead, in the meantime.
Part 2. Development: Ruislip-Northwood Municipal Sports Ground will follow soon.
Bowlt, Eileen. M. (1989) The Goodliest Place In Middlesex Hillingdon Borough Libraries ISBN 0-907869-11-4
British Newspaper Archive, Harrow Leader, Uxbridge & West Drayton Gazzette (Advertiser & Gazzette), Hillingdon Gazette, Hayes & Harlington Gazette, Harefield Gazette, numerous publishing dates.