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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Century of History at Coombe Hill and Coombe Wood Golf Course

Image: freedigitalphotos
With history dating back to an entry in the Domesday Survey, Coombe is situated in the Greater London borough of Kingston upon Thames. Before the local government re-organization of the area, Coombe was part of the northern section of the former Municipal Borough of Malden and Coombe. In the vicinity, you will find Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common; and also borders with Merton, Sutton, Wandsworth and Richmond.

The once-wild Coombe Warren was, in bygone times, a hunting reserve. The woodland provided a hideout for the local highwayman Jerry Abbershaw, and he often visited the Bald Faced Stag pub. Subsequently, the locale was used for telecommunications, with the Admiralty utilizing it as part of the London to Portsmouth semaphore line. The only trace of the station these days is in the name of the Telegraph Cottage. The Warren now plays host to the Coombe hill estate and Coombe Wood golf club.

The allure of the Coombe hill estate has elevated house prices into the millions. It is made up of Coombe Hill road and its constituent cul-de-sacs, including Greenwood Park and Devey Close.

In 1837, the 1st Duke of Cambridge (the 7th son of George III) bought the 1300 acre Coombe Estate. The creation of the golf course was the brainchild of the 2nd Duke and his sons. An unsightly gravel pit on the estate was to provide an ideal site for the course, and it was built with 7 holes above George Road and 2 below.

The 2nd Duke was Commander in Chief of the British Army from 1856 - 1895. He died in 1904, and bequeathed the Estate to his two sons. The golf course opened in 1904, with the then Prime Minister Arthur Balfour as Captain.

The Cambridge cup is the oldest trophy at the club. It is named after the Duke of Cambridge and was inaugurated in 1911. In 1913 there were 46 participants.

Following the 1st world war, the club acquired land for a further 9 holes after the local hockey and cricket clubs closed down. There were now 10 holes above George road and 8 below. The newly expanded course was opened in 1922 by the captain of the time Field Marshall Earl Haig. In 1925, following a steady increase in numbers, the Ladies section became autonomous, with its own Captain.

A period of uncertainty followed the death of the Colonel in 1933. 700 acres of the Estate were sold. Malden and Coombe council stepped in to save the club by purchasing the land from Higgs and Hill, and leasing it to the club. Membership became sparse after World War II, and the club fell into a state of disrepair.

The survival of the club is due to the dedication and efforts of its members. People with long term involvement in the club gave their support both financially and through work, and in 1994 the club purchased a new 125 year lease. The tenure is now secure until 2119, and renovations to the clubhouse in 2002/3 coincided with the club's Centenary.

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