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London Flying Club, De Havilland Golf Course, Hatfield. (1920/30s)

We would like to thank Jon Brindle who has kindly given us permission to reproduce his article that appeared in the Hatfied Local History Society Newsletter No 81 June 2011. 

“Whilst studying a reprint of the local 1919 Ordnance Survey map, I noticed that a golf course existed at, what was to become, the Smallford end of the DH runway area. It would appear that the course covered part of the Great Nast Hyde Estate land that stretched down from the St.Albans Road towards Beech Farm near Coopers Green Lane. Frustratingly this 1919 map also showed the Aerodrome too, although the London Flying Club didn’t arrive until 1930, some 11 years after the map was first published! Clearly there was some cartographic licence going on. Seemingly some features were put on the map for later orientation purposes only eg Welwyn Garden City was also printed on it but, in 1919, this town didn’t exist either!

The same map also showed a golf course in Hatfield Park, some 2 miles distant (see separate entry on the website). As all three of the latter features did exist at one time or another, it was reasonable to assume that there must have been a golf course on land at the far end of the runway too. But when was that?

Local archives and books on De Havillands failed to provide any reference to the course. However, HLHS member Mrs Jill Beresford, the daughter of DH’s first Agricultural Manager, Reg Sutterby, did throw some light on the matter. As her family came to live in DH houses bordering the airfield site, Jill spent a lot of her childhood playing in the fields around the aerodrome. I asked her about one derelict building near the large circular banked area where jets would roar at the end of the runway that had always intrigued me. It was about 18ft x 29ft. Single storey, made of block-work, rendered with mortar and pebble-dashed. It had also clearly suffered fire damage at some time. But the really distinctive feature was its three 6ft wide and, almost, semi-circular windows. “We called that the golf hut” Jill said, although she didn’t recall any golf being played there, when a girl, during the 1940s. But it was a ‘eureka’ moment for my research. Aside from Jill, nobody else I’d previously spoken to had any knowledge of this building or the golf course.

A further look at the 1910 Inland Revenue tithe map revealed that somebody, later, had written ’Golf House’ next to icons of two buildings on the site. This seemed further evidence that a golf course existed, but still not wholly conclusive.  

The remains of Jill’s ‘golf hut’ building was finally demolished, and rubble removed, in August 2010. But a little investigation afterwards revealed a bit more of its former appearance. 

The final piece of documentary evidence came from the website of the De Havilland Aero-nautical Technical School Association. Ted Lawrence, one of its members, provided a facsimile of an original 1935 booklet entitled HATFIELD AERODROME ,which describes the facilities at Hatfield that were then the established home for the London Aeroplane Club, De Havilland School of Flying and Royal Airforce Flying Club. It boasts that the ‘Hatfield Aerodrome is undoubtedly the largest and finest private flying ground in Great Britain’ and goes on to describe some of the amenities. It notes the restaurant, tennis and squash courts, swimming pool and a ‘putting course’. The ‘putting course’ may well have been what golfers would now term a pitch & putt golf course (usually par 3 all round) - rather than a large putting green with a few holes.

Reg Sutterby mentioned its ’bunkers’ in the1952 Ford Magazine. This clearly indicates the presence of a larger golf course than a mere ’putting course’ that was described in 1935. It seems that the onset of WW2 put an end to both the golf course and the London Aeroplane Club who, due to necessity, moved to Panshanger c1940.”


London Flying club, De Havilland Course, Hatfield. The Golf Hut picture courtesy of Jon Brindle HLHS.


“The London Flying Club Golf Hut - The above photo was taken c2009 and shows two of the three arched windows and burnt timber roof trusses. HLHS member, and architect, Terry Cull, provided the artists impression. The building was probably used for refreshments as a half way house and shelter, being so far (quarter of a mile) from the main clubhouse. It appears too well designed to be simply a remote store for golf course green-keepers, notwithstanding much more groundwork equipment would’ve been required to maintain the grass runway and gardens nearer to the clubhouse!” 

Britain From Above image below EPW047564 ENGLAND (1935).  It shows the De Havilland Works, hangars and club house at Hatfield Aerodrome, Hatfield, 1935.


London Flying club, De Havilland Course, Hatfield. The aerodrome on Britain From Above 1935.