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Longtown Golf Club, Carlisle, Cumbria. (1900s - WW2)

There was evidence of an early Club at Longtown which was disbanded before 1906.

It re-appeared in the early 1930s when the secretary was J Tennant, Bank House, Longtown, telephone 10. The greenkeeper was R Cairns. 

Our grateful thanks go to Richard Tennant for providing, and allowing us to use, his personal archive regarding Longtown Golf Club. Richard’s grandfather was John Tennant, the founder and first secretary of the club in the 1930s. He was the manager of the local branch of Martins Bank and had arranged with one of his farming customers to make his land available for the course. 

Richard Tennant’s archive begins with the following press cutting for the opening of “the new” Longtown golf course: 

“The opening ceremony of the new nine hole golf course at Longtown was performed on Saturday afternoon by Captain Westoll, Glinger Bank, in the presence of good attendance of members and friends. The course occupies a site near the Longtown railway station between the Gretna railway branch line and the main Longtown to Gretna Road. The course was laid out by Bonner, the Carlisle professional.

Captain Westoll is the President of the club and Captain J M Gatherall has been elected the first captain. The committee as follows; R W Bell (Chairman), W J Currie, R Horan, W Poppelwell, Dr D Robertson, Dr G H Thomson, W G Thomson, A H S Thorburn and W Tinning; treasurer, T Young; secretary, J Tennant.

Mr Bell, chairman of the committee, who presided, extended a welcome to the visitors and said that this was a great occasion for Longtown. This was not the first golf club that had existed in Longtown, because in 1903 there was a small club formed, and he was pleased to see present one of the pioneers of that earlier club, in the person of the Rev Ivor Graham, who was a most enthusiastic golfer. He was rather surprised that it had taken 27 years for that earlier tree to take root and bear fruit. In fact they had to wait for a new gardener to come and prune the tree. That was Mr Tennant their worthy secretary, who was really the founder of the club. The chairman then presented to Mr Tennant a pewter tankard in recognition of the work he had done in connection with the club’s formation. Mr Tennant, in accepting the gift, said it would always serve as momento of the great day. Mr Young, the Rector, Mr Bell and himself had discussed the formation of the club on many occasions.

The Chairman said he thought that after those present had been round the course, they would agree that it was an attractive one. Seven weeks ago the site was an ordinary field, so that it had been prepared in a very short time. They had been fortunate in obtaining the services of Mr Fred Bonner, the Carlisle professional, who had made the best of the raw material placed at his disposal seven weeks ago. Up to date the membership of the club was 173, and the committee had decided to restrict the membership in the meantime to 200.

Captain Westoll, in declaring the clubhouse open, thanked the committee for electing him President of the club, which he hoped would be very successful. He was also hopeful that the course would eventually be extended to eighteen holes.

Mr Cowan, speaking on behalf of the Carlisle City Club, wished the Longtown Club every success. They in Carlisle had a membership of 600 and a waiting list of 50, and he felt sure that with their course at Longtown, with its beautiful surroundings, they would be able to equal the Carlisle City membership. As an old golfer he would like to have given them a few hints, but he would leave that to Fred Bonner and Mr W W Crichton, of the Carlisle City Club, who were to play an exhibition match on that afternoon.

Mrs Fergus Graham said she was pleased to have been chosen as the first Ladies’ President of the Longtown Club. She congratulated the men’s committee on the splendid way they had got the course together. The ladies’ section would do all they could to support the men’s committee.”


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. The opening ceremony.

Above, the opening of Longtown Golf Club.


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. The John Tennant tankard.


The inscribed lid.

The above inscribed tankard was presented to John Tennant at the opening ceremony.


Longtown Golf Club – anecdotes. 

It seems that the first golf club was formed in Longtown in 1903, but had disappeared.

In the summer of 1928 John Tennant was promoted to be manager of Martins Bank in Longtown. After settling in, he decided to ingratiate himself in the community, and, no doubt, bring him some additional customers, by starting a golf club.

He convinced one of his farming customers to rent them the land. This was situated between the main Longtown to Gretna road and the Gretna railway branch line, not far from the Longtown railway station (both of the latter two have now disappeared). They obtained the support of Mr Fred Bonner, the professional at the Carlisle City Club, who laid out the course. The members and their labourers then set to, and within seven months had converted a field into a nine-hole course.


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. Putterhead by Fred Bonner.

Above is a putter bearing the name of Fred Bonner, professional at Carlisle City Golf Club. Image courtesy of Allan Wilson.


The opening ceremony took place on 6th September 1930. 

John Tennant was later described by his son as ‘a keen but erratic’ golfer. There is a family anecdote describing how, in one of the early rounds, he set himself up on the tee, but hit the ground behind the ball. The club-head broke off the shaft. He threw it to one side and took out his brassie – with the same consequence ! Before he was allowed to try yet another club, his son had a closer look at the ground at that part of the tee and they discovered that in making the raised tee, some of the large boulders had not been covered with sufficient soil at this place.

Whilst they employed someone to be ‘a greenkeeper’, the grass on the rest of the course was kept down by having it grazed by sheep. If they were grazing in front of the tee, one simply played over them. On one occasion, John Tennant’s elder son, Jim, hit a drive that only lifted a couple of feet off the ground; it hammered into the flank of a grazing ewe, in her ribs, just behind her foreleg. With a loud groan of expelling air, she keeled over, senseless. Jim set off – hot foot – and spent the next ten minutes working to revive her !

John Tennant’s second son, Ken, obtained his Higher School Certificate at Carlisle Grammar School in July 1930, aged 16. This time, however, was at the height of the Great Depression, and he could not find employment. But there was the new golf course and he taught himself to play, building his swing from photographs of that of Bobby Jones. By the summer of 1932, when he managed to obtain a position at a branch Martins Bank in Carlisle, his handicap was down to 11.

Two months into his new employment, he won the countrywide Directors Challenge Cup.

By the following year his handicap was down to 8 but the nerves got to him and he lost the final,missing a short putt on the 18th green. He would soon get down to 3 handicap and was selected to play for Cumberland & Westmoreland. 

In 1935 John Tennant was made manager of the Southampton branch of Martins Bank.

The depression was over, and Cunard, one their largest customers, was moving the North Atlantic sailings from Liverpool. The new Queen Mary made her maiden voyage from Southampton in May 1936.

John Tennant was presented with a 10” silver salver engraved :

Presented to John Tennant Esq, by Members of Longtown Golf Club, in appreciation of his services to the club, 1930-35.


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. John Tennant and friends.

John Tennant and friends on the green.


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. John Tennant driving.

John Tennant driving-off.


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. Kenneth Tennant.

Kenneth Tennant.


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. Press report.

Kenneth Tennant - Press Report.


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. Martins Bank Challenge Cup.

Replica of the Martins Bank Challenge Cup.


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. The committee.

Above, the golf club committee.


First left on the back row of the picture is Wilfred Poppelwell who worked at Barcalys Bank in English Street, Carlisle. He became a shareholder in the Golf Club at the age of 28. His wife was a Tiller Girl and he travelled most weekends to see her perform at theaters in London and the North East, this travelling probably left him very little time for golf. 


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. Longtown Share Certificate.

Above is Wilfred Poppelwell’s One Pond Share Certificate dated 28th July 1931. (Thanks to Terry Poppelwell for supplying the above image)


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. The course and clubhouse.

Above, a Raphael Tuck Postcard showing the Longtown Golf Course and Clubhouse. 

Thanks again to Richard Tennant for the following information. It identifies the exact location of the former course: The postcard of Longtown Golf Club (above) shows the Pavilion with a hedge along the Gretna Road to the left and the road embankment starting to the right of it.

It’s probable that the large roof, with a chimney, just to the left of the Pavilion, is that of Longtown Station: as you see from the map this is on the top of the railway embankment, so whilst it looks like a two storey building, it is simply up 10 feet higher than the lower ground of the course.

The square building to the right, without a roof, is probably the Signal Box.

The white buildings, far right on both sides of the tree, are probably those of the Auction Mart Premises.

The Local Rules in the Club booklet state:

"The Railway on No 2 hole is out of bounds."

"The Pond, Road and Mart Field are out of bounds."

"The Pond" is probably the Old Sand Pit or the Old Gravel Pit as shown on the OS map (below).

We wish to acknowledge and thank the "Cumbria Archive Centre (Carlisle)" for supplying, and allowing us to use, the 1901 Ordnance Survey Map and the plan of the Pavilion (below).


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. 1901 O.S map.

Above 1901 O.S map by kind permission of the “Cumbria Archive Centre”


So the entrance to Auction Mart Premises was at the end of the embankment (40 rising to 50) up to the railway line - probably at the entrance to the Foot Path (FP)

The mart and the mart field were alongside the first part of the railway line. 

The golf club extended south & east further than the mart field, as the 2nd hole was alongside the line.

The northern boundary was the Gretna road, with the pond of the Old Sand Pit or the Old Gravel Pit. 

When one looks at the present Google map & street view, the area of the old golf course has been extracted for gravel and is now a lake.

The Farmer's Mart is still on the same location, but has probably spread further west.


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. Plan of the pavilion.

Above, plan of the pavilion, by kind permission of the “Cumbria Archive Centre”


Like many clubs Longtown issued a yearly booklet which provided information on officials, rules and fixtures.

Below is a copy of the booklet for the 1932/33 season. By this time (after 2 years) they had formed themselves into a 'limited company'.


Longtown Golf Club, Cumbria. Booklet 1932-33.


Booklet 1932-33.


Handbook 1932-33.


Handbook 1932-33.


Handbook 1932-33.


Handbook 1932-33.


Once again thanks to Richard Tennant for providing the above information. 

In 1940 the secretary was H Scurr, Bank House, Longtown, telephone 10. The greenkeeper  was J Graham. A 9 hole course with a SSS of 72 and a membership of 160. Visitors’ fees were 2/- a day and 2/6 a day at weekends. The station at Longtown was 1 minute away. Local hotel was the Graham Arms.

Longtown Golf Club did not appear after WW2.