Founded in 1894 at the height of Blackburn’s power as a cotton and engineering town, the club has seen many changes and improvements to the course and the clubhouse over the years, which have made Blackburn Golf Club a place to be proud of. The 18 hole parkland course today, with its outstanding views of the Pennines Hills and Lancashire coast is a far cry from that original course, where sheep and cattle grazed.
On 16th February 1894, the Inaugural Meeting took place at The Old Bull Hotel to discuss the formation of a golf club. A second meeting was held at the Old Bull on 6th June 1894 when the title of the new golf club was agreed to be “Blackburn Golf Club” The annual subscription rate was agreed at £2 and 2 shillings with no more than 70 members.
D. Herd was appointed as professional on 18th July 1894, and Lady Members were allowed for an annual subscription of 10s 6d, but they were only allowed to play on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
In July 1906, the club took on the tenancy of Corporation Park Hotel Farm, thus taking the first steps towards becoming an 18 hole course. Additional land from Cuckoo Hall Farm was rented at a cost of £10 per annum from June 1908.
The club admitted it’s first junior member on 5th October 1908, and the first plans being presented for an 18 hole course. This was completed by November 1910.
When the First World War erupted, a number of members had “joined the colours”. Blackburn Golf Club can be rightly proud that two of East Lancashire’s nine VCs were members of the Club. Second Lieutenant John Schofield won his VC after being in action in Givenchy France on 9th April 1918. Lieutenant Commander Percy Thompson Dean was Blackburn’s only Naval VC. He won his medal for his part in the attack on Zeebrugge on 23rd April 1918.
From February 1921, Membership increased to 225 with 80 Ladies, and subscriptions went to 4 guineas for men and 2 guineas for ladies. Then in November 1921, the members petitioned council to allow Sunday golf. It was January 1928 before the ladies were allowed to play golf on Saturday but only after 7pm!
Famous golf course designer James Braid visited the course in February of 1933, and council adopted his recommendations. It was over 4 years later before the Winter League was introduced…something that is still hugely popular to this day.
Throughout the Second World War, it was decided to give courtesy of the course to golf club members serving in HM forces. Decisions regarding an air raid shelter for staff and making the course unsuitable for aircraft to land were also taken. Sheep dog trials were held on the course in 1944 organised by Blackburn Corporation for “holidays at home” entertainment.
More Recent History
In 1951 the club was invited by Blackburn Corporation to hold a Centenary Competition with a grant of £20 on condition that it was an open competition and that spectators be allowed.
Walter Stirrup, the founder of Blackburn Golf Club died in 1956, and by the end of the same year ladies were allowed access to the main clubroom on Saturdays from 8.00pm and Sundays from 2.00pm.
1960 saw the introduction of the Blackburn inter club league, consisting of Blackburn, Pleasington and Wilpshire. Membership was bouyant with: Men – Full 218, Country 12, Social 29, Juniors 58 Ladies – Full 78, Country 1, Social 17, Juniors 21. This didn’t last too long though, as in 1966 when subscriptions were increased to £16 16s for men and £9 12s for ladies, this resulted in larger than normal resignations!
Golfing royalty visited BGC on 4th June 1967, and took part in an exhibition match, as Tony Jacklin and Nigel Richards (BGC) played Dave Thomas and Jack Walsh (BGC). Then in 1968, the first 200 club was started to raise funds for future development.
Water was finally installed on the course in 1972, and the 2nd hole was made into a par 3 following complaints from a local resident regarding the number of golf balls being hit into his garden.
It was not until 1979 that the Forestry Commission planted small woodlands on 3 sites within the course, between the 7th and 8th fairways, to the right of the 10th fairway and from the 16th tee to near the 17th green. A total of 8,700 trees in all. This was the start of the course looking more like it does today! An additional 1,300 trees have been planted by members throughout this period.
Blackburn Golf Club won the Manchester and District Alliance Dunham Forest Trophy at the first attempt in 1982, as well as the ELGA President’s Cup, the ELGA mixed foresomes, the Tom Nuttall Memorial Trophy, and a young John Reed was runner up in the Harold Ryden.
1994 saw the Centenary celebrations at Blackburn Golf Club. Ray Smith one of our past Secretaries produced a book “Blackburn Golf Club 100 years 1894 – 1994” from which most of the above has been taken.