Before looking at the history of our Club, it is worth spending some time describing how the Artisan game came into being on a national basis. Although the Artisan Golfers association had its official birth in a now defunct Fleet Street hotel (called Anderton’s) on a July evening in 1921, Artisan golf, like its parent game, began in Scotland, a good many years before 1921. Many of the earliest Scottish courses, back in the 1700s, were to use a phrase ‘hacked and trampled into being’ with the blessing and backing of enlightened public bodies. For this reason, they were able to offer golf for a very small fee and in some completely enlightened cases, no fee at all.
At the very dawn of the golf age, several big Scottish business houses-the Ballantyne Press and the Edinburgh Tramway, to name two, ran golf clubs formed solely of their own employees. When our favorite game followed the amber liquid as the second great benediction to cross the Tweed and landed where golf courses were neither hacked nor trampled, but made playable only after costly manipulation of the soil itself, some other means had to be found of making the game available to all.
The great English art of compromise produced the solution-private clubs with artisan satellites under their wing. It was some time before the word Artisan acquired a golfing connection. It is generally thought that the two clubs regarded as the prototype of artisan golf in England are Northam and Cantalupe in 1891. Further clubs followed, two being working men’s clubs in the North East, at Ryton and Newcastle and another two in Norfolk, at Yarmouth and Brancaster. None of these carried the name ‘artisan’ in their title and this appeared for the first time with the formation of Bulwell Forest in Nottinghamshire. Malvern began at this time followed by De La Warr in 1896 and by the turn of the century a dozen clubs were scattered around the country. As the popularity of golf spread, so the Artisan movement grew, which made it increasingly apparent that some sort of organisation was necessary and this happened in 1921.
The history of Royal Cinque Ports Artisans started when they were previously known as the Royal Cinque Ports Ground staff and Caddies Club and this first started in 1936, when a challenge match between Billy Love and Harry Brown from Deal took place against the caddies at Royal St.Georges, Sandwich. In the early days the members, who were mainly caddies, miners or fishermen, would spend nearly all their time on the golf course, either caddying or playing. It would be nothing for them to caddy twice on a Saturday or Sunday and then play in the evenings; going round the course three times in one day (this is probably why they were such good golfers).
Picture. 1. (L to R). Ernie Miles, Grany Skardon, Harry Brown, Dougie Prior, Sam Trice, Charlie Fagg, Tichy Harris, Billy Blown, Rubber Love and BangerBrown
Prior to the second world war, the Parent Club would employ caddies with about a dozen on each list of men and boys (Dave Smith senior, was on the boys list) and each of the men would be ‘attached’ to an individual Parent Club member. Harry Brown caddied for Sir Ainsley Bridgeland, Sam Trice caddied for Lady Bridgeland, Johnnie ‘Rubber’ Love caddied for Robert Burlison and ‘Bubbles’ Love caddied for Jack Aisher. The caddies would receive from the Parent Club members any cast offs that they no longer required like clothes, shoes and clubs, but they also picked up golfing influences from the members which helped to improve their own game. Also, before the war, as well as the Parent Club, there was the Downs Club, which was formed in 1922 and they were located in the current Professional Shop and these members were local businessmen, doctors, managers, shopkeepers etc. After the war in 1952 the Downs Club was amalgamated into the Parent Club and the practice of employing caddies was stopped.
Picture 2. Back row (L to R) Ernie Miles, Ben Brown, Dodger Griggs, Rubber Love and Grany Skardon. Front row (L to R) Banger Brown, Harry Brown, Bernard Drew (Parent Club Secretary), Fred Haynes (Caddy Master), Nibby Rich, Ginger Goldsack and Harry Caines
Whilst reading the history of the Parent Club celebrating their centenary 1892-1992 the following reference was noted. “In the early fifties both the ground staff and caddies (most of whom were local fisherman) comprised the Artisan section and good golfers they were too. A match against the Ladies section was started – a highly and successful affair-being hosted by either side on alternate years. After the first encounter the Artisans took us to the Jolly Sailor pub for refreshment and a game of darts and consequently despite the closure of the establishment the name of the Inn remains on the fixture list”.
It is worth noting that during the centenary celebrations the Artisans were invited to participate in many events and the Captain and Secretary at that time, namely Billy Edwards and Ken Watson, took part in the foursome’s competition, together with Ada Wales, Dave Pinkney, Billy Bates and Gary Rees .
The caddy shed, opposite the old professionals shop, was the Artisans first clubroom and this changed when they were allowed the use of a backroom in the Caddy Masters building. The meetings of club members took place in the Jolly Sailors public house which used to be situated in Western Road.
The Club became Artisans sometime during 1961 when Fred Neeves, who was Secretary to the Ground staff and Caddies Club, contacted the Artisan Association after receiving permission from the Parent Club. In the early years the Club did not have to pay fees and did the divotting on an as and when basis.
The current club house situated behind the Professionals Shop was donated by Jack Aisher, our current President and was opened in 1964. Mr.Aisher was a true friend to the Artisans and was very instrumental in their development. The original cost of the building was £500 and arrangements were made to pay £50 at a time but after one payment Mr. Aisher waived any further installments. The foundations for the new clubhouse were dug by hand by the Artisan club members.
The clubhouse underwent significant improvements in 2009 following receipt of a grant from the Coalfield Regeneration Fund which resulted in a fitted kitchen, upgrade to the gents toilets and shower and ladies toilet being completed. Further work on a patio area was completed in 2013.
Picture 3. Mr. Robert Burlison opening the new clubhouse in 1964
Report from the East Kent Mercury
1962 Caddies Golf Bowl
“Since last year the Caddies section of the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club has been accepted for membership of the Artisans Golfing Association and it was as Artisans that they played the annual match against teams of Permit-holders of Royal St. Georges Golf Club last week. However, the trophy, instituted in 1936, will still be affectionately known by its old name of the Caddies Bowl.
Deal lost the foursomes 2-1 at Sandwich on Thursday evening, but after some very close matches in the 10 singles on Friday, retained the bowl by 8.5 to 6.5. Billy Love, R.C.P. caddy-master, and Harry Brown played in the first match 23 years ago, when they also won. As usual, a cheery get-together and sing song took place at the ‘Jolly Sailor’ at which the Captain of the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club (Col. H.G. Sandercock, C.B.E., MC. and T.D.) presented the bowl and congratulated both teams on the close and sporting battle. Mr. G.J.M.Dickenson, Royal Cinque Ports Secretary, and other members of the club also attended. Mrs.Foat and her daughters, as always, provided an abundance of splendid home-made ‘eats’ of every description. At the start of the matches at Deal, Mrs. R.O.Burlison, who has never missed this event, was presented by Mrs.Harris, on behalf of the Deal team, with a lovely bouquet”.
Current members Norman Trevelyan, Ian Peat, Arthur Love and Ken Watson are original members of the Artisans. In 1962 Pat Harris, grandfather to Patsy, current member, was the only person chosen to be the Captain of the Artisans as a non-playing member. Robert Burlinson was our President from 1936 until 1966 when Jack Aisher took over until his death in 2009. Steve Collins was appointed in 2010 becoming only the third person to hold this position since our establishment in 1935
Arguably the best golfer the Artisans had ever had was Bobby Redsull, who was a local dustman who did not take up golf until he was in his 30s. Within a short period of time he was playing off scratch and won the Kent Amateur Championship at Deal in 1969.
Extract from the East Kent Mercury, 1994
In the year of Tony Jacklins Open golf triumph, 46 year old Deal Corporation dustcart driver Bob Redsull was crowned 1969 Kent Amateur golf champion at Royal Cinque Ports. Redsull, of Canute Road, took on the cream of the county’s amateurs and came out on top in the preliminary stroke play. Redsull was level pegging with three time champion M.F. Attenborough before winning his way to the final 16, where he pipped Vivian Barton to the title. A member of the Royal Cinque Ports Artisans Kent player Redsull played off a one handicap and was caddied in the championship by his wife May. Golfing ability was clearly a family trait with his son playing off five.