The history of our Golf Society can be traced back 1921 when a golfing society was formed under the then Ministry of Health. The Ministry was established in 1919 to be responsible not only for public health but also to take on responsibilities from the Local Government Board including housing and public works.
The minutes of the inaugural meeting of the Society up to 1939 were recorded in an impressive leather-bound ledger, written by hand in fine script. Unfortunately, that ledger has been lost but luckily many of the important notes were recorded in a handbook produced in 1996.
The ledger noted that at the first meeting, the Minister of Health at the time, Christopher Addison, was to be chairman but he was moved to a new post before that took place. The first President of the Society was therefore the Rt Hon Alfred Mond MP who took over from Addison in April 1921. Also in attendance was the 2nd Viscount Astor (Waldorf Astor), who had previously been parliamentary private secretary to PM David Lloyd George before moving to the Ministry of Health as private secretary to Mond.
Other notable members of the Society at the time were Sir William Arthur Robinson, Permanent Secretary; Sir Alfred Woodgate, Director of Establishments; H A Chapman, Health Inspector and G W Pepler. We still play for trophies all the above left for competition of the Society and one of the first venues was Langley Park GC Beckenham on 9th September 1921.
The early Committee meeting minutes note, interestingly, that for the autumn meeting of 1922, “…the railway company was requested for the 9.49 train to be stopped at Sandy Lodge (the golf course) on the morning of the meeting…” Presumably for the benefit of members. Cannot see that happening today!
In 1923, the Mr Neville Chamberlain MP became President of the Society. He, of course, went on to become Prime Minister and became infamous for the piece of white paper signed by Adolf Hitler declaring that he had no intention of invading Poland. Months later, of course he did and WW2 began. In 1928 the society revisited Langley Park where green fees were 2s 6d, a caddie for the day 2/6, luncheon 3/-, tea 1/- and a cheap day return from Charing Cross to West Wickham 1s 7d. A total of 10s 6d or 521/2p for the day. The good old days.
During the war the society, with many of it's members serving in the forces, ceased to function with the ledger noting “Meetings suspended due to war” which was the last entry in the ledger. It did note however that during the war the trophies were "...sent to Hood's place in Surrey for safekeeping..." It does not say who Hood was, but the trophies reappeared safely in 1946.
After the war, with the need for rebuilding infrastructure, the Ministry of Health lost its responsibilities for public works and housing and the society and trophies emerged as part of the Ministry of Works golf society. In the fifties this became the Ministry of Public Building and Works and in 1971, that Ministry together with the Ministry of Housing and Ministry of Transport became one big department under the heading 'Department of the Environment’.
Under the DOE banner, three golf societies existed - the MHLG Society (which was renamed DOE(LG)), the Transport Golf Society and the PSA (Property Services Agency) Society. In the late 1990’s, the Environment part of the Department moved to a new area within the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food and the remaining department became the Department Transport, Local Government and the Regions. Around that time, the DOE (LG) Society merged with the Transport Society as the DTLG society. The PSA Society ceased to be affiliated to the department's recreation association and went its separate way.
Later, the department was further split into the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and the Department for Transport (DfT). In 2004, the Society adopted the name SPARTA (London) Golfing Society to reflect the name of the recreational association it is affiliated to and to avoid the need for further name changes due to government reorganisations. The Society now represents current and former members of both DfT and HCLG and their agencies.
In 2021, the society celebrated the centenary of the formation of the original society and met at Chobham GC near Woking for a special event and dinner. There was a healthy turnout as the society continues to be as popular as ever.
|The Society in the 1930's||The society today|