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Kingston upon Hull's Forgotten Treasures

 

Our Story begins in the city of Kingston upon Hull in East Yorkshire

 

Market Place Hull as it is today

To begin the story we must go back in time

The year 1898

Here is Market Place as it was at that then

 

 

If we were to cross over to the right hand pavement and take the first turn on the right down Liberty Street we would arrive at the southern end of High Street.

 

 

Thanks to artist Frederick Shultz Smith we can see the city as it was then.

If we take a left turn and continue along high street in about 300 yards we arrive at Maister House

 

 

 

Maister House Today

 

This location was the home of the Maister family for over three hundred years. They moved to Hull from Kent in the mid 1500's and soon established a thriving business trading across the North sea to Russia, Sweden and the Low countries.

At their peak they were second only to the merchants of London. Their great success was largely due to their great tactic of always having a member of the family live in the main ports with which they traded. This gave them a control of merchandise and funds which few others enjoyed.

Henry Maister lived in Gothenburg for many years where he was much loved by the locals for his great compassion. One of his much appreciated achievements was running the Poor book to which he got wealthy merchants to donate to aid the most needy in the city. Even today he is often referred to as Henry Maister of Gothenburg.  (b1674)

Arthur Maister lived in Russia for fifteen years. he is shown below in the dress of a Russian merchant.

 

Arthur Maister  1738-1790

Their main trade was in Iron, Lead and Grain. Records show that a typical shipment in the early 1800's was valued around £1000, they were very important merchants not just in Hull but within the country.

Many held the post of Sherriff, Mayor or Member of Parliament.

By the late 1800's the fortune of the family had diminished and the house passed from their possession, but for a number of years continued to be used by a number of merchants as a counting house. On the above listed picture the occupants names and trades are shown on the windows.

In 1898 the house had become the property of  a Mr Sykes a local merchant. He decided to make some alterations to the interior of the house. It was during this work that a cupboard was discovered which had been plastered over. It contained eight ancient golf clubs and some paper including a local newspaper dated 1741.

The group (they are not a set) consist of three Play clubs, three long spoons, a light iron and a heavy iron.

The clubs bear unique markings which appear six times on each wood head and upon the shafts of the irons.

  

 

Mr Sykes had no knowledge of golf but immediately realised that these items were of great age and were clearly of some importance.

We do not know for certain the exact events which followed but we do know that he sent them to a Mr Hammond of Skelton Mill Ayrshire. Scotland.

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This is the only picture I can find of the mill. But it was here that Mr Hammond had a successful business making cloth and in particular blankets.

I assume that as Mr Sykes traded in cloth that the connection was that he traded with Mr Hammond who became his only known contact in Scotland. Where the answer to the clubs importance would certainly be found if anywhere.

This was more fortunate than he could have hoped for as Mr Hammond had a friend, a Mr Adam Wood who was very knowledgeable about golf artefacts and was in fact a founder member of Troon Golf Club..

Mr Adam Wood was at that time the Harbour Master at Troon and a well known and respected citizen. He was a founder member of Troon Golf Club a founder member of Troon Bowling club and chairman of the new church building committee. It was recorded at that time, with respect to the latter post,  that if they scoured the whole of Scotland, they could not have found a better candidate.

I have seen it recorded that he was also believed to be publican of the Portland Arms in Troon. However I can not substantiate this, but do find that he lived in Portland Villa close by (shown below). Possibly this is where confusion exists.

 

What is certain is that he and a group of other golfers used this hotel as their golf clubhouse, and it was here that the Troon Golf Club was founded.

 

The Portland Arms now The Anchorage Hotel

Mr Wood consulted all the available experts about the clubs, amongst whom was Lord Balfour who was Captain of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, and Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905.

 

 Upon seeing the golf clubs he echoed the views of most at that time that they belonged to an era not later than the Stuard Kings.

The Scots were so impressed with this unbelievable find that the clubs were star attractions at the 1901 Glasgow Exhibition which was housed in the fabulous Kelvin Grove building.

 

 

 

Following the Exhibition it is presumed that they remained in the possession of Adam Wood for a short while until he donated them to Troon Golf Club.

 

 

And here they remained for a hundred years hidden from public view until a few years ago when they were loaned to the British Golf Museum in St Andrews.

British Golf Museum - St Andrews

 

 The Exhibit at The British Golf Museum - St Andrews