The Caddies of Walton Heath Golf Club, 1904-1924

5th East Surrey Regiment in India Group of Walton Heath Golf Links Caddies
5th East Surrey Regiment in India, Group of Walton Heath Golf Links Caddies. “Front Row: Pte M. Pressman, Pte T. Lee, Second Row: Lce-Corpl. W. G. Sparks, Corpl. F. Bennett, Corpl. J. Freebody, Lce-Corpl A. Warrick. Back Row: Lce-Corpl. H. Proctor, Pte P. Armstrong, Pte. G. Ward, Pte A. Gardiner, Pte W. Giften.” – The Surrey Mirror, 20 Aug 1915, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk1

Walton Heath Golf Club at Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey, opened on 14 May 1904. An exhibition match on this day included John Henry Taylor, Harry Vardon and James Braid, the club’s professional.2 Several of our Ward family members worked at Walton Heath during these early years.

My great-grandfather Alfred John Ward was an assistant to James Braid for about five years between 1904 and 1911.3 Alfred traveled with him around England and Scotland and learned to build golf courses under his instruction.46 He took those skills with him to America in 1911, where the sport was rapidly increasing in popularity. Alfred continued his professional golf career working as a greenskeeper and club professional while traveling around the United States building and remodeling courses. Alfred’s brothers, Henry and George William Ward, my great uncles, along with their nephew Alfred Robert Gardiner, worked as caddies at Walton Heath from about 1908 to the start of WWI. George’s son George William Ward Jr. was also Walton Heath caddie into the mid-1920s.711

The history of the caddies at Walton Heath in these early days includes strikes, riots, murder,12 illegal gambling and organized theft. In response came significant labor reform13 and important contributions to the British war effort in WWI.14 Both are a testament to the integrity of the club and its employees.

A strike of caddies on the course of Walton Heath Golf Club, of which the Prime Minister is a member, has resulted in a remarkable affray…The Hull Daily Mail, 24 May 1905

In 1905, caddies at Walton Heath Golf Club went on strike in demand of higher pay. Edward Earl, a 33-year old caddie and builder’s labourer died from a golf club blow to the head during a riot in relation to the strike.15 One Sunday in May of that year, Charles Pilcher of South Kensington and friend Reginald Coventry went to play on the links. A boy named Smith agreed to caddy for the pair in spite of the strike. For this several striking caddies attacked and threatened him.16 Mr. Pilcher attempted to defend the boy and became a target of the assailants, one of whom was Edward Earl. Pilcher swung his club at Earl, hitting him in the side of the head. After the incident, Pilcher took Earl home and then to the hospital. The court found Mr. Pilcher to have acted in self-defense and returned a corresponding verdict of “justifiable homicide.”17

The force of the blow broke the club. Men in the crowd also had clubs, which they were using in a threatening way. The mob afterwards pounded the face of a boy to a jelly.

For several years after the riot and murder incident, Walton Heath caddies had a reputation of being a rough group.18 The nature of the job meant inconsistent employment throughout the year and unpredictable wages due to weather. While younger boys were not deterred by this, community members began to see it as a disadvantage for the youths that they did not receive training in trades that provided a more secure future. Older men who worked as caddies had a reputation of being loafers and “undesirables.”19

The Chairman: I think you will find great difficulty with the caddies at present. There are a very rude lot of caddies there, and they give us great trouble on the Epsom Bench. I hope if you employ them you will use your eloquence to make them better. Mr. Elliott: I am afraid the caddie question, like the great domestic question, is becoming a very troublesome one.

The club members at Walton Heath took responsibility for the situation and devised a system to retain a crew of reliable caddies. The 30 caddies selected for this group had to show up on time each morning and meet a standard of good personal conduct.13 In exchange, the “retained” caddies could expect a minimum wage of £2 every four weeks. The system worked to improve the reputation of Walton Heath caddies and provided security for these workers. The program met with some controversy when the demand for caddies exceeded the supply. Some members became angry during these busy times when they had to carry their own clubs.20

At Walton Heath we have a system of guarantee for 30 of the caddies, under which they receive a minimum wage of £2 per four weeks. In order to remain on the list, they have to undertake to be ready to carry every day at 9 a.m., and they known that any bad conduct, either on or off the links, will entail their removal…We have also offered inducements to those who are physically fit to join the local Territorials…The whole question is, however, one of great difficulty…and bitter are the complaints when a man has to carry his own clubs. Still there can be no doubt that a grave responsibility is incurred in constant mixing up of grown-up undesirables and boys.

Our great uncle Henry Ward began working at Walton Heath sometime before 1911 when Alfred Ward emigrated to look for work in New York. Henry listed his occupation as “golf caddie” in the 1911 Census, residing at 1 Nutley Grove, Reigate7; and again on his certificate of marriage to wife Ada Royston on 29 Jul 1912.8 The youngest Ward brother, George William, began caddying at the club around 1909 as well, according to a 1909 newspaper article.21 He also listed “golf caddie” as his occupation when he married his wife Alice Lillian Graffham on 27 Jul 1912.9

George Ward of Reigate, Gustavis Faulkner, of Walton-on-the-Hill, William Tugwell, of Tadworth, William Huddy, of 10 Nutley-Lane, Reigate, and Albert Potter, of Beech-lane, Walton-on-the-Hill, were summoned for gaming with cards at Walton Heath on July 11th…P.C. Pain said he was on duty in plain clothes with P.C. Eves, on Walton Heath, and saw defendants playing a game of “banker.” Witness secured 49 cards, two sixpences and two pennies…by inspector Faulkner, who stated that he had received many complaints against residents as to the card-playing, and he had had to send two constables in plain clothes to try and put a stop to it…

The new permanent caddie system proved successful but still many caddies were drawn to petty vices, especially gambling. In May of 1909 during a period of wet weather, a plain-clothes police officer snuck up on caddies George Ward, Gustavus Faulkner, William Tugwell and Albert Potter while playing “banker”.21 George Ward being my great uncle and Gustavus “Gus” Faulkner being the future assistant professional of James Braid and father of Open champion Max Faulkner.22 George did not learn his lesson and was back at the Epsom Petty Sessions in 1912, charged with playing a “friendly game of map” with fellow caddies Robert Coe and Alfred Gardiner, who was also his nephew.23

At the Epsom Petty sessions on Monday, George Ward, 3 Oakhill-road, Reigate; Robert Coe, 37 St. Mary’s-road, Reigate; and Alfred Gardener, 10 Nutley-lane, Reigate, were summoned for playing banker on Walton Heath on the 8th last…

Ward afterwards ran away. Witness caught him, when he said, “I am the unlucky one, and have lost most money.”…

The bench decided to convict, and Inspector Tudgay said there had been numerous complaints in regard to gambling on the Heath, but it was difficult to get near enough to the offenders to catch them. –Sir William Vincent said it was notorious that at Walton Heath they had difficulty with the caddies. –Mr. MacMahon said he did not think that applied to the defendants, as he had been asked by a prominent member of the Golf Club to defend them… – The Dorking & Leatherhead Advertiser, 30 Mar 191223

In 1909, Walton Heath’s group of permanent caddies was given notice by the club that they were called to join the Territorial Force.24 On 5 Aug 1910, several of these men, including George Ward and his nephew Alfred Gardiner, enlisted at Walton-on-the-Hill to serve in the 5th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment.25

Thirty caddies, who are “retained” by the Walton Heath Golf Club, have been notified that they are expected to enroll themselves in the Territorial Force. – The Yorkshire Evening Post, 25 Aug 1909.24

The 1/5th Battalion was mobilized after the start of WWI on 4 Aug 1914 and quartered in Pelham School in Wimbledon.26

Pelham School, Wimbledon, 6 Jun 2016, © E R Lopresti
Pelham School, Wimbledon, 6 Jun 2016, © E R Lopresti

The Walton Heath Club have sent over 40 caddies and groundsmen to the Army, and many are already at the front and have several times been in action. Some have returned wounded, and unfortunately, one has been killed. – The Western Daily Press (Bristol), 1 Feb 1915 27

On 29 Oct 1914, George Ward and Alfred Gardiner embarked for India from Southampton with the 1/5th Battalion, landing in Bombay on the 2nd of December. George was hospitalized twice, the first time in Cawnpore (Kanpur) for Dengue Fever in April of 1915, the second time for urethral stricture. They returned home in October 1915. George was discharged on 5 Jun 1916 after being found medically unfit for further service.25 Alfred Gardiner joined up with the 16th Manchester Regiment in 1917. He was killed in action on 23 Apr 1917 during the Battle of Arras.28

See the Alfred Cecil Gregory collection at the Families in British India Society website for some fantastic photos of the 5th Bn. East Surrey Regiment in India. Also the article: The “Terriers” of Wimbledon fought for the British Empire for more history.

George’s son, George William Ward, Jr took up caddying at Walton Heath after WWI, finishing second in the Caddie’s Golf Competition in 1923.29 George William Ward Sr, in the meantime, kept in touch with some of the caddies back at Walton Heath. On 14 Jan 1924, he purchased from his friend, caddie George Crossling, a golf club for 2 shillings.30 The club turned out to be stolen. George Ward said he did not know anything about that. The market for stolen golf clubs and balls was somewhat of a nuisance to the police.

Three years later in February 1927, George was back in in the Epsom Police Court, this time for buying stolen balls. The Chairman was more suspicious of George’s buying habits this time, and officers found 16 stolen golf balls in a biscuit tin at his home. George explained to officers Rees and Ellis that he had no way of knowing they were stolen because he bought so many golf balls from so many different people. Captain Rees wondered, “Are you a collector of ancient golf balls?”

“My sons are keen on golf,” George explained. Captain Ellis inquired, “do your sons use a lot of golf balls?” George confirmed, “Yes they are very keen on golf. They take two or three balls a day.”

Captain Rees wanted to know how much George charged for balls. “Sixpence each,” he said, “If I can skin them and paint them then they are worth ninepence.” Captain Ellis asked, “Have you ever heard that there is a large illicit traffic in golf balls?”

“No, sir,” George answered.

The Chairman advised George,“We want to give you a little warning. We think it is a very curious thing that you should buy golf balls from Tom, Dick, and Harry, chiefly from golf caddies.”31

Our family’s involvement with Walton Heath Golf Club, at least in records, ends shortly after this. Alfred Ward’s brothers (my great uncles) Henry and George lived with their families at 18 Nutley Lane, Reigate after WWI. The 1939 Register records the family together at this address.32 George worked as a general labourer while Henry Ward was a blind pensioner who could not work.

1939 Register

18 Nutley Lane, Reigate

Raymond Goacher, b. 11 Feb 1885 farm carter;
George Ward, b. 20 Jan 1889, general labourer;
Alice L Ward, b. 16 May 1893 unpaid domestic duties;
Frederick Graffham, b. 1 Nov 1876, salesman and labourer;
Henry Ward, b. 29 Mar 1874, blind pensioner cannot work;
(Children’s names blacked out due to privacy restrictions)

Henry Ward and his wife Ada Royston had three children that lived to adulthood: Rosetta Gladys Hornest Ward Williams (1908), Alice Kathleen Ward (1911) and Charles H Ward (1914). Henry died in 1944 in Reigate, preceded by his wife Ada in 1916. George William Ward and his wife Alice Lillian Graffham had six children: George William Ward (1911), Queenie Lillian Ward Searle (1912), John Frederick Ward (1914), Alice Ward (1919), Dorothy Lucy Ward (1921) and Doris Maud Ward Wheatley (1921). George died at 18 Nutley Lane on 14 Dec 1954.

Reference Notes


  1. “5th East Surrey Regiment in India,” Group of Walton Heath Golf Links Caddies,” The Surrey Mirror and County Post, 20 Aug 1915, p. 2; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016. “Front Row: Pte M. Pressman, Pte T. Lee, Second Row: Lce-Corpl. W. G. Sparks, Corpl. F. Bennett, Corpl. J. Freebody, Lce-Corpl A. Warrick. Back Row: Lce-Corpl. H. Proctor, Pte P. Armstrong, Pte. G. Ward, Pte A. Gardiner, Pte W. Giffren.”
  2. “Walton Heath Golf Course, The Champion Wins the First Match on the New Links,” The Surrey Mirror and County Post, 20 May 1904, p. 7, col. 4; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  3. “Golf Comment, News and Views,” The Indianapolis News, 23 Mar 1923, p. 34, col.2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/256854 : 2016.
  4. “Golf Comment, News and Views,” The Indianapolis News, 7 Jun 1923, p.25, col. 2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/4425746 : 2016. “A new face to Indianapolis golf fans will appear in the lineup of the Indianapolis pros this year. The newcomer is Alf Ward, of the new Pleasant Run Club of Irvington. Alf is an Englishman and learned his golf under the famous Jim Braid years ago. Ward is to pair up with Cliff Wagoner, of the Pleasant Run Club, in the pro-amateur best ball event.”
  5. “A.J. Ward Signs as Pro at Pleasant Run Course,” The Indianapolis News, 24 Mar 1923, p. 12, col. 2; Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/3414535/ : 2016. “A.J. Ward, a native born Englishman who has been in this country for the last six years has been signed as pro at the Pleasant Run golf course for the coming season and will take up work immediately of expanding the East side public links to eighteen holes. Ward learned golf under James Braid, famous British player. Last year he was at Bloomington, Ind. where he planned the course of the Country Club there.”
  6. 1920 United States Census, Cayuga County, New York, population schedule, Alfred J Ward, Margaret T Ward and Thomas Styles, 38 Grant Ave, Auburn Ward 10, ED: 20; Image: 732; digital images, image 728, Archive.org (https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu1089unit#page/n728/mode/1up : 2016); citing: “Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920,” NARA microfilm publication T625, Roll: 1089; Page: 10B, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  7. 1911 England Census, Henry Ward, age 34, golf caddie, 1 Nutley Grove, Registration District: Reigate, County of Surrey, ED: 4, Class: RG14, Piece: 3211, Household Schedule Number: 137; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/sharing/9513800?h=81ad18 : accessed 2016); citing: “Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911,” held at The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.
  8. England, marriage certificate for Henry Ward, golf caddie age 34, and Ada Royston, age 24, both of Nutley Grove, married 29 Jul 1912, registered Jul-Sep 1912, Reigate, vol. 2a, p. 483, no. 29, Reigate Register Office, Surrey; General Register Office, Southport. “Father of Groom: James Ward, general labourer, Father of Bride: Henry Royston (deceased), bricklayer.”
  9. England, marriage certificate for George Ward, golf caddie age 23, and Alice Lillian Graffham, 10 Lyndale Rd, Redhill, married 23 Jul 1912, registered Jul-Sep 1912, Reigate, vol. 2a, p. 482, no. 27, Reigate Register Office, Surrey; General Register Office, Southport. “Father of Groom: Thomas Ward (deceased), greengrocer, Father of Bride: Peter Graffham, farm labourer.”
  10. “UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929,” Alfred Robert Gardiner, Private, Manchester Regiment, Regimental No. 41828, To whom Authorized: Mrs. Elizabeth, Record No. 623167, Registry No. 539451; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/sharing/9513803?h=95057e : accessed 2016); citing “Soldiers’ Effects Records, 1901-60,” NAM Accession Number: 1991-02-333, Record Number Ranges: 622001-623500, Reference: 366, National Army Museum, Chelsea, London, England.
  11. “Walton-on-the-Hill, Caddies’ Golf,” The Surrey Mirror and County Post, 14 Dec 1923, p. 8, col. 5; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016. “The Caddies’ Golf Competition for prizes presented by Mr. Benson, of Tadworth, produced some close games over the local course. The final was reached on Friday, when T. Bowling beat G. Ward at the 19th hole.”
  12. “A Strike of Caddies, A Remarkable Affray,” The Daily Mail, Hull Packet and East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Courier, 24 May 1905, p. 4, col. 7; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  13. “The Caddie Question,” The Falkirk Herald, 14 Nov 1908, p. 5, col. 8; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  14. “Golf Notes,” Aberdeen Daily Journal, 7 Apr 1910, p. 9, col. 7; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016. “The Walton Heath Club are encouraging their younger caddies to join the Territorial Forces, and are raising £700 to build a drill hall and miniature rifle range. The sum of £100 has been given by the club, and the members are contributing the remainder.”
  15. “The Affray at Walton Heath Golf Course,” The Surrey Mirror and County Post, 14 Jul 1905, p. 5, col. 5; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  16. “Fight on a Surrey Golf Links,” The Scotsman (Edinburgh), 24 May 1905, p. 10, col. 6; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  17. “Killing a Caddie, The Riot on Surrey Golf Links,” The Derby Daily Telegraph, 13 Jul 1905, p. 2, col. 7; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  18. “Walton Heath Golf Club, Assessment Appeal,” The Surrey Mirror and County Post, 13 Jul 1906, p.6, col. 4; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  19. “Work and Him did not Agree,” The Surrey Mirror and County Post, 21 Aug 1908, p.6, col. 1; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  20. “At Walton Heath,” Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 18 Jan 1910, p. 14, col. 4; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  21. “Walton-on-the-Hill,”The Surrey Mirror and County Post, 20 Jul 1909, p. 3’ Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  22. The Brian Viner Interview, 17 Jul 2001, “Faulkner’s Treasure Chest of Golf Jewels,” The Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/golf/faulkners-treasure-chest-of-golf-jewels-9148476.html : accessed 20 Feb 2016.
  23. “Walton-on-the-Hill,” The Dorking & Leatherhead Advertiser, Epsom District Times & County Post, 30 Mar 1912, p. 7; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  24. “Golf Caddies and the Territorial Army,” The Yorkshire Evening Post (Leeds), 25 Aug 1909, p. 4, col. 5; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  25. “British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920,” George Ward age 21, born in Tooting, enlisted at Walton on the Hill on 5 Aug 1910, 5th East Surrey Regt, no. 1068, 17 pages; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/sharing/9513811?h=444d0b : accessed 2016); citing Microfilm Publication WO364; Piece: 4463, “War Office: Soldiers’ Documents from Pension Claims, First World War,” The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.
  26. The Wimbledon Society, “Heritage: The “Terriers” of Wimbledon fought for the British Empire,” Your Local Guardian , 18 Jul 2014, http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/11330252.The__Terriers__of_Wimbledon_fought_for_the_British_Empire/ : accessed 17 Feb 2016.
  27. “Golfing Notes,” The Western Daily Press (Bristol), 1 Feb 1915, p. 7, col. 6; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  28. “UK, Commonwealth War Graves, 1914-1921 and 1939-1947,” Alfred Robert Gardiner, died 23 Apr 1917, no. 41828, 16th Bn Manchester Regiment, The Arras Memorial at Faubourg-D´Amiens Cemetery, Arras; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/sharing/9513815?h=3df7ff : accessed 2016); citing: “British Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914-1918,” Commonwealth War Graves Commission, London, England.
  29. “Walton-on-the-Hill, Caddies’ Golf,” The Surrey Mirror and County Post, 14 Dec 1923, p. 8, col. 5; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016. “The Caddies’ Golf Competition for prizes presented by Mr. Benson, of Tadworth, produced some close games over the local course. The final was reached on Friday, when T. Bowling beat G. Ward at the 19th hole.”
  30. “Walton on the Hill, Thefts by Reigate and Belmont Caddies,” The Surrey Mirror and County Post, 1 Feb 1924, p. 1, col. 5; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  31. “Golf Clubs and Balls, Buyers from Redhill and Reigate Warned,” The Surrey Mirror and County Post, 25 Feb 1927, p. 4, col. 2; Online Archives, The British Newspaper Archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk : 2016.
  32. 1939 Register, Raymond Goacher, farm carter, b. 11 Feb 1885; George Ward, general labourer, b. 20 Jan 1889; Alice L Ward, unpaid domestic duties, b. 16 May 1893; Frederick Graffham, salesman and labourer, b. 1 Nov 1876 and Henry Ward, blind pensioner cannot work, b. 29 Mar 1874; 18 Nutley Lane, Reigate, Schedule: 258, Lines: 1-5, Reigate MB, County of Surrey, RG101/1919B/025/40, Letter Code: DMTD; digital images, Find My Past (http://www.findmypast.co.uk/1939register); citing: Records of the 1939 Register held at The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.

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