The Debenture Records

The Debenture Records

Over the last few months, I have been reviewing the Debenture records I found in the big tin trunk stored in the Clubhouse. Dating from October 1904, they provide something of an insight to the Club in its very early days.

However, before exploring this information, I needed to be clear as to what a Debenture actually is.

Wikipaedia provides the following guidance

“In corporate finance, a debenture is a medium to long-term debt instrument used by large companies to borrow money. A debenture is thus like a certificate of loan or a loan bond.”

There is a scan of a blank debenture are available to view by clicking the photos on the right.

 Having been established in 1887, members had been meeting in various locations (including 41, Spring Gardens, Buxton, St Anne’s Hotel, Buxton and at the Devonshire Arms, Fairfield) but by 1903 it was becoming clear that the Club needed to formalise its existence.

The Borough Council was persuaded to buy the grazing rights or “gates” from local farmers. A gate is the land required to keep nine sheep or one cow and a calf. After some negotiation, an agreement was reached allowing the Club to rent the majority of Fairfield Common from the Council. There was now a reasonably secure future for the Course on Fairfield Common.

Having a Course was one thing, but members needed permanent premises. In 1904, the question of how to pay for a Clubhouse was raised and the decision to move forward with “debentures” was made. Three hundred £10 debentures were issued. Considering that the annual subscription at the time was 2 guineas (and the gross income of the Club around £1400), to raise nearly £3000 was quite an achievement. In the end, 246 debentures were issued, raising £2460 for the Club.

So who were the Debenture holders?

For reasons of confidentiality, the names remain private. However, I have carried out some digging and present the following for reflection.

 

Address region of debenture holders

  Debenture value (% of total)

 

Buxton

 

 

               44

 

Manchester

 

 

               40

 

Other

 

 

               16

 

Note

  1. All the Buxton addresses are located within Buxton.
  2. Manchester addresses are located within the City
  3. Other extends to Cheshire, London, Sheffield, Brighton and The IoM.

I remain astonished by the “reach” of Buxton and High Peak Golf Club in these very early days and that so many “gentleman golfers” were willing to dip into their pockets to such a very great extent. Several acquired debentures of more than £200 – approximately £50,000 today.

The Clubhouse, with its imposing façade and magnificent interior fittings, was built at a cost of £3000. It opened its doors in 1905. The debentures had done their work.

 

Please refer to the History article “A Tale of Two Clocks” for further detail regarding the Clubhouse and its subsequent development.

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The Club prospered. An item in the Buxton Herald (10.11.06) reported that the Club has 332 members and hosted 1,166 visitors through the year. Considering that the visitors would be needing to stay in hotels, would eat and drink and perhaps even buy things in shops when not golfing, there is little doubt that attracting visitors to play golf in Buxton contributed to the renaissance of Buxton in the pre-war years.

It strikes me that, as the Buxton Crescent complex nears completion in 2019, Buxton is likely to undergo a third re-birth.

Will Buxton and High Peak Golf Club be ready to open its doors (and promote its golfing experience) to the prosperous visitors who will come to stay at the Crescent, just as it did 111 years ago?

Jon White

07.09.2017

 

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