Nostalgia: Polo’s glamorous survivor in Ham

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Nostalgia: Polo’s glamorous survivor in Ham Nostalgia: Polo’s glamorous survivor in Ham

The pictures show: a match outside the old clubhouse in the 1950s; prizegiving in the early 1950s and Mrs Briggs receives instruction from Mr Edler at Ham Equestrian Club, Ham Common. The picture is dated March 23, 1934.

Ham Polo Club will again be the scene of a celebrity gathering for a gala polo day on September 6. During the day a decorated and signed car by leading Britartist Tracey Emin will be auctioned for charity at a gala polo event.

One of the oldest polo clubs in the UK, Ham Polo Club, established in 1926 is the sole survivor of a dozen or so clubs located in and around London in the 1920s and 1930s.

The first, undersized, ground was on Church Road, Ham Common next to Brown Gates House, which belonged to the club's first chairman Loftus Storey and his wife Una.

Another ground in the area was the one that belonged to Major General Carr who owned Parkgate House at Ham Gate.

Few will recall that there originally existed a full size polo ground between Sheen and Richmond Gates, north of Bog Lodge, now known as Holly Lodge.

In 1946 the club was re-established by the late Billy Walsh as Ham Polo Club, and was proud to boast of being the first British polo club to restart polo after the war.

Although there were only a dozen or so playing members, enthusiasm was precipitated by the first post-war tournament, held in 1947 at the Roehampton Club.

The tournament which lasted two weeks attracted teams from all over the United Kingdom.

The Ham team emerged as victors,carrying off the Roehampton Cup which is still contested each year.

In 1954 George Stevens, who farmed the Ham House lands known as Manor Farm, leased from the Dysart Estate agreed to convert the original Ham House orchard into a polo ground for the club.

Ham's first president was the diminutive Archie David, who donated the Autumn Cup which is still played for annually.

Over the years the club's trophy cabinet filled. Evelyn de Rothschild donated the 'Ascot Cup'. Anthony Chappell's father donated the 'Anthony Cup'. Edward Tauchert rescued the 'Roehampton Cup' from the Roehampton Golf Club and even the actor Jimmy Edwards, a keen supporter of the club presented his own trophy and took great pleasure in both playing and commentating.

On April 30, 1965 a fire destroyed the original clubhouse, but by the following season the members had purchased and erected an old army Nissen hut from the wartime barracks in Richmond Park.

which, although slightly modified, is still used as the clubhouse today.

At Windsor in July 1985 the Queen presented Billy Walsh, who was at that time the president of Ham Polo Club, a trophy subscribed to by all his polo friends throughout the world in appreciation of his services to the game.

Ham prides itself on being a family club welcoming families complete with picnics and dogs.

Saturday’s celebrity day is hosted by private members’ club, Quintessentially and Raffles nightclub and begins at 1.30pm with welcome cocktails and a gourmet lunch, and then the polo action before winding up with prize giving and a Raffles inspired evening party. Email events@ quintessentially.com for ticket information

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