‘World’s oldest golf pub’ saved from demolition

The former Mrs Forman's pub in Musselburgh in 2010. The bar was frequented by many of the most famous golfers of the Victorian era. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The former Mrs Forman's pub in Musselburgh in 2010. The bar was frequented by many of the most famous golfers of the Victorian era. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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AN HISTORIC former pub with close links to golf’s 19th century heyday has been saved from demolition.

Last orders were called at Mrs Forman’s bar in Musselburgh last year after the site was sold by Punch Taverns to an Edinburgh-based property firm.

The National Trust owns two pubs in London and Belfast. This pub is just as historic as they are

Golf historian Neil Laird

Plans submitted to East Lothian Council in October sought to demolish the building to make way for new housing, prompting an outcry from golf historians.

The pub in Ravensheugh Road was built in 1822 and was named after its most famous landlady, who ran the business in the 1840s and 1850s. Its proximity to the Old Course on Musselburgh Links - generally recognised as the oldest golf course in the world - made it a popular destination for players.

Pioneering golf professionals such as Old Tom Morris and Willie Park senior are all recorded as having dined at Mrs Forman’s.

When the Open championship was played on the Old Course in the 1870s and 1880s the building offered welcome respite to many players, officials and supporters.

Architects EMA Architecture and Design Limited have since withdrawn the original demolition plan. A new planning application is being considered by the local authority, which will retain the former pub but see it converted into a private house.

Mrs Forman’s was held in such high regard by golfers in the mid-19th century that it was mentioned in the first published history of the game, Reminiscences of the Old Bruntsfield Links Golf Club.

Golf historian Neil Laird, in an interview with the Golf Business News website, said the closure of the pub was a “big loss” to Musselburgh.

“Doubtless you can make more money from top-end housing, but that’s not to say the pub was not viable at a lower cost level,” he said.

“At the very least the council should have investigated the possibility of a heritage group taking it over. It would pay its way and still contribute to the local economy. The National Trust own two pubs in London and Belfast – The George and The Crown. This pub is just as historic as they are.”

Musselburgh staged The Open in rotation in the 1870s and 1880s with Prestwick and the Old Course at St Andrews. It hosted six championships, the first in 1874 and the last in 1889.

READ MORE: The story of Scotland’s famous 1976 Calcutta Cup win

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