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A Member-Owned Club

In 1951, a significant transformation occurred in the history of the Mid Ocean Club, a revered establishment under Furness Withy's global portfolio. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the world economy had taken a downturn, prompting Furness Withy to reassess its investments in tourism and the cruise ship industry. Among the properties deemed expendable due to high refurbishment costs was the Mid Ocean Club.

The journey towards the club becoming a member's club began with an unexpected revelation in an unguarded conversation. Harry D. Butterfield, the astute manager of the Bank of N.T. Butterfield and Son, as well as the chairman of the Transport Committee of the Trade Development Board, found himself in London for business. During an evening of camaraderie with a longtime barrister friend, over glasses of port and cigars, the legal expert unwittingly disclosed that he had been consulted by Furness Withy about the disposition of their assets, including those in Bermuda.

Butterfield, a man of action who would later earn the title of Sir Harry, wasted no time. He swiftly embarked on a mission to secure the funds required to acquire the Mid Ocean property. Two accounts recount his approach. One version suggests that he engaged in a lengthy long-distance telephone call to Sir Eldon Trimingham in Bermuda that very night. The other narrative proposes that he cabled H. Jack Tucker, the Bank of Bermuda's manager, instructing him to gather subscriptions for the purchase. It's probable that he pursued both avenues, consulting with Sir Eldon before proceeding with the fundraising efforts.

Sir Howard Trott and Edmund Gibbons assumed prominent roles in negotiations with Bermuda Development Company, a subsidiary of Furness Withy overseeing Mid Ocean. Across the table from Lord Essington of the steamship company, discussions extended over months. Dedicated golf enthusiasts rallied behind the cause, pledging subscriptions to the cause. At the inaugural shareholders' meeting on September 17, 1951, Sir Howard elucidated the situation.

The legislative assembly had passed a pivotal bill titled "Mid Ocean Club Limited," enabling the formation of a limited liability company empowered to manage the club, golf course operations, and property acquisition. An agreement had been struck between the Bermuda Development Company and a select group of members. The pact stipulated the acquisition of the club, golf course, and surrounding beaches, encompassing roughly 180 acres.

This pivotal agreement marked the transition of the Mid Ocean Club into a member's club, preserving its legacy and setting the stage for its continued presence as a renowned institution on Bermuda's landscape.