The Story of the Ilford Catholic Club

By Athur A. Samuels

Secretary, 1919-1947

1947
ROBERT COOKE, PRINTERS

DERBY ROAD, FOREST GATE
LONDON, B.7.

The present Club was born in 1919 and it came about in this way.

In the first months of 1919 many of us were given our freedom, or in other words were demobilized from the Forces, and one of our first thoughts was to get a football team ready for the season that was fast approaching. By the time the season opened we had completed all preparations, and had two teams ready for the field. All was going well, and Committee meetings were held each week, usually at my, house. Our general meeting place for the members used to be the backroom of a confectioner's shop Opposite the Church, where we used to consume quantities of hot drinks, pineapple, orange, blackcurrant, etc. It was at these gatherings that we used to discuss the possibilities of a real club, where we could meet each evening and play billiards, etc. Eventually it was decided to send a deputation to Canon Palmer, to ask if we could have the use of part of the school for this purpose. The Canon agreed that we could have the 1ower hall and the large classroom on the same floor, every weekday evening from 7 to 10.30.


Report from Ilford Recorder- 18th June, 1920.
ILFORD CATHOLIC FOOTBALL CLUB
  • The first: annual meeting of the club was held in the Catholic Schools on Saturday. when a» large gathering assembled.
  • The secretary’s report revealed a successful season's work, the club having played 60 matches, won 26, lost 17, drawn 17, with a goal average of 152 for and 113 against.
  • The club finished sixth in the Ilford and District Amateur Football League, and fourth in the Ilford and District Junior Football League.
  • Chief among the goal scorers were: W. Angel, 32; W-Ewen, 30; A. Suckling, 9; A. Ewen, 9; and A. Smith, 9.
  • Canon Palmer congratulated the club on its past season‘s work and wished it every success in the future.
  • The chairman in a characteristic speech remarked that this was the first season a. completely Catholic football club had been run in llford, and had every reason to be proud of its results.
  • Mr. Samuels was again unanimously elected to the chair, and Mr. Owen to the secretary ship.
  • Other elections resulted as follows: -Vice-Chairman. Mr. W. Ewen; captain, 1st XI, Mr. A. Ewen; "A" XI, Mr. Jas. Heenan; vice-captain, 1st XI, Mr. H- Thompson; “A” XI, Mr. W. Angel; committee, Messrs. Prior, J. F. Keating, Hazcldcane, B. Vaughan, Suckling, Irwin and Healy.
  • The club will compete in all competitions entered last season, and it is hoped to run three XI-'s.
  • The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the chairman.

We (the Football Club Committee) of which I was Chairman, then set to work to prepare an Inaugural Meeting, and on Sunday, 25rd November, 1919, a good crowd of men, young and old, attended a meeting in the school. As a result the Ilford Catholic Men’s Social Club was formed, and it may be of interest to some, to know the name: of those elected to form the first Management Committee. Here they are:

Chairman-Mr. J. B- Caryesford. Vice-Chairman Mr. S. P. Lonergan. Hon. Treasurer-Rev- P. J. Brady; Hon. Sec-A. A- Samuels

Committee-Capt. A. C. Acheson, R.N., A. Ewen, F. Prior, H. Ewen, A. E. Suckling, P- Irwin, F. B. Healy, B. J. Owen, B. Vaughan, M. F. Vaughan, J. J. Heenan, A. Grigsby.

On December 8th, 1919, the Club was opened and we soon had a membership of 100. We had two small billiard tables, one bagatelle table, draughts, chess, cards, etc. and all these things had to be packed away at the end of each evening, and so leave the rooms clear for the school children the following day. Two members of the Committee were on duty each evening, to control games, etc., and Mr. and Mrs. McGovern, Senr., who were at the time the school caretakers, looked after the refreshment department-Tea, Coffee. Minerals, Cake, Chocolate, etc. One of our rules then was "That no intoxicating liquors be permitted on the Club premises."

Report from University 14:15 November, 1920.

UNVEILING OF MEMORIAL

Ilford-On Sunday evening last the Very Rev. Canon Palmer unveiled the memorial which had been erected in the church to the memory of those members of the congregation who fell in the war. The congregation sung the hymn "Out of the Depths," a quartet of the choir gave a beautiful rendering of Mendelssohn's “Beati mortui," and the organist played the "Dead March." It is satisfactory to note that now two out of the three schemes by which the congregation decided to commemorate the part that its members played in the War are now completed-the foundation of a permanent Mass for those who took part in the war, and a war memorial inside the church. The remaining thing to be done is to build the Catholic Club. A very large sum of money is required for this purpose, but the Very Rev. Canon, aided by a strong committee, is working hard to that end.

In April, 1920, we held our First Annual General Meeting, so as to keep our promise to give an early account of the opening months, and also to give an opportunity to the members to elect new officers and committee, if they-wished. The result was that all officers and most of the Committee were re-elected.

Nothing startling happened during 1920. Membership increased slowly. On the recommendation of the S.V.P. Society we agreed to accept as members, boys between the ages of 14 and 16 but very few boys took' advantage of this offer. Members of the Club took an active part in the Town Fete in aid of the Ilford War Memorial.

During this time the WMC. Was still raising funds by various means towards the erection of the new institute, but it was slow and tedious, and there were many who were skeptical of the scheme.

About this time there appeared a publication called “The Ilford Catholic Men's Social Club Magazine" (Unofficial) and the following is an article from that' magazine dated December, 1921:-

ANNO DOMIN'I 2000
Gentleman (Talking reminiscently to his great-grandson).

“I knew I should always live to see it. I always said so. For the last 79 years have I lived for, this only. How I have hoped, schemed and plotted and all that this might happen, and that I should live to see it.

This DREAM was born immediately after the Great War and cherished all through these long and Patient years. Ah! And to think that of all that little band that started out, I am the last. How it grieves me to think of it (starts weeping).

There was one-old Arthur Samuels, poor old fellow-- he's been dead and gone these fifteen years. A fine man he was, used to be a Councillor here for a number of years, but that was before Ilford was a Borough.

Then we had old Owen-Bunny we used to call him as a young man. His grandson has just left school here. A rare one for Sport he was.

Then we had old O'Dwyer-Steve, I mean-and the Ewens and old Fred Prior, yes, Honest Fred we used to call him. Then we had another man, let me see, name began with a “T"-Oh! Turrel-yes that's it Turrell. Ah! A fine set of chaps they were my son, and to think that of all that little crowd, I am the only one left, yes the only one LEFT TO SEE THE FOUNDATION STONE OF THE INSTITUTE LAID."

This magazine ran for over a year, and although I had much correspondence with the Editor, I never knew his or her identity. If he or she, or they, are still in this parish, I would suggest something similar. The magazine certainly collected all the news, provided many humorous articles, besides cross-word puzzles, etc. I think those who remember this magazine, will agree with me, that it was well worth reading.

During 1921 a Gymnastic Section was formed and proved very popular. We had complete equipment including Vaulting Horse, Parallel Bars, Rings, etc., in fact the outfit at that time cost nearly £100. We had fully experienced instructors, and for a number of months Mr. Johnny Summers came on Friday evenings, and perhaps some of our members, who were boys then; will remember punching at his ear.

Monthly Concerts, Solo and Progressive Whist Drives were held, and all proved very popular.

Report from Ilford Recorder 3rd February, 1922.

ILFORD CATHOLIC MEN'S SOCIAL CLUB

This club held their monthly smoking concert at their headquarters at 88. Peter and Paul's Schools, High-road. It is the opinion of some of the club's regular patrons that each of these concerts is better than its predecessor, which is a very satisfactory state of affairs.

Delightful solos were rendered by Miss E. Smith and Mrs. Collins, the former singing "My ships" and the latter “Betty's garden," both items-bringing encore. Youthful talent was displayed by the Misses Pansy, and. Myrtle Sharp. Miss Myrtle Sharp gave an excellent ’cello solo, "Meditation," and Miss Pansy Sharp's violin solo, “The canary," left nothing to be desired. A banjo solo, "Footlight capers," by Mr. Ronald Sharp, was also much appreciated. Mr. Eric Bettoney, a new friend to the club, kept the audience amused with his songs at the piano. Irish songs by Mr. Fred Foley were also responsible for much laughter.

At the A.G.M. in 1922 it was suggested we should permit ladies to become members, and during that year arrangements were made to admit ladies, and the title of the Club was altered to Ilford Catholic Social Club. At the same A.G.M. the only change in the officers was that of Vice-Chairman, but there were several changes in thee Committee elected.

The year 1922, was the most successful so far. Our membership increased, due to the admittance of ladies as members, and we had many activities. As in 1921 we held an Annual Dinner when we sat down nearly 100 in number. The concerts were so popular that we held these every other week, instead of once each month. Solo and Military Whist Drives were also very popular at this time. During this year, a Nigger Minstrel Troupe was formed under the direction of Mr. F. W. Smith and gave a good account of itself.

Report from the Universe 11th February, 1921.

Ilford- The Ilford Catholic Men’s Social Club, which was started under two years ago, shows all those signs of virility which characterize nearly all the activities of this “live” parish. On Saturday evening last the Club gave its first annual dinner, and ninety-six sat down “under the chairmanship of Father Brady, one of the Vice-Presidents and Hon. Treasurer, his immediate supporters being: Councillor Owen Waters, O.B.E., E.C.C., Mr. J. B. Caryesford (Chairman of the Club); Mrs. Caryesford, Mr. Charles E. Grigsby, (Vice-President), Mr. A. A. Samuels (Hon. Secretary), and Mrs. Samuels; Mr. and Mrs. W. Shale, Senior. During the evening Canon Palmer looked in for a few moments, and was accorded a vociferous welcome. The toasts were: "The Pope and the King,” proposed by the Chairman; “The Clergy,” proposed by Mr. Caryesford; and responded to by the Chairman; The Club," proposed by Mr. W. Shale, and responded to by Mr. A. A. Samuels; and "The Ladies and Visitors," proposed by

Mr. B. J. Owen, and responded to by Mr. Carberry. After dinner (which was held in the Lower Schoolroom), the majority of the company made their way upstairs to the School Theatre for dancing. For an inaugural event it was a very great success. The organisation was all that could be desired, and everybody went away satisfied with having spent a delightful evening.

At the A.G.M. in 1923 the only change in the Officers was again that of Vice-Chairman, with one or two changes in the Committee.

In addition to the Concerts and Whist Drives, a series of Dance Socials was arranged and proved very successful.

It was in 1923 that Father Brady was first taken seriously ill.

A ladies’ Gymnastic Section was formed and 30 ladies joined the section within a few weeks.

During this, year the K's Popular Pierrot Party was formed, under the direction of Mr. E. W. Smith, and made its first appearance at the Whit Monday Fete. This party continued for a number of years, later being known as the K's Entertainers. The Party, all Club members gave shows in many parishes in and around. London, including a series of concerts for the Crusade of Rescue, as well as entertainments at Hospitals, etc.

Report from Ilford Recorder 4th November, 1923.

ILFORD CATHOLIC CONCERT

In the school theatre, on Saturday, the Ilford Catholic Social Club gave their first concert of the season. The "K’s" Popular Pierrot Party, the club's, latest success, provided the programme, and a crowded "house" highly appreciated the feast of good things. Encores were so numerous that several items were crowded out.

The party has been formed with the object of assisting Catholic projects in the diocese. They have appeared with great success at several Catholic missions during the summer, but have not been seen much at home. The club is to be congratulated on possessing a concert party second to none in the district, and of which more will be heard in the near future.

The popular secretary, Mr. Arthur Samuels is a tower of strength in himself, and is ably supported by Messrs. Turrell, Heenan and Keating, and Mlles. Grove. Jeff, Matthews and Smith; while Mr. Harold Mitchell, at the piano, possesses a baritone voice of unusual quality. On Saturday all were in excellent form, and it would be difficult to select anyone for particular praise.

At the A.G.M. in 1924, again the only change in the Officer was that of Vice-Chairman, with the usual few changes in the Committee elected.

This was the year that great things happened so far as the Club was concerned. On the 26th June, 1924, we of the War Memorial Committee were summoned to an emergency meeting and were informed that the premises, which we now occupy, and which were then a Motor Showrooms and Workshops, were to be sold by auction that evening at the Angel Hotel. We had no idea of the price it would demand, but we had nearly £3,000, so that we knew our limits. It was agreed that we should attend the sale, and secure the property if possible. Although I was only Vice-Chairman of that Committee, I was appointed to act for the Committee at the sale, and authorised to bid up to £3,000. After £2,000 there were only two people interested, a well-known local tradesman and myself. I never felt so wealthy before, or since. The price gradually went up £100 at a time, until the bidding reached £3,000, and my friend the tradesman and myself, were watching each other, each hoping the other had finished. His was the last bid of £3,000, and I took a chance a bid another £100. I did not see him move an eyelid, but to my astonishment the auctioneer thanked someone for a bid of £3,200. Pointing to me he said "Against you sir," and although I had already exceeded my authority, I thought I would chance another bid, and a nod of my head meant £3,300- There was dead silence, and my friend the tradesman was looking at me as though he would like to do me an injury, but instead of me hearing the auctioneer say "sold to you sir for £3,300," he said "Thank you Sir- £3,400.” Again he pointed to me saying "Against you sir," but this time I shook my head and his hammer dropped for the last time. I was leaving with the rest of the crowd, feeling very disheartened, when the auctioneer called me over and said, "You were the gentleman who bid £3,300." I admitted I was, and he informed me I was the highest bidder, the last bid of £3,400 being his own, as the reserved price was £3,600. A messenger to the Canon brought me back instructions to do my best, but we must get the property. In the meantime I had met the owner, and after a little talk over a whisky and soda, he agreed to split the difference, and the contract was signed for £3,450.

While on the subject of buying property, some of our older members, in particular those who served in the 1914/1918 War, will remember the Hut adjacent to Westminster Cathedral, where service men were well cared for. The W.M.C. purchased this hut, hoping to have it removed and rebuilt on a site in Ilford, to provide Club premises. With the purchase of the building referred to above, this was not now required, so the Hut was sold-at a profit!

Report from Universe 23rd October. 1920.

Mr. George Robey going to Ilford. It is announced that Mr. George Robey has kindly consented to attend the first day (October 23rd), and perform the opening ceremony at the sale of work in connection with the Church at llford. The Ilford Catholic Council are not without hope that the temporary premises of the Catholic War Memorial Club (the C.W.L. Hut adjacent to Westminster Cathedral having been purchased for that purpose) will be available for the sale of work, thus giving that important function a more becomingly 'spacious setting than the schoolroom can possibly give.

Now we had a building, but to turn a Motor Showroom and Workshop into a Social Club, necessitated the holding of many meetings and much planning. But workmen soon transformed the workshop into a hall, with a good floor and stage. The showroom was a much easier job, and the decorators, most of our own labour, soon made, this presentable, and a bar was built in one corner.

Talking of a bar reminds me, that this caused quite a split in the War Memorial Committee. The question was, when the new building was opened, should we sell intoxicating liquors. After giving the matter much thought, Canon Palmer said he would give his consent for the sale of beer only. By a majority the W.M.C. voted in favour of this, and, as a result, several members who had worked hard raising funds for the new premises, resigned from the Committee.

Thanks to the assistance received from the brewers, two full sized Billiards Tables, the bar and other furniture, were soon installed, the moto: showroom turned into a lounge with basket chairs, etc., and the workshop into a Hall for Dancing, etc., and at the endof September, 1924, we were able to move in.

I think I should explain here that for the first few years we had to carry on, under "dual control" as we used to call it, that is, the W.M.C. were the landlords and the Club the tenants. The W.M.C. took all receipts from the Bar, Lettings, etc., and we paid a rent. The only receipts the Club had were from Billiards and Subscriptions. This led to many complications as you can imagine, and I had many sleepless nights. Within one year of the opening the W.M.C. reported that the building was not paying, and it was even suggested it might have to be sold. Although I was on both Committees, I was, first and foremost, Secretary of the Club, and I continued to argue that until the Club could have full control, we could not hope to improve the situation. From time to time the Club rent was increased, but the situation did not appear to improve.

At the A.G.M. in 1925, all Officer: of the previous year were re-elected, with the addition of an Assistant Secretary, and the Committee was increased to 15 members.

During the previous year we had started another Football Club, and although too late to enter for any competition, they played 11 matches, won 9, lost 1 and drew 1. Goals for 50, against 17.

Father Brady was still very ill, and was away all during 1924.

With the coming of the new premises our membership, of course, increased considerably.

The Concert Party, now known as the K's Entertainers, were still going strong, and up to date we had given over 50 concerts in various parts of London and outlying districts.

In 1925, we had a very successful outing by Steam Launch, on the River from Richmond, over 100 members taking part. At the Annual Dinner 110 members sat down and among our guests were our President and six other priests.

During the year the following sections were formed within the Club-Dancing Class, Leather Work Class First Aid Class.

Report from Ilford Recorder 23rd July, 1925.

ILFORD CATHOLIC SOCIAL CLUB

This club's annual outing took place on Saturday, and both from the point of view of number attending, and keen enjoymen: shown, combined with the lovely weather, was by far the most successful in the history of the club. The party numbering just over one hundred met at Broad-Street Station and proceeded to Richmond, where the steam launch "Balmoral" had specially been engaged.

The journey up river was full of interest, especially passing the regatta at Molesey, and the rendezvous, "The Swan" Hotel, at Walton, was reached about 6.30 pm. Tea was immediately served and naturally much appreciated after the long trip.

Mr. Caryesford, chairman of the club, eloquently tendered thanks to Mr. Arthur Samuels, secretary, and Mr. Hazeldeane assistant secretary, for their unsparing efforts to make the outing the great success it undoubtedly was. On the return journey to Richmond quite an excellent musical programme was arranged, and the songs as well as choruses evoked great applause from the occupants of the smaller boats on the river and in the locks.

The party arrived back at Richmond about 10.15 p.m. highly delighted with a beautiful day well spent.

It was on 6th February, 1925, that the Official Opening of the Club took place. The opening ceremony was performed by no less a person than the Lord Mayor of London (Sir Alfred Bower) who came with his Sheriffs in full state. It was a great day for the Catholics of Ilford. The Lord Mayor, of course had to be given a Civic Reception by the local Council, and many of the Chief Officials of the Council attended the opening. In the evening an open invitation was extended to all parishioners to a social with an opportunity of inspecting the premises.

Part of Report from Ilford Recorder 13th February, 1925.

LORD MAYOR'S VISIT
CATHOLIC CLUB OPENED AT lLFORD
OUR CIVIC PRIDE

Not since the General Election has so much interest centred in the Ilford Town Hall as on Friday afternoon, when crowds lined both sides of the High-road to welcome the Lord Mayor of London and his retinue. The Lord Mayor, who was accompanied by the Lady Mayoress, Sheriff Barthorpe, Mgr. Cronin (chaplain) and the mace and sword-bearers, drove to the Town Hall in the handsome and familiar coaches, preceded by Sub-divisional Inspector Hamilton, and was greeted beneath the specially constructed canopy on the Town Hall steps by the chairman of the Council (Councillor J. W. King) members of the local authority and other well-known public men and a civic address of welcome was read by the clerk-solicitor (Mr. Adam Partington).

The Lord Mayor had arranged to open the Catholic Club known as the Ilford Guildhall. in the High-road and in consideration of his visit to Ilford the municipal body made extensive preparations to give him a cordial civic welcome. The Town Hall was resplendent in a display of hunting and the Ilford Civic Band equally resplendent in their attractive uniforms, discoursed music from the Town Hall terrace while the crowd awaited the arrival of its distinguished visitors.

OPENING OF THE GUILDHALL

The Lord Mayor and his retinue later drove to the Ilford Guildhall, further down the High-road, and were received at the doors by Canon Palmer and officials of the Catholic War Memorial Committee, a guard of honour being formed by the 8th Ilford troop of the Boy Scouts, with many of whom the Lord Mayor shook hands.

Inside the concert hall the formal opening ceremony was performed by the Lord Mayor, among those supporting the chairman (Canon Palmer), in addition to those who were present at the Town Hall being the Rev. H. Dunnico, M.P., Mgr O'Grady (vicar-general), Canon Nolan, Father O'Connor, Mr. Owen Waters (chairman of the Ilford Catholic War Memorial Committee), Mr. T. Thompson (secretary), Mr. Arthur Samuel (vice-chairman and secretary of the Ilford Catholic Social Club), Mr. J. B. Caryesford (chairman of the llford Catholic Social Club), and Mr. F. Perkins (vice-chairman).

Canon Palmer, welcomed the Lord Mayor in warm terms, and expressed the gratitude of the Ilford Catholic Church at his kindness in coming to them. He said the welcome which had been given to the Lord Mayor at the Town Hall, although warm, and given by the town in its characteristic way, was civic and formal, but he had come to a different audience there; he had come amongst those who were fully aware of the self-sacrifice he made in coming to smile upon them, and upon the little enterprise into which their endeavor and been put.

In their wildest dreams they had never thought Dick Whittington would come into their midst, and turn again to greater Ilford in all the pomp and circumstance of the Lord Mayor’s great position.

Canon Palmer went on to say they had come there that day to perpetuate the memory of the brave, who, in the great world war forfeited their lives to save theirs, and at the same time the immediate purpose of that hall was for the betterment of the living, that they might turn out and breed citizens who should be worthy to take the place of the fallen; that it might provide educational opportunities and social amenities, and even recreation and reflection for their people when the day's work was ended. And they did no: exclude the possibility of organised sports because they believed in the importance of "Mens sana in corpore sano."

FOR BOTH SEXES

They placed no bar, no sex distinctions; they threw open their doors, and had membership, even to ladies for they felt conscious of the great part the ladies played when the shores of this country were in danger. They threw open the doors to people of all ages, and as they all knew the ladies were always the same age-they never grew old. (Laughter).

They threw open their doom not only to the brave but to the fair, and that made it a unique club and institute-and they had a very useful purpose, because when men and women met together in places such as this there was no end to the delicate possibilities that might arise. (Laughter).

Referring to the building, he said it was yet in its Chrysalis stage. It was not the end, but only the beginning of the work, and he hoped it would in a short time be a veritable palace for the people.

They may think it very presumptuous that they called the club the Ilford Guildhall, but if they were encroaching upon the ancient rights of the City of London they stood before the Lord Mayor already convicted and if they were brought up at the Mansion House he hoped the Lord Mayor would temper justice with mercy. (Laughter).

Canon Palmer went on to deal with the finances and remarked that when they brought a child into the world, those responsible had to pay for it. They had been able to do that, and they were not asking the Lord Mayor to open a special Mansion House Fund.

A voice: "Why not?"
Because, for the simple reason," said Canon Palmer, "that he is so concerned with Paul that he is taking everything from Peter." (Laughter).

A FINE BUILDING

The Lord Mayor, after expressing his thanks for the remarks about himself, said that as regarded the taking of the name Guildhall, he was sure the citizens of London would be most pleased to think they had done so. They, of the old Corporation of the City of London, liked to hear the name of Guildhall, and they would realise it more when they had the Corporation of Ilford. He had seen-a view of old Ilford at the Town Hall that afternoon, and as he drove through the streets to the Guildhall he had noticed what fine shops they had now in the town.

It had given him the greatest pleasure to see Ilford. It was many years since he had been in that part of London and it delighted him to declare open that Chrysalis, as it had been described of an institution which he was sure was going to serve a good purpose in their social life. He could see that in a very short time they would have fine building there, and he reminded them that the Guildhall of London was not built in a day. He mentioned that Sir Richard Whittington was not only not a fairy story, but he had given a very large sum of money to the London Guildhall. In those days, in 1406, and before that time, instead of sending a man to prison they had the right as they had to-day of imposing a fine, and the Corporation 600 years ago very wisely used the money obtained in that way towards the building of the Guildhall.

THANKS

A vote of thanks to the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress, was proposed by Mr. Owen Waters, who mentioned what a pleasure it had been to find that the Lord Mayor had been so willing to accede to their request to open the Guildhall. They did feel honoured that he had come down to see them, and they were grateful to the civic authorities of the town for the manner in which they had received him from the town's point of view.

The money they had raised for the hall had not been obtained in great sums. Canon Palmer had started the work five years ago, and one lady, Mrs. Henley, had been able to collect £360 in sixpences. At one time it was thought they would be able to achieve their object by a capital expenditure to some six or seven thousand pounds, but Canon Palmer had told them that his object would not be realised until some £12,000 had been spent.

Sir Frederick Wise, in seconding the vote of thanks, said that was indeed a red-letter day as, regarded Ilford. They were always willing to welcome distinguished people, and he was sure they had not anticipated that they would have the Lord Mayor, the Lady Mayoress and the Sheriffs that day. He was confident Canon Palmer must be a proud man to be in the chair to welcome them. He did not think any of them had any idea of the duties of a Lord Mayor. He himself certainly had not. They were all very busy people there, but he was sure the Lord Mayor was a hundred times more busy, and they deeply appreciated his coming.

GREAT TRADITIONS

The Rev. H. Dunnico, M.P., supported the resolution, and humorously referred to his first impressions of a Lord Mayor. It seemed to him a great thing to have the first citizen of the greatest city in the world. A man who upheld the great traditions of British life and who was willing to help on a small social movement, and to come some miles out of the world where he lived to a suburb like Ilford.

Mr. Arthur Samuels spoke of the work of the Ilford Catholic Social Club. For the last five years they had carried on a club of a kind, and now they had this better hall, where they could have everything they wanted. In the next five years he hoped they would reach the goal for which they were aiming. Ilford well-concerned the Lord Mayor in any case, but they as Catholics, welcomed him in another sense. He was the Lord Major London, yes! But he was one of themselves.

The Lord Mayor replied, and with reference to the remarks by Mr. Dunnico, he mentioned that the chain of office he was wearing was 500 years old, the badge was 350 years old, and his mace was 200 years old. He said he was always willing to assist anybody not only in London, but in any part round London. Many of his predecessors had travelled all round England in an official capacity.

Sheriff Barthorpe also spoke in response to a request by the Lord Mayor. Although Canon Palmer accused Paul of robbing Peter, he said, they had to be grateful to Paul because in the next five years, when they were putting the dome on that building, the Ilford Guildhall, they would see that the Foundations were properly laid. (Laughter).

Councillor J. W. King proposed a vote of thanks to the chairman of the gathering and said there was no man who pulled his weight in the town like Canon Palmer, and they knew he was ready to assist anyone, quite, apart from religion. He and the members of the Council had been delighted to receive the invitation to be there that afternoon.

The Lord Mayor unveiled a wreath to the fallen, as he passed from the concert hall to the billiard room., where he exhibited his skill with the cue, and later left the Guildhall and Ilford amidst the cheers of the populace assembled in the High-road.

At the A.G.M. in 1926 all officers of the previous year were reelected, with the usual few changes in Committee.

During 1926 the River Outing was repeated, and a good muster turned up at the Annual Dinner- Both events were voted great successes.

An interesting event during this year was a Concert given by Blinded Ex-Service Men from St. Dunstans. On the same evening, the rooms on the first floor were used to exhibit the work done by these blind men, and many orders were placed by those who inspected the articles.

At the A.G.M. in 1927 we had a change of Chairman and Vice-Chairman, Mr. J. B. Caryesford retiring from the chair he had occupied since 1919. The new Chairman was Mr. F. L. Darnell and the new Vice-Chairman, Mr. J. Byrne.

During this year the Football Club put up a fine performance in Division 1 of the Ilford and District Auxiliary League.

At the A.G.MI. in 1928 the late Capt. G. H. Lacey became Vice-Chairman and the late Mr. James Byme resigned from this position to become Assistant Secretary; a position he held until he died in 1942. Again there were the usual few alterations in the makeup of the Committee.

The most important happening of 1928 took place in June. The Secretary of the War Memorial Committee and myself were summoned to meet the Canon, and after a lengthy conference. I was informed by the Canon that he had decided to hand over the full control of the premises to the Club, and we took over from 1st July, 1928.

It was during this year that the Ilford Players made their first appearance under the direction of Mr. F. W. Smith. I believe they were then called the Ilford Catholic Players.

During this year we organized a Stall in aid of the Hospital Bazaar and were able to hand over a respectable sum to the fund.

It was in 1928, that we started a series of visits, with the object of trying to introduce a Federation of Catholic Clubs.

The visits we exchanged included Forest Gate, Leyton, Woolwich, Commercial Road and the German Catholic Clubs, and those who remember those days, agree with me I know, that we did have some really enjoyable evenings.

At the A.G.M. in 1929, Mr Fred B. Foley was elected to the Chair, and he has held that position ever since. Mr. A. B. Adams was elected to the Vice-Chair, a position he held until he became Assistant Secretary.

We continued our Annual Outing and Annual Dinner. The latter event this year was held , on Club premises, and over 140 sat down, many others having to be refused owing to lack of space. The monthly concerts still proved popular, and it was during this year that the Club Glee Party, consisting of twelve gentlemen, appeared under the direction of Mr. P. Grocott.

Our total membership at this time was under 300, but the team work was good.

In June, 1929, we entertained the whole of the Ilford Football Club and Committee to a Social Evening and Supper, after their wonderful successes during the season 1928/29.

It was also in 1929 that His Lordship the Bishop of Brentwood honoured us with a visit, signed the visitors’ book and bestowed his blessings on the Club and its members.

Our Football Club during the season 1928/29 reached to the final of the Cardinal's Cup.

At the A.G.M. in 1930 there were no changes in the Officers, and very little change in the Committee.

Apart from the usual activities, nothing of outstanding interest happened in this year.

It may not be necessary to remind you that the years 1951 and 1952 were very trying years, with much unemployment.

It was in 1952 that we started a Club Football Pontoon. This proved very popular and in addition to giving pleasure to the lucky few who won prizes, it helped the Club revenue each year by nearly £30.

In 1932 we began to make plans for the erection of a New Hall and Billiards Room. This required much consideration, and one of our members Mir. A. B. Marshall with his partner Mr. A. Archard, an old boy of this parish, prepared the plans which were eventually approved, and gave us the present Hall and Billiards Room. We were very limited for space and also we had no funds to meet the cost. More about this later.

In 1933 we had a new front erected, and the bar was transferred from one side of the lounge to the other, which all agreed was an improvement to the lounge.

We were still talking of the New Hall, but the difficulty was to raise the necessary cash, and at this time our President had to find large sums of money for Church and School building.

Speaking of money, may I say that during all these years we were keeping up our collections for the St. Vincent de Paul Society and in 1954 we managed to hand to that Society £48.

The Ilford Players were still going strong, and putting on two big shows each year at the Town Hall.

It was in 1954 that Father John Bullen first went to the Gold Coast, and we had the pleasure of presenting him with a memento before he left.

We still discussed the New Hall, etc., and although we had elaborate plans prepared, we thought we might have to be satisfied with a temporary building to cost about £500.

At this time we were also providing accommodation and equipment for a boys’ club, which was under the care of the S.V-P. Society. Mr. R. C. Ilberry, who is still a member of this Club, although he lives several hundred miles away, was a great worker for this Boys' Club.

At the A.G.M. in 1955 the Committee was reduced from fifteen to seven members.

During 1955, we had further talks with our President concerning the New Hall and Billiards Room, and finally the Canon told us to go ahead with our plans, which {would cost about £5,000. The work was really commenced in March, 1936. The work took nearly eight months and then on the 30th October, 1936, we had another grand opening ceremony. This time we had to be satisfied with the Mayor of Ilford, who was accompanied by some of his Aldermen and Councillors.

The leaders of every Society in the parish were present, with the Chairman and Secretaries of several other Catholic Clubs, and other important visitors. The evening finished with a Concert by B.B-C. Artistes.

It may be of interest if I insert here an extract from the Brentwood Diocesan Magazine which was printed in the Souvenir Programme:

At Ilford an Army Hut was secured in which to house the men's club which had met arid flourished in the schools since the war. But it was found that the cost of its transfer and re-eretion would be so considerable, that in view of the projected permanent Catholic Institute, this idea was abandoned and the hut has since been sold. The Club was re-started in the Schools. It opened with a goodly number of members on December 8th, 1919, and from that date up to the present it has fully justified its existence. Three billiard tables are in constant use each evening, while chess and cards are very popular. Various papers and periodicals are supplied and a piano is at the-service of the members. There is also a well-equipped canteen, where a great variety of light refreshments can be obtained. The first quarter's report showed a fairly satisfactory membership and quite a sound justification for the club‘s existence. The membership is still increasing and the members are determined that it will be through no fault of theirs, if in a few years they are not in possession of buildings and appurtenances equal to any in the land."

We now had, what at» that time, seemed all we could desire, but we had also taken on a serious obligation. The obligation was, that we undertook to hand the Canon each year the interest on nearly' £5,000, and when possible, endeavor to reduce the capital sum. At the time of writing this story, we have kept to our obligation, and have managed to hand over the interest each year, but up to date we have only reduced the capital sum to £3,600. The Canon permits us to provide for the future of the Club, but there is little doubt he would be able to make good use of the £3,600 in other directions, if we were able to repay it.

In 1937 and 1958, apart from the usual activities, nothing of importance happened.

We, therefore, come to 1939, when something of outstanding interest did happen!

With the outbreak of war on September 5rd, many of our activities came to a standstill. All bookings of the Hall were cancelled. Some of our members, who were in the Territorials, were called at once to Active Service, and many others volunteered for the different services.

In April, 1940, we held our let Annual General Meeting, but of course we were unable to celebrate this in the way we would have liked to do.

It was during 1940, that we had to record the death of our oldest member, Mr. Wm. Waterman, who, at the age of 86, was killed in a street accident. Also we mourned the loss of Sergt.Pilot Martin Shanahan, killed in the Battle of Britain, and “Petty Officer Willie O'Donnell. By this time we had over 60 members serving in the armed forces.

Owing to the times in which we were living, we did not hold a General Meeting in 1941, though a report and statement of accounts were sent to all members. As the Battle of Britain wore on, we became more hardened, and the Hall became very much alive again, with Dances several times each week. However, this did not last for long, as the Ministry of Works came along and decided that our Hall was just the place they were looking for, and from October, 1941, until December, 1942, it became a Government Department.

During this year we mourned the loss of two old members, Capt. G.H. Lacey and Mr. David Mulcahy, and another of our young members, Pilot Officer Sydney Newborough was killed in» action.

As I have said, we were now hardened to the conditions of war, and in April 1942, we held our General Meeting as usual. Although times were bad, we managed to show a balance on the right side.‘ Our membership was only 340, with many of these serving in the Forces, but we managed to keep most of our activities going.

We had to record several deaths during 1942. Mr. James Byrne, who had .been Assistant Secretary since 1928, Mr. William Shanahan, Snr. and Mr. Douglas Cook. Of our members with the forces we lost Paul Howson (R.A.F.) and Tom Kelly, Jnr. (R.A.)

In February 1943, our President, Canon Palmer, celebrated his Golden Jubilee as a priest. He would permit no public recognition of the occasion, but they do say the postmen and telegraph messenger were kept busy on a great day.

It was during 1943, that a Parcels Fund was organized for our members serving with the Forces, and I have many letters of appreciation from the recipients of these parcels.

During this year I had to record the deaths of Mrs. Joseph McMormack, Miss Barbara Dean. Mr. W. Gayfer. Mr. M. Kilcoyne and Flying Officer Bernard Saville (R.A.F.)

For the benefit of those who may not know, on the Roll of Honour, unveiled in Westminster Abbey this year by H.M. The King to the Memory of the Battle of Britain Heroes among the few from this district appear the names of two of our late members (Martin Shanahan and Bernard Saville). May they rest in peace.

At the General Meeting in 1943, it was suggested that we should form a Debating Society or Discussion Groups. As a result, the Ilford Catholic Parliament came into being, but while it started with every promise of becoming popular, it was rather short lived. However, more or less from the same source came the Guildhall players, and they are still going strong. While I am writing this, they are preparing for their second 1947 show.

In 1944, we had the experience of the Doodle Bugs and later the Rocket Bombs and those of us who were in the Wardens’ Service, etc.’ had a busy time. Only one of our members was killed during this period at home, and this was Mr. Joseph Lyon, who while on leave from the Army, was killed with his mother. Serving with the Forces we lost John Wallington and Joseph Balmer.

We are now getting to the period remembered by most of you, so that it is hardly worth while referring to it, but as 1945 was the year when we welcomed the cessation of hostilities, perhaps a word or two will not be out of place. To those of us who had remained in Ilford throughout the war years, it was a happy release. We had certainly had our full share of all that was being sent over by the enemy. On V.E. night and for several nights after, the Club building was beflagged and floodlit. It was felt that we should organize some big celebration, but it was decided that of those who had the best claim to be present, many were still overseas and therefore the celebration was postponed.

During 1945 I had to record the deaths of the following members: Mssrs P. B. Browne, P E Ward and D Hannigan.

It was during 1945, that the Sunday Evening Social Club was formed, and while not exactly a part of this Club, it is closely associated. It was formed at the suggestion of Canon Palmer, and I think it is doing the work the Canon desired.

In 1945, a few of our members began to trickle back from the Forces, but in 1946, each week used to see several more returning to “civvy street.”

With the coming of peace we had hopes of being able to “get a move on,” and make necessary alterations and additions to the Club premises, but this was not to be. The authorities decided this was not essential work and consequently we have to wait until such time as we are permitted to proceed with our schemes.

During 1946, we lost several of our oldest and most respected members. I refer to Mr. Frank Ward, Mr. Denis Nagle and Mr. Michael McGovern. All had been members from the early days and all had been associated with our various activities in this parish for many years. In addition I had to record the deaths of Mssrs: Arthur Ryan, Denis Deasey, Douglas Shelton and Mrs. M T Bennett. May they rest in peace.

When we entered 1947, the question of our promised “welcome home” to our members who had been serving in the Forces, again came forward, for consideration. We had been hoping that all our boys and girls in the Forces would be freed by now, but there were still quite a few overseas, in fact there are still some to come back. It was decided that we should proceed with the ”welcome home” party as much as it was regretted that all who should be there, would be unable to be present. The party was held on April 14th, and all who attended voted it a great night. Each returning service member was presented with a souvenir cigarette case by our President, and those who could not attend have received since or will receive their souvenir of the occasion.

As this brings my story up to date, there is little more to be said. As you will, I am sure, appreciate, I have really only jumped through the years. I would have liked to have hovered about a little at times, given a brief account of some of our members or some of the Annual Dinners, Outings, etc., but perhaps this would not be of general interest.

I hope I have said enough to remind old members of the days gone by and to give new members a little of history of the club with its aims and objects.

ARTHUR A. SAMUELS.
Hon. Secretary from 1919 to date
23rd August, 1947