Ahead are a collection of quotes and recollections made by members of our group over the past 70 years. Some funny, some very telling, some not quite PC, but all give a flavour for how similar and different our group and our life's are now and then. It certainly wasn't all fanny dangle in the 1950's. Humour, innuendoes, getting members to organise events and write articles for the group magazine, were some of the issues the group faced then. Some liked the humour and innuendoes; some did not; same as now really. Quotes from the seventies and eighties hint at a decline in the outdoor ethos of the group and suggest some members had more of a preference for social activities. This issue has certainly been raised in recent years.
The quotes cluster around specific dates in time due to the incomplete nature of our archives. The recollections without dates clearly relate to our group's earliest years and as such appear first. For quick reference some of the suggested more interesting or funny quotes are in a different font. Enjoy.
"I did organise the first weekend of the war for the group - at Ivinghoe." - C Drinkwater
"Nancy (then a Miss Slade - no relation of Joyce Slade) was a founder member with Lawrence Morris of the group in 1936." - J Gorvett
"My wife and I were two of the original members of the group and I remember with affection the many happy times we spent walking around the Chilterns." - V Hill
"I recall with great pleasure some of the happy times with the Wembley Group, particularly at Noake Mill, Hemel Hempstead." - T Jackson
"1936 for several years, including members tour of Rhine/Moselle Valley." - K Smith
"I am fairly certain I attended the inaugural meeting in 1936, and never, at that time, thought it would be a going concern 50 years on." - C Drinkwater
"I had a great deal of pleasure from my association with the group, notably an all-night walk on a frosty November from Harrow to Ivinghoe." - R Foster
"One of my outstanding recollections was helping keep Ivinghoe Hostel in good trim, and when the Moons where wardens there." - H Fortey
"There were four Hilda's in the group when we met in the Victoria House in Harrow before it became a war time meals centre. I was Hilda 1, Hilda Van Gennip (nee Knifton) was Hilda 2, Hilda 3 married Bill Cutts, and I can't remember what became of Hilda 4." - H Fortey
"Jim Fortey negotiated with his friends in the Wembley Scouts for the group to meet in their hut (behind Ealing Road and the Station) when we got going again properly after the war." - H Fortey
"My first evening (a Tuesday in the Scout Hut) was a hoot. It was an auction sale in aid of funds, with Laurion as auctioneer." - D Wanburton
"Memories are many and various - working parties, particularly at Jordans (are you still using the same cess pit dug one memorable weekend by Wemrow and Eastcote). Christmas parties with Pop Crane and his beans, and a marathon between Jordans and Streatley lengthened to 33 miles." - D Wanburton
"I still have the shorts with the green badge (a triangle) used for cycling, although these days the zip does not do up." - M Hatcliffe (nee Sutton)
Dec-52 "Rear mud flaps will now be fitted by all members on group weekends. Reason: Joyce arrived home after a raining weekend and her mother refused to let her in thinking she was a West Indian."
Dec-52 "Wanted: Group members who will attend group functions instead of just promising."
Feb-53 "It has been brought to my notice that one of the members of our group was responsible for saving the life of a young cyclist. The member in question is Bernard who saw a young boy fall off his bicycle in the path of an approaching horse drawn vehicle which was driverless. He immediately rushed across the road and succeeded in stopping the horse until other help arrived. Good show Bernard."
Feb-53 "... why the lack of interest in program arranging, can anyone tell me?"
Apr-53 "... I am only trying to point out the general change which has taken place in the last few years in people's attitude towards hostelling and the countryside. It appears that for most members a hostel is now only a means of spending a cheap night ... Do you go hostelling in order to prove that you can be the first arrival at a hostel or café?"
Jun-53 "... in fact when I joined the group in 1949 the average age was 22 to 24, now we have a much younger section. They were nearly all walkers then and only four people had cycles with drop handlebars."
Jun-53 "Dear Sir. Re the article in your Jan/Feb issue entitled "Daydreams" by Barbara. I wish to point out that I consider this cheap humour, at the expense of other members, to be very poor form. Surely I may, if I wish, be allowed to carry my own pots and pans, and that my beloved "Old Iron" should be called a Flying Bedrail"........ In addition, an "Agor" is a very efficient cooker, as well as affording a constant supply of hot water. Let us have no more of this cheap, degrading humour, from members who are jealous of my ability to have a hot meal, or bath, at any time I may choose on a weekend."
Jun-53 "Dear Sir, When I joined this group towards the end of 1949 I grew to respect the group and all it stood for. But since most of the then members have left and with few exceptions the new members have lost the spirit of comradeship and fair play (for which this group was at one time famous). My respect has gradually turned to disgust. The majority of present members are of the idea that the group is just a place to meet on a Wednesday evening, and their duty to the group ends with attending that meeting. This tendency reached its most disgusting limits on the run on Sunday 12th April when a young boy of 14 had bad trouble with a cracked bearing and had to stop and repair it and out of a dozen members on the run, not one had the decency or the "spirit de corps" to stop and help and in consequence this young lad was left stranded without even a map to help him find his way home. I would like to say that I consider that persons who would act like that should be banned for life from both the group and the YHA as they are guilty of the most despicable crime a group member could commit."
Oct-53 "It was agreed at the last committee meeting that if anybody has an announcement to make they are to write it on a piece of paper and hand it to me. In future only one person will make announcements. When announcements are being made quietness is requested, as it is most disturbing when you are all talking, to announce anything."
Feb-54 "In this coming year I should like to see many new ideas introduced both into the group and the magazine. One hundred copies of this magazine are issued bi-monthly, and quite a percentage find their way into the Commonwealth. There have been many criticisms for and against the magazine, and it is the general view of members inside the group that it lacks wit, humour, that it is too much like a geographical magazine and that it should be more of a magazine personal to the group ? If it is the member's wish that there should be more humour in the magazine then it is up to members to contribute whether they themselves actually write articles or whether a brighter member of their family can be persuaded into this task."
Feb-60 "As the present title of our magazine suggests that it is a committee handout the title of the 'Newsletter' commencing with the next issue will be called 'Wemrow Wayfarer'. Its price will remain at one penny."
Mar-61 " Chairman's Message: This month the group is 25 years old and I am proud to be your Chairman at this time. We are holding a Dinner and Dance at the Railway Hotel, Harrow and Wealdstone ? happy wayfaring in our silver jubilee year." - Reg Dean
Aug-62 "If your parents and their friends are still thinking about coming to the Parents Outing you can tell them there are still a few seats left. The total cost for the day is 21s., and will include lunch on the coast, a visit to Ewhurst Green Youth Hostel and a stop for some tea on the way home."
Apr-78 "Also: It has been brought to the committees attention that bad language is on the increase amongst club members, especially on weekends, when it can give hostels a bad impression of the group, and with younger members. An example should try to be set, by the committee especially."
Jun-78 "Andy Coleman reported that he is having difficulty in editing and preparing the magazine. It was agreed that a sub-committee be formed to help him with the magazine."
Jun-78 "The map library is in a very poor state, with apparently no records of who has borrowed maps, despite repeated requests to Alan Rose. Dave Ford will again contact Alan, failing any satisfactory action a new map librarian will have to be found."
Oct-78 "Christmas: Graham reported a very disappointing response from wardens. Many wardens were clearly very sorry it was their turn to open up and they didn't want us, likewise we of course don't want to go to those particular hostels over Christmas. The most hopeful hostel to date is Linton (Yorkshire), although several have still to reply."
Oct-78 "Unlike the previous two years the committee had more 'staying power' and except for the assumed resignation of Sally Edwards from the post of Social Secretary taken at the August committee meeting, following no response from three letters and a personal visit, all the committee members elected at the last AGM lasted the whole year."
Nov-78 "I am looking forward to becoming an ordinary club member again and to be able to turn up at 8:30 when the group starts at 8pm. To talk when the Chairman is speaking or when he is giving announcements." - Dave Ford
Jun-79 "Mick Grist objected to the way, as he saw it, that Pete Coombs was elected Social Secretary, without as Mick alleged, allowing Trude a chance. Mick stated that the way the minutes of the last meeting had been worded it gave the impression that Pete was going to be elected. Graham Lee pointed out that the minutes were never typed until after the election and in fact were written with hindsight, however he thought on reflection that it would be desirable to delete the word 'duly' from the relevant minute to avoid any doubt."
Sep-79 "The Loss of Members. The paper of this title, (H&W 2/79) was received with thanks to the author, Graham Lee. In introducing the discussion on the paper Graham Lee asked that the committee concentrate on the future, as we all know about the past and can't do much about that? The recommendations given in the paper were accepted, and as a matter of extreme urgency it was agreed that the social programme must get underway properly once again? the following emergency social programme was compiled? It was agreed that each week at least the next week's programme would be announced."
Sep-79 "Mick Gist said it seems to be the same few members who are leading weekends at the moment. It was however considered that new members will want to go on quite a few weekends prior to building up confidence to organise one themselves? Mick went on to say that some members still think of the group as a youth club."
Oct-79 "A New Members' Evening was held on 22nd February, which attracted 56 prospective members. It was a great pity that after all the work involved in organising and publicising the New Members' Evening it was very much lost due for the second year running the group's Social Secretary just 'fading away' and after many weeks' programmes had just not happened eventually resigning at the end of April. Graham hoped that the next Social Secretary would last the complete year."
Nov-79 "Graham Lee drew the committee's attention to the fact that he has no minute books going back further than June 1974, and no records going back any further. In fact the very limited amount of records he was given when he took over as Hon. Secretary are extremely sketchy."
Jan-80 "Graham recounted the differing reaction of various members after walking 14 miles on the morning of Christmas Day finding the public house closed!"
Apr-80 "Desperate pleas have been made for articles, but a lack of response has been noted. In the circumstances the next issue would probably not be published until early May."
May-80 "It was noted that some people who go on weekends do not seem to want to walk! Unfortunately no suggestions for solving this were suggested."
Jan-81 "... [need to remind members] that the group is not just a social group but a group that goes walking as well - some people have forgotten that!"
Apr-84 "The problem of people dropping out of weekends at the last minute, especially car drivers, has caused difficulties at recent weekends."
May-84 "Pete Birdikin is still owing club money. It has been promised in one weeks time - if not we may be forced to send him a letter from a solicitor."
Jun-84 "Janice complained about the number of people who sit at the back of the hall or in the kitchen talking during the social events. This includes some committee members. A discussion followed, and the committee were divided over support for the social secretary or doing 'what they want' on Thursday evenings. Janice agreed to organise a ballot at the group to find out what members really want to do. It was agreed that Janice should have more support from the committee themselves."
May-87 "Controversy when some people were left behind on the hills. It is noted that walk leaders must ensure all their party is intact and not too strung out especially when walking in the mountains in poor weather."
May-87 "A new stapler is required, Tom will investigate prices."
Sep-87 "Rounders. The bat is missing but a lump of timber was used instead and led to a better game than usual, the lump of timber has been put in the cupboard for future use."
Oct-87 "Motion that weekly subscriptions be abolished and annual subscription increased to £8 for juniors and £10 for seniors. The motion was defeated."
May-88 "CLOG (Central London Outdoor Group) stuck a leaflet up in Gayton Library amongst our display. Adrian to write to the group to complain."
Jun-88 "Marian recently visited Staunton-on-Wye hostel and advises against anyone doing the same. For the warden gave them duties lasting 2 hours. I've heard of discipline but that's ridiculous!!!"
Jun-88 "Mark made a plea for magazine articles."
Sep-88 "Phil received a letter from Brent apologising for the withdrawal of subsidy for hall hire due to cuts. He was told on the phone that as from 1/9/88 the rate will change from £2.50 to £15 per night. Phil to write to Brent to plead over £15."
Jun-89 "We have been 8 months without a magazine and group members are getting annoyed."
Dec-89 "It was stressed that people cannot be excluded from group weekends due to their fitness or lack thereof."
Apr-90 "As from 1 April 1990 the hall charges increase from £16.75 to £45 per night."
May-90 "A blank programme is on the notice board, containing all the planned events to the end of the year."
Jul-90 "It was noted that the social programme was and is a disaster. Pete will speak to Kelvin and try to obtain an explanation or resignation."
Oct-90 "The outdoor secretary made it clear that he would use tactics of bullying and thrashing to get 'volunteers' to lead weekends as the post was now in 'excellent' hands."
Oct-90 "The last 3 social secretaries were diabolical."