Cotswold Branch

Current status: Active

Happy 39th Birthday to our Cotswolds Branch.

Their story all begins with a small mention in the Cartophilic Notes and News of March 1983. In case you do not have one to hand, it reads : “…three new branches, all either launched or about to be – Winchester and Solent, Kent, Cotswolds…”. Cotswolds was an “about to be”, but not too long after, as it was on the 17th of March, 1983, at the Carlton Hotel in Cheltenham, that three local collectors met to discuss the next stage in their formation of “a little card club”. Two of these three were Geoff (who currently draws our Convention Commemorative Cards), and Dave (Branch Chairman); it is thought the other was Arthur Stallard who died in 1985, as when his widow donated his library to the branch he was named as their “deceased founder member” (Cartophilic Notes and News – V.13, No.134, Nov/Dec 1985)

By 1985 their Secretary was Mr. A.G. Hebden of Malvern Link, Worcestershire. The Branch met once a month at Swindon Village Hall. At that time it cost 20p to attend  meetings and the annual subscriptions were £1. These meetings featured auctions, which consisted of lots brought along on the night by members, 10% of the proceeds going in to Branch funds. There was also time for swopping and chatting, and the meeting room had a bar. One of their plans for the future was to run a little card show at Swindon Village Hall. This had been expanded by the time it was advertised in “Cartophilic Notes and News” September/October 1985 (Vol.13, No.132), where it is called “The first Cotswold Branch Rally”. This was to be in April 1986, and the date was confirmed in the next issue as [Saturday] April 19th 1986. They planned to advertise it in the local press and use the notice boards in the local libraries, as well as have some schedules for the whole year printed up and available for prospective members to take away.  

1986 would have started with them still at Swindon Village Hall, but There had been a slight mix up with bookings so the December meeting was relocated at short notice to what is called “a cosy dining room in a small local pub”. Plans were still being drawn up for the Rally, they were after ten dealers, and had offered the Cartophilic Society a “Recruiting Station” in the hall. A better advertisement appeared in “Cartophilic Notes and News” January/February 1986 (Vol.14, No.135) giving the times as 9-5. The advert also appeared in the following two editions as well, with more information; there was good car parking, a bar, refreshments, lots of room for dealers and visitors, an exhibition, some surprise goodies, and a lot of enthusiastic club members. Duties on the day had been allocated, and the idea of giving children a gift of thirty assorted cards had been supported by donations of cards from many members. The Stallard Reference Library would also be attending, with new Branch Librarian, Mike Mence, to answer questions and trace elusive cards. And there would indeed be a Cartophilic Society representation; the Councillors who attended were Arthur “Joe” Blake, Ted Knight, Clifford Duge and Maurice Large, plus W Bryce Neilson was there with his new book on errors and varieties. Virtually every member contributed a display of cards”, that the “Dip for Cards” was run with the aid of a drum, that the children had to approach the custodian of and ask “Can I have the Fagcards, Mister”

The profit on the Rally was £36, but more than that was the enthusiasm and discovery of the branch by people who had not known of them before. Five new members had been gained, and all attended the next ordinary meeting, under the aegis of Chairman, Tony Gardner 

The November/December 1986 edition of “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol.14, No.140), tells us that a programme of events had been planned for 1987, including the second exhibition and rally on April 25th. Slight problems with the general meeting venue had once more taken place; it was noted that as there were more dealers and a larger attendance, plus two new members, perhaps it was time to think of moving on to bigger premises. The next edition of “Cartophilic Notes and News” covered four months, (January – April 1987 No.141/2) so there was only room for a small piece dealing with the Christmas meeting, which had been held at the proposed new Branch venue in Cheltenham (and it does not give the name). They were planning on moving “there” for the next meeting because it was larger, and also gave space for a buffet. But January was a disaster, with really cold weather forcing the meeting to be cancelled, and the announcement of their next Rally date as April 25 was done through our magazine. This took place at Swindon Village Hall, and a report in “Cartophilic Notes and News” May-June 1987 (No.143) states it to have been a great success, despite a local autojumble and Ian Botham`s debut for Worcester. There had been twelve dealers, all of whom wanted to return in 1988. 

There is a bit of a gap here as the next meeting is recorded as September 16, 1987, and by then they had moved to new larger premises at the Cheltenham Motor Club, Priory Lawn, London Road, Cheltenham, the meetings were being held at this address every third Wednesday of each month, but they kept their rallies at the Swindon Village hall for several years, at least until 1989. At first they had one “all day” rally a year, usually the first Sunday in June, and it opened from 10 am till 4 pm. But it was so popular that it was decided to call that the “Spring” Rally and to add an “Autumn” in September.

At some point the Branch left the Cheltenham Motor Club and motored on to The Cotswold Area Civil Service Sports and Social Club in Tewkesbury Road, Uckington, Cheltenham GL51 9SL. Its a bright, modern building, which had been on the site for over fifty years, and it also had the bonus of free, ample, car parking. Branch meetings took place on the third Wednesday of every month – apart from May, when they moved to the first Wednesday. They started at 7 pm, and lasted until about 9 pm, and there was a visiting dealer at each; John Shaw was a frequent regular, and we also had visits from Mike Towersey and Keith Johnson. In December there was a special Christmas event.

In 1989, George Hebden retired as secretary, having held the post since the branch was formed. It was written that he deserved applause for many things but it must be noted that due to his diligence there had been a branch report in every copy of Cartophilic Notes and News. His post was taken by Tony Gardner who had a definite flair for organising meetings, and it was his idea that Cotswolds Branch hosted the 1995 Cartophilic Convention at Cheltenham Town Hall. This event was a turning point in several ways, most notably that it is the first mention of a “National Convention and A.G.M. 

The “Card Times” magazine for February 2000 gives their meeting place still as the CACSSC in Cheltenham, and the meeting dates as January 19th, February 16th, and March 15th – these being the third Wednesday in the month. 

In 2007 Cotswolds Branch again hosted the Cartophilic Convention, but this time in Worcester, which became the first time the Cartophilic Society had visited there, and it was a two day event, Friday and Saturday. Even the sun came out, and it was a very well attended event with lots of cards changing hands. The Branch Secretary did sterling work manning the door, which involves checking memberships and collecting admission from non-members, which at that time was £2.  They even managed to arrange for the Convention to be mentioned on the radio during the Steve Wright Show, which might have attracted a few of the new faces we saw on Saturday. There were a few niggles, queuing time at the café, and a lack of chairs, something which was echoed when the AGM room was suddenly not available and it had been moved to a smaller room, usually seeing service as the nursery. Two life members were created at the event, Alan Stevens (the CSGB membership secretary, who was retiring) and Vic Belshaw (who never did give up trying to save his beloved East Midlands Branch). Tony Walkley won the Cartophilic Cup, narrowly beating Gordon Howsden. And the venue for the next year`s event was announced as Thetford in East Anglia. Sadly this did not work out and the convention ended up at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, instead.

The Cotswolds “hat trick” was in 2015, when they hosted the Convention at the Perdiswell Golf & Leisure Centre, in Bilford Road, on the way to Worcester. This year it took place on the last Saturday and Sunday in April (25th and 26th), a bit of a change to the usual Friday and Saturday events. Doors opened at 11 am and continued until 5 pm on the first day (though members, as always, had the first hour all to themselves) and then re-opened 10 am till 4 pm on the Sunday. One sad memory was the fact that there was no live auction at the Convention that year, though the lots were displayed as usual so that anyone wishing to inspect them could do so. There was also a facility to leave bids.

In 2019 Cotswolds Branch took the decision to cancel their Spring Rally because it conflicted with Reading’s huge all day fair, which so many of their dealers and buyers also like to attend. They planned that their Spring 2020 Rally would be really huge, in order to compensate, but it was not to be, as Spring was cancelled by coronavirus, as was the Autumn, and the Spring after that.  It was not until September 2020 that Cotswolds next met, under what were described as “Covid-Controlled-Circumstances” and five card dealers were present. That was a very brief return, and their next meeting was the September 2021 Rally with seven dealers in attendance. Slightly less people attended, but those who braved the day enjoyed it, and the club enjoyed seeing many happy reunions take place. And the Christmas event was held on Friday 10 December 2021.
many thanks to our Branch Sec. for all the additional info!


now you may not realise but there was a Branch in this area before and that was ....  

Chiltern Branch 


We have not tracked much down for this yet but records tell us their Annual General Meeting in May of 1980 was presided over by the Chairman Mr. James M. Young, and in July 1980 an article appeared in the Cartophilic Notes and News concerning their branch fair and auction in Aylesbury on Sunday May 18. This could possibly be their AGM, as it includes reference to the fact that Clifford Duge and Fred Piper came up from London, John Walton and Len Matthews from Hampshire, and several of the West Country Branch also attended as guests, plus John Knowles came down from Timperley. The auction started at 11am, it comprised a hundred lots, and only six went unsold. The meeting brought lots of enquiries from local collectors about joining the club and the society. It was also announced that this would be the last meeting attended by Terry Davies, who had been secretary, as he was moving down to Hampshire. 

According to my gleanings, Mr P. F. Meyer of Marlow was the secretary at one time, but whether this was before or after Mr Davies I have no idea.  During his tenure Branch meetings took place on the second Monday of the month, at 7.30pm - apart from September when meetings moved to the first Monday, and December, when they held an Annual Christmas Dinner instead. We do have a reference to these meetings being based at the Holford Centre, off School Lane, Stanton St John, near Oxford, and his site was the village school up until the mid 1980s, only being renamed the Holford Centre once that closed, so they must have met somewhere prior. Anyone out there remember where? 

We have just been sent a clipping of meeting notes from April 13, 1982. This does not give a location, but mentions lots of new faces among the familiar regulars, guests from Hampshire, and says another good attendance was recorded. They also had dealers at the meeting, as they were asked to close up for the actual club business. In addition members were asked to bring along anything they had bought since last they met; the highlight of this seems to have been a collection of Fry’s Advertising postcards. There were also Branch auctions, and they must have maintained a reference library, as the February auction had made "a small profit which was to be spent on a World Index Part Four for the Branch Library". The profit had mostly come from an assemblage of “type” cards, which all sold, and well, with much spirited bidding. On a sad note, one of the founders James Young was relocating and moving to Kent, so he would no longer be able to attend the meetings he had fought so hard to start, or be involved with publishing the monthly club newsletter, though he promised to finish the one in hand. 

In March/April 1985, in “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol.13, No.130, p.3654) it is recorded that the Branch Secretary was Mr. T Bradbury of Whitney, Oxon, He did not stay very long, and was replaced by Mr. R. Taylor of Bodicote.

And the rest of this is still to be written  !