Cotswolds Branch (17 March 1983)

Current status: Active

Welcome to the Cotswolds Branch Home Page 


Cotswold Branch meets every second Thursday of the month, starting at 7pm, at Uckington Village Hall, The Green, Tewkesbury Road, Uckington, Cheltenham GL51 9SR. This venue is actually very close to our previous home, and still within easy reach of Cheltenham. Although it is slightly smaller, dealers and collectors find this is better, and they all agree the parking is definitely better! 

A LOOK INTO OUR ARCHIVES - Last amended - Sunday, 17 March 2024

Our story all begins with a mention in the Cartophilic Notes and News, volume 11-115, dated January 1983. The way it reads makes me think there is an earlier reference but I have not found that yet. It appears in the “Council Notes” section, and says :

“Further developments on the proposed new Cotswold branch were reported by Mr. Duge, wearing his other hat as Public Relations Officer. He said he would be writing to about twenty members in the Gloucester and Cheltenham area, and if there was enough support an inaugural meeting would be held.”

The following month, February 1983, issue 116, the Branch Notes section concludes with important news, that being :

Proposed Branches in Cotswolds and Kent
Cotswolds :
The inaugural meeting of the above Branch has been fixed for the 17th March 1983 (Thursday) 7.30 p.m. at the Swindon Village Hall, Swindon Village, Cheltenham. Will all members in the vicinity please do their best to attend or contact Mr. A.E. Stallard of Cheltenham.”

Now there is a different date in a retrospective in Cartophilic Notes and News Vol.19, issue 176, but given that the earlier reports were contemporary I believe them more. The start of that report confirms the rest though, saying that :

The Cotswold Branch of the Cartophilic Society was formed at an inaugural meeting on the 11th of March 1983 in Cheltenham, having been arranged by the late C.D. Duge, then the Society`s Public Relations Officer, and his local friend (and life-time collector) the late Arthur Stallard.

In March 1983, issue 117, the Council Notes section concludes with :

…Cliff Duge reported a positive flurry of new branches. Grants were given to the new Winchester and Solent, Kent, and Cotswolds branches - all either launched or about to be. The day when the whole of the country is covered by branches and clubs may not be too far away.”

A full report of that inaugural meeting appears in April 1983`s Cartophilic Notes and News, issue 118, as : 

NEW COTSWOLD BRANCH by Arthur Stallard
An inaugural meeting was held on March 17th in the Swindon Village Hall, near Cheltenham, with a view to the foundation of a Cotswold Branch of the Cartophilic Society. Sixteen people attended, and apologies were received from four others.
In the general discussion, an attempt was made to co-ordinate ideas and suggestions so that the branch could be run in an efficient manner to suit the best interests of all concerned. Our only financial obligation was the hire of the hall, but it is hoped that by devoting part of each meeting to a small auction sufficient funds will be raised to meet this cost. An amount of £15 was donated at the meeting, which was a very commendable gesture.
As I am already Treasurer of the Swindon Village Hall, I have offered my services in this respect for the Branch. It is hoped to appoint a Secretary and Chairman at the next meeting.
An advertisement has been entered in the local village news, and another will appear in the Gloucestershire `Echo` a few days before the next meeting on April 21st. One prospective member intimated that he would contact `Severn Sound`- our local radio – with a view to broadcasting the formation of the club. As my wife and I entertained two of their staff to lunch recently it is hoped they will reciprocate by putting us on the air!
Meetings will be held the third Thursday of each month, except August when the hall is closed to all activities.”


By the way, Arthur Stallard died in 1985, and his widow donated his library to the branch in honour of his being their founder member (Cartophilic Notes and News – V.13, No.134, Nov/Dec 1985, p.3762). 

By 1985 our 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 our plans for the future was to run a little card show, also 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”, to be in April 1986, and the date was confirmed in the next issue as [Saturday] April 19th 1986. We 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 started with us 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, of about ten dealers, and we also 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, and was enlarged 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 with his new book on errors and varieties. Virtually every member contributed a display of cards”, and there was indeed a “Dip for Cards”, run with the aid of a drum, that children had to approach and ask the custodian “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 (sadly it does not give the name), 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 our next Rally date as April 25 was done through Cartophilic Notes and News 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 we had moved to new larger premises at the Cheltenham Motor Club, Priory Lawn, London Road, Cheltenham; meetings were being held at this address every third Wednesday of each month, but rallies stayed at the Swindon Village Hall for several years, at least until 1989. At first we 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 it was decided to call that the “Spring” Rally and to add an “Autumn” in September.

At some point, before the year 2000, we 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

In Cartophilic Notes and News Vol.19-176, there is a snapshot of the current state of the Branch, which makes interesting reading:

The club has grown steadily [since the inaugural meeting] to an average of 46.
Our original venue eventually proved inadequate, and for the last six years we have enjoyed the use of spacious and comfortable premises courtesy of the Cheltenham Motor Club, in the town centre, on the third Wednesday of each month.
Our annual turnout is about 30 members, from ages 21 years to 84 years! The ladies are well represented. Guest dealers from various areas are invited to augment our own membership resources, and from time to time we arrange guest speakers, and displays (but we do not find it easy to attract these activities). Visiting collectors to the Cotswolds are always made very welcome.
Since 1986 we have held successful rallies – the next one is on May 22nd, 1993 at the Swindon Village Hall, Cheltenham. This will be our 8th. We would very much like the Council to accept our offer to host the Society’s Convention in 1995 – which would coincide with our 10th Annual Rally celebrations.”

1995 Cheltenham Commemorative Card

Tony Gardner had a definite flair for organising meetings, and it was his idea that Cotswolds Branch hosted that 1995 Cartophilic Convention at Cheltenham Town Hall, for which this was the commemorative card. This event was a turning point in several ways, most notably that it is the first mention of a “National Convention and Annual General Meeting" rather than just the latter, so turning it into more of an attraction for card collectors. 

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. 

2007 Convention Commemorative Card

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.  

We 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, though sadly this did not work out and the convention ended up at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, instead.

2015 Convention Commemorative Card

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. There is a back to this card by the way but I have copied in the wrong one! 

These dates of the last Saturday and Sunday in April (25th and 26th) were a bit of a change to the former 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 fact was 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 we took the decision to cancel our Spring Rally because it conflicted with Reading’s huge all day fair, which so many of their dealers and buyers also like to attend - but we decided our Spring 2020 Rally would be really huge, in order to compensate. This was not to be, as Spring was cancelled by coronavirus, as was the Autumn, and the Spring after that.   

The October-December 2021 “Card Scene” magazine reports that Cotswold Branch finally managed to hold a meeting, their September Rally,  on the 7th of September 2021, and that seven dealers attended - albeit under strictly controlled conditions, and in compliance with the new “six-person” ruling. They also added that "although the numbers were a bit down  from previous rallies, it felt like old times at the Cotswolds Branch."  We also held our Christmas event on Friday the 10th of December 2021.

We moved to Uckington Village Hall at the start of 2022. It was quite close to our former venue, but more compact, and it had very good parking facilities. 



now you may not realise but there was another Branch in this area, starting earlier and running contemporary with Cotswolds. You can read all about them, or as much as we know so far, by clicking on Chiltern Branch