The West Country may be gone, but it gets a site all of its own because I have so much information!
Now in the January/February 1973 edition of “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol.5, No.4) we have a very curious thing, for there is an extract from the Sunday Telegraph of October 22nd 1972, under the heading “CIGARETTE CARDS SELL FOR £9,600”. This includes several details of the auction, at Pangbourne Village Hall in Berkshire, stated to be the largest auction of its kind ever held in a British Saleroom, and also what we believe is the first sale of Thimblebys Auction. The most important lot was an unissued set – Wills “Life of King Edward VIII”. This was sold for £205 to a Mr. Robert Burns, aged 36, who was the Landlord of the Royal Oak Public House at Widecombe, near Bath. Mr. Burns was said to have been “a cartophilist – cigarette card collector – for eighteen years”.
On page 1242 of this same issue comes a letter “From the West Country” by P.J. Wood of 26 Helliers Close, Chard, Somerset” saying that it had been suggested that it might be possible to form a Branch in the West Country, given enough support. There followed an open letter asking for prospective members from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire or elsewhere in the area please contact the writer.
July/August 1973`s edition of “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol. 5, No.52) announced that a highly successful get together had taken place on Sunday 3rd of June at the Royal Ashton Hotel, Station Road, Taunton, which was quite close to the railway station. Most of those present had never met each other, though it is stated that “several members had brought cards”. One of them must have been Bill King (November/December 1975 - “Cartophilic Notes and News” Vol.6, No.66, p.1838) whose obituary said he had been a founder member. After discussion it was indeed decided to try and form a Branch of the Cartophilic Society, and to hold meetings in Taunton on an irregular basis. A Chairman was elected (Mr S.D. Hopes of 57 Fouracre Crescent, Downend, Bristol) along with a Secretary/Treasurer (P.J. Wood of 26 Helliers Close, Chard, Somerset). The other members present, Messrs R. Evans, J.C. Greaney, B.V. Pugsley, and W.J. Rendle, agreed to form the Committee. They also arranged the next meeting, to be held on Sunday September 16th, starting at 2pm, and again at The Royal Ashton Hotel. Sunday was a good day because the shoppers car park was free all day, and less used. And a call went out to anyone in the area who would like to come along and see what the new Branch was all about.
A report from Peter Wood, about the meeting in Taunton on Sunday the 2nd of December, appeared in the January/February 1974 edition of “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol.5, No.55). This says they welcomed three new members, Messrs King of Bridport, and Cordy and Shepherd of Bristol, but owing to the fuel crisis a few members that had hoped to attend could not. They discussed plans to have some kind of what they call a “meeting with other branches” in Bristol on the 13th of May, a lunch, and cards on exhibition and for sale. This must have been an error as the 13th was a Monday, and also a list of their future dates appeared on the inside back cover, which also gave the venues – these were Sundays 3rd March, 8th September and 1st December, all at the Royal Ashton Hotel in Taunton, starting at 2pm, plus Saturday 11th May at Berkeley Cadena Café, Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol. Though there was a note to say “see Branch Notes re the meeting at Bristol on 11 May”. All very curious…
.... but not so curious as the fact that “Cartophilic Notes and News”, January/February, Vol.5, No.55, p.1446 states The Berkeley Cadena Café “was the venue in 1964 when [London] Branch last visited Bristol”.
As early as November/December 1974 (“Cartophilic Notes and News” Vol. 5, No.60) there were pleas for local collectors to step forward, and their meetings had dropped to quarterly. Their next meeting was going to relocate to Bridgwater in early June. More details of this appear in the March/April 1975 issue of “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol.6, No.62) - it was to be a meeting and exhibition of cards at the Club House in Bridgwater Town Football Club from 10.30 to 5.30, and any members wishing to sell or exchange cards could book a table. There was also to be a card auction, lots to be brought along on the day or sent in advance to the secretary. Admission would be ten pence, to cover expenses, and a running buffet would be available at lunchtime. I wondered if this cost extra and page 1718 says it did, 75p a head.
November/December 1975`s “Cartophilic Notes and News”( Vol.6, No.66) tells us that the Bridgwater event had taken place on the 9th of June and had been a big success. Members could go in from 10 am and the general public from 2 pm, after the buffet lunch. There were two dealers, and thirty seven members had attended, plus several members of the public. An auction raised £11.30 for Branch funds. Grateful thanks were given to W.W. Drew (this turned out to be John Drew`s father, see Cheshire Branch) who had done much of the arranging. In an effort to raise the profile and attract new members it had been decided to vary the locations of meetings throughout 1976; Bath and Bridgwater were to be added to the list as well as Taunton. Three meetings were listed, all starting at 2pm - Sunday 18 February, when they would be returning to the Royal Oak at Widcombe in Bath - Sunday 11 April at 18 Fernleigh Avenue, Bridgwater - and - Sunday 13 June at The Royal Ashton Hotel in Taunton.
In May/June 1976 the “Cartophilic Notes and News” (no volume [Vol.6], No.69) deals with another "most successful meeting”, with a twist. This had been held on the 8th of February, at The Royal Oak, by kind invitation of the landlord Robert Burns. [see our first paragraph at the top of this page]. Seventeen members were present. The success of the meeting was definitely attributed to Mr and Mrs Burns who provided cards to view and a buffet. Mr. Burns mounts his cards on sheets with hand-printed titles and issue dates, and some were on permanent display in the bar, but his rarest items were not on display - for these included sets of Wills “Waterloo” and “The Life of King Edward VIII”, plus the Taddy Clowns that were bought at auction in 1973. Mr. Burns said that any member could call in at any time, and the Branch was welcomed to hold some of its future meetings in his premises.
West Country do not appear on the Branch Meeting Dates page for September/October 1976 (“Cartophilic Notes and News” Vol.6, No.71) but it must have been an oversight for they are there in the next issue, with two venues named – Robert Burns` The Royal Oak, Widcombe, where they would meet in April, August and December, and The Royal Ashton Hotel (February, June, October). All meetings were held on the first Sunday of the month, starting at 2 p.m. The West Country`s absence from the Branch lists was explained by a letter from Mr. Wood in the January/February 1977 edition of “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol. 7, No.73), who wrote that several members had written to enquire why the dates were not in the magazine for the last two editions. This included the dates for 1977, all bi-monthly, on the first Sunday in the month, starting at 2pm.
In March/April 1977 a lineage advert appeared in “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol. 7, No.74) for a Rally in mid September, which was to be held at the Royal Oak in Widcombe. Accommodation and parking would be available but the event needed to have support from readers to go ahead, so it asked if anyone wishing to attend could get in touch as well as any dealers wishing to display, exchange, provide lots for the auction, or take a selling table.
By 1982 West Country Branch were holding bi-monthly meetings in Bath. We have found a notice of the Sunday 4th of April 1982 one, where it reports they were pleased to welcome two visitors who had travelled from Newbury, and a local man from Batheaston who had just joined the Branch. The meeting was being held in the same venue they had been using for their Rallies, the Skittle Alley at the rear of the Royal Oak Public House; this was either reached through the public house, or by a service road at the side. The Skittle Alley was a bit larger than where they had previously held the ordinary meetings; we are not sure where that was yet. Their next Rally was announced as 3rd October.
In March/April 1985, the “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol.13, No.130) Branch Information pages tell us that at this date the Branch Secretary was still Mr. P. Wood, of 26 Helliers Close, Chard, Somerset. They were still meeting bi-monthly on Sundays, (no time was given), and still at “The Royal Oak”. The next edition mentions their AGM which was to be held on Sunday the 1st of September. However in July/August 1985 the
“Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol.13, No.132) announced that the AGM would now be on the 6th of September, a Friday evening. There was also to be a rally on Sunday the 6th of October, which was advertised on page 3687, this was also to be at the Royal Oak, from 10 – 5, including dealers tables. Refreshments would also be available. The AGM was further dscussed in “Cartophilic Notes and News” for September/October 1985 (Vol.13, No.133); eighteen members were present at the AGM, plus Mr. Wright, a visitor from North West Branch. The committee was all re-elected, Messrs S.D. Hopes as Chairman, P.J. Wood as Secretary and treasurer, plus E.R. Austin and M. Shepherd. It was decided to hold a small auction of members surplus cards at the December meeting, with 10% of each going to club funds. There was also a request that The Society consider the West Country for a future AGM, perhaps Bristol.
In January/February 1986 the “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol.14, No.135) pointed out that the Branch Rally had seen quite a lot of new faces and new cards, and that although there was a lower turn out than the last year, there was something for everyone and the time given up by members to make this such a success was much appreciated. The Christmas meeting had been a huge success, almost as many turned out as for the open rally. It was decided that there would be no business done, just card swapping and dealing. Normal service would resume in February. And they closed with a short reminder that the meetings were held bi-monthly on the first Sunday of the month at the “Royal Oak” in Widdicombe near Bath, starting at 2pm.
The Cotswold Branch report also gave a mention to “a small band of keen collectors who hold a regular Cigarette Card Collectors` meeting at the Yate Community Centre near Bristol. Not only do they attend their own meeting (every 2nd Wednesday in the month) but are regular members to our Branch as well.”
Though based in Somerset, the branch met at various venues including Taunton, Bath, and the Fear Institute in Keynsham. After that they seemed to settle at the Grade II Listed “Conservative Club” also in Keynsham, where meetings took place on Sundays from 2.00pm-5.00pm.
We know that they had an all day annual rally on Sundays too, with a "good selection of dealers and an interesting afternoon auction". This was held at the Community Centre, in Yate, near Bristol, and that they co-hosted the Cartophilic Society Convention at that same venue in 2001, which was actually the first time that this event was a two day one, taking place on Friday the 27th and Saturday the 28th of April.
Peter Wood retired as Secretary in 2006, and was deservedly made a Life Member of The Cartophilic Society.
At the Woking Convention in 2013, it was announced that the branch was closing. The reason for its closure was a lack of collectors with time to assist with general organisational duties.
Peter Wood passed away in 2017.
Before this Branch , there were others in the area. The earliest was :
Bristol Branch - Cameric Club : September 1939 - ??
The first mention of a Bristol Branch appears in September 1939 (Cigarette Card News - Vol.6, No.72) in “Around the Clubs, a piece almost entirely devoted to Bristol, which states :
“BRISTOL is to have a cigarette card club – a Branch of the Cameric Club in London. The object is to enable those collectors who have sets to make up to complete them, and to exchange duplicate cards for those required. All the post war issues will be available as well as quite a number of pre-war cards. Moreover it is intended that country members shall have the opportunity of personal intercourse, thus obtaining stimulation in the pursuit of their hobby. The subscription to the club is 5s. per annum and those interested are asked to get into touch with Mr. V H Grandfield, 54 Cotham Road, Bristol 6.”
Today this address is a house conversion, into several leasehold flats. Mr. Grandfield does not seem to turn up in our membership lists, but maybe he was in the Cameric, not with us?
Any more info will be added as it comes in.
Bristol was no stranger to cigarette cards, being the home of W.D. & H.O. Wills, to name but the largest, but I have not found any more any evidence of this Branch. Perhaps the date is the telling thing, for the same month War was declared. Did they decide to abandon the idea, or merely shelve it? Can any of you offer any more information?
The West of England Branch?
Is this West Country? All it says in the November/December 1975 edition of “Cartophilic Notes and News” (Vol.6, No.66) is that William James King of Bridport had died, and “The West of England Branch loses a foundation member, hard to replace”