Cotswold Branch meet on a regular basis at the Civil Service Club, Tewkesbury Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL51 9SL.
The Cotswold story begins with a 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…”. They were an “about to be”, but not too long after, as it was on the 17th of March, 1983, at the rather grand Carlton Hotel in Cheltenham, that three local collectors met to discuss the next stage in their formation of “a little card club”.We are delighted to report that two of those founder members are still very active in the hobby – one has designed the Official Cartophilic Society Convention Card for many years, and the other is currently our Branch Chairman! So three cheers for Geoff Maynard and Dave . The third was Arthur Stallard who died in 1985; we know this because when his widow donated his library to the branch, all beautifully inscribed in his memory, he was named as their “deceased founder member” (Cartophilic Notes and News – V.13, No.134, Nov/Dec 1985, p.3762)
In the March/April 1985 edition of “Cartophilic Notes and News”( Vol.13, No.130, p.3654) the Branch Information pages tell us that the Branch Secretary was Mr. A.G. Hebden of Malvern Link, Worcestershire. They met once a month at Swindon Village Hall, and the dates given were all Thursdays. The July/August edition divulged that their meetings featured auctions, which consisted of lots brought along on the night by members, 10% of the proceeds going to Branch funds. There was also time for swopping and chatting, and the meeting room had a bar. At that time it cost 20p to attend meetings and the annual subscriptions were £1. Also announced were plans to have "a show at Swindon Village Hall", this turned out to be the first Cotswold Branch Rally, held on 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 to take away. The Rally was a huge success, with ten visiting dealers, and a Cartophilic Society Recruiting Station in the hall (which was manned by Arthur “Joe” Blake, Ted Knight, Clifford Duge and Maurice Large). W Bryce Neilson also attended with his new book on errors and varieties. In addition there was car parking, a bar, refreshments, an exhibition, for which “virtually every member contributed a display”, and a lot of enthusiastic club members. The idea of giving children a gift of thirty assorted cards had been supported by donations of cards from many members; this “Dip for Cards” was run with the aid of a drum, children had to approach the custodian of the drum and ask “Can I have the Fagcards, Mister?” The profit on the event was £36, but more than that was the enthusiasm and discovery of the branch by people who had not known of them before. Thirty three members had attended the AGM out of a total membership of forty two, and five new members had been gained, all of whom attended the next ordinary meeting. In other news, Tony Gardner had been found a Secretary so he did not have to be both Chairman and Secretary - and they had also found a librarian, Mike Mence, to look after the Stallard Bequest.
A programme of events had also been planned for 1987, including a second exhibition and rally on April 25th. Slight problems with the venue had once more occurred; it was noted that as there were more dealers and larger attendance, perhaps it was time to think of moving on to bigger premises. This also included another Rally, which was again a great success, despite a local autojumble and Ian Botham`s debut for Worcester taking place the same day. There had been twelve dealers, all of whom wanted to return in 1988. Shortly after this, from the meeting of September 16, 1987, the Branch moved to new larger premises at the Cheltenham Motor Club, Priory Lawn, London Road, Cheltenham, and meetings were held at this address on every third Wednesday of each month, though they kept the rallies at the Swindon Village hall for several years, at least until 1989. At first it was just one “all day” rally a year, usually the first Sunday in June, and it opened from 10 am till 4 pm, but this was so popular that it was decided to call this a “Spring” Rally and to add an “Autumn” in September.
At some point (yet to be discovered) the Branch relocated to The Cotswold Area Civil Service Sports and Social Club in Tewkesbury Road, Uckington, Cheltenham GL51 9SL. Its a bright, modern building, which does not look like it has been on this site for over fifty years, and it also has the bonus of free, ample, car parking. You can read more about that at http://www.cacssa.co.uk/ Branch meetings still took place on the third Wednesday of every month – apart from May, when we 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 regular, and we also had visits from Mike Towersey and Keith Johnson. In December we held 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 actually 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 was the first mention of a “National Convention and AGM" (formerly it had always been just the AGM) There is a slight discrepancy though because this was the fifty-seventh A.G.M. but the Commemorative Card states it is the 53rd. This was not the only trip that the Society made to the Cotswolds because in 2007 they again hosted the Cartophilic Convention, but this time in Worcester, which became the first time the Cartophilic Society had visited there. This time 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. The Branch also 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. The Cotswolds hat trick was in 2015, when the Convention was 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 our 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 associated with this year’s event was the fact that there was no live auction at the Convention, though the lots were displayed as usual so that anyone wishing to inspect them could do so, and there were facilities to leave bids after viewing,
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 our dealers and buyers also like to attend. We planned that Spring 2020 would be huge, in order to make up for missing last years, but it was not to be, for sadly our Spring was cancelled by coronavirus, as was our Autumn, and the Spring after that, and......
now you may not realise but there was a Branch in this area before and that was ....
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.