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THE HISTORY, LIFE AND TIMES OF

THE WEST ESSEX GROUP OF THE RAMBLERS

1970 - 2010

BY

ERIC BARKER


In recognition of Eric Barker’s great achievement in compiling this History, the West Essex Ramblers Group Committee wish to record their gratitude:


Richard Iles - Chairman


Mike Whiteley- Secretary


David Goodwin - Treasurer


John Francis - Rambles Secretary


David Weekes - Countryside Officer


Pat and John Juchau - Publicity and Recruitment Officers


Peter Cozens - Footpath Secretary


Sue Coulbeck


Roger Gibbs.

RAMBLING ON AND ON AND ON…….

Part 1 - INTRODUCTION

Observe the title which may be interpreted in two different ways:-  the description of what the group has accomplished during its first 40 years and the writings of the above whose efforts have failed to maintain the interest of readers.  My aim is to concentrate on the former, minimise the latter and in that connection, the committee has emphasised that the account is not to be about my personal story.  I respect that concern. However, human nature being what it is, if an incident worth relating has occurred when I have been present, the description may mention “the author”.  The word “I” will not be used again.

This being composed in three instalments, the second and concluding sections will accompany the programme and WEP,  for the months of August to November, 2010 and December 2010 to March 2011, respectively. Acknowledgements will be listed at the end of the narrative.

On the basis that although what follows cannot possibly satisfy everyone all the time, hopefully it will please the majority of members some of the time.......


40 YEARS AGO

1970, the commencement of a new decade following the “Swinging Sixties”, year of a General Election.  The Conservative Party regained power, Edward Heath became Prime Minister and “The Common Market” was a political phrase.  Elsewhere, the Glastonbury Festival started, John Mills secured an Oscar award for his part in the film “Ryan’s Daughter”.  Dana won the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland singing “All Kinds of Everything” when that event was eagerly awaited on a colour television set still somewhat grainy.  In sport, Henry Cooper remained undisputed British Heavyweight Boxing champion, while Tony Jacklin won the United States Open Golf Championship.  Unfortunately, England failed to retain the football World Cup in Mexico and the apartheid situation prevented the South African cricket team from travelling to England to pit their considerable skills in the Test Match arena.

However, another eye-catching issue captured the attention of the country, involving the forthcoming conversion of the money system.  Pockets, purses and wallets of the population contained a mixture of decimal coins and sterling notes, the new 50p coin for instance being in parallel use with the brown-coloured ten shilling note. Together with the sixpence and half-crown, these three words would soon disappear from every day language, decimal currency being introduced in its entirety in the middle of February, 1971.


IN THE BEGINNING

One wonders whether any of those events concerned one Ken Knowles in a letter typed to Fred Matthews on 9th March, 1970 from an address in Woodford Green, bidding Fred in no uncertain terms, quote:- “would you please come here at about 8 pm on Monday next 16th March 1970?”  The letter included the Ramblers’ Association’s need to form a local group, N.W. London and the Roding was suggested.  Nominations were required for the jobs of Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and Committee.  R.A. members would be notified from Head Office, Ken had written to those addresses he knew.  There were others and all were welcome to attend.  Mention was made of the necessity to clear paths and commence waymarking and signposting.  A public meeting had been arranged at the Woodford Parish Church Memorial Hall, South Woodford for Thursday, 30th April in the evening.  The last sentence quote:- “I hope you share my enthusiasm to be actively engaged in it”, would surely leave Fred in no doubt as to the writer’s intentions........

Who was Ken Knowles?  Under what circumstances did he know Fred?  A visit to his house, a turning off the High Road opposite the Horse and Well public house in February, 2009 proved fruitless:- nobody answered the door! A random call by the author at a bungalow opposite with a car on the forecourt produced a result.  Yes, the person knew Ken, in fact by coincidence she used to live next door!  He had passed away about five years previously. No, there was no particular knowledge regarding any family.  He had a son but his whereabouts were unknown. However, a casual conversation soon afterwards on a group walk with a senior member of both the West Essex and local HF. Groups revealed Ken had left the latter organisation some time before 1970.  Was that his motivation in wishing to start a new group......?

Whatever the circumstances, the public meeting took place on the said date, although one current member who was present noted in his diary that it was held at the South Woodford library opposite the church.  (He also mentioned the weather as being unsettled.)  Thank you, Roger!  The meeting was chaired by William Addison in his capacity of Friends of Epping Forest.  V. Moorcroft and C. Hall attended as representatives of the Ramblers’ Association R.A. South.  Those present were invited to record their name, address and telephone number on sheets of A4 ruled paper, with an indication in the end column of current R.A. membership or otherwise.  The 114 present were almost equally divided between each category.  Current active members Roger Gibbs, Joan Hampton, John and Pat Juchau and Ann Sansom were listed together with Vic Warren, now an honorary member. Eric Cropper and Harold Lawrence also attended and became long-standing active members but have since sadly passed away.  Many appeared to have travelled long distances, perhaps paying the fare by using the mixture of sterling money and decimal currency as mentioned....

So it came to pass that on 16th September, 1970, the Southern Area of the Ramblers’ Association prepared an agenda for a meeting at the Buckhurst Hill Community Association on Wednesday, 14th October, 1970 for the inaugural setting up of the group to be called “West Essex”.  A news letter prepared by Freddie Matthews accompanied the above.  Each are reproduced.  Note the minimum subscription of 4 shillings per annum, 20p in new money!  The telephone number beside the details in the news letter is that of Ken Knowles.  The group was already active, survey rambles and footpath clearances having been implemented since the public meeting.  It appears evident that use was made of the Central Line between Epping and Ongar.

Barclays Bank Limited were appointed bankers on the same day, 14th October 1970.  A document shows K. R. Knowles, Chairman, H. F. Matthews, Secretary and Mary Kathleen Thorne, Treasurer, as appointed officers with each of their signatures appended.

Eric Cropper, Harold Lawrence and Mr. J. Redshaw became committee members with Mr. P. Gould as auditor.  

All appointments were made on a caretaker basis until the first Annual General Meeting to be held in the spring of 1971.

The West Essex group was up and running..........


THE RAMBLERS’ ASSOCIATION

(SOUTHERN AREA)

Proposed WEST ESSEX GROUP


The INAUGURAL MEETING will be held at 8 p.m. on WEDNESDAY, 14th October, 1970, at Buckhurst Hill Community Association, Bedford House, Westbury Road, Buckhurst Hill, Essex.

FREDDIE MATTHEWS

Abridge, Essex        

Secretary to ad hoc Committee

16th September 1970.


A G E N D A

1.  To Agree the Constitution.

2. To appoint Officers, Committee and Auditor.

3.  Treasurer’s Report.

4.  Programme for 1971.

5.  Any other business.

--------------

Westbury Road crosses Palmerston Road which runs from opposite St. John’s Church, High Road, to Buckhurst Hill Underground Station.

WEST ESSEX GROUP RAMBLERS’ ASSOCIATION

NEWS LETTER


This is to welcome members who have joined the Group, particularly those who have included donations with their subscriptions and to announce our programme for the remainder of the year.  Also to give details of our activities to prospective members and advise them that our minimum subscription is 4/- per annum to the Group, but they must be members of the R.A.

We have so far carried out clearances on the second Sunday of the month in the Lambourne/Abridge area.  We now propose in addition, to carry out a survey/ramble on the third Sunday.  The details are:-


Sunday 20th September.  Survey/Ramble – Abridge/Passingford bridge.

Meet Blue Boar, Abridge, 10.30 a.m.


Sunday 11TH October.  Footpath Clearance.  For details ring

 

Sunday 18th October.  Survey/Ramble – Abridge/Stapleford.

Meet Blue Boar, Abridge 10.30 a.m.

    (Bus from Debden L.T. dep. 10.12 a.m.)

    Return from Ongar Station.


Sunday 8th November.  Footpath Clearance.  

  

Sunday 15th November.  Survey/Ramble – Epping/Ongar

Meet Epping Station 10.30 a.m.


Sunday 13th December.  Footpath Clearance.  

    

INAUGURAL MEETING

A meeting to inaugurate our West Essex Group is to be held on Wednesday, 14th October, 1970, at 8 p.m. at Buckhurst Hill Community Association, Bedford House, Westbury Road, Buckhurst Hill, Essex.

Nominations for Officers and Committee are required and should be seconded.

We hope you will be able to attend some of the above events and also the Inaugural Meeting at which we would welcome your comments and any suggestions for the 1971 programme.


FREDDIE MATTHEWS

Secretary to ad hoc Committee

Abridge, Essex      

16th September 1970


EARLY YEARS

Fred issued the group’s first newsletter in January, 1971, summing up the impressive enthusiasm of those involved during eight days of footpath clearance work in the countryside on the second Sunday of each month since April, 1970.  The goodwill of the landowners concerned had been appreciated.  Similar programmes for the first half of 1971 would again be under the direction of Ken Knowles.  Surveys and rambles would take place on the third and fourth Sundays respectively.  Each survey/ramble would cover approximately 12 miles quote:’ “10.30 a.m. – 5 p.m., packed lunch, stout shoes etc.”  Grange Hill, Epping, North Weald and Ongar were the destinations for the surveys, Abridge to Ongar, Nazeing to Theydon Bois and Epping to Ongar would be the routes for the rambles led in turn by H. F. Matthews, J. Redshaw and J. Stuart.

The first Annual General Meeting of the group took place on Wednesday, 17th March, 1971 at Bedford House, Buckhurst Hill.  Fred’s report as secretary acknowledged chairman Ken Knowles’ footpath clearance work with his volunteers, Feathered Lane in the parish of Lambourne was noted as a prime example of improvement. Membership totalled just over 60.  The aforementioned Vic Moorcroft, R.A. Southern Area Secretary, addressed the meeting.

Twelve months later, an undated report from Fred began quote:- “Welcome 1972 (programme up to the end of June overleaf)”.  Essex County had responded to a questionnaire resulting in the replacement of two footbridges in the West Essex area.  The County Council had introduced a waymarking system of painted arrows on trees.  It was hoped the group would benefit from this shortly.  A Mr. Horne from the County Council, would be attending the Community Centre at Buckhurst Hill on Wednesday, 16th February, 72 to give a talk on footpath matters The annual General Meeting would be held at the same venue on Wednesday, 22nd March.  Members were urged to ensure a full attendance for these two meetings.

The half-year programme listed six Saturday dates allocated for footpath clearance.  Six half-day Sunday afternoon rambles and a similar number of all-day outings noted in chronological order to enable members to mark up their diaries.  These would start at Abridge (Blue Boar), Epping (station), North Weald and Ongar (Budworth Hall Car Park.)  That for Sunday, 30th January would be a joint walk with the Holiday Fellowship.

It was regretted at the A.G.M. that Mrs. Thorne had to stand down as Treasurer after only a very short time in office.  However, the group was fortunate that John Standon had taken over.

A group footpath week took place in September, 1972.  Fred subsequently typed some notes with the information that about 40 ramblers had attended on the route of the forthcoming M11 Motorway (he felt sad regarding the ultimate loss of a walking area).  A similar number had rambled on the following afternoon.  The Wednesday evening slide show was well supported.  On Saturday, 16/9, a footpath clearance day had taken place in the vicinity of Ongar.  80 people had arrived for the Ongar Walks Day, the longest distance proving the most popular.  (this event would be staged annually for many years.)  Fred drew attention to quote:-  “the quaint single track branch line (now wonderfully reprieved)” being the Epping to Ongar Central Line service which led directly to footpaths at the latter village.

Len Alcott’s leadership on the first day became an early indication of the versatility of a member who would serve the group in so many areas for the next 23 years.


THE RAMBLERS’ ASSOCIATION

WEST ESSEX FOOTPATH WEEK – 9TH – 17TH SEPTEMBER 1972


We invite YOU to join in the following:-

SATURDAY Last chance to view the route of the M11 in peace.  An afternoon walk with the

9th SEPTEMBER Holiday Fellowship Eastern Section, from the entrance to Ashton Playing Fields, High Road, Woodford Bridge to Abridge.  2.30 p.m.  Leader Len Alcott.


SUNDAY  Afternoon walk round Abridge.  Meet outside the Blue Boar 2.15 p.m.

10th SEPTEMBER. Leader Fred Matthews, distance 7 miles.


WEDNESDAY  WEST ESSEX FOOTPATH EVENING

13th SEPTEMBER. For anyone who likes a country walk, film slides on local and other footpaths.  Also a talk on general footpath matters plus discussions etc.  Speakers include David Sharp of the Ramblers’ Association.

8 p.m. at the Hall, Bedford House, Westbury Road, (Off Palmerston Road, Buckhurst Hill, 5 minutes from the L.T. station.)


SUNDAY  WEST ESSEX DAY – THE ONGAR WALKS DAY

17th SEPTEMBER. The day for all walkers and friends to visit Ongar.  We have recently published a footpath guide ‘Walking with the West Essex’ and five of these are round walks from Ongar.  The distances of these walks are 6 ½ ,10 ½, 12, 12 and 14 ½ miles and we will be providing leaders to accompany you on the walks from Budworth Hall Car Park, Ongar, Starting at 10.30 a.m. for the longer walks and 2 p.m. for the 6 ½ mile walk.  If you would like further details of these walks, copies of the guide are available at branches of Smiths and other local bookshops at 25p.  On completion of the walks we hope to have a short get together around 5 p.m.


THE WALKING EVENT OF THE YEAR


Looking forward to seeing you during West Essex Footpath Week.

Something for everyone who walks, be it a stroll after lunch or an all day country outing.

Fred Matthews - Hon. Secretary West Essex Group

ABRIDGE,

Essex.

August 1972


The second year of accounts were meticulously hand-prepared by the Hon. Auditor.  The turnover is naturally modest compared to the present day activities but the group remained small in numbers.  The annual subscription totalling £10.60 equates to 53 members at the rate of 20p (4/- in old money!)




































A newsletter from Fred dated 8th March, 1973 mentioned a “Welcome to Spring in West Essex” day, arranged for Sunday, 29th April, 73 on similar lines to that of the previous September.  The afternoon would finish for all groups at Budworth Hall, Ongar for tea.

A separate earlier sheet lists dates from end January to end May, 73, a mixture of surveys and rambles at weekends.  In addition, on Easter Monday, 23rd April, Gerald Zierler would lead a walk from Theydon Bois station and Thursday, 2nd May, the “Blue Boar”, Abridge was the starting point for an evening ramble with Fred in charge.

A Footpath and Countryside week took place in September, 73 to encourage members of the public to participate in local walks on 9 consecutive days.  This was entitled “At Home in West Essex”.  Two walks were available on day 1, Saturday, 8th:- an all-day ramble from Waltham Abbey led by Fred and an afternoon stroll from the Napier Arms, South Woodford under the leadership of Harold Lawrence.  Similarly on day 2,  Mrs. D. Baker was the leader from Grange Hill while Fred organised a p.m. outing from Abridge.  On the following 6 days, rambles started from North Weald, Ongar, Loughton, Theydon Bois, Epping and Harlow led by Rosemary Pegrum, Mrs. D. Baker, Fred,  John Standon and Rosemary Pegrum and Fred again respectively.  The final day, Sunday, 16th September, Ongar was the meeting place for Ongar Walks Day again.  Three years on from its formation, the group’s activities were gradually expanding .....

However, during 1974 significant changes took place in administration and organisation.  Ken Knowles desired to stand down as Chairman, Len Alcott became a member of the committee and in November of that year a 4-monthly programme was introduced, organised by Gerald Zierler.  The latter was appointed Chairman and in addition became Rambles Secretary.  Fred’s annual report for 1974/75 acknowledged the work carried out by Ken Knowles in helping to form the group and was pleased to note that Gerald Zierler was assisted in his new role by being able to call on over 20 walk leaders.  This enabled rambles to take place on a mid-week basis as well as on Saturdays and Sundays.

The report included many different aspects of the group:- A coach outing took place during the summer of 1974 to the South Downs, organised by Reg Adsett on behalf of the Hassocks Field Path Society.  This included a visit to Clayton Mills.  (The 25th anniversary took place on 5th July, 1998, the final annual ramble led by Reg, again visiting “Jill Windmill”.  (The South Downs has become the location of the first coach ramble each year on Easter Monday in recent times.)

Peter Harding’s work as Publicity Officer involved his contacting local libraries.  Together with a visit on a ramble by Tony Parker, footpath secretary of the R.A. Southern Area and Les Wilson of the Evening News, the comments of the former and an article in the paper had resulted in the group becoming more widely known.

R.A. subscriptions had to be raised to £2 single and £2.50 joint.  Film shows of the South Downs Way and Pennine Way had been enjoyed and footpath clearances and bridge building continued.  The entire walk from Pepper’s Green was now open, together with the green lane from Coleman’s farm near Toothill.

Map reading rambles had proved popular and a number of exhibitions had been held.  Len Alcott was thanked for his poster work in that connection, as were members who took part on the assembling and manning on the day. Parish walks were becoming a feature of the area, with either parish councils or local amenity societies.  These covered Lambourne, Theydon Bois, Epping and Stapleford Abbotts.

Fred felt it had been an excellent year .......


Val Weatherley contacted the author regarding an item which had appeared in the Essex Area Update.  Ann McLaren, a member of the Chelmer and Blackwater group, was requesting information relating to the early years of Area.  He was able to forward some programmes detailing the different routes traversed during the Essex “100”, an annual 100 mile event, comprising 9 consecutive days of linear walking across that county’s countryside.  Could Ann reciprocate by providing the author with recollections of her walking experiences with the West Essex group?  The following article records an interesting description of a particular year.

Group members who participated in the above event over the years will recall Ann, married to Norman skinner before his sad passing, as a then active member.  The “100” became a prominent feature in the summer programme of all groups from 1986 until 2007, together with a mini half-day ramble of about 45 miles organised by Ann in the latter years.


My memories of West Essex from 1975

I have been asked to put down in writing what I can remember about West Essex from 1975 when I was a member.  In those far off days I was a young mum living in Doddinghurst.  1975 was a long forgotten age before the computer had come into every day use and Ramblers Association members who joined under the Rucksack Logo paid their money and got a membership card.  This enabled them to walk free of charge with any group they chose and become a full member of as many groups as they saw fit.  Because of my free time and other work-based commitments I chose just two groups – West Essex a walking Area I grew up in and still to this day love to walk in and Brentwood in whose catchment Area I was currently living.  Life was fairly simple I had every Wednesday off from Brentwood Teacher Training College and could fit in necessary studies in the evening after my children had gone to sleep.  So once a fortnight I drove over to places like Abridge, Passingford Bridge, Waltham Abbey or Epping Forest for an all day walk.

West Essex in those days held a midweek walk every week but alternated the days between Wednesdays and Thursdays week and week about.  This enabled people to attend on the days when they were free.  How I enjoyed my walks, most of the time over very rough fields, through broken stiles and round rotten bridges.  A footpath sign was in many places unheard of and yellow arrows a symbol quite alien to Essex Countryside.  If you were leading you had a job as you had no confirmation of where the path left the road and there were no previously walked smooth paths as were beginning to come in, in nearby Kent.  My most favourite leader was Len Alcott.  He never minded a challenge and the old 2 ½ inch blue maps were certainly that.  If we ended up on the wrong side of the brook or river because of their failings he would laugh and then encourage us to either wade through or climb along and over hastily constructed home made bridges that no health and safety officer would give field room to today.  Laughter was common as was the need for plasters.  But we had fun!

Walking then was a challenge, blocked footpaths and getting lost often meant I was late collecting my girls after school from their long suffering Grandparent.  But it was great.  I am sorry computers later limited members to full membership of just one Group.  Progress comes with a price so they say.  However the good thing is Ramblers exists two Logos later in a very highly polished form but I do not think today’s ramblers could have more fun and more of a challenge than we achieved in the mid 1970s.

The minutes of a committee meeting held at the beginning of March, 1976, indicated that 63 walks from 23 starting places in Essex under the guidance of 20 leaders had taken place.  Twentytwo short walks had been organised in addition.  The period covered was unclear but even over 12 months the figures were impressive. Also noted:- 500 programmes consisting of 4 pages each could possibly be produced for £5!  Volunteers were requested to help deliver these.

At the Annual General Meeting 12 months later, it was suggested that car rambles would start from Epping station due to the poor rail service which terminated at Ongar, with the idea that passengers offer a sum of 1p per mile as a contribution towards the cost of petrol.  During the summer of that year, Patricia Norris led a group walk for the partially sighted.  Nine had attended.  In just over a year membership had increased dramatically from 239 to 361.


A NEW ERA.

1978 heralded a year of significant activity and change within the group.  Connie Dewey had produced the programmes using a stencil and duplicator.  Although Phyllis Govey had made enquiries at a school to become involved in the latter task, this had proved unsuccessful.  She therefore took on the duty herself.  Some programmes were then delivered by hand to help defray the cost of postage.

At the Annual General Meeting, Gerald Zierler resigned as Chairman and Rambles Secretary.  Brian Anderson became acting-Chairman, while the latter office was filled by Len Alcott, a position he would occupy for the next 17 years.  Peter Gould stood down as Auditor having left the district.  Bill Govey, husband of Phyllis, became programme editor having been elected a member of the committee.  He too would serve the group in a variety of different ways.  Membership passed the 400 mark.

A protest meeting took place in connection with the construction of the M25 Motorway.  Jean Jefcote of the West London R.A. group invited West Essex members to attend.  Five of the group lent their support and a rally raised £200.

1978 marked the establishment of the Centenary Walk, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Epping Forest Act of 1878.  Promoted by the Corporation of London, the Act restored lost lands to the public and secured its future as a public open space.  Together with the Friends of Epping Forest, a large number of group members have supported the event, walked annually since 1985.  Always held on the third or fourth Sunday in September, the route of approximately 15 miles extends from Capel Road, near Manor Park station (the southern extremity of the forest) to Epping.  Open to all interested in the preservation of the area, verderers of the forest accompany those attending explaining the features along the way.  Accessible points and times for joining and leaving are listed for the benefit of one’s fitness and interest.

Harry Bitten led the walk from 1985 until 2005.  His wife, Peggy, would attempt to record numbers (over 100 during the day on some occasions).  Harry was another member who carried out much work for many years, as Countryside Officer until the Millennium.  Mike Whiteley, Group Secretary, took over the role as leader in 2006. The event has been supported on occasions by the local Members of Parliament and very regularly until his demise in 2004, by Lord Murray of Epping Forest.  Perhaps better knows as Len Murray, General Secretary of the T.U.C., he completed the whole distance many times.

A short walk to Epping station takes one to the start of the Essex Way, an 81 mile route across the county to Harwich.  Thus a route of nearly 100 miles extends from London E12 to the coast ready for a crossing by sea for the commencement of a continental adventure .......

At the turn of 1979 the group’s walks were mentioned on Radio London.  A donation was sent and acknowledged by the R.A. for an appeal relating to the Swanley section of the M25 Motorway in Kent.  (Was this an objection to the route, or for the safe-guarding of the surrounding area?)  At the Annual General Meeting it was decided that future walks programmes would include a full list of committee members;  the following were elected:-


Chairman:  JOHN STANDON. Secretary:  FRED MATTHEWS

Treasurer:  ALAN BRUNSDEN Rambles Secretary: LEN ALCOTT

Membership Secretary: JOHN STANDON Countryside:  PATRICIA NORRIS

Publicity:  PETER HARDING

Committee: BILL GOVEY (Programme and printing)

HAROLD LAWRENCE (Coach Outings),  HENRY PRITCHETT  (Projects)

RICHARD BENWELL (Auditor)  STEVE BASON (Entertainments) and PAUL CROSLAND

A social took place during the year. The Standons and the Goveys provided the refreshments assisted by the committee.  Ida Webster was the caller for the dancing.  A profit of £17 had resulted.

At a further meeting the subject of a third London airport had been noted, Willingale being the site in mind!  The R.A. held a meeting on the August Bank Holiday Saturday regarding this.  Patricia Norris contacted the Association passing on the view of general opposition.  She was requested to make a formal objection to the proposal of the construction of a 9-hole golf course on Chingford Plain..... She thanked the committee for the receipt of a telegram on the occasion of her wedding.  (A sign of the times 30 years ago!) and on Saturday, 15th June led a 20 mile ramble from Loughton station – a busy person.

The first committee meeting in the new decade set the cost for the annual coach ramble to Sussex later in the year at £3 per member.  This event would take place in the Pulborough area.  The Annual General Meeting in March, 1980 resulted in the committee remaining unchanged.  Phyllis Govey became an additional member. There had been a surplus of £15 from the coach outing during the previous year.  At 380, membership had decreased slightly.

Later meetings revealed a waiting list for the forthcoming coach ramble.  Over 120 tickets had been sold for a social evening held at Theydon Bois Village Hall resulting in a profit of just over £37.  This event, on Saturday 12th April celebrated the 10th anniversary of the month in which the public meeting had been held to form an R.A. group.  During the summer, a donation of £5 was forwarded to assist the campaign against the development of Stansted Airport and a letter of protest sent regarding the proposed closure of the Epping to Ongar rail line.  (A reprieve was subsequently granted a few months later, but Blake Hall station closed in the autumn of 1981.)

A rummage through some torn papers stuck together at the end of an exercise book containing Fred’s hand-written minutes of Annual General Meeting and committee meetings of the time, revealed a particular A4 sheet listing members’ names who attended the A.G.M. on 9th March 1981.  (37 in total.)  The reverse side was obviously part of a four month programme of walks, and Fred had used the blank side at the above meeting. Identified with the aid of a perpetual calendar, as being that for 1980, and re-typed for clarity, the original document is a valuable asset for the archives and a prime example of what members received nearly 30 years ago.  Interestingly, only the barest of detail for many of the outings were available.  (Not until the programme for April to July, 1993 when a walk code representing distance and pace did the general layout and format change.)

Some observations are nevertheless interesting with an eclectic mix of destinations and leaders.  A meeting in June of that year agreed the length of walks to be between 10 and 12 miles unless otherwise stated.


10  Sun   10.00  Epping Stn with cars to HERTFORD HEATH   Fred Matthews

            10.20  Ongar Stn with cars to BEAUCHAMP RODING CHURCH  Paul Crosland

                       Lunch at White Roding

13  Wed  11.0   TILLINGHAM CHURCH for Blackwater Estuary walk  Richard Benwell

                      With afternoon bathing

16  Sat   10.30  CHINGFORD STN       Len Alcott      

17  Sun    9.45  Epping Stn with cars to SAFFRON WALDEN   Peter Harding

                     A 14 mile walk via Radwinter

             10.37  BRENTWOOD STN      Jack Chadwick

20  Wed  10.00  Epping Stn with cars to DANE END    Fred Matthews

23  Sat    10.00  EPPING STN       Joan Hampton

24  Sun   10.30  HERTFORD NORTH STN. A 12 mile walk via Woodall  Arthur Jacobs

                      Park and Socombe Park.  Dry lunch

25  Mon  10.00  Theydon Bois Stn with cars to ONGAR BHCP   Fred Matthews

28  Thu   10.00  Epping Stn with cars to SPELLBROOK area.  Joint HF.  Les Wincott

30  Sat     9.45  Epping Stn with cars to BUNTINGFORD    Steve Boson

31  Sun   10.30  ONGAR WALKS DAY BHCP 4 Full Day & 2½ Day Walks

     10.00-2.00  EPPING STN. Joint with the Epping Society   George Pomphilon

SEPTEMBER

3  Wed  10.30  EPPING BLCP.  Joint with HF     Bill Govey

6  Sat   10.00   Epping Stn with cars to SAWBRIDGEWORTH Town Car Pk  Don Goodwin

7  Sun  10.20   Ongar Stn with cars to BIRD’S GREEN.  Lunch at   Paul Crosland

                     The Star, Good Easter

           11.00   TOWER HILL STN.  A walk along London’s river   Gerald Zierler

11  Thu  10.15   Epping Stn with cars to BEAUCHAMP RODING   Frank Fuller

13  Sat  10.30   ROXWELL, Car Park      George Farmer

14  Sun  10.15  THEYDON BOIS STN.  A 15½ mile walk with lunch   Robert Calder

                     At Havering

             2.30  ABRIDGE Blue Boar      Richard Benwell

17  Wed 10.00  Epping Stn with Cars to RICKLING GREEN    Fred Matthews

                     Lunch at Manuden

20  Sat    2.30  STAPLEFORD ABBOTTS, Post Office    Fred Matthews

                     YHA WEEKEND AT ALFRISTON (see notes)

21  Sun  10.30  EPPING STN.  Lunch at Bumbles Green    Dick Mountford

           10.35  CHORLEY WOOD (10.03 from Baker St Stn)   Rosemary Thwaites

25  Thu  10.30  LEYTON LT STN for a River Lea walk, finishing   Harry Pritchett

                     At Chingford.  Joint with HF

27  Sat   10.30  EPPING STN  Dry Lunch      Bill Govey

28  Sun  10.15  NORTH WEALD STN.  Lunch at Moreton    Dennis Lloyd

           10.30  EPPING STN for CLEARANCE PARTY

    10.00-2.00  EPPING STN. Joint with The Epping Society   George Pomphilon

OCTOBER

1  Wed  10.30  Theydon Bois Stn with cars to PASSINGFORD BRIDGE  John Phipps

4  Sat    10.30  EPPING BLCP.  Dry Lunch     Bill Govey

5  Sun   10.30   Epping Stn with cars to WIDFORD CHURCH   Fred Matthews

             2.30   ABRIDGE, Blue Boar      Dick Mountford

9  Thu   10.30  CHINGFORD, Royal Forest Hotel. 5 ponds & 5 hills  Fred Matthews

             8.00  BEDFORD HOUSE Audio/Visual Evening


Abbreviations must have been listed somewhere:- Ongar BHPC. (Budworth Hall Car Park) and Epping BLCP. (Bakers Lane Car Park)  Most meeting places relate to stations.  However, in the absence of grid references, it was necessary perhaps to telephone the leader, via the membership Secretary, to ascertain the exact location in respect of country car parks, the ramble dated Saturday, 13th September being an example.  Happily, one leader is still a very active walker today.  The gradual development and detail of individual walks which members enjoy today was still a long way off.  How many members entered the water on the afternoon of 13th August one wonders?  Brrr..............

With these 8 weeks of a typical walks programme for members to reflect, most routes of which still feature with a particular emphasis on the “last Sunday of the month between 10 and 2”,  it would seem an appropriate moment to close the first part of the group’s affairs ....….…..