I946-I956 (or thereabouts)
by Tony Hart A member of the Old Social Committee
As Old Boys returned from the forces, a number wanted to continue playing the game of Rugby and so the Old Moseleian Rugby Club came together, playing on Saturday afternoons on a rented pitch on the Pickwick grounds opposite the School. The pitch alongside was used by the Old Yardleys. Almost every Saturday my brother , Maurice, would come home holding his head complaining he had it kicked so I elected for something less hazardous and played as a linesman.
For reasons still unknown, I was asked to MC the first Rugby Club dance held in the School Hall after which I found I was co-opted onto what was to become the Social Committee whose job it was to organise and run functions in order to help finance the activities of other sections as they became operative. Dances were held at the Billesley Arms at regular intervals, some of which had the management there in a state of anxiety such as the Tramps Dance, where someone started frying sausages on the lounge floor! Prizes went to the most authentic tramp and trampesses.
The big feature of the Social Committee was the Christmas Party always held in the School Hall. Preparations for this had to begin months in advance, booking bands, ordering fancy hats, catering and making mounds of decorations at minimal cost. There were three Christmas Parties, all with 200 tickets soon sold out. We made a mistake the first year of leaving the doors to the outside lavatories open which permitted the entry of a number of gate crashers, something we had not thought of and would not happen again. Bill Baldwin was always the senior MC assisted by four “helpers” of which I was one, necessary to look after a corner of the hall containing around 50 persons when team games came round, one of which I shall always remember as I’m sure others also do. We called it “Street Cries of Old London” and with all shepherded into the four corners, the assistant MC gave each person a strip of paper on which was a street cry, such as “Lavender, lovely Lavender” “Chimneys swept”, “Fresh strawberries”, Pretty flowers all blooming” etc., eight in all. The object of the game was to find others of the same cry and report to Bill at the top of the stairs outside the hall. As all the hall lights were switched off and the place plunged into darkness, around 200 voices all started shouted their street cries together. The noise was deafening and prolonged. Ron Catton and Roy Moore who were doing duty at the main entrance thought we were caught up in riot and came down to rescue us, though I don’t know how.
Another trick we pulled was for Bill to walk onto the stage eating a sausage roll and saying over the mike “Oh, by the way, that was the interval dance”, where upon there was a huge exodus from the hall to the canteen. This we had anticipated and had the two Skinner brothers (around 6ft 3in and weight to match) stationed at the canteen door so ensuring an orderly entrance to the tables.
Bill Baldwin was irreplaceable, there was something about him hard to define, he worked tirelessly for the Association as it became. As a boy he suffered from alopecia and in early school photographs he was the only one wearing a cap. However, you can see his name on the Captains of the School Board around I928. Unfortunately for us, he departed to take over the Head-ship of a small country school at a village called Bayton near Clowes Top (about 7 miles from Bewdley). He is now deceased but his wife Molly still resides there.
By now the club had grown, the two major sections being the Rugby and Cricket sections which partly relied on proceeds from allocated dance revenues. Other sections were formed, one being the Male Voice Choir but this never got off the ground. The drama section started well, rehearsing for a play, I believe, called “To Have and To Hold”. Props, including a wheel chair and scripts and royalties were purchased and paid for when the person who instigated the whole thing, and was the director, failed to turn up and we never saw or heard from him again, so money was lost. I didn’t think we were that bad!
Motorised treasure hunts were organised starting from the Billesley Arms in ten minute intervals, finishing at some local venue. I remember one finished at the Tennis Courts Cafe (now long gone) at Holt End, near Beoley (the clue being an anagram NOT HELP) where Stan Hemming was the winner. Unfortunately, further support was not forthcoming so after 2 hunts, it was not repeated.
Other sections were proposed (a) a Male Voice Choir, that died a natural death as insufficient members came forth and (b) a Photography Section which proved to be negative, (c) a Whitsuntide ramble was organised, but only 3 people turned up, none of which were members, so that was not repeated either.
Publicity and financing relied mainly on income from social events and membership fees. When you think we charged “half a crown” for entrance to a dance (25p in today’s money) and 4 shillings for the Christmas Party which included refreshments and hats (20p) you may wonder how we survived and this was always a major topic at the General Committee Meetings to which each section sent a representative.
At stage one of the formation of the Old Moseleians, money was needed but of course there was not any, so Life Membership of only £2 was offered to all known ex-scholars and in a very short time, we had around 112 Life Members, which got the Club off the ground but after 2 years, they became a financial millstone around the neck. (I enclose my life membership card for interest.) I cannot remember the total membership.
Publicity to start with was very primitive and took place in Bill Baldwin’s house in Southam Road, Hall Green. It consisted of a size A4 tray, a roller, a pad of jelly substance and purple ink. Paper was put on the pad and you then applied the roller; you kept going until the ink ran out. Later on the monthly news sheet was instigated, which was called “The Octopus”, the motto being “From whose tentacles we can never quite escape, or ever wish to”. This included news from sections, editor’s notes, reports of any hatches, matches or despatches, plus recent and future social events and sent by post to all members.
After just over a year of publication, the then editor for personal reasons resigned and thanks to the General Committee, I found this position in my lap. Not that I had any previous experience in this field. However, I took it on until some 12 months later the General Committee called a halt as the cost of printing and posting 200 copies a month was seriously draining the coffers. It was a shame we never saw any of the Masters at any of these events, perhaps there is some unexplained reason for this.
I would like it understood that all of this took place around 50 years ago and I am relating from memory. Should anyone know better, please inform the editor. Someone, somewhere, may have the old minutes book and or the financial statements of the Rugby Club grounds and club house to mention some. They would make interesting reading as well as a base for present activities. Come on someone! Where are they? Comments from all and sundry will be welcome.