NLRC History

In 2009, our 90th Anniversary year, we have been reviewing the history of the Club from archives reports and programmes for the years 1936 to 1949 inclusive.
This makes interesting reading not only for details of the club but an insight into the socio economic atmosphere at the time.
Founded in 1919 by a Swiss gentleman named Mr Steiman, the club initially had continental connections in Geneva and Brussels.
During the 1930s it was extremely active. There was a social evening every Tuesday at the Manor Road Church, an annual dinner/dance, boating at Regents Park lake, a theatre group, music group and a youth hostel group – who regularly had weekends away.
This was all in addition to their rambles every Saturday afternoon and numerous visits to places of interest in and around London. These included theTower, the old Bailey, Mansion House and Big Ben. On 9th May 1936 a coach trip was organised to Whipsnade Zoo for which they paid five shillings (25p) all inclusive. There was also a charitable side to the club, as they regularly arranged to take parties of deprived children from the Kings Cross area for trips out to the country or to pantomimes or shows. In 1937 they could take a child into the country for a day providing tea and entertainment at a cost of 1/4d per child and 2/3d for adults – including fares!!
In 1935, membership was 120. 76 fixtures were arranged and out of a total mileage of 616 the winner of the Ladies trophy went out 54 times and walked 456 miles, while the Men’s winner did 545 miles in 72 attendances. The subscription was 4/- (20p) per annum.
All night and moon-light rambles were popular and the most popular of 1937 was from Chingford to Copt hall Farm near Epping where they had tea and obtained colourful Chinese lanterns with which they made their way back through Epping Forest in the September dusk, no doubt singing as they went along.
In 1943, club activities were suspended because of the War and members were called up for war service. One became a pilot and was awarded the DFC, he was later reported missing and does not seem to have returned. Another member reported missing did return after the War as he had been a prisoner held by the Italians, he renewed his membership of the Club.
Interest in the Club was obviously retained throughout the War and on 24 August 1946 a ramble was arranged from Chingford during which it was agreed to recommence activities and a committee of 10 was appointed. Thereafter it seems to have flourished. After three months, the membership stood at 90 and the annual subscription had risen to 2/6 (12½p).
Following the War it was obviously more difficult t find places of interest in London which were still accessible. However, in November 1946 they visited St Paul’s Cathedral (still standing among the bomb damaged ruins).
Many former club activities could not be reactivated, the rising cost of theatre tickets, fares and refreshments are mentioned. Also the problem of obtaining teas while out on rambles. The social evenings seem to have been discontinued except for a party at Christmas and there was no longer any need for charitable work among the deprived children. The Christmas parties were held for two or three years at a venue in South Mimms before the Leysian Mission was hired for this purpose as it was in central London.
During the late 1940s the pattern of regular weekly rambles plus an occasional interest visit was set. Throughout the whole of this period the club was blessed with a group of very efficient and enthusiastic officers and committee members and looking back one feels that one knows the club members at that time. There are notes of engagements, marriages, births and deaths among them. The newsletters and reports were well written and contain similar sentiments and still apply today e.g. wear suitable shoes, bring a mac., offers to lead walks wanted.
In 1949, membership was up to 110, average number of walkers out was 15, subscription was 4/-. 49 fixtures were arranged, 384 miles in total; Ladies trophy winner 38 times out – 284 miles, Men’s champion out 37 times – 281 miles.
For several years, the Saturday of the third week in September was designated as an old member’s reunion. They caught the 2.49 p.m. train from Liverpool St. station to Chingford – a cheap day ticket fare in 1949 was 1/10d, normal fare 2/5d –and walked through Epping Forest for tea at ‘Ivy retreat’. This is one walk which will not have altered much over the years and it is believed that the refreshment place at which they stopped at is, in fact, a tea hut at High Beach, and is in the hands of the same family for three generations. In the late 1940’s it was being run by Ivy and Ernest Miller. Perhaps we should consider this route again?
Members may be interested to learn that for the clubs’ 70th birthday, a tree was planted in Theobalds Park in Enfield, although it has since passed into a private ownership, access may be limited.
In the past 10 years the club has continues with the regular weekly Saturday walks, and the occasional mid-week walk, but at the initiative of our current secretary, Betty we now hold regular club holidays at a variety of places throughout England. Even the Foot and Mouth outbreak some eight years ago did not curtail activities, but of course the footpath restrictions meant that many of the walks were within town, and used many urban paths. In drives to increase membership, we now have a ‘web’ presence, and try to use this in recruitment.
It is hoped that a younger generation will help more and more with the administrative, and walk leadership and that the club will be stronger even now it has reached it’s Centenary.