A (Not so) BRIEF HISTORY of the ASSOCIATION UP TO 1999
The birth of the Old Dartmothians' Association was by a chance meeting between Major W.H. Fox, Alderman, J.H. Moses, Lt. S.C. Legg, RN., and Fred Voisey on the North Embankment one Regatta day in 1923 when the formation was suggested. Upon adjournment to the Ship in Dock Inn, their intentions were sealed with a little liquid refreshment.
To commemorate this event, an inscribed brass plate was affixed to the parlour of this Inn on the Re-Union Day 1949, and in thanks to the maker and donor (Mr. Slaven), he was elected a Life Member. Alderman W.H. Welsford was the first President with Fred Voisey as Secretary, and a first membership of 30. On the death of Fred Voisey, Herbert Tucker took over as Secretary. At that time to perpetuate the memory of the first President, the Association presented a Cup for Rowing known as The Welsford Cup, then in 1927, to perpetuate the memory of the first Secretary, presented the Fred Voisey Shield to the Swimming Club.
In 1928 Captain John Pillar presented to the Association a flag, and the Association purchased a tabernacle and Flagpole which was erected in the Royal Avenue Gardens, the new Flag was dedicated at a special service conducted by the Rev. F.R.B. Simpson and the Rev. W.J. Zeal in the presence of the President Robert T. Pillar and a large company of members. Lt. S.C. Legg, RN presented an Album to contain the photographs of the Presidents of the Association, and a President's Collar and Badge in gold plated on silver and enamel, which was provided for state occasions, to the collar is added each year a silver bar bearing the President's name.
In 1938 a Fund was started in the name of John Fox, known as the "John Fox Benevolent Fund", such moneys to assist the Almoner in looking after the old folk and widows of deceased members. During the World War II period normal activities were curtailed, but the Committee kept in being with the assistant's Secretary's help while Engr. Cdr. HE. Pillar, the Secretary, was on active service, and sent out an annual Christmas letter to each member.
The Association also assisted the Dart Valley Spitfire Fund to the extent of £61. 14s. Od., and also gave active support to the War effort by investing in Defence Bonds from our available funds.
With the restoration of Coronation Park after the war, the Association was able to put into effect the long standing project of erecting and presenting to the Town, an Old Dartmothians Shelter, being completed and handed over to the Town in 1951; in the following year we were honoured by being permitted to supply the final link to the Historic Mayoral Chain, this taking the form of our Badge in gold and enamel.
In 1956, members gathered on the North Embankment, when twelve trees were handed over to the Town by the Association. These trees had to be replaced in 1985 due to their removal to make way for the new embankment scheme, on completion of which twelve new trees were planted and handed over to the Town Council, and to commemorate the event a plaque was produced and is fixed on the North Embankment.
On the 25th February 1965, members met with 22 ladies who were interested in forming a Woman's Section of the Association. Mrs. Webb of Warfleet was elected the first President with Mrs. G. Jewel as Chairman. Mrs. G. Broom was appointed the first Secretary. Permission was given for them to use our badge with the words "Woman's Section" on it, in a form of a brooch.
1973 - Jubilee Year celebrating fifty years since the formation of the Association. The name and emblem of the Association was laid out in the Royal Avenue Gardens and incorporating the dates '1923 - 1973' in it. A Jubilee Flag was purchased and flown on special occasions. There was a great gathering at the Guildhall for the Annual Re-Union and the retiring President, Mr. A.R. Tucker read a short history of the Association.
Towards the end of 1979 a cross tree was added to the Association's flag pole in the Royal Avenue Gardens so that the Woman's Section 's flag could be flown at the same time as the Association's flag.
In 1980 the Association presented a new flag staff above the Town Guildhall, to celebrate the 80th birthday of H.R.H Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
During his year as President in 1981, Mr. D.I.J. Owen held a Presidents' Evening in the form of a formal Dinner with their Ladies, and also inviting the Women's Section to join in as well. It was well attended, and has been held annually ever since.
To perpetuate the memory of the late Alderman George A.C. Perring, who was a Past President of the Association and who had very generously left legacies to many of the organisations in the Town, including our Association, a metal flower holder had been erected by the Boatfloat near to the Association's flag pole with a plaque depicting -"Donated by the Old Dartmothians' Association in memory of the late G.A.C. Perring".
In 1983 to commemmorate the Centenary of one of the Association's oldest members Alderman Bertie Lavers, the Association presented a Cup to the Dartmouth Athletic Association to be competed for annually.
In 1985 a new flag was obtained, together with a new alloy flag staff replacing the old wooden one, and in 1998 a further new flag was donated to the Association by Mr. and Mrs. S.R. Simmons in memory of their uncle Mr. Sydney C. Rundle, DSM., BEM., who had been a member of the Association for over twenty years.
In 1988 a Shield was presented to the local Athletic Association, to be awarded annually to the "Best Junior Member", it had been donated by a member of the Association who wished to remain anonymous.
At the Annual General Meeting of the Association in July 1989, a Sponsorship Fund was opened through a generous donation of £1,000 by a member who wished to remain anonymous. The interest raised through such a fund would benefit the youth as well as the elderly of the town, as set out in Rule 2 of the Association's Rules
At the Half Yearly Meeting in January 1991, the Secretary confirmed that the War Bonds had been deposited with the Dartmouth Town Council for safe keeping.
Also in 1991 the draft outline of the proposed new wrought iron arch for the entrance to the Royal Avenue Gardens had been produced by Mr. Alan Middleton, to replace the old arch which had been taken down during the refurbishing, and relaying of the Royal Avenue Gardens, the cost was in the region of £5,000 including labour. Mr. Jack Middleton, a member of the Association, financially backed the project, and the Association, jointly with the Woman's Section, agreed to provide the labour in erecting the arch and a buffet at the Opening Ceremony, which took place on Friday, 10th July, 1992.
In January 1993 it was agreed to have a Past President's Board, which would be fixed in the entrance of the Guildhall. Mr. M. Stone agreed to do the calligraphy, and Mr. A.K. Brook agreed to make the frame and glaze the finished work.
In February 1993 the Association remembered those of the Town who lost their lives in the bombing of Dartmouth on the 13th February 1943, and together with other organisations, laid wreaths at the War Memorial where over 200 people had gathered to pay their respects.
At Evensong on Sunday, 23rd April, 1995 at St. Saviour's Church, members attended the Service which included the blessing and laying up of an old Association's Flag.
For several years now, members of the Association have been invited to Beacon Court Residential Nursing Home for a Buffet Lunch on the Wednesday of Dartmouth Regatta so that they could bring a bit of the Regatta to those who now only have memories of Regattas gone by.
In March 1996 it was suggested that the Association celebrates the Millennium by refurbishing the Fountain in the Royal Avenue Gardens, and restoring it to it's former condition as seen in a 1903 photograph.
Having received approval from the South Hams District Council, and confirmation that a grant would be made from the National Heritage Fund, so long as they could see the Association was making a collective contribution in labour and finance. Social and other fund raising events were undertaken, and tremendous enthusiasm was injected into the project by receiving large donations from various families in the town, with the result that not only did the final grant of £22.000 enable the Association to refurbish the Fountain, but also to place new railings around the Gold Fish Pond, the small statue nearby the fountain, the War Memorial, and also to replace the windshields in the Bandstand, which culminated in an Official Opening taking place on Thursday, the 3rd June, 1999 when the President, Mr H.W. Hutchins, supported by those who had assisted in the restoration work, together with the Chairman of the South Hams District Council, the Mayor of Dartmouth officially unveiled a plaque commemorating the achievement and switched on the Fountain, viewed by a large gathering.
Several other things have been undertaken by the Association in the form of gifts of seats, loud speakers for Broomborough Nursing Home at Totnes in memory of the late John Ball in accordance with his wishes, a drugs refrigerator for the Dartmouth Hospital, financial assistance to local Sports Clubs in the Town, and other donations in cash or kind.
The Association has a membership of well over 200, and continually brings in new members. It is proud of its record, both as a body for the welfare of members and the home town, and for the fine achievements of its individual members, many of whom have obtained positions of honour both in the services and in civil life, particularly by the number of members who have occupied the Mayoral Chair of Dartmouth, formerly as the Corporation and since as the Town Council and trusts that in the years ahead there still lies a glorious sphere of active co-operation with all Dartmouth lovers.
Written in June 1999 by David I.J. Owen, Hon. Secretary.