From the 1965 BIVC Bulletins
[My comments in italics]
There were three pages of letters to the editor.
One letter was responding to the call for more serious activities. It said “the demand for these is a mere 1% of membership (5% if you include music)”. The writer said he does not recommend IVC to “friends with more serious interests” and said “The stock answer to this is ‘well IVC is for outdoor types’ or even ‘members should resign when they marry’”.
A letter expressed a view on the debate about age limits [see July 64]. The writer thought there should be no limit, and the bulletin should ask members to vote on whether there should be one.
Another letter was responding to the publicity urging members to go to the weekly Friday hops. It said “If you can pluck up the courage to enter you will often sit all evening staring blankly across the room at the opposite sex in fear and trepidation”.
There were also over two pages of member’s reports on recent walks.
A wedding and an engagement were announced.
Someone wrote an article titled “My Unusual Pet”. She said it was a man. She wrote “I joined the club. We would meet every Friday evening to display our men. One of the idiosyncrasies of these pets is their refusal to acknowledge their mistresses in public”.
An article about Llwyn-onn Isaf [our bunkhouse near Barmouth – see www.johnpitcock.com/Farmhouse] said that in the seven years IVC had been leasing it we had made many improvements – improving it from a “damp and deserted house falling into disrepair” – saying this was paid for by IVC and the work done by members. It said there used to be a nearby grinding mill, fed by a reservoir [I remember there being slight remains of a small dam above the house, but until reading this I knew nothing about a mill].
I have come across an on-line facsimile of Ceunant Mountaineering Club’s newsletter from Jan 1965 which describes a visit to Llwyn-onn www.ceunant.org/pdfs/Jan1965.pdf (pp 10 – 12)
The annual dinner dance was being promoted as “the one opportunity of the year to show our guests and friends what a sparkling, elegant and homogeneous body we can be”. Tickets were double tickets at 50/-d [so I assume people were expected to go as couples]. Birmingham members were asked to provide accommodation for visitors from other IVCs.
Two engagements were announced.
An long article about Llwyn-onn Isaf [our bunkhouse near Barmouth] explained all the efforts to stop the fireplace smoking. Cowling, insulation, expanding the cowling were all tried to no avail. [This was a problem until we left in1992. I think these open fireplaces would have had a permanent fire which kept the chimney warm. On first lighting a fire: the little initial heat there was would meet the cold stone chimney and there would be no updraft. What heat did eventually emanate from the fire was soon absorbed by the thick cold stone walls: which also attracted much condensation].
There was swimming on Wednesdays in Moseley Road baths. A Birmingham Corporation coach would be giving lessons.
A report on the sell-out New Year weekend at Fairborne [where IVC went from 1958 – 66] mentioned mountain walks, a fancy dress parade, a performance by the IVC singers and a Roman playlet [playlets continued until the 1970s].
Two new activities: chess on Tuesdays; and a suggestion of golf in the summer.
Badminton was at Smith Street School, Hockley, followed by beer at the Little Brown Jug. Table Tennis was in the New Inn, Moseley. There were also sub-clubs listed for: bridge, beginners bridge, Bournville Film Society, linguists, coral singing, ice skating, music, rambles, Scottish dancing, theatre, wine and dine; and in summer: sailing, canoeing, tennis. It said: “For further details of all activities: see the notice board in club”.
The front page listed inter-club activities
Liverpool Grand national
North Staffs Rally Gastronomique
London Holiday Camp
Oxford Eights week and Dinner Dance
Reading Henley Regatta
Sheffield Chatsworth House and ramble
Manchester Autumn Ball
The marriage of David Roy and Jenny Bloxham was announced [David later became chairman, introduced a 40 age limit, and became Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1995].
A letter noted the decrease in interest of the work of the Council [as the committee were then called] and suggested members” show their appreciation of the work done by them; their names are on the notice board in the club premises”. Problems facing the club “i.e. [finding new] accommodation and conditions for membership, will have a direct bearing on every present and future member … and could affect the character of the club for years to come”.
There were three advertisements – asking for accommodation in Coventry; selling an unworn Norwegian oiled wool sweater; and wanted: two used rucksacks.
There was a suggestion that the singing group should perform in more “old Folks Homes, Hospitals, Private Nursing Homes, Spastic Societies, Cheshire Homes – to mention only a few”.
A letter from the IVC Farmhouse Warden said it was not true that Llywn-onn [then our basic bunkhouse near Barmouth] is only for “the hardened, rugged, weatherbeaten, rock climbing, 30 mile treks, 10 pints a night, types” and this puts off “a lot of club members, especially the girls”. A minority go “just for the sake of staying in a 17th century farmhouse” but “the majority prefer to be active and to know that the weekend is need not be wasted by idling about”. The image should be that it provides “for the tastes of most (except those who prefer the luxuries of a Ritz type hotel) offering the complete freedom to do as one pleases (no written or unwritten rules or codes of behaviour)”.
It was reported that the venue for the Friday hops has a new piano for the visiting bands’ pianists to play [no portable electronic keyboards then]. Gramophone evenings would continue “however we shall completely re-equip with new records. Those veteran waltzes and tired old quicksteps … will be replaced with versions from the jet age”.
It was reported that a planning application for change of use for a possible new premises had been turned down [it was to be another four years before we moved to 65 Barwick Street).
A letter responded to the remarks of the Farmhouse Warden who wrote last month “offering the complete freedom to do as one pleases (no written or unwritten rules or codes of behaviour)”. The response said “This is not true. Never has been, and never will be. The Warden would not, and could not, run the place on these lines”.
A whole page was taken up by someone apologising to the skating organiser. They had arrived early and gone to the bar. At length they described the events that lead them to wake up in hospital with two broken legs.
The wine and dine organiser reported on a successful meal at the Bell in Belbroughton. He explained that he set a limit of 30s [£26 in today’s money] for “aperitif, hors d’oevre, main course 1/3 bottle wine, dessert, and coffee”.
The music club listed the classical records that would be played each week.
Someone wrote about the work of the International Voluntary Service – asking for members to help with local projects.
It was reported that the rent for IVC’s leased Farmhouse is going up considerably – so the overnight charge is going up by 6p to 4/- [£3 in today’s money], 6p more for non-members, 1/- less for work-parties [only 1/- off in return per day’s work!].
Three of the ten foolscap pages were about Llwyn-onn [our leased bunkhouse].
In March the Warden wrote that there were no “rules or codes of behaviour” at Llwyn-onn. In April someone wrote: “this is not true. Never has been, and never will be”. This month the Warden took a page to responded. He said that he was aware of no rules of behaviour and the club does not “attempt to impose moral standards”. He also wrote: “I would suggest that the club assumes that an individual member would conduct himself (or herself) in a manner that would not cause offence or annoyance to club members as a whole” and went on that, if necessary, “the club would take suitable measures to protect the interests of other members.” [This debate would nowadays be likely to be by e-mails, and take much less than three months].
Two pages of reports about the combined hill-walking and linguists’ weekend at Llwyn-onn. Apparently there were 50 there [I recall there were 36 beds, but the usual maximum capacity was 30].
[Having now read all the 1965 bulletins – it occurs to me:
- That much space was taken by reports of past events (we rarely get these now)
- Most notices about events were shorter than now – I think members were expected to get information from the notice-boards in the premises.
- Whilst there wasn’t overt sexism: the sexes were not considered equal.
- That there were lengthy debates via the bulletin, some over several months
(in 1965 they were about an upper age limit and members’ behaviour)].
The chairman wrote that IVC had applied for the tenancy of 71, Broad Street.
[It wasn’t until 1969 that we leased new premies: 65 Barwick Street]
A letter (well over a page long) expressed concern about the “disparity of age between the younger and older members of the club”. As the club is for “young people of similar interests”. He suggested an upper age limit of 35: but the committee should allow people reaching this age to stay on if they are “a valued member of the club and not immediately replaceable”. He chose 35 because: “middle age could be said to commence at 35”.
[Also see July 1964 (see www.johnpitcock.com/TooOldAt40).
An age limit of 40 was set in 1969].
It was reported that several members failed to turn up at Llwyn-onn at Whitsun – depriving people on the waiting list of a weekend there – so it was decided to collect deposits in future. People were reminded to pay Hughie [our landlord] 1/- for parking in his yard.
Six letters, covering three foolscap pages [longer than A4], argues against the suggestion, given in last month’s letter, of having an upper age limit of 35.
One response said: “to suggest that any worthwhile adult characteristic is arbitrarily dependant on age is remarkably immature” and: “if he finds grown-up company hard to cope with I recommend the Scouts”.
Another writes “from his bath-chair” of those suggesting an age limit “they are so fresh from their mothers milk that 35 seems extremely far off” and do they “fear that to be old and still to be a member of IVC is to have utterly failed in life!”.
Another letter pointed out that the writer had not given a reason for his alarm at a disparity in age or say what he finds distasteful about those over 35 “could it be that he regards them as being in some way mentally or physically inferior?”.
One wrote tongue-in-cheek about living in “Staychild Close” where the residents’ association prevents people over 35 living there and that there should be segregation of ages nationally.
Another suggested that, although the club was founded for graduates, the criterion for membership is the “capacity to mix with the current members of club” regardless of age of academic qualifications.
The last letter asked “do we want a club composed of a uniform group of individuals of like age and the inevitable similarity of outlook?” AS a warning he quoted Oscar Wilde: “London society is full of women who have, of their own free choice, remained 35 for years”.
Another page-long letter wrote about Wednesday evenings [they were obviously different then – they were in our own premises]. “Why do so many members gather in one small room, hardly able to breathe, let alone move around or reach the distant notice-boards? … Is it a cunning means of spotting a desirable member of the opposite sex? … Perhaps Wednesday is the evening when all members shall gather together to talk and/or arrange activities…”. He went on to suggest maybe it is to listen to the singing group in another room and asked others to come along to sing madrigals and early part-songs.
Another report, a page-and-a-half long, was about the recent bank-holiday weekend spent rough camping and canoeing on the Wye.
Upcoming events at Llwyn-onn were sailing in the IVC dinghy and the annual beach barbecue and midnight dip.
The music club was having a Spanish evening – with Spanish music, wine and paella.
Several regular events were not held in August.
A lengthy article reported on a weekend to Henley Regatta, as guests of Reading IVC.
There were two foolscap pages describing a Saturday walk from Llwyn-onn [our bunkhouse near Barmouth], along the length of the Rhinog hills to North of Harlech, taking from 8 am to 8 pm. This was followed by sailing the IVC Falcon off Barmouth on Sunday – capsizing it twice.
At a regular Saturday Night In (SIN) in the IVC premises there was to be a film show of IVC events and how to run a ramble. (The September Bulletin apologised saying that the films were not shown as the projectionist was in hospital).
A list of new members was published – 8 who joined in July and 7 in August. [This was after being approved at new members’ coffee parties in a committee member’s flat].
Regular events re-started after the summer break (Bridge, linguists, table tennis, badminton, music, chess).
A report on the IVC Farmhouse weekend that included the annual barbeque on Talybont beach. This included a description of collecting wood for the fire. There were the names of the 7 women and 2 men who swam in the rough sea with the comment “note well the proportion of the fair, weak, sex, to the strong brave, and adventurous sex”. The sight of the bathers changing in the pouring rain caused “many gentlemen to forget their misery”.
A member was organising a car treasure hunt, proceeds in aid of handicapped children.
P.R.W. [Peter Wickings – who I remember as a prominent member and prolific writer in the 1970’s] wrote a two page humorous story about carrying a block of ice home from the fishmongers after his fridge broke down.
There was a poem with 12 short verses written phonetically in a Birmingham accent.
The first three verses were:
When cums a brake At Easta so At toims like these
Frum werk we take And Whitsun go We scairslee plees
Owerselves awhey We then 2 Wails Ower oan try frends
To wudlands gay Wair flail yet gails Hoos way then trends
In Taffydum The Dails among 2 Taffydum
A weekend in a Grassmere hotel was planned for October. Because of the length of the drive [before the M6 was completed] a coach had been hired. All-in cost £4.00 [about £70 in today’s money].
The lead item was a report on the much awaited decision by Birmingham Corporation on IVCs planning application for change of use of 71 Broad Street
– they turned it down, without explanation.
The AGM was to include an item on the much discussed age limit – with a proposal to limit ordinary membership to people under 45. The Chairman wrote that he was amazed that, with a membership of 400 professional people, IVC has few people volunteering for committee positions without being approached first.
A whole page was taken up by a member who had spent three weeks at the IVC Llwyn-onn Isaf [our bunkhouse near Barmouth – see www.johnpitcock.com/Farmhouse]. She wrote that most people only went at weekends and urged IVC to encourage people to go during the week.
A lengthy report on the car treasure hunt said that many clues were like those in a Times crossword.
Swimming lessons in the private pool at Moseley baths are arranged on Wednesday nights. Cost 2/6.
The music club programme included: a complete recording of The Magic Flute one week; a talk on Early and late Schubert; and (as a break from tradition), an evening of light music (to include music from shows and Gilbert and Sullivan); an evening of jazz records was expected to be a sell-out. [Music club was held in IVC’s premises]
A member who had earlier promoted sky-diving at the newly opened sky-diving school at Halfpenny Green (first jump £10 subsequent ones £2) wrote about his surprise that only one member had responded. He said it was more common than golf in America and cheaper than golf here. [In today’s money: multiply figures by 17]
Finally a notice that non members would pay an extra 1/- at all future IVC events.
The newly elected chairman said thank you to the members for electing him – an Irishman who had been in IVC only one year and had never chaired a meeting.
The names were listed of 16 people who were accepted as members in October.
A report on the Lakes weekend said that the coach, which left Birmingham at 6.30 on Friday evening, had a broken fan-belt. The driver couldn’t find one in Warrington or Wigan so continued with little lighting – arriving at Grassmere at 1.30 am. There were walks of different difficulty, utilising the coach. One pub refused admission after the walk. After closing time at the second one they walked back to the hotel – where “ a small coffee table collapsed beneath one of our older members”. The replacement fan-belt failed so the return was also in darkness.
Another one page short story by P.R.W. was printed. He also confessed it was he who broke the coffee table.
The Bulletin for December 1965 is missing from the archive.
So there is this instead
Reports to, and minutes of, 1965 AGM
Here are extracts of the 10 written reports.
The Secretary’s report listed the attendance at committee meetings
– 18 people had been to 5 or more.
The Treasurer reported a surplus of £315 (= £5,000 today) and total funds of £2667 (£45,000 today). Funds were deliberately built up to fund a move to new premises.
The audited accounts were to the nearest old penny.
The Farmhouse [our Welsh bunkhouse] had its own accounts showing £129 surplus.
The Membership Secretary reported:
Male Female Total
Category A 106 67 173
Category B 62 113 175
Category C 6 35 41
Total 180 215 389
Category A = Graduates
Category B = College and other professional training
Category C = Others
The committee were trying to balance the sex ratio by being more severe with the selection criteria for non-graduate women. Nine applicants had been rejected.
[The sex ratio was 55/65. In 1969 it reached 60/40. In 2015 is almost 60/40 again].
The office manager reported on the servicing of our Gestetner duplicator [on which the Bulletin was printed].
A long report by the Premises Manager detailed the efforts to obtain new premises. The criteria were: 600 – 1000 sq ft, own front door, toilets, mini-kitchen, a large room.
The Activities Secretary reported on the successful weekends, including the annual New Years Weekend (then regularly in Fairborne).
The Dance Organiser reported that the hops [dances] with bands attracted more people: but the extra costs meant that they made a loss.
The Publicity Officer reported that the main publicity was to encourage more to come to the hops by leafleting local businesses, colleges and sports clubs.
The Farmhouse Warden reported the signing of a five year lease.
The Bulletin Editor said that almost the only topic to prompt letters was the age limit: on which there were several pages of letters.
At the AGM
[chaired by David Roy who became Birmingham Lord Mayor in 1995].
A motion to introduce an upper age limit of 45 was rejected: 36 for, 42 against.
[The average age is now 60]
There had to be two votes for committee positions: there were two nominations for Activities Secretary, and seven for the four ordinary committee member positions.
John Pitcock Archivist