The History of Richmond Badminton Club
The Richmond (Yorks.) Badminton Club was formed on 18th. November 1949 with its first General Meeting at the Turf Hotel. The club was initially limited to 20 members only who played in the Market Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings each week which was hired at a cost of 6 shillings per night. The annual subscription to join the club was set at £1 per annum. The officers of the club elected at that first meeting were :
Chairman : R. T. Cubberley
Secretary : Mrs. J. Dennis
Treasurer : Mrs. L. Richardson
Committee : Mrs. D. Thornton
Capt. H. Logan
The Club first considered joining a competitive League in 1950 when it was represented at a meeting in Reeth that had been called for the purpose of forming a Swaledale Badminton League, but at that stage the Club decided not to join as its future was uncertain.
In its first few years, the Club continued to play in the Market Hall but in February 1951 a Special General Meeting of the Club was called to “discuss what action should be taken regarding the removal of the festooning placed in the roof space of the Market Hall by persons running a roller skating enterprise on four evenings of the week”. The Town Council was to be formally requested to “give the matter serious consideration in the hope that it would induce the roller skating community to remove the festooning, and to allow badminton to continue”. It was subsequently reported in the Club’s minutes that the Town Council had not responded to this request and therefore the Club decided to move to a new venue – the Gymnasium at the former Richmond Grammar School – with effect from 10th. October 1951.
This was not ideal, however, as by the middle of November a special meeting of the Club’s Committee was called to consider how to improve the lighting in the Gymnasium. It was agreed that a sum of up to £5 should be authorised for the purchase of either 2 or 4 additional lights with reflectors from Thompson’s Electricians of Newbiggin which would be fitted to stands at each end of the net.
In December 1951, and “after lengthy discussion”, the Club agreed to set up a sub-committee to arrange friendly match fixtures in response to approaches from the Catholic Social Club and from Elm Ridge Badminton Club in Darlington, but it was to be strictly limited to only 1 home game per month.
The familiar theme of the cost of hiring playing facilities was the main subject of the debate at the Annual General Meeting in September 1952. The Grammar School had proposed an increase from 6 shillings to 2 pounds. The Club decided that this “would be out of the question”, but was prepared to consider paying 11 shillings and sixpence per week with the subscription fee for the forthcoming season to be increased to £2 and 10 shillings. Unfortunately the School were insistent that the club would have to pay £2 per night to use the Gymnasium, so by November 1952 this had resulted in the urgent need to find a new venue at which to play. Fortunately, the Army came to the rescue with an offer to use the gym at the Green Howards Barracks for which no charge would be made, but the Club did agree at the Annual General Meeting in 1953 to make an annual contribution of £10 to Army Funds. This change in venue had also enabled the membership subscription for the club to be reduced to 30 shillings, but there was a maximum limit of 25 members.
In 1953/54 there was a little more interest in playing competitive badminton with friendly fixtures being arranged against Elm Ridge, Scorton, St. Cuthbert’s, and Catterick Modern School (mixed); Scorton (ladies); and RAF Catterick (mens). By 1955 the Club was considering taking the step of joining the newly formed “Richmond & District Badminton League” at a cost of 10 shillings and sixpence. The Club’s minutes do not record whether this came to fruition, but in 1957 it was noted that a match fee of 1 shilling and sixpence should be levied to cover the cost of transport and shuttlecocks.
It seems that the Club’s finances were going from strength to strength at this time, such that by 1958 it was agreed at the Annual General Meeting that the subscription should be reduced to £1 per year due to there being a very healthy balance in the accounts of £19 nineteen shillings and five pence.
At the Annual General Meeting in September 1961 the main topic was again where the Club would play as the Green Howards Barracks were being taken over by North Yorkshire County Council for use as an Approved School. The possibilities of returning to either the Market Hall or Richmond Grammar School were considered, but in fact the club was able to remain at the newly re-named Richmond Hill School for a few more years, although by 1966 it had moved to St. Francis Xavier School on Darlington Road. For the 1966/7 season the membership fees were set at £2, but it was decided to use plastic shuttles to reduce costs.
The main subject of discussion at the 1967 Annual General Meeting seems to have been a number of new “rules” that had been introduced by the Committee. It was confirmed that the membership of the club had been closed at its present level and that there could be no more than 6 junior members who would have to stop playing at 9.00 p.m. unless there were few senior members present. Restrictions were also imposed on any additional temporary or “visitor” members. However, by the following year the time limit on junior members had been rescinded.
In February 1969 a Special General Meeting of the Club was held to consider the possibility of joining the Darlington Badminton League for the 1969/70 season, but the rising cost of hiring the hall at St. Francis Xavier School together with the need to use feather shuttles meant that the Club was unable to commit to this until possible ways of increasing income or reducing costs could be explored. At the Annual General Meeting in April, it was finally agreed (but only as a result of a majority vote) to make application for entry into the Darlington League ‘C’ Division. It was also agreed that feather shuttles would now be used for league matches, but that plastic shuttles would continue to be used for friendly matches. Any feather shuttles left over from matches would be used up on club nights. Additional funds for the club would be raised by increasing the membership subscription to £1 and ten shillings plus an additional “pay as you play” fee of one shilling and sixpence per evening. Match fees were increased to two shillings and sixpence. The Club had also reached agreement with St. Francis Xavier School for use of the tennis courts and it was agreed that an additional annual fee of £2 should be paid by those members who also wished to play tennis. However, it was recorded that in future, any new member of the club would have to be formally proposed and seconded to the Committee by two existing members.
Even with the agreed increases in subscriptions and match fees the club’s financial position had worsened by the Annual General Meeting in 1970 when it was recorded that the club’s bank account was overdrawn by £5 seven shillings and ninepence. It was agreed that the membership fee should be increased to £2 per season and that other possible measures to raise money should be investigated. The financial position of the club remained in a poor state over the next year and although it was reported at the 1971 AGM that there was a small surplus of £3.78p in the club’s account, it was noted that this was only due to income from a coffee evening in December, without which the club would not have been able to continue after Christmas. Despite this, it was agreed not to raise the subscription fee for the forthcoming year, although the nightly fee would be raised to 10p per evening. In true British fashion, it was also resolved at that AGM that the school caretaker should be asked whether he would consider making a pot of tea half way through the evening for those playing badminton !
Gillian Metcalfe, who was to serve the Club over the next twelve years was elected as Secretary in 1970.
The minutes of the Annual General Meeting in September 1972 refer to “a lengthy and somewhat heated discussion on the suggestion that we should enter a second team in the league”. It took a majority vote to decide in favour of this on the grounds that it would give more members the opportunity to play competitive badminton. This was not the only controversial topic of discussion at that meeting as there were clearly two schools of thought as to whether coaching should be provided for inexperienced players. One suggestion recorded was that such people should join night school classes to learn how to play and be coached. However it was agreed instead that “an umpire should be used for all club games to give everyone the chance to learn how to umpire matches, but that a maximum of 10 minutes should be allowed for each game to be played”.
By 1974 the club had moved to RAF Catterick where it was able to use the gymnasium there for a small annual donation of £20 but increasing shuttle costs and Yorkshire County Fees meant that subscriptions had to be raised to £3 per person for the season. The Mixed A Team had finished top of the Darlington League ‘C’ Division that year and the club had also entered a mens team into the Darlington League for the first time. However, by 1976 the mens team had been withdrawn in favour of a third mixed team, although the mens team was re-instated in 1977.
The late 1970’s and early 1980’s saw an increase in the social activities of the club. Floats were entered in the Richmond Meet Whit Monday Parade in 1978 and 1979 and a club trip to Witton Castle was organised for 7th. July, 1978. Badminton club disco’s took place between 1979 and 1981 with other events including an indoor sports evening and a summer outdoor badminton tournament. A separate Social Committee was first elected in 1977 and this was supplemented by a Float Committee for 1980.
The 1979 season saw success for the Mixed ‘C’ Team which was promoted to the ‘C’ Division of the Darlington League and in 1980 it was agreed that a fourth mixed team should be entered into the League with a ladies team added in 1981. The Club also had its first success in the Darlington Badminton League’s “Oddfellows Shield” in 1981 which had been won by Bridget Tomlinson and Malcolm Platt.
After a more stable financial period during the 1970’s, the Club was in difficulties again in 1982 having to find sufficient funds to meet an unpaid bill of £397 for shuttles. Accordingly, subscription fees were fixed at £12 for the following season (an increase of £5 from the previous year). There was a maximum limit of 55 imposed on the number of members for that year.
Things then went from bad to worse in October 1982 when the Club was notified that new charging arrangements were to be put in place for use of the gymnasium at RAF Catterick. The Club would have to find up to £830 rental per year (paid in advance) for use of the facility. An Extraordinary General Meeting agreed that the club should discontinue play during the summer to reduce this cost and also to increase match fees to £1. A fund-raising disco was arranged at the Catterick Bridge Hotel and this managed to raise £212 helping to keep the club afloat at this difficult time.
In the face of the increasing cost of hiring the gymnasium at RAF Catterick and the deteriorating quality of the floor covering, the club decided in 1983 to look into the possibility of again hiring the Richmond Hill School Gymnasium.
During the early 1980’s the Club was still entering six teams in the Darlington League (4 mixed; 1 mens; 1 ladies), but the minutes of the Annual General Meetings at that time record some disquiet in the fact that team members were not attending club nights on a regular basis to support the club and assist with the improvement of other players. This culminated in a proposal from the Chairman and Committee to the Annual General Meeting in May 1985 that the mens team; the ladies team, and one of the mixed teams should be withdrawn from the league in the interests of the general welfare of the club as a whole, but this was not carried. Ironically, in the following season five out of the six teams from the club were relegated from their respective divisions in the Darlington League – the only exception being the ladies team.
Towards the end of the 1980’s there were signs of a reduction in the popularity of badminton with the membership down to 25 seniors and 6 juniors by 1987. It was also noted that nearly a third of the membership had changed over the previous year and consequently it was agreed that the Mixed ‘D’ Team should be withdrawn from the League. The mens team was also withdrawn from the League in 1988 followed by the ladies team in 1989 in the face of a continuing decline in the number of playing members at the club. Nevertheless, the club was still able to support the use of both RAF Catterick and St. Francis Xavier School in Richmond for matches and club nights although the costs of this were becoming increasingly difficult to bear.
In 1987 Peter Featherstone was elected as Secretary of the Club and he continued in this role until stepping down in 2008. Helen Mudd another dedicated member of the club was appointed as Treasurer in 1980 – a post she was to continue to fill for the next seven years. Helen succeeded Wynrae Mascall who had been Treasurer of the club for the previous eight years.
At the beginning of the 1990’s the Club was still able to field 3 mixed teams and 1 mens team in the Darlington League. At that time the Mixed A Team was playing in the ‘C’ Division of the League, with the ‘B’ and ‘C’ Teams competing in the ‘E’ and ‘F’ Divisions respectively. The Mens Team was playing in the Mens ‘B’ Division. The 1989/90 season saw the Mixed B Team win promotion, but unfortunately this was followed by relegation again at the end of the following season.
The 1991 season saw an important administrative change for badminton with the introduction of a new national affiliation scheme for all players at an initial cost of £5 which was having to be met from club funds. Accordingly, the subscription fees were increased to £24 from that year.
The Club continued to play at RAF Catterick at the beginning of the 1990’s, paying a fee of £600 for the 1991/92 badminton season (September – April) but by September 1992 a Special General Meeting was called to decide what the club should do in the light of a policy decision by RAF Catterick to exclude future public use of their facilities on security grounds which meant that alternative arrangements would need to be put in place at very short notice for the forthcoming season. From the limited options available, it was agreed that the club should relocate to Richmond School.
This was a very different location to RAF Catterick, but it seemed to have been a mixed blessing as by the end of the following season, there had been an increase in membership attributable to the club now being based in Richmond. On the court, the Mixed B Team had won promotion from the ‘F’ Division of the Darlington League. Financially, whilst the club still had cash in hand, this was steadily being eaten away by increasing costs and therefore it was decided to increase subscriptions to £30 for the following season. For 1993/94 it was agreed to enter an additional mixed team into the Teesdale League but this was discontinued after only one year.
Social events organised by the club continued in the 1990’s including Christmas meals, walks in Swaledale, ten pin bowling, golf picnics and a car treasure hunt.
The Annual General Meeting in 1994 saw the club on a firm financial footing and although represented by three mixed teams in the Darlington League, relegation of the Mixed A Team to the ‘D’ Division with the B and C Teams competing in the ‘E’ and ‘F’ Divisions, saw the club at one of its lowest competitive levels for some time, but that was about to change over the next few years.
The Mixed A Team regained its position in the Darlington League ‘C’ Division at the end of the 1994/95 season after winning the ‘D’ Division trophy, but at the same time the Mixed B Team was relegated to join the Mixed C Team in the ‘F’ Division.
In addition to holding club nights and matches at Richmond School, the newly opened Scorton Sports Hall was used by the club from 1995 for a short time for additional club nights and for summer badminton which had not been a regular part of the club’s activities since it was previously discontinued as a cost cutting measure in 1982.
In 1995/96 the Mixed B Team won promotion to the ‘D’ Division of the Darlington League, but this was again followed by relegation at the end of the following year. At the beginning of that season the number of divisions in the league had been reduced from 6 to 5 in the light of the reduced number of clubs and teams. During the season, control over the hire of the Richmond School Sports Hall had passed from the school itself to the District Council with a significant increase in the hire of the courts, but this had not been matched by any improvement in the quality of the venue or its facilities. At the end of the 1997/98 season the club reluctantly agreed to again move “home” – this time to Risedale School at Catterick Garrison – where better facilities were available at a slightly reduced cost, although there was some disappointment at again leaving Richmond as the spiritual home of the club.
The Club had its first success in winning the Darlington League Higher Divisions Handicap Trophy in 1998 and in the same year was runner-up to Glaxo in the Lower Divisions Handicap Trophy. However, in the light of reducing membership numbers it was decided to finally withdraw the Mixed C Team from the Darlington League at the end of the 1997/98 season, leaving only two competitive mixed teams representing the club at that point.
Despite an increase in club membership fees from £35 to £40 in 1998, the club’s finances were still not especially healthy by the Annual General Meeting in 1999 due to a continuing reduction in income from fewer members coupled with increased costs of hall hire and shuttles. The move to Risedale School from Richmond had coincided with a reduction in the membership of the club – particularly amongst younger members and juniors.
The Mixed A Team continued with its steady improvement in the Darlington League by gaining promotion to the ‘B’ Division at the end of the 1998/99 season. In that same year, the Mixed B Team improved upon the previous year by defeating Civil Service to win the Lower Divisions Handicap Trophy for the first time. In the following year the Mixed A Team continued its progress by securing promotion to the ‘A’ Division of the Darlington League for the first time in the club’s history as runners-up to Ferryhill as well as being losing finalists in the Higher Divisions Handicap Trophy.
In 2000 Moira Gibson and Paul Walsh represented the club in winning the Darlington League’s Oddfellows Shield – some 18 years after it had previously been won by members of the club.
For the 2000/2001 season the club again entered a mens team into the re-established Mens Division of the Darlington League which was now playing to a new format that had been proposed by Richmond Badminton Club whereby each team was made up of 4 rather than 6 players. The team had finished in mid-table. The Mixed B Team had eventually achieved its aim of gaining promotion to the Darlington League ‘C’ Division and had again won the Lower Divisions Handicap Trophy.
Even though the Club had only 18 full members at the Annual General Meeting in 2001, it was decided to enter a ladies team and a second mens team into the Darlington League. The Ladies League was being newly reformed for the first time in many years following the same new format as the Mens League. Mens and Ladies matches were being played at Brompton on Swale Community Sports Hall and this was also now being used for summer club badminton. In its first season (2001/02), Richmond Ladies finished as runners-up whilst the Mens A Team won the Mens League. The Mixed A Team had again won the Higher Divisions Handicap Trophy with the Mixed B Team finishing as runners-up in the final of the Lower Divisions Handicap Trophy.
A reduction in membership of the club had had some effects on income to the club by 2003, although the club’s finances remained generally healthy. Subscriptions and match fees, which had been raised to £50 and £3 respectively in 2001, remained unchanged. The shortage of players had had some effect on the court and the Mixed B Team was relegated from the Darlington League ‘C’ Division at the end of that season. By this time the Darlington League had shrunk to four mixed divisions. However, the Mens A Team and the Ladies Team had both finished as runners-up in their respective competitions. The end of the 2003 season saw the retirement of Malcolm Platt from the club on health grounds. He had been a member of the club for 34 years and had fulfilled the role of Chairman for the last 14 years. Malcolm was made an Honorary Life Member of the Club in recognition of his achievements on the court and service to the club in general.
The beginning of the 2003/04 season saw yet another change in venue for the club, moving its club nights from Risedale School to the Colburn Sports and Leisure Centre in the face of rising costs which, with a number of other factors, had been a steady drain on the club’s funds. The club was still playing all of its matches at Risedale School but had now stopped playing regularly at Brompton on Swale. The Club stayed at Colburn for two seasons and then moved to its current home at Marne Barracks, Catterick (formerly RAF Catterick) where the new Sports Hall there provides a very good – if occasionally unreliable – facility for club nights. After initially continuing with matches at Risedale School and Marne Barracks during 2005 and 2006, all of the club’s competitive games are now played in the new St Francis Xavier School Sports Hall where the club has also been operating a very successful junior coaching facility over the last 2 years, thanks to the dedication and commitment of a small group of volunteers within the club who willingly give their time each week to this investment in the future of the club. This is already producing dividends with junior coaching members “graduating” to the main club and being chosen to represent the club in matches.
In recent years, the teams and players have continued to bring success to the club. The Mixed B Team again won the Lower Divisions Handicap Trophy in 2003/04 and in 2004/05 won promotion from the ‘D’ Division of the Darlington League losing only one game over the whole season. That same year, the Mens A Team won the Mens A Division with a 100% record – finishing an impressive 19 points ahead of their nearest rivals.
This success on the court culminated in the Mixed A Team winning the Darlington ‘A’ Division League title in the 2005/06 season for the first time ever in the club’s history. The Mens A Team retained the Mens A Division Trophy during that season, providing a very creditable “double” for the club. Further individual success had come through the victories of Helen Mudd and Simon Bamber in the Darlington League Oddfellows Shield and through Erica Blamire and Brian Smith in the final of the League’s Willie Dodds Handicap Trophy.
In 2006/07 the Mixed A Team had been able to finish as runners-up in the Darlington League whilst the Mixed B Team had won promotion to the ‘B’ Division as champions of the ‘C’ Division for the first time. The Mens A Team had competed a “hat-trick” by winning the Mens A Division for the third successive year. Helen Mudd and Simon Bamber had not only retained the Oddfellows Trophy for the second year, but had also been successful in winning the Darlington League’s Mixed Doubles Tournament with Simon winning the League’s Mens Singles Tournament in the same season.
For now, the future of Richmond Badminton Club appears to be sound and the success of the club and its players on the courts in recent seasons has been unprecedented. It seems that competitive badminton such as this was far from the minds of the eleven people who met in the Turf Hotel to form the club some 58 years ago. With the club approaching its 60th. Anniversary in November 2009, it is interesting to look back through this short history at the differing priorities, issues and attitudes that reflect some of the many changes in society itself over that time. It is interesting to see how throughout this time there are the usual recurring themes of the cost of court hire, the cost of shuttles, maintaining a regular venue and maintaining a viable membership. However we must surely thank those members of the club for organising the all-important coffee evening in 1971 without which the club may not be in existence today.
Any club such as this is entirely dependant upon the commitment of all those people over the years who have given their time and effort to make it happen. They are truly too many to mention, but most are recorded for posterity in the club’s records. However, it seems that this club has had more than its fair share of truly dedicated individuals who have contributed in so many different ways over the years. Fortunately, the club still appears to be blessed with a number of similar people who will undoubtedly look after it into the future and hopefully well beyond its 60th. Anniversary.
Note : This history of Richmond Badminton Club has been compiled entirely from the minute books which record the Annual General Meetings and other meetings of the Club and its Committee over the years.
Appendix : Officers of Richmond (Yorks.) Badminton Club 1949 – 2008
Mr. R. T. Cubberley (1949 – 1954)Mr. H. D. Evans (1954 – 1957)Mr. Stidwell (1957 – 1958)Mr. R. Wilkin (1958 – 1959)Mr. J. Mitchell (1959 – 1960)Mr. D. Murfin (1960 – 1961)Mr. J. Spence (1961 – 1966)Mr. D. Bradshaw (1966 – 1969)Peter Brown (1969 – 1976)Basil Brown (1976 – 1983)Derek Snaith (1983 – 1988)Vacant (1988 – 1989)Malcolm Platt (1989 – 2003)Dave Treweek (2003 –
Mrs. J. Dennis (1949 – 1952)Mr. S. Jackson (1952 – 1954)Mr. B. Corbally (1954 – 1957)Miss M. Dinsdale (1957 – 1959)Mr. D. Oakes (1959 – 1960)Mr. G. Hodgson (1960 – 1961)Mr. J. Spence (1961 – 1967)Mrs. J. Woof (1966 – 1968)Mrs. W. O’Brien (1968 – 1969)Mr. J. Pender (1969 – 1970)Gillian Metcalfe (1970 – 1982)Brenda Reid (1982 – 1985)Richard Skinner (1985 – 1987)Peter Featherstone (1987 – 2008)Adam Swalwell (2008 -
Mrs. L. Richardson (1949 – 1952)Mr. H. D. Evans (1952 – 1954)Miss J. Evans (1954 – 1956)Mr. Stidwell (1956 – 1958)Miss Johnson (1958 – 1959)Miss M. Dinsdale (1959 – 1962)Mrs. A. T. Spencer (1962 – 1966)Mr. J. McCollins (1966 – 1969)Mrs. J. Oram (1969 – 1971)Mr. D. Peacock (1971 – 1972)John Morris (1972 – 1976)Sheila Cuthbert (1976 – 1977)Kathryn Terry (1977 – 1982)Wynrae Mascall (1982 – 1990)Helen Mudd (1990 – 1997)Rachel Pavitt (1997 – 2001)Mark Farnell (2001 –