Clubs and Organisations - Hartley-Kent: The Website for Hartley

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Clubs and Organisations

Hartley and District Amateur Players
They seemed to have morphed into the Hartley Players in 1926, who are still going strong.   Productions included "Out of Frying Pan" (1925), "The Young Person in Pink" (1925).  The last production before they  became the Hartley Players, was "Playgoers" in 1926.
Hartley and District Band
The brass band was founded by Tom F Tate in November 1923.  From the beginning the band included a nucleus of experienced players, together with enthusiastic amateurs.  A public meeting at the old schoolroom launched it on November 13th 1923, and 25 immediately joined from Hartley and the surrounding villages; uniforms were donated by Mr Cuff.  Its first concert was a section of hymns in Hartley in March 1924.  On July 27th of that year the band was present at the unveiling of the Longfield war memorial.  By 1929, membership was 19 and they had raised the £320 to pay off the loan on their instruments.  The band had many ups and downs, but played an important part in the social life of the district until its dissolution on 31 January 1935.  Frank Tate, the last Secretary said the last AGM of 20 November 1934 made that decision because of a lack of interest by members and a falling off of demand for its services. (Hartley Parish Magazine Dec 1924, Jun 1929, Mar 1935).
Cine Club
Refounded in January 1970 with Mrs Goodwin of Ash as its secretary.  Its films of Hartley in the 1960s are a precious, if fragile, historical resource.
Literary and Debating Society
Founded in 1931, it rapidly expanded to boast 64 members.  The Parish Magazine has many entertaining reports by the club's secretary Gomer Davies.  In March 1933 he wrote "anyone who is dissatisfied can have their money returned in full..... All meetings are free"!

Their debates were a mixture of the serious and light hearted.  One interesting debate occurred in 1934 on the motion of "Lack of faith in the League of Nations and the need for armaments for defence".  Miss Barker spoke for and Miss Chisholm against, and when a vote was taken it was tied 25 each.  Quite a different result from the contemporaneous League of Nations Union poll (Parish Magazine Dec 1934).  At the previous meeting there was a unanimous vote against facism, while earlier a speaker who "gave a sympathetic view of Russia... found but one comrade." (Parish Magazine Dec 1931)
League of Nations Union
Nationally the League of Nations Union began in 1918, and it became one of the biggest peace organisations the country has ever known. Hartley had an active branch which was founded in 1929, numbering 70 in 1931 and 75 in 1936. In November 1934 they organised an all parish poll on the aims of the Union which was answered by around a third of the adult population. It shows the vast majority did not want a repeat of the first world war, however the Debating Society vote was much closer. (Parish Magazine Mar 1935).

Hartley Kent: League of Nations Union 1931

1934 League of Nations Poll

For the League of Nations2236
For all round disarmament20918
For abolition of naval and military aircraft18734
For abolition of private manufacturers of arms21113
For economic sanctions20214
For military sanctions13352
Left Book Club
The Left Book Club was founded nationally by publisher Victor Gollancz in 1936.  It supplied a book of the month for 2s 6d, as its title suggests the books were socialist orientated.  Hartley had one of the 1,500 Left Discussion Groups by 1939, which continued into the war.  For example in February 1940 they held a discussion on "Federal Union" - a subject of interest to all parties, Winston Churchill was to offer such a scheme for France and the UK only a few months later.  (Dartford Chronicle 5.5.1939, 1.3.1940).
Musical Society
In existence by 1924 and probably before (Parish Magazine March 1924).  It was led by its conductors, first T F Tate (to 1925) and then W H Chisholm.
Naturalist Club (1944-????)
Founded by Rev Henderson in May 1944 at the suggestion of Mrs J Gates of Fairby Lane, the club's first secretary, he wrote in the September 1957 parish magazine it was threatened with closure if help couldn't found.  The last mention I have found is in October 1958.
Old Time Dance Club (1955-1976)
Founded by William and Margaret Venus of Hamilton, Church Road, in 1955.  The club closed on 11 June 1976 (Hart, June 1976; obituary of Mr Venus in May 1975 Hart)
Rabbit Club (1945-1947)
A short lived club from 1945-1947, no doubt encouraged by wartime food shortages.  Mrs Gates was chairman, and Mrs Withers the secretary. (Dartford Reporter 28.4.1945, 8.3.1947)
Refugee Association (1939-1943)
Although shortlived, this association played a vital role in saving two children from tyranny.  They helped a mother and two sons who had been forced to flee from Austria.  She had a Jewish grandmother and for that reason her husband disowned her and their children, and for her to flee.

The association began when Leslie Gates and his wife, who owned a smallholding in Fairby Lane, offered a home for the elder son.  With the help of their friends they organised a meeting on 27 February 1939 to set up the association and get pledges of money.  The arguments of the opponents would be familiar today, but there were sufficient people of goodwill to raise the large sum of £80.  Shortly after his 13 year old younger brother arrived to stay in Hartley.  He stayed in Hartley until he completed his education at Dartford Grammar School in 1941.  He then got a job at Mr Gates's insurance company (Kent Messenger 19.6.1942), but in 1945 became an interpreter at the Neuremburg trials.  He later emigrated to Canada where he became a university professor.

For the full story see "The Hartley Refugee Association" The Hart Oct, Nov, Dec 1975 (in Hartley Library)
Hartley and Ash Rural Preservation Society (1963-1967)
This organisation campaigned against the decision to grant planning permission for New Ash Green in 1963.  They put up a valiant effort, and their correspondence fills more than one suitcase.  The association was wound up in 1967 on the day the first people moved into New Ash Green.
Social Centre (1946-1955)
Reverend Henderson in the Parish Magazine of May 1955 recorded the end of this club: "After 9 years of very happy associations the Social Centre has clolsed down. When we founded the Centre after the war in 1946 there seemed a real need for it in the village, and its programmes of music, films, travel and career talks, debates and quizzes received enthusiastic support. More recently with increased facilities, television and other interests numbers dropped, and it became obvious to the officers and committee that the centre could not continue. The balance in hand of £35 has been divided between other organisations in the village. As President, may I take the opportunity of recording my thanks to to officers, committee members and supporters for all the help they gave us on those Tuesday evenings at 8."
Tufty Club
I remember this club a bit, and the old kerb drill ("look right, look left, look right again, if all clear, quick march!!").  As I recall you got a stamp each week on a card which when full could be exchanged for a "Bar Six" chocolate bar.  Tufty was the red squirrel that led the animated public safety films from the 1950s.  Tufty Clubs were started in 1961, but it was not until 1966 that Hartley got one of their own.  It was a great success the first meeting was vastly oversubscribed, and by 1968 as many as 120 children were attending each meeting (Gravesend Reporter 27.9.68).  It switched from the Kerb Drill to the Green Cross Code in 1971.  Once numbering 25,000 Tufty clubs faded out nationally in the 1980s (Hart Mar 1970, Jul 1971, Feb 1972).
Village Fete (1960-2001)
The village fete began as the All Saints' Fete, but the church gave the event to the village in 1963.  Its format was that a public meeting each year would decide where the money was to go.  Those proposing the fete would be expected to form the bulk of the committee, although some stalwarts were prepared to serve year after year whichever charity was chosen.  The venue has been variously Hartley Primary School, the Country Club and Manor Field.  It was more than just a fete, as there were many other events associated with it.  For example in 1984 there was a Flower Show, Talk, Concerts, Dancing Displays, a Fashion Show and a Sponsored Walk.  Sadly the 2002 fete was the last one.  For many years after 2001 the Arthritis Research Council have run an annual "Jazz Picnic" fete and this appears to have meant the end for the village fete.

In 1968 the Mote House Cup was inaugurated for the best dressed stall, the current holders are the Round Ash Pre-School.

YearBeneficiaryAmount Raised
1965St Giles Centre, Camberwell280
1966British Leoprosy Association460
1967Shenstone Training Centre for the Mentally Handicapped at Crayford600
1968Mote House Cheshire Home
1969All Saints' Church Hall673
1970Amenities Fund for Old Downs Home
1971Helen Allison School, Gravesend (50%); Hartley Mentally Handicapped Club (50%)491
1972WI Hall Rebuilding Fund (80%); HCA Welfare Fund (20%)
1973NSPCC Centenary Fund (80%); HCA Welfare Fund (20%) 2500
1974Helping Hand Organisation (80%); HCA Welfare Fund (20%)
1975Boys Town (80%); HCA Welfare Fund (20%)635
1976Childrens' Country Holiday Fund (40%); Rivendell Battered Wives Hostel, Gravesend (40%); HCA Welfare Fund (20%) 1113
1977Home Farm Trust (80%); HCA Welfare Fund (20%)
1978Multiple Sclerosis (50%); Old Downs (50%)2000
1979British Sailors' Society (37.5%); RNIB (37.5%); HCA Welfare Fund (25%)756
1980St Joseph's Hospice (37.5%); Leukaemia Research (37.5%); HCA Welfare Fund (25%)
1981Helen Allison School; Dr Barnados; HCA Welfare Fund
1982Survive Landrover Ambulance in Gambia (40%); Gravesend Hospital Premature Babies Unit (40%); HCA Welfare Fund (20%)2500
1983Southdown Holiday Home; ACROSS; Handicapped Children's Pilgrimage Trust; HCA Welfare Fund1381
1984NSPCC (75%); HCA Welfare Fund (25%)2500
1985No Fete
1986Home Farm Trust (£1,300); Cancer Research Campaign (£1,300); Old People's Welfare Fund (£500)
1987Ellenor Foundation: Old People's Welfare Fund
1988Trees for the Future (80%); Old People's Welfare Fund (20%)2200
1989Great Ormond Street Hospital (£910); Children's Society (£910); RSPB (£910); Old People's Welfare Fund (£600)3300
1991British Heart Foundation (£3,850); Old Lunch (£650)4500
1992Manor Field
1993OAP Lunch (£650); Ellenor Foundation (60% of rest); Lions' Hospice (40% of rest)
1994Scouts HQ Rebuild4000
1995Round Ash Playgroup7000
1996Arthritis and Rheumatism Council
1997Hartley Primary School PTA10000
1998Hartley Primary School PTA
1999All Saints' Church Hall5000
2000Youth Organisations.  Scouts divided it as follows: Longfield and Hartley Scouts £7,401; 2nd and 3rd Hartley Brownies (£200 each); Mothers and Toddlers Group (£200); Round Ash Pre-school (£200); Speedwell Venture Unit (£200); Katch and All Saints' Sunday Club (£100 each); 2nd Hartley Guides (£100); De Sales United FC (£100)8801
2001Wellfield and Hartley Community Association1455
2002Age Concern4585
2003No fete but Demelza House was chosen as charity
Youth Club (???? - 1971)
HCA Youth Club (1976 - 1980)
A Youth Club existed as early as 1935 (Dartford Chronicle 8.3.1935).

The Youth Club started an annual lunch for the elderly in 1961. When the Club was disbanded the village fete took over financing the lunch (Hart March 1976). The Hartley Churches Association reformed the club in 1976 which met on Fridays, but poor support led to its closure in 1980.

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