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Our History

Setting the Scene in Banbury 1934

In 1934 Banbury was still very much a market town and livestock market, Industries apart from the traditional ones associated with agriculture, were few and were relative newcomers to the town. The largest was the Northern Aluminium Company later to become known as Alcan Booth Industries, other major companies were Spencer Corsets Ltd and Henry Stone and Sons a furniture making company.  The population of Banbury in 1934 was 14,000 compared with today’s of approximately 48,000.

The Start

In November 1934, Mr. Howard Chapman, a Banbury house furnisher, visited the Oxford Rotary Club and was sufficiently interested to have a talk with several members of their Club Council. As a result, one of the Past Presidents, Rotarian A. M. Eagleston, and their Secretary, Rotarian Fred Holbrow came to Banbury in January 1935.

They told Howard Chapman about the procedure to be adopted if a Rotary Club was to be formed locally. On their advice he approached the then Mayor, Alderman Sidney Ewins and the two of them decided to invite leading members of the Banbury business community to a meeting in order to discuss the idea.

Twenty invitations were sent out to a meeting to be held in Wincott’s Café to meet members of the Oxford Club and two District Officers. Friday, 12th April, was the date set for this meeting. In addition to the Chairman of the District Extension Committee, the District Secretary and the President and four members of the Oxford Club, the following sixteen Banbury men were there:-

Howard Chapman
John Cheney
Theo. Clark
Sidney Ewins
E. Lamley Fisher
Edgar H. Goddard
J. V. H. Gurney
E. J. J. Hedges
Sidney Hilton
Richard S. Lidsey
William Potts
R. H. Prescott
Robert Pursail
E. Owen Reid
R. J. Sheldon
Father A. G. Wall
House Furnisher
Master Printer
Flour Miller
Garage Proprietor
Chartered Accountant
Station Master
Superintendent of Police
Borough Surveyor
Newspaper Proprietor
Hospital House Governor
Town Clerk
Head Postmaster
Roman Catholic Priest

This meeting decided to constitute itself as the Provisional Formation Committee of the Rotary Club of Banbury, and the sixteen members present agreed to become Founder members. On 25th April 1935, a second meeting was held, by which time R. H. Prescott had withdrawn and the Committee had increased by the addition of:-

N. Blinkhorn
J. A. Deacon
A. P. Mc.Dougall
Rev. A. L. E. Williams
Vicar of Banbury

The first meeting of the provisional club was held at the Wincott’s Café in South Bar on Friday 10th May 1935, and the Inaugural lunch was arranged for Friday 24th May at the same venue.

The Club’s Charter was signed and dated on 24th September 1935. Five months had elapsed from the first meeting before the presentation of the charter at a formal dinner that was held at the Banbury Town Hall on 25th October 1935.

First Charter Dinner 1935

Banbury Rotary Club Charter Night October 25th. 1935

This Dinner was attended by 167 people including representatives from 10 other clubs in Rotary District 9 (later to become 109 then 1090) and also Rotarians from Bideford, Coventry, Leamington and Sheffield. There were also lady visitors from Denmark and Switzerland.