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Looking back on the history of Frome Rotary Club

ASthe club approaches its 90th birthday, members of Frome Rotary Club take a look back on where it all started.

Frome Rotary Club received its Charter on 5th February 1926; amongst its founder members were, a vicar, a bank manager, a coal merchant, a publican, a dentist, a jeweller, a headmaster, a motor mechanic, and an insurance agent.  Much the same make up as members today!

1926 seems such a long time ago and industry in Frome town was completely different.  There were two breweries, two cloth making mills, Butler and Tanners printing works, Singers art metal works and many others.

The inaugural Rotary meeting took place on July 21st 1925 at the George Hotel in Frome which was then a focal point for social activities.  The club set up a welfare committee and soon started its community work in Frome with days out for poor children to pantomimes and outings for the elderly.  The Somerset Standard reported in 1928 of children from Keyford girls home enjoying the show!

Times soon changed with war clouds looming in the sky.  In 1937, the local press announced that £250 was to be spent in Frome on air raid precautions.  A visitor from America, Rotarian JW Armstrong told the club that “big businesses in the USA have the jitters about developments in Europe and we are working feverously to rearm ourselves”.

The Board of Directors of Rotary International issued a document headed “The Wartime Challenge” to all Rotary clubs.  It contained advice on how Rotarians should rise to some of the challenges affecting their lives as a result of war.  It urged Rotarians “use your occupation as an opportunity to serve society”

During the World War Two years Frome Rotary work continued.  The Frrome Club moved to the Portway Hotel.  Food rationing was in for everyone so the normal grumbles about the food probably stopped!  The club followed General Montgomery into the club.  He had set up his HQ in the hotel.  After the war, the club provided the plaque still outside the building today to record the Generals use of the building as part of the war effort.

Petrol rationing was making travelling very difficult.  The Frome club ran a “get you home” service for service men on leave who arrived in Frome at night and were then stuck.  They also helped sort and transport the 3200 evacuees come and go in the town.  This service continued until petrol rationing was lifted long after the end of the war.

There are a number of Archives on the history of Frome Rotary Club currently on display in Frome museum until November 19th,  There will also be more articles to come on this historical clubs past including how they adopted a mine sweeper during the early 1940’s.

To learn more about the club visit www.fromerotary.co.uk or visit them on Facebook.

Margaret Gilmour.

News from Frome Rotary Club

Frome Rotary Club was successful in winning the annual Rotary District Outdoor Bowls Championship cup in September for the second time. 

The Frome team are only in their third year of playing in the competition which has been going since 1924. Their success is particularly sweet as Frome Rotary Club has already started to celebrate their 90th birthday since they were awarded their charter in February 1926.

The Frome Rotary Club is grateful to the members of Frome Selwood Bowling Club for accommodating them in their home matches and in particular, for allowing the final to be played at their club at short notice despite adverse weather conditions.

Town Crier Mike Bishop, who was in full regalia, as was his wife (called his escort) when he recently spoke to Frome Rotary club.

Members were amazed to learn he had made both outfits himself. Eight years ago clearing up some storage he came upon a sewing machine which nobody owned and after tuition from his daughter he was in business!

Mike spoke of the history of town criers, common in Europe for centuries, was brought to England by William the Conqueror in 1066.  The aim was to educate the illiterate population on his proclamation on taking over the throne!

Mike demonstrated his fine (and loud) Town Cry much to the club!