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London & Middlesex Rifle Association

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History of the London and Middlesex Rifle Association Clubhouse

The clubhouse of the London and Middlesex Rifle Association is one of the largest and most impressive of the Bisley clubhouses. It was opened in 1908 by the Duke of Bedford, then Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex and President of the London and Middlesex Rifle Association.

It is not precisely clear where and when the Middlesex Rifle Association first came up with the idea to build a clubhouse at Bisley. We have correspondence starting from 17th April 1907 and it was probably during that year that things were first mooted. However, it is clear that there were concerns about their ability to raise the funds and I doubt if the project would have gone ahead without the financial assistance of three London based rifle clubs; the Stock Exchange Rifle Club, the IBIS Rifle Club (this was the club run for the staff of the Prudential Insurance Company) and the HAC (Honourable Artillery Company). Of these the major provider of funding was the Stock Exchange Rifle Club, who provided £2,000 of the required initial funds of £2,500 (£160,000 in today’s money).

The Chairman of the Stock Exchange Rifle Club was Colonel (later Sir, knighted in 1910) RW Inglis V.D. He donated to the Stock Exchange Rifle Club the £2,000 referred to so that they could buy the required debentures, as confirmed in the seventh AGM of the SERC held on 20th January 1909. Col. Inglis had a distinguished military career serving in the Queens Edinburgh Rifle volunteers and London Irish Rifles. However, his great grandfather was a colonel of great military fame and his connection with the Middlesex regiment was probably the reason that Inglis connected himself with the scheme put forward to build a clubhouse for the Middlesex Rifle Association.

In 1930 the tobacco company John Player & Sons issued a set of cigarette cards under the title “Regimental Standards and Cap Badges”. Card number 41 was titled “ 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment” with a resume as follows:-

The facings of the regiment are lemon yellow, and the Regimental Colour is of that shade. In each corner is the late Duke of Cambridge’s cipher and coronet; the regiment is known as the “ Duke of Cambridge’s Own.

Possibly the most famous Battle Honour won by the Middlesex is that of Albuhera on 16th May 1811 where they were almost wiped out. Colonel Inglis, commanding, cheered them on with the words “ Die hard, my men, die hard, hence their nickname of the “ Die-hards. The regiment was originally four battalions strong.

Another web search reveals that his words were “Die hard! Fifty-seventh, Die Hard”. I guess we will never know his exact words but the meaning is clear to all.

The first letter we have about the building scheme was in April 1907 with a letter from a Mr. Freemantle (presumably an NRA committee member) to a Colonel Crosse of the NRA.

The Old House
Swanbourne
Winslow
17.04.1907

My Dear Crosse,

I have had a circular from Middlesex Rifle Association re a proposed new building for which I doubt their getting the money.

No doubt you know all about it. But I want to ask whether one question of general policy connected with this scheme has been considered by the Council or any of our Committees - that of allowing a vast building to be put up in which a large number of rooms are let to separate Regiments or Clubs. It may be alright to allow this, but as far as I know it is a new departure and must complicate the tenure of such bodies and their relations with us and any control of ours as to their doings. I thought we were very particular - as a matter of policy - about the question of subletting, but it seems to me that we may find that we have handed too much over to a rather amorphous Association and let control go too much out of our own hands.

I had supposed the Middlesex Rifle Association wanted a club house for itself and not to sublet to Regiments and Clubs. This part of the scheme is probably for the sake of making money. Would it not be better that we should have accommodation to let to Clubs, if that is a requisite at Bisley.

I write this as possibly I may not see you tomorrow as I am doubtful about getting to the R. Clubs committee.

Yours sincerely,

T. J. Freemantle.

Mr Freemantle did not seem to think they would get the money and he raised an objection about sub-letting. Nothing much seemed to happen about this questions, although it did raise it’s head as a matter of major concern later.

There then followed the first official notification to the NRA about the building scheme. This was to request a site which continued the line of clubhouses beyond the North London. The London and Middlesex is at the junction of Century Way and Club Row. The evidence of old camp plans suggests the Century Way came into being naturally after the building of the new NRA offices.

Letter from Lieutenant J.N. Le Fevre (Hon. Sec. Middlesex Rifle Association) to The Secretary of the National Rifle Association, Bisley Camp

40 Chancery Lane
London WC

30th September, 1907

President
His Grace The Duke of Bedford K.G.
(Lord Lieutenant of the County of Middlesex)

Chairman
Col. Sir H. Bargrave Deane V.D.

Vice Chairman
Major F.J. Brett V.D.

Dear Sir

I beg to inform you that my Council propose to build a clubhouse at Bisley during this winter, and at an Extraordinary General Meeting this scheme was sanctioned by the members conditionally that the necessary funds could be raised.

My Council would therefore be glad if you would please reserve a site between the 200 and 500 yard firing points - continuing the line of the Clubhouses beyond the North London Rifle Club - provisionally until the final decision of the Association is made at the end of October.

The proposed clubhouse will have a frontage of 100 feet and a depth of about 70 feet.

Yours faithfully,

J. N. Le Fevre - Lieut.
Hon. Sec.

Next came the conditions established by the NRA for the provision of the ground. There is no date on this document and we assume it was sometime in late 1907

CONDITIONS OF BUILDING AT BISLEY

  1. Association will let ground on a ground rent.
  2. Tenant will build and maintain in repair a Bungalow. Designs, specifications, estimate, to be approved by Council and adhered to to the satisfaction of Secretary.
  3. Tenant to have occupation for Annual Meeting and in connection with use of ranges at such other times as shall be approved.
  4. Leases granted up to 21 years renewable by arrangement for a fixed period.
  5. Association insure, Tenant repay Association.
  6. Ground rent 1d per square foot of ground on which building stands to be paid together with insurance on or before 30th June each year. A reasonable space of ground adjoining bungalow allowed for, if more is wanted then ½d a square yard.
  7. Tenant will observe all Camp Orders and Regulations.
  8. Association not be liable for damage. If building is damaged by Regular Forces, Association will hand over all they recover.
  9. If Tenant or Assignee wishes to dispose of Bungalow, Association to have right of pre-emption at a price to be agreed on or settled by arbitration, if not Tenant may sell to any person approved by Association. Except as aforesaid, Tenant shall no assign, sublet, or otherwise part with Bungalow.
  10. Should Tenant fail to pay rent and insurance at the time appointed or fail to observe any of the conditions herein before stated Association my determine agreement, resume possession of the land and building.
  11. Association in the event of ceasing to occupy the Camp, may terminate tenancy on three months written notice.

From there onwards things seemed to move quickly. A letter was sent to all members of the Middlesex Rifle Association in an attempt to raise the funds for the building. Note that the amount to be raised was set at £4,500, although it looks as if a smaller amount was actually needed for the eventual building scheme.

Letter sent to all Members of the Middlesex Rifle Association dated 3rd October 1907

Dear Sir,

PROPOSED NEW MIDDLESEX CLUBHOUSE AT BISLEY

I beg to inform you that owing to the increasing interest displayed in rifle shooting in the County of Middlesex, my Council consider it highly desirable to build a Clubhouse at Bisley, capable of properly accommodating the many Middlesex riflemen.

My Council has accordingly invited tenders from Contractors, and the estimated total cost of such a building is £4,500.

The proposed Clubhouse will contain 10 Regimental or Clubrooms, 34 cubicles, and 240 lockers, which will be let to members at low rates, together with commodious dining, smoking, dressing, and gun rooms.

It is not proposed to raise the present membership subscription of 5/- which entitles members to all privileges.

Prior to the issue of debentures, it will be necessary to raise at least £1,500 by public subscription, and in view of the necessity for such accommodation, my Council herewith appeal to you for your generous assistance towards raising this required sum.

The Clubrooms will be let at a nominal rental of £1 1s. per annum each, for the sole use of the ten regiments or rifle clubs instrumental in raising the largest subscriptions, with a minimum total of £25 in each case, either directly or through their respective members. Further subscription lists will be forwarded if required.

Donors of a least five guineas will become Life Members of the Association.

In order that the Clubhouse may be erected by the early spring of next year, my Council is anxious to ascertain by the 28th October the amount of financial support which may be expected from members. I should therefore deem it a favour if you would kindly let me know as soon as possible to what extent you are prepared to contribute.

Cheques should be made payable to the Middlesex Rifle Association, and crossed “Union of London and Smith’s Bank, Ltd.”

Trusting that you will do everything in your power to further this worthy project,

Believe me, yours faithfully,

J. N. LE FEVRE, Lieut., Hon. Secretary


Dear Sir, In reply to your letter of the 3rd instant, I enclose herewith cheque for £ : : : as a subscription towards the Middlesex Rifle Association Clubhouse Building Fund.


 

An architect was appointed, C.E. Lancaster Parkinson of 44 Bedford Row (Telephone Number 10756 Central), and the initial plans were drawn up. It seems that the architect missed his first deadline, to the annoyance of the MRA Secretary.

Letter to Col. Crosse of the NRA from Lieutenant J. N. Le Fevre of the Middlesex Rifle Association dated 14th October, 1907

Dear Col. Crosse,

I arranged with Parkinson to let you have plans last week but on telephoning him today, I find they have not been dispatched.

He is forwarding them today.

I do not see how we can make a start (if we do at all) before November, as the matter has to be taken before another meeting of members first.

Yours very faithfully

J.N. Le Fevre

Letter to Col. Crosse of the NRA from C. E. Lancaster Parkinson A.R.I.B.A (Architects) dated 14th October 1907.

Dear Col. Crosse, Middlesex Rifle Association.

I beg to submit plans of a pavilion or Club house propose to be erected upon the site now occupied by some disused targets and shall be obliged if you will submit the scheme for the approval of your Council.

Yours truly

C.E. Lancaster Parkinson

This is a sketch of the original grand plan as submitted to the NRA for approval.

This first scheme would have produced the largest and tallest clubhouse on the camp - over 100 feet long and 70 feet high. It was rejected, presumably because it was too expensive. What it would have cost is not known but the relatively simple NRA offices were nearly £4,000.

Next was a formal letter raising the issue of sub letting. This issue was first raised in April 1907 by Mr Freemantle. The NRA must have already been discussing this to be able to respond so quickly after receiving the plans.

Letter dated 19th October 1907 to J. N. Le Fevre Esq. This letter is not signed but appears to come from the Secretary of the NRA.

Dear Sir

With reference to the proposal of your Association to build a Club House at Bisley Camp, I beg to inform you that my Committee when approving the application understood that the Building was intended for the use of Members of the Middlesex Rifle Association only.

It appears, however, by the circular emanating from your Council, that it is the intention to sublet the Building to subsidiary Clubs. This would practically be a contravention of paragraph 9 of our Conditions of Building, and my Committee regret that they do not see their way to recommend to the Council that this condition be altered.

Yours faithfully

Lt-Colonel

Secretary - N.R.A.

So the battle lines had been drawn on this subject. Obviously this scheme was too important to be dismissed by this one objection and within nine days the Middlesex Rifle Association responded with their answer to this objection.

Letter dated 28th October, 1907 to the Secretary of the NRA from J.N. Le Fevre of the Middlesex Rifle Association.

Dear Sir
Re: Proposed Clubhouse

In reply to your letter of the 19th Instant, I beg to inform you that it is proposed to confine the use of the new Clubhouse to members only.

As a County Rifle Association most of the Middlesex Volunteer Corps and Rifle Clubs are affiliated to us, and it is the duty of my Council to encourage them in every way to come to Bisley to shoot, and, judging from the very great support given to the N.R.A. by our many members, we have been very successful in our efforts.

The following line was at the top of the new page:

9 - “Except as aforesaid, Tenant shall not assign, sublet or otherwise part with bungalow” (No mention of any part therefore.

My Council read para 9 - (shown above) of your “Conditions of Building at Bisley” as forbidding the subletting of a building as a whole not a part thereof. Otherwise it would prevent letting lockers and cubicles.

Our proposal is to let a Corp or Rifle Club (which is not in a position to build its own hut) have the use of a small room chiefly for secretarial purposes, at a nominal rental of £1 per annum. I do not see how your Council could object to this.

I would mention that the English XX Club are allowed to sublet their bungalow (not part of it) to us for £25 per annum.

Having regard to the above and to the worthy object of my Council I trust that you will see you way to waive your present objections.

Yours faithfully

J.N. Le Fevre - Lieut. Hon. Sec.

Mr Freemantle then entered the fray again with another letter to the NRA Secretary.

Letter dated 1st November 1907 (Note: date written as 1.XI.07) from Mr. Freemantle to the Sec. Of the NRA

My dear Crosse,

Thank you for the cheque for £4.5 I have posted the receipt to you. Very much obliged.

Very bad, not beating New Zealand.

The matter of the Middlesex R.A. hut is not an easy one to deal with. I do not know how far we actually enforce, in allowing the subletting of Clubhouses, any sort of stipulation as to the sub-lessees or any proportion of them being members of the N.R.A. Probably we don’t enforce this in any way.

I don’t know that we have any general rules on the subject. I don’t quite understand how Regiments (to whom it is proposed to sublet rooms) can be members of the Middlesex Rifle Association. Nor if used for any sort of a general Regimental purpose would it be possible that the use of rooms so sublet should be confined to “members of the Middlesex R.A. only.” We can hardly interfere as regards the subletting of rooms to individual members.

Would it not be a good thing to have our legal position in the matter considered? We must not, of course, discourage anything that will really bring us new members or users of our ranges.

I am very much afraid I shall not get to Monday’s meeting of Council. As regards 6 in the agenda, I think it is a pity to alter our Regulations again on this point.

I was against the increase from .315 to .325: but it is not a very important matter and I should be disposed to let it alone.

There is now a gap in the correspondence as I believe that there must have been a letter from the NRA relenting and confirming that the building scheme could go ahead. This is a conclusion drawn by the following exchange of letters. There is an undated sheet which could well have been the draft of a letter form the NRA. But note that the Middlesex Rifle Association have raised a new issue - the status of a County Rifle Association under the new Army Scheme ?

Single sheet undated and headed Middx R.A. (Possibly a draft of a letter to Le Fevre from the NRA written just before 20th November 1907).

With reference to the proposal of your Association to build a Club House at Bisley Camp I beg to inform you that my Council have further considered the matter and are now prepared to let your Association ground space for this purpose.

With regard to the question of sub-letting certain parts of the proposed building to Regiments and Clubs, my Council are of the opinion that in accordance with the paragraph 9 of our Conditions of Building they should, in each case where it is proposed to sublet a part of the building, be consulted and their approval obtained.

I shall be glad to hear that your Council are prepared to agree to this.

Letter dated 20th November, 1907 from J. N. Le Fevre to Col. Crosse

Dear Colonel Crosse,

Herewith I beg to enclose cheque £225:0:6d in settlement of target account.

I am much obliged by your letter respecting new Clubhouse, but whether we build or not is still very doubtful as pending the final decision as to our status as a County Rifle Association under the new Army scheme, the proposal must rest in abeyance.

Yours very faithfully

J. N. Le Fevre (Lieut.)

N.B. A hand written reply from Col Crosse is pinned to this letter - unsigned.

Dear Lieut. Le Fevre

Many thanks for your letter informing us that the question of the Building for the Middlesex R.A. must remain in abeyance until the status of the Association under the new Army Scheme is decided.

There must have been some frantic activity and many meetings of the Council of the Middlesex Rifle Association over the following fourteen days. By now I suspect that Col. Inglis of the Stock Exchange Rifle Club had already become involved and he had made the offers of financial support from himself. He had probably also brought in the IBIS and HAC at this time.

Col. Inglis was very good at the politics of negotiations and I have no doubt that he advised the Middlesex Rifle Association as to the best way to move things forward.

The next set of letters end with a mention that the Stock Exchange Rifle Club would be involved in the negotiations of the lease with the NRA.

Letter dated 4th December 1907 to Col Crosse of the NRA from C. E. Lancaster Parkinson (Architect).

Dear Sir
MIDDLESEX RIFLE ASSOCIATION

I am authorized by the Secretary of the above to accept a tender for building a Club House at Bisley according to plans which are practically a modification of those I recently deposited with you. It is requested by the Committee that an early start may be made and I shall be much obliged it you will allow us to commence on the site pegged out which I showed you some weeks ago and of which I believe you approved.

With your sanction the builder proposes to commence on Monday.

Yours very truly C.E. Lancaster Parkinson.

Letter dated 5th December 1907 to Col Crosse of the NRA from C. E. Lancaster Parkinson (Architect)

Dear Colonel Crosse
Middlesex RA

Enclosed please find the plans of the proposed Club House.

Yours faithfully

C.E. Lancaster Parkinson

Letter dated 5th December 1907 to Sec. NRA from J. N. Le Fevre

Dear Sir

I beg to inform you that at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Middlesex Rifle Association held on Tuesday 3rd Instant the members decided that the scheme for building a Clubhouse at Bisley should be proceeded with forthwith.

In view of the general uncertainty of the future of this Association under the new Army Scheme, my Council left the matter entirely in the hands of the members. The latter were of opinion that a Clubhouse would not by detrimental to the interests of the Middlesex Rifle Association, and would at the same time strengthen the hand of the National Rifle Association in the event of any friction with the war office.

It would tend to prove that shooting at Bisley was increasing in popularity.

Yours faithfully

J. N. Le Fevre Lieut.
Hon. Sec.

Letter dated 11th December 1907 to Col. Crosse - Hon Sec NRA from Lieut. J. N. Le Fevre

Dear Col. Crosse

Many thanks for your letter. I have passed it on to Mr. Parkinson in order that he may adapt his plans to conform to your requirements. I should be glad of an early intimation should you decide to adopt your scheme for drainage, as it might possibly save our contractor some considerable labour. I assume that a start can be made at once.

Will you kindly furnish me with a draft copy of lease - for information of my Council and the Stock Exchange Rifle Club.

Yours sincerely

J. N. Le Fevre (Lieut.)
Hon Sec

Letter dated 12th December 1907 to Col. Crosse NRA from C. E. Lancaster Parkinson (Architect)

Dear Sir
Middlesex Rifle Association

Mr. Le Fevre has handed your letter of the 9th Instant to me and as the exceptions you mention will be complied with I have instructed the builder to proceed after seeing you.

I have now reduced the number of closets to two, one for the members use and the other for servants, and trust this will meet with your approval.

I will await your decision about a sewage scheme before proceeding with any for the club.

Yours very truly

Lancaster Parkinson

The job to develop the clubhouse had been put out to tender and the project was awarded to Messrs Dowley & Co. The sketch of the final plans for the building follow.

This second scheme was smaller and less ornate, although still retaining the flavour and style of the first.

Gables on the south, west and east fronts are decorated at first floor level with black timber framing and white infills. Such carved timer work was a device used in the 15th century to display the wealth of a building’s owner and was in use in the early decades of the 20th century as decoration in all classes of work. Gables on the south front are carried on sturdy brick arches while that on the west is carried by timber-clad column and pilasters dressed up with a variety of classical and Eastern details.

By 14th January the formal agreement had been concluded between the Stock Exchange Rifle Club and the Middlesex Rifle Association. Remember that Col. R.W. Inglis was to take up £2000 and then to donate them to SERC and the other debentures were to be taken by the IBIS Rifle Club and the Honourable Artillery Company. Because of the amount offered by SERC certain privileges were given as part of this agreement. You will see from subsequent correspondence that SERC continued to assist in the funding of certain improvements to the clubhouse.

A full transcript of that original agreement follows.

MEMORANDUM OF AGGREEMENT made and entered into this 14th day of January 1908 BETWEEN THE MIDDLESEX RIFLE ASSOCIATION of 40, Chancery Lane in the County of London [hereinafter called “the Association”] by SIR HENRY BARGRAVE DEANE the Chairman of the Association and JOHN NELSON LE FEVRE the Honorary Secretary thereof as Agents for and on behalf of the Association and not so as to bind themselves personally of the one part and THE STOCK EXCHANGE RIFLE CLUB of the Stock Exchange in the County of London [hereinafter called [”the Club”] by ROBERT WILLIAM INGLIS the Honorary Treasurer of the Club as agent for and on behalf of the Club and not so as to bind himself personally of the other part WHEREBY IT IS DECLARED AND AGREED as follows:- that is to say,

1. For the considerations hereinafter mentioned the Association agrees to erect at its own expense in a good and workmanlike manner at a cost of not less than Three thousand pounds [including equipping] on some safe and convenient site between the two hundred yards and five hundred yards firing points on the Rifle Range at Bisley in the County of Surrey a Club house with suitable and sufficient accommodation for the purposes hereinafter appearing and to complete the same ready for occupation on or before the thirty-first day of March 1908 and thenceforth to keep such Clubhouse open from at least the first day of April to at least the 30th day of September in each year during the continuance of this Agreement or of any grant to be made in pursuance hereof.

2. THE Association further agrees that as soon as the said Club House shall have been completed and equipped ready for use the Club shall have and be entitled to and the Association will if required formally grant or cause to be formally granted to the Club the following rights and privileges to be enjoyed by the Club for the term of twenty years from such completion unless in the meantime the Club shall by six Calendar months previous notice in writing to expire on the 30th day of September in any year voluntarily relinquish them namely:-

            [a] THE right to the sole use without any payment thereof of a sufficiently large room in the Club house for the purpose of an office.

            [b] THE right to have about one-third part of the Mess Room of the Club House reserved for the members of the Club who shall be entitled to have tables adjoining each other reserved for them and such one-third part to be shut off when required by the Club from the rest of the room by a sliding shutter or other means approved by the Club.

            [c] THE preferential right to the use of one-third in number of the cubicles [of which there shall be at least twenty-two] and one fourth in number of the lockers [of which there shall be at least one hundred and sixty] contained in the Clubhouse the Club members using the same paying the prescribed rents and observing the regulations made by the Association therefore. The Club will give notice to the Association before the first day of April in every year of the number of cubicles and lockers required by them for the ensuing season.

            [d] THE right to erect and keep at the end allotted to the Club of the Club house a flagstaff for the purpose of flying the Clubs own flag.

            [e] THE right to erect and keep during every Bisley Meeting a Marquee and Bell tents at the side of the said end of the Clubhouse should the Club consider it necessary the Association undertaking to leave sufficient room for that purpose.

3. THE Association shall be at liberty to raise any part not exceeding Two thousand five hundred pounds of the cost of building and equipping the said Clubhouse by the issue of Debentures of Five pounds each which shall be first charge thereon and shall bear interest at the rate of Four pounds ten shillings per cent per annum which interest shall be payable by equal half yearly payments on the first day of June and the first day of December in each year. Such Debentures shall all rank on an equal footing without any preference or priority to or over one other and such charge shall be a floating security on the Clubhouse and the effects of the Association at the Clubhouse only but so that the Association shall not be at liberty to create any mortgage of or charge on the said Clubhouse in priority to or on an equal footing with the said Debentures. Each of the Debentures shall be subject to the condition that the principal moneys thereby secured shall immediately become payable in either of the following events namely [a] If the Association makes default for a period of One hundred and fifty days in the payment of any interest thereby secured and the bearer or registered holder thereof before such interest is paid by notice in writing to the Association calls in such principal moneys [b] If an Order is made or an effective resolution is passed or any other proceeding in accordance with the constitution of the Association is taken for the winding up or dissolution of the Association.

4. THE Club on its part hereby agrees to pay to the Association on the signing of this Agreement the sum of £100 towards the expense of building the said Clubhouse and further agrees that when the Association shall have expanded in or towards building the said Clubhouse the sum of One thousand pounds the Club or its nominees will take and pay for at par value so many of the said Debentures as together will bear the nominal value of One thousand nine hundred pounds.

5. IF the Association shall issue Debentures to the Club or its nominees as aforesaid then an amount of the Debentures to the nominal value of at least One hundred pounds shall be redeemed at par by the Association on the first day of December 1909 and on the same day in each succeeding year until the whole of the Debentures issued to the Club or its nominees shall have been redeemed. The Association shall redeem all the Debentures issued to the Club or its nominees before the expiration of nineteen years from the date hereof as between the respective holders of the Debentures the particular Debentures to be redeemed on each occasion shall be determined by drawings which shall be made at the office for the time being of the Association after due notice to such Debenture holders and they shall be at liberty to attend at such drawings.

6. SUBJECT to this Agreement the Association shall have entire control and management of the Club house.

AS WITNESS the hands of the parties

Sgd. H.Bargrave Deane

Witness:-

Walter Mallett

Sgd. J.N.Le Fevre

645 Royal Courts

Clerk to Mr.Justice Bargrave Deane

Witness:-

Walter Mallett

645 Royal Courts

Clerk to Mr.Justice Bargrave Deane.

Note that at a subsequent meeting of the SERC Council the Chairman read a few extracts from this agreement to the members present.

Extract from SERC Council meeting held on 22nd January 1908.

The Chairman then read a few extracts from the agreement made between the London & Middlesex Counties Rifle Association and the Club, whereby the latter received the following special privileges in connexion with the Association’s New Club House at Bisley.

1 The use of a good sized room rent free.

2 One third of the Messing accommodation.

3 Call of eight Cubicles at £3 3/- per annum.

4 Call of forty Lockers at 5/- per annum each.

5 The right to erect a Flagstaff our end.

6 A good sized piece of land to adjoin our end for the erection of a Marquee & Bell Tents during the Bisley Meeting.

7. All the above to hold good for twenty years.

One interesting letter is reproduced here which is particularly significant because it is the first time the name of the Association is referred to as the London and Middlesex Rifle Association. So the change of name happened between 22nd January 1908 and 20th May 1908 and it must have happened because of the association with the London clubs who funded the development of the clubhouse. It might also have been a useful device to overcome the issue of the ‘new Army Scheme’ referred to in earlier correspondence?

Letter dated 20th May 1908 to Col. Crosse NRA from C. E. Lancaster Parkinson

Dear Col. Crosse
LONDON AND MIDDLESEX RIFLE ASSOCIATION

May I ask your permission to make a gateway in the hedge to give access from the above pavilion to the ranges, similar to that in use by the North London Club.

Yours very truly

C.E Lancaster Parkinson

During 1910 there were several pieces of correspondence between SERC and LMRA in connection with alterations & extension of the new Club House. The players involved in this exchange of correspondence were; Mr John Wilson (S.E.R.C. Hon. Secretary), Major F.J. Brett (

L.M.C.R.A. Vice Chairman), Mr J. Dingley (L.M.C.R.A. Hon. Secretary), Mr R.Langton Cole (S.E.R.C. Architect) and Mr Billinghurst (S.E.R.C. Representative on the L.M.R.C.A. Council).

Major Brett to Mr John Wilson 27th October.

The Council meeting last night was adjourned until the 9th prox. There was some opposition to the proposed alterations especially regards the enclosure of the balcony in front of the building. The general impression being that before that was passed it ought to be submitted to a general meeting. I think the Council were prepared to sanction any extension at the side of the hut.

Will you please tell Mr Cole I have returned the plan for the next meeting when I hope Mr Billinghurst will be able to be present.

Mr John Wilson to Major Brett 29th October.

Am sorry to hear that there is opposition to our proposals, and cannot help thinking that the objectors do not understand the position.

We were to have, practically, 1/3rd of the Club House exclusively to ourselves, a thing we have never had, and now after waiting three years have come to conclusion that unless we are shut off as proposed, never shall get quiet possession; we do not ask your Association to pay any part of the expenses, although it would not be unreasonable if we did, as it will decidedly improve your property & seems the only way by which you can give us the exclusiveness agreed upon. As to the proposal to submit the question to a General Meeting, I do not see what such meeting has to do with the question. I hope this matter will be definitely settled at your next Council Meeting either one way or the other, as if we have your permission to proceed should like to commence operations at once.

Mr John Wilson to Major Brett 8th November.

In course of a conversation over the telephone with our Mr Cole, Mr Dingley stated that if we withdrew that part of our plans dealing with the front balcony your Council would pass the rest of our proposals without further opposition. If this means the rest of the plans, two more of our Members to go on your Council, and a thorough change of management of the Club House, my Club would agree, without prejudice, not to press for the present, the scheme for railing off our portion of the balcony, and would consider the cancelling of the two hundred pounds of unissued Debentures equivalent to the drawing and paying off of a like amount of Debentures on the 1st prox.

In order to prevent any misunderstanding in time to come as to our authority for making the alterations proposed, I suggest that after your meeting tomorrow [Wednesday] an official letter should be written us confirming the above.

I am very glad there is a good prospect of settling our differences amicably.

Report by Mr R.Langton Cole 9th November.

ATTENDED MEETING OF COUNCIL: MAJOR BRETT IN THE CHAIR:

MR BILLINGHURST THERE.

A resolution was passed unanimously agreeing that the S.E.R.C. should have permission to make an entrance to the front of the balcony, as shown on the plans submitted, and to erect a light barrier or gate, instead of the screen across the balcony shown on the same plan.

The Chairman stated that arrangements had been made by which the Ibis R.C. would give up their room to the S.E.R.C., so that the alteration to the door to their room would not be required.

By a second Resolution, the remainder of the alterations shown on the plans were unanimously agreed to. Posts to be put so that the Mess Room screen could be removed.

It was arranged that I should prepare copies of the plans one to be deposited with the Association, and one to be signed by them in token of approval, and that an appointment should be made for me to see Col.Crosse with Mr Dingley, in reference to the consent of the N.R.A. which will apparently be required under the Association’s lease.

When I left, the Council were proceeding to discuss the other proposed arrangements between the Association and the S.E.R.C.

BAR

Mr Dingley will let me know whether the proposed alterations are to be carried out. It was suggested that there should be three large openings instead of two large and one small one.

Mr Dingley to Mr John Wilson 11th November.

No doubt you have received report from Mr Billinghurst that your plan was passed in Council on Wednesday but I shall be very much obliged if you could see your way to wave the matter of putting up barrier say at least until after the General Meeting particularly because Major Varley has a very strong objection to same, and I think your Club would not be inconvenienced.

Mr John Wilson to Major Brett 12th November.

I hear from Mr Billinghurst that your Council at their meeting last Wednesday, agreed to everything contained in my last letter to you, with the addition that we were to have the “Ibis” room, and instead of a screen on the balcony there was only to be a barrier; he also told me that I was to receive an official letter stating the above, but up to the present I have not received any such communication .

Might I ask you to instruct Mr Dingley to do this as soon as possible so that I can forward it to Sir Robert Inglis, our Treasurer.

I take this opportunity to express our thanks to you for the trouble you have taken to put matters on a satisfactory basis.

Major Brett to Mr John Wilson 15th November.

I particularly requested the Hon.Sec. to write and inform you officially of the result of the last Council Meeting. In the circumstances on receiving your letter I went round to see him yesterday. He was down at Bisley but came and saw me this morning. He informed he wrote you on Friday and that he would telephone as to the missing letter.

I need not say that I was pleased the Council agreed to your scheme because I am convinced since I read the agreement again that your Club has not received the treatment it was entitled to expect at the hands of the Association.

Mr Dingley to Mr John Wilson 15th November.

I have to inform that the plan, submitted to my Council, by your architect Mr Langton-Cole on Wednesday last 9th Nov. for alterations, and addition of Smoking room to The Stock Exchange Club rooms, at the London & Middlesex Rifle Associations Hut at Bisley, was approved, and consent given to the alterations to be proceeded with, subject to the necessary

consent be obtained from The Secretary of the National Rifle Association.

It was also agreed by my Council that the room now known as The Ibis Rifle Club should in future be placed at the disposal of The Stock Exchange Rifle.

Mr John Wilson to Major Brett 16th November.

I received a letter from Mr Dingley on Saturday last which although’ it is marked private I think I am quite justified under the circumstances, in enclosing it for your perusal.

I think it was a very improper one to have sent and in no sense official; the question of the barrier I believe was proposed by yourself and agreed to, Major Varley voting for it, and Mr Dingley had no right to go behind that decision, so after consulting with Mr Billinghurst I decided to take no notice of it.

I have today received another letter which is in accordance with your instructions.

Major Brett to Mr John Wilson 22nd November.

I need not say the enclosed letter was not written with either my knowledge or consent and moreover I do not agree with it.

I have I think discovered the reason it was sent in the course of a conversation I have since had with Mr Dingley. I gather that he is afraid of some opposition at the general meeting and seems to have thought his suggestion the best way of meeting it.

I hope his prognostications will not turn out correct but in any case I am certain the Council have taken the proper course of action.

Mr Dingley to Mr John Wilson 30th November.

I send herewith cheque for Deb Interest due.

I should be much obliged if when sending receipt you will also send me an official letter to place before my Council stating that your Club agree to waive your claim to the Draw for Debentures.

Mr John Wilson to Mr Dingley 1st December.

Thanks for your letter of yesterday’s date enclosing cheque for £45 in payment of interest due this day, on Debentures held by my Club, and for which I enclose receipt.

On conditions contained in my letter of the 8th unto to your Chairman, Major F.J.Brett, my Club waives all claim to the drawing of the two hundred pounds of Debentures which, by our agreement, should have taken place at the end of last month.

I should like to have the numbers of the unissued Debentures which you are cancelling in lieu of drawing.

Mr Dingley to Mr John Wilson 2nd December.

Thanks for your letter of yesterday with receipt attached.

Only One Hundred and eighty pounds of Debentures remain unissued, numbers of which are 465 to 500 . Thirty six in all of £5 each £180.

Major Brett stated £200 in error having forgotten the last issue of £20.

The above letter was shown to Mr W.B.Billinghurst, [ who is our representative on the L & M C R A’s Council ] and he promised to ask the Chairman, Major Brett, the date of issue of the last £20 of Debentures.

Footnote- The £20 overlooked was issued last March.

This issue appears to have been amicably resolved, according to an extract from SERC Council minutes. There also followed more funds made available for alterations and it was clear that the LMRA clubhouse was a major part of the facilities on offer to SERC members.

Extract from the Ninth Annual General Meeting of SERC held in the Reading Room, by kind permission of the Managers, on Wednesday 18th January 1911 at 4.30pm Sir R.W.Iglis in the Chair.

The Chairman announced that he had that afternoon signed a contract for £155 for the alterations and improvements of the Club House at Bisley.

A vote of thanks to the Chairman was proposed by Mr C.A.Oldham, seconded by C.F.Mason & carried.

Extract from SERC Report and Accounts for 1911.

The Council sanctioned an expenditure of £210.13s 9d in alterations connected with this Club’s portion of the London & Middlesex Rifle Association pavilion at Bisley, and it is hoped this has contributed to the comfort of all concerned. In connection therewith it was agreed that the first drawing of the Association Debentures for repayment at par be postponed until the 1st December, 1912.

Extract from the SERC Programme booklet for the year commencing 1914.

LONDON AND MIDDLESEX COUNTIES RIFLE ASSOCIATION.

The Club is affiliated to this Association, and all Members are entitled to enter for the Thursday and Saturday Spoon Competitions, and the Open Competitions at their Annual Prize Meeting.

Members are also domiciled in the Association’s Club House at Bisley, but those leaving rifles or other property there do so entirely at their own risk.

The Club Rifles are stored with the Armourer, and along with Ammunition are there served out to Members in exchange for the usual ticket.

Things between the clubs continued in an amicable way over the next few years with various snippets of correspondence found.

In 1921 a letter was read from the London & Middlesex R.A. to SERC Council asking that the drawing of debentures for 1921 be waived. This was agreed.

On 28th November 1923 an extract from a Meeting of the SERC Council held at the Office of the Official Assignee on the 28th November 1923 noted that an estimated cost of £8.6.5 for a wireless for the Stock Exchange part of the London & Middlesex Hut. was passed for payment.

As time progressed the issue of a new lease for SERC needed to be resolved. On 21st October 1925 SERC Council agreed that the Hon. Secretary was to arrange with the L.M.R.A. for a lease of the Club premises after payment of the outstanding debenture. Note that Sir R.W. Inglis had died on 120th April 1923 and his executors were resolving any legacies that he had lefty to SERC. The resulted in a supplemental agreement being drawn up on 31st December 1926 for continued use of the clubhouse.

A full transcript of that supplemental agreement follows.

AN AGREEMENT made the thirty first day of December One thousand nine hundred and twenty six BETWEEN THE LONDON and MIDDLESEX COUNTIES RIFLE ASSOCIATION of Bisley Camp in the County of Surrey (hereinafter called “the Association”) of the one part and EDWARD LAMBERT GOSLING, ARHTUR LOIS FRNACIS GREEN, CYRIL MACKWORTH-PRAED and ROBERT INGLIS all of the Stock Exchange in the City of London the Trustees of the Stock Exchange Rifle Club (hereinafter called “The Trustees) of the other part Supplemental to an Agreement (hereinafter called “the Principal Agreement”)” dated the fourteenth day of January one thousand nine hundred and eight and made between the Association (then the Middlesex Rifle Association) of the one part and the Stock Exchange Rifle Club of the other part Whereas the Association in pursuance of the power contained in Clause 3 of the Principal Agreement issued two thousand and five hundred pounds Debentures and the said Club took and paid for one thousand nine hundred pounds Debentures of which one thousand one hundred and ninety pounds are now held by and belong to the Trustees and are the only Debentures now outstanding. And whereas the Association hold the site of the Club House of the Association at the Camp at Bisley Surrey on lease from the national Rifle Association for a term of twenty one years which will expire on the thirtieth day of June one thousand nine hundred and twenty nine with the option of having that term extended for a further term of twenty one years but subject to the provision that at any time the national Rifle Association shall case to occupy the Camp at Bisley the lease may be terminated after two calendar months notice and also subject to conditions and restrictions as to occupation and XXXX of the Club House and the Water supply and drains thereof as are in the said lease set forth And whereas the parties hereto have agreed to such variations in the Principal Agreement as are hereinafter contained Now it is hereby agreed by and between the parties hereto as follows

  1. 1.The Association will redeem the debentures held by the Trustees by annual payment of not les than one hundred pounds on the first day of December in every year the first payment to be made on the first day of December next
  2. 2.The Association so far as in their power agree at the request and cost of the Trustees to grant to the Trustees and the Trustees agree to accept a lease of that part of the Club House of the Association which is now in the occupation of the Trustees Together with the rights and privileges mentioned in the Principal Agreement for the term of twenty one years reckoned from the twenty fifth day of March one thousand and nine hundred and twenty six or if all the Debentures held by the Trustees have not then been redeemed reckoned from the thirtieth day of June one thousand and nine hundred and twenty nine and in either case determinable by the Trustees at the end of the first seven or fourteen years at the yearly rent of Twenty pounds which shall not be payable until all the Debentures held by the Trustees have been paid off. The Association will pay for all rates taxes and outgoings payable in respect of the said premises and will keep the same in good and sufficient repair and insured against fire in the full value thereof And the Club will observe the conditions and restrictions under which the Association hold the premises so far as they affect the payment of the rent reserved by the lease and except as provided by this Agreement and will indemnify the Association in respect of any breach by the Club of such conditions and restrictions so far as aforesaid
  3. 3.All the provisions of the Principal Agreement shall remain in force except as varied by this Agreement

As witness the hands of the Chairman and Secretary of the Association and the hands of the Trustees.

                                                                  George G. Malard

                                                                  Chairman London Middlesex Counties

                                                                  W Blackwell – Major

                                                                  Secretary London and Middlesex Rifle Assoc

                                                                  E.L. Gosling

                                                                  A.L.F. Green

                                                                  C.W. Mackworth-Praed

                                                                  R. Inglis

Things continued in the same vein for a further 13 years and on 29th November 1949 SERC held an extraordinary general meeting and C.W.M. Praed took the chair. He asked those present for proposals. G. Richardson asked the meeting for the approval of the appointment of G.W. Lee as Secretary, carried, he then went on to propose that the Secretary should write to the London & Middlesex Rifle Association asking for a new lease, based on the previous one, for accommodation at the Club House Bisley.

At an SERC Council meeting held on 6th March 1950 at 4.30pm. G.Richardson took the chair and informed the meeting that the negotiations with the London & Middlesex Rifle Association for a new lease at the Club House at Bisley were still in progress.

At an SERC Annual General Meeting the Secretary informed the meeting that he had had a telephone conversation with the London & Middlesex R.A. who had agreed to lease to the Club the Sun Lounge at the Club House Bisley and that this arrangement would be confirmed by letter. The cost of two pounds per annum for the lease of the sun lounge was accepted at an SERC Range Committee meeting held on April 13th 1950. The Secretary was also instructed to hire five lockers from the L.M.R.A. at five shillings each per annum.

The use of the LMRA clubhouse by SERC had greatly reduced as a result of the second world war.

At a Council Meeting held on January 3rd 1951 the Secretary read out a letter received from the Secretary of the London & Middlesex Rifle Association stating that after the expiry of our lease with them on June 30th 1951, that they would be unable to renew same. With the prospect of having to find alternative accommodation at Bisley, the Secretary was instructed to write to the N.R.A. and apply for vacant premises or accommodation to be shared with another club. If this proved fruitless that the Secretary should write to individual tenants at Bisley and ask for possible sharing of their accommodation. It was agreed that the Club should continue it’s affiliation to the London & Middlesex Rifle Association.

The building was extended in 1992 with the addition of the Robert Stafford Lounge, windows to enclose the veranda, extension of the members bar, conversion of the cellar to use as an armoury and the addition of the roof top lounge area overlooking Century range.

The SERC shared the Dukkah hut with Sussex County for a number of years, moved to the Surrey for two years and then moved back to LMRA in the 1980’s.

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