Mrs E Page
6 Frond Place
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE DEVONPORT BRANCH
2004 marked a most important milestone for the Devonport Branch of the Royal Society of St George when we celebrated our Centenary.
This marvellous achievement underlines the dedication and loyalty of past and present members. In Tasmania there were 4 Branches, Scottsdale (1900), Devonport (1904), Launceston(pre 1919 – restarted in 1945) and Hobart (1938). Alas we remain the only one still active.
The Devonport Branch was founded on Oct 21st 1904 by Mr R.T.Dyer who also founded the Scottsdale Branch. Our branch is an active, loyal and friendly society, with a membership of some 30 people. The branch meets each month on the fourth Friday at various members’ homes, or the Library, at 1:30 pm for a social afternoon and a wide range of activities is covered. Attendance at these functions is very gratifying. Also the Society runs regular monthly whist afternoons, also in member’s homes. Other functions worthy of mention include two dinners (St. George’s Day and Trafalgar Day), a barbeque, a Christmas Party, a church service for St. George’s Day and wreath laying on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, together with the presentation ao a Hear-a-Book to the State Library.
Records of our branch are intact from 1950 and several earlier reports are also in the branch archives. From these early scanty records we have, it seems that Major Dumbleton was the first President and Rev. Canon De Coetlogon, first Vice President who was rector of the Church of England, then at East Devonport, from 1904 – 1911. The first Secretary was Mr. R. T. Dyer, acknowledged as the founder of our branch.
The 3rd Annual meeting held in 1907 was reported in the local paper and the cutting was presented to the Society in 1966 by Mr. Stan Hiller. The society then had as members 79 men, 10 ladies and 4 juniors. The subscription was 2/-. The officers elected were: –President – Rev. Canon de Coetlogan; Vice President – Messrs. H. Dumbleton, A. J. Stokes; Sec/Treasurer – Mr. R. T. Dyer.Committee – Messrs. J. Cole, A. H. Field, G. Ingledew, S. Priest and A. Phillips. The balance at the bank was £3.4s.7d.
In 1920 this branch was still carrying on actively under the guidance of Mr. R. T. Dyer, who had then been working in the cause more than 18 years. President was Rev. G. Rowe, BA, and Vice Pres. Mr C. Ramsay. In 1925 the branch had gained its majority. The chair at its 21st Annual Meeting was occupied by the retiring President, Mr. R. D. Twibell, and the Annual Report stated that the membership was 128!! Councillor W. Whitfield was elected president, with the Rev. J. F. C. Ashworth and Mr. A. J. Stokes, Vice-Presidents; Secretary, Mr., H. Kempling; Treasurer Mr. J. L. Cheek, these with Mr. W. G. Curwen and Mr. A. B. Steer formed the committee. Retiring secretary was Sergeant –Major W. J. Bayes.
In 1937 Mr. W. H. Whitfield was in the chair. This year saw the death of Mr. Harry Smith who had been a member ever since the society’s establishment.
In 1950 the President was Mr. R. R. Burk and Mr. F. F. Kemp completed his 20th year as Secretary/Treasurer. The annual subscription was 2/-.
The Society had its ups and downs but in the nineteen fifties many British people came to Australia to settle and the ranks of our Society grew. Included in these were Mr. &mrs. S.E. Kent, Mr. & Mrs. Alan Fryer, Mr. Syd Williams, Mrs Bartholemew, Mr. & Mrs. H. Saul amongst others. On 21st October, 1963, Honorary Life Memberships were presented to Mr. A.V.J. Webb 20 year’s membership, and Mr. C.V. Brayne 13 yearsmmebership, 5 as President. Sub at that time were 7/6.
In 1963 the “Royal” Charter was granted to the worldwide Society of St. George by Queen Elizabeth II.
1965 was a lean year as many had returned to England and it seemed difficult to get a President and Secretary. However Mrs. A. Girdlestone, became our first Lady President when she offered to take on the job and Miss Rose Lade became Secretary. Mr Steve Kent followed on as President in 1966 and the follwoig year Mr. Alan Freyer became Secretary, with Mrs. H.J. Saul entering her second year as Treasurer.
In 1969 Mr. Fryer became President and Mrs. Beryl O’Connor became Secretary, and Mrs. Marj Hiller began her 21 years as Treasurer, a feat yet to be bettered. Subs in 1972 were $3-00.
After the death of President Mr. Alan Fryer on the eve of 21st October 1974, which was the 70th birthday of our Society all celebrations were cancelled. Mr. S. Kent acted as President until succeeded by Mr. Keith Dudley in 1976 and in 1978 by Mr. Wally Greenwood. Subs were $4.00.
Mr. K. Dudley commenced his second term as President in 1980 and Mrs. B. O’Connor her 12th year as Secretary. Subs were $8-00 double $4-50 single.
1984 saw Mrs. Brenda Gray (formerly Fryer) enter her second year as President, only the second lady to hold this position. At the 80th birthday celebrations Mr. Steve Kent and Mrs. Marj Hiller were presented with plaques to commemorate their 25 years as members.
We said goodbye to Keith and Marjorie Dudley in 1986 when they moved to South Australia, but to this day we exchange St. George’s Day greeting cards with them, and an invitation to our 100th celebrations has been sent.
In recent years we have included in our social events several outings, eg The Chocolate Factory, Tulip Farm at Yolla, Raspberry Farm at Elizabeth Town, Fuchsia Farm just to name a few. Also several members celebrate their birthdays in November, and the card evening for that month has been turned into a Fancy Dress night and character to arrive have included, Little Jack Horner, Vicar of Dibley, Madam Butterfly accompanied by LtnPinkerton, Santa Claus, Madame Dufarge, The Sheik of Arabia and one of his wives, a “Nippy”, Jock the Scot, a French Legionnaire, a Country Squire, Coco the clown, Nell Gwynne, Eliza Doolittle, a Wimbledon Winner, The district nurse, a Private Eye, a world War II nurse, Madam Dracula, just to name a few. Another very popular social idea has been the introduction of British Comedy Video shows – always a great laugh.
Of special significance and reason to celebrate was the 100th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on August 4th, 2000 when we had a cocktail party at the home of then President Mrs. Brenda Gray and her husband Ron. Then in 2002 was the ascension to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II. This was celebrated with Fish & Chips (& Mushy Peas) under a large marquee in the garden of the Secretary Mrs. Elizabeth Page and her husband Derek. For many years now the Christmas party has been held at Mr. & Mrs. R. Grays’ home, and the BBQ at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Stewart Ingles.
As this year is a very special occasion The Devonport branch of the Royal Society of St. George has extended to all present and past members a cordial invitation to our celebrations at Woodrising on Oct 21st, also to our Mayor and Mayoress, and representatives of the Armed Forces as well as kindred Loyal Societies.
The success of our Society is due to the generosity of its members who have given their homes for meetings, cards, social gatherings and parties; also to the cheerful and friendly spirit that has always existed.