Calling All Cambridge & Bethnal Green Boys’ Club Members!
Boys’ Club Summer Camp Banquet 1942, Max is on the far left
My pal Maxie Lea rang to convey the sad news that this year’s Cambridge & Bethnal Green Old Boys’ Club Dinner, celebrating ninety years since the founding of the Club in 1924, will also be the last. Numbers have been dwindling in recent years but - understandably – Maxie wants the final dinner to be a bumper.
So please spread the word. If you were once a member of the Club and you would like to attend the Sixty-Eighth Annual Reunion to be held on Monday 1st September at the Imperial Hotel, Russell Sq, please give Maxie a call on 020 8954 0708.Monty Meth, who joined the club in 1938, will be the Speaker.
There has been an unbroken run of these reunions since the first, held in 1946 by Cecil Bright & Sydney Tabor with over three hundred and fifty Old Boys in attendance. It was my pleasure to attend one of these dinners for the first time in 2010 and I have joined the Old Boys each year since then, and you may look forward look to my report on this poignant final dinner in early September.
Operating from its headquarters in Chance St, the Cambridge & Bethnal Green Boys’ Club succeeded in raising the aspirations for generations of boys from the Boundary Estate and surrounding streets. As Ron Goldstein, who joined in the Club 1933, put it to me famously, “Half of the boys would have ended up as the next generation of gangsters and criminals if it had not been for the Club.” Originally founded as an exclusively Jewish boys club, they opened their doors to all in response to the rise of Oswald Mosley and his black shirts in the East End in 1936. It is a measure of the significance that the Old Boys place upon their experience at the Club that they still choose to meet all these years later and rekindle the friendships of long ago.
Maxie’s phone call inspired me to look back over the stories I have written about members of the Club and collect together these joyous evocative photographs by Harry Titchener – known to the boys as “T” – who, as well as being Club manager, was a professional photographer and member of the Royal Photographic Society.
Tea in the orchard 1942, Max sits on the right drinking a mug of tea
On Herne Bay Sands, Max stands in profile on the right
Boat trip, Max raises his fingers to his chin in the centre left of the picture
Maxie Lea (second from left) does the dishes at summer camp
Looking down on Dover, Max is on the left of the group
High jinks at the Greatstones Camp Tuck Shop 1939
The cook makes dough in a field at Greatstones – note the makeshift stoves in the background
Treasure hunt, Max is centre left beneath the tree
The treasure hunt continues, Max is on the right
Mealtime at Greatstones Summer Camp 1939
Max & Stanley go boating
France 1959, Max is seen in profile, waving at the centre left of this picture
Harold goes for breakfast while Paul & Max look on
Max peels the spuds at the centre of this picture
On a Sunday ramble through the outskirts of London
Max is in the centre right, paddling with his pals, Stanley, Manny, Butch & Ken
Photographs by Harry Titchener MRPS
You may also like to read my interviews with members of the Cambridge & Bethnal Green Boys’ Club