|N E W S F E E D S >>>|
With reference to the summer outings, we are fortunate in having a minute book, recording the proceedings of the joint sub-committee form 1888 to 1902; the northern counties of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty and Inverness had by this time all got associations flourishing in the Metropolis, and so they decided to get together and plan joint events, at first in the summer only, but later they arranged concerts and similar functions. In 1895, Argyll Association asked to join and was welcomed. The first meeting of the joint committee was held in May of 1888, in the time of David Bremner, for "the purpose of considering, and if thought fit, of organising a joint summer excursion". The delegates met at 181 Aldersgate Street, and throughout its existence, the committee followed its first plan, in meeting at the office of one or other of the committee members. A Mr Angus Mackay, representing on this occasion both the London Caithness and the London Sutherlandshire Associations, took the Chair. After lengthy discussion among the eight representatives, it was agreed to carry on with the scheme, and a sub-committee was appointed, which included Mr J Tudor Crowe of the London Caithness, to make the usual arrangements. The first excursion was held in June of 1888, to Buckhurst Hill, the Roebuck Hotel to be the centre. A "cold collation" was provided, a four-piece band was engaged for the dancing, the cost to each person being 3/6d for the refreshment and dancing, exclusive of the railway fare, and each Association had to guarantee the attendance of not less than twenty-five of its members. The party left London at 2.30pm, and took the return train at 9.58pm. Poor weather on this occasion prevented much outdoor activity, but allowed all the more time for the extensive dancing programme of lancers, quadrilles and waltzes. For the next year, Mr Crowe was joined by Mr George Leith and Mr JA Chisholm, as it had been decided that each Association should take it in turn to arrange the yearly outing, and this involved a good deal of work. A very successful outing to Epping Forest was held that second year, the centre being the Royal Forest Hotel at Chingford, the total disbursement being £18.18.9, of which the London Caithness Association's share was £5.19.3, the main item of expenditure being the hotel bill for £13.16.3
Chingford was the venue for the third year's outing, and now they were so well established that the joint committee drew up a comprehensive programme of sports and invited the various associations to contribute to a prize fund, the amount being limited to not more than two guineas. A slight deficit, actually of 12/11d, was discovered when all the accounts had been received, and this was paid equally by the associations. Several distinguished gentlemen were approached and invited to preside over the day's proceedings, but we do not know who finally agreed, except that in 1891, Sir John Pender, MP attended and did the honours. On this occasion, the associations spent the 20th June at Rye House, but there was considerable discontent voiced at the subsequent committee meeting, held a week later. Mr Crowe reported that several of the Caithness people had not got any dinner and a number of his friends complained that the proprietor was most insulting. Representatives of the other associations expressed similar views and it was recorded that they should protest, and dispute the account from the hotel, until "a fair and reasonable amount was deducted from same".
In October of that year, the Associations decided to hold a joint smoking concert, each association to bear an equal share of the expense, and no charge to be made for admission as it was to be in the nature of an experiment. It was held at the Courts Restaurant, the fee for hire of which was three guineas, and the hire of a piano was 10/6d while each of the six gentlemen artists received 10/6d for expenses.
The following March, a Grand Concert was organised and again members of the Associations were admitted free, while non-members paid one shilling. It was held in St Martin's Town Hall, and was most successful. This concert was purely for the purpose of promoting friendly intercourse between the four northern counties, no profit-making factor entering into the scheme at all, and we read that in the end the sum of £1 each was all that the associations had to pay.
The Castle Hotel, Richmond was the venue in 1892, and a programme of games, Highland dancing, and a piping competition, with speeches, was laid on. The hotel management provided a "cold collation, comprising roast beef, roast lamb, veal and ham pies, pickled salmon, lobster salad, ham and salad, stewed fruits, custard, bread and butter, and cheese, at a cost of 3/- per head. Tea, coffee, spirits and wines would be extra. The total cost of the ticket was fixed at 4/6d, which included 1/- for the railway fare. Among the donations received for the prizes was a silver-mounted oak salad bowl, gifted by two members of the London Caithness Association, Messrs Liddell and McAndrew. About one hundred people attended the games and "collation", but at the dinner in the evening one hundred and sixty-eight people were present.
Events of this magnitude obviously required a great deal of careful preparation, and although the Associations took it in turn each year to be responsible for the outing, all the members of the Committee worked together for the success of the undertaking, acting as stewards, assisting with transport and helping in every way they could.
Several further outings took place during the following years, mainly to Richmond, but more and more the time of the committee was spent in arranging winter concerts in October and March, but the record stops at 1902. As the Sutherlandshire Association dropped out in 1895, and the Argyllshire joined in that year but withdrew two years later, it may be that the associations decided to move independently. The London Caithness Association was loyally represented right through those years by Messrs J Tudor Crowe, George Leith, JA Chisholm and FR Nicolson in turn, usually two at a time and there was certainly no flagging of interest on the part of the Caithness members. Both Sir John Pender and Archdeacon Sinclair gave a very large measure of support to the various inter-county activities and the ordinary members turned out in numbers, both to the outings and the winter functions.
Next - Annual Dinners