HOW THE STOURBRIDGE BRANCH BEGAN - by Malcolm Palmer  

The Stourbridge Branch of The George Formby Society started on the first Tuesday of December 1991 at The Robin Woods Community Centre, Scotts Road, Stourbridge. Monthly meetings were always on the third Tuesdays of each month, and continued to be held there, for the next 13 years & four months [apart from one meeting in May 1997 which was held at the British Oak Stallings Lane - this was not a successful idea so it was back to the Centre on the following month].

In April 2005, the last meeting was held at The Robin Woods Community Centre, which was closed the following month and the 170 year old former school building was being set for demolition. The Centre, which was used by 28 groups, was nearly closed in 2003 but protests were made and it was granted a reprieve. The Branch were offered free use of the RAOB also in Scotts Road where the May, June and July meetings were held . It was a good venue with free use of amplification equipment, but it was not to last. I learned from one who attends the Branch meetings on the day before the August 2005 meeting that it had closed. After investigation it was discovered that it had closed on 31st July, no one had ever been informed, so the search was on once again for another venue.

I was fortunate in obtaining the use of The Baggeridge Social Club at very short notice for the August and  September meetings of which I am most grateful. It provided time to search round for other venues, until October when the Branch moved to The Summer House, The Portway, Kingswinford, which is a great venue and with all the publicity the Branch has received from TV Press & local radio during 2005 the attendance at the Branch has increased. At the 14th anniversary meeting on 20th December 2005,  34 attended from different parts of the Midlands, the most that I have ever seen at a meeting in the 14 years. 

Where did it all begin----It was during a third annual meeting at The Stourbridge Institute October 1991 (that was organised by Bob Drinkwater) that it was mentioned about holding monthly local meetings. I had first thought of the idea way back in the 1980s. I was even offered a venue at The Black Bear in Lower Gornal. I could not get support, so having connections at the Robin Woods Centre where the Stourbridge Amateur Radio Society held their meeting [I have been a member for over 50yrs] I asked the Centre Manager if I could have the use of a room once a month to hold meetings, that was the start.  I must admit there have been times when I wondered if it was worth while going on when only 3 people attended, but never say Die, I am glad that I carried on and it has got to where the Branch is today.  Prior to starting the Stourbridge Branch, meetings were held in the 1970s once a week at Old Hill Conservative Club, named The Warley Branch. I used to attend there from time to time which were Organised by Ernest Montgomery {Monty] who at the time was President of the George Formby Society, but  by the early 1980s the Warley Branch came to a end. I can even go back to November 1973 when I attended my very first one day George Formby meeting held at the Victoria Hotel, Wolverhampton, and also the following year.