From the Archives

Directors’ Meeting at Roehampton Club – January 1921

Several meetings involving the Directors of the Club took place 100 years ago to deal with the financial after-effects of the First World War and the consequences of a successful re-introduction of sporting activity at Roehampton Club and a significant number of new Members.

The first of these General Meetings took place on Saturday 22nd January 1921, when Colonel Miller stated that the Club’s claim for compensation from the War Office has been fixed by the War Compensation Court at £24,625, one shilling and eight pence with an additional £21 towards costs. These amounts are equivalent to approximately £1.2m and £1,035 in today’s money and were intended to cover the costs associated with the use of the Club by two Aeronautical Divisions of the Armed Forces which came together at the end of the conflict to become the RAF.

These bodies were known at the time as the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and the Royal Flying Corps. The playing fields were used as a training facility for the Balloon Observation Officers taken up in the air in a small basket to learn the skills of spotting enemy positions and gun placements. These individuals became known as the ‘Balloonatics’ as they could be expected to be shot down within a fortnight of seeing action. Roehampton Club and nearby Richmond Park was a natural location for this activity and its proximity to Central London. Aside from the use of the playing fields, the Polo Pavilion was used as the Headquarters of the Royal Naval Air Service.

Following the discussion on the War Office Compensation, the meeting acknowledged the role of Mr Armitage Gates in securing these amounts and agreed his fee for his services to the Club. The next agenda item in the minutes of the meeting was also introduced by Colonel Miller who reported the large increase in playing members and proposed the appointment of a Games Manager. The Directors resolved that Major DR Larcombe be appointed in this capacity at a remuneration of £450 per annum (£22,174 in today’s money).

Major Dudley R Larcombe had been recruited by Charles Miller at the beginning of the First World War following his role as Tournament Director for the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships. His wife Ethel was a Wimbledon Champion and took on a tennis coaching role at Roehampton Club in the same year that the Major was appointed Games Manager. The final agenda item in the meeting, refers to the Directors wishing to place on record their great appreciation for the services of Mrs CD Miller during the War when she undertook the honorary management of the Club in the absence of her husband, Colonel Miller and the Secretary, HG Arnold. It was also decided that a bonus of £100 be granted to Mrs Miller for her valuable services.


Steve Riedlinger | Club Archivist