RAA GLASGOW BRANCH HISTORY/THE RA CLUB
"The Royal Artillery Association was formed in 1920; its main objects are to assist retired and serving members of the Royal Artillery and further the welfare of past and present Gunners, also to create a bond of comradeship between all Gunners.
The Glasgow Branch of the Association was formed in 1928 and held their meetings in the R.A.Club up until 1990 when they moved to the T.A.Center in Crow Road. They meet the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 8 p.m.
Any Gunners interested can contact them through their Web Site; Glasgow Branch Royal Artillery Association, or leave a message which I will gladly pass on to their Chairman.
On Thursday 1st November 1928 a meeting was held in the Christian Institute, Bothwell Street, Glasgow. The purpose of the meeting was to investigate the possibility of forming a club and branch of the R.A.A.
It brought together officers already members of the R.A.A. Serving members of the two R.A.T.A. centres and ex-gunners from the Glasgow area.
The next meeting attracted a crowd of over 700, unfortunately only 150 decided to join up. As regular meetings took place it was decided that the formation of the branch should take priority much to the disquiet of those wishing for a club, as the branch grew in strength the club was finding it difficult to get up and running, mainly due to the fact that the branch had a number of officers who had no interest in a club.
Fortunately two officers in particular were interested in both club and branch, Major W Ritchie and Captain L.R.Craddock. They deserve most of the credit for helping to build a club and branch that was to last for another 64 years, they not only gave up their time but also paid out grants from their own pocket for deserving cases. Both served as office bearers for 17 years as President and Vice-President for club and branch.
While the branch was actively holding meetings at several locations, the club was finding it difficult to obtain premises suitable for a club, it was not until 1935 when the club finally acquired a lease on property at 38 Elmbank Crescent that the club became established.
While the club was becoming financially sound the opposite was happening regarding the branch, large number of branches throughout the U.K. were closing, this was partly due to the second world war. Radical changes were required, and so the country was divided into regions, each region being sub-divided into districts which in turn were to look after their branches. Demands on the Charitable Fund and finding means to restore damage to the many monuments associated with the R.A. was causing a great strain on resources, it was no surprise that after a few years the Glasgow branch was not able to raise the capital to be an active branch, a decision by London to close the Regimental office in Glasgow meant that it was more difficult for the men returning from the war to get assistance, London recognised this situation and asked the club to take over the responsibilities of the branch.
The R.A.A. West of Scotland District was formed in 1946, as the majority of the registered members were also members of the R.A.Club this caused several problems with duplication. In 1950 the district office closed and all Association business was transferred to Edinburgh much to the annoyance of the club as they had never even been consulted, this decision meant that there was no R.A.A. branch in Glasgow, a situation which lasted right through to the sixes. To celebrate the Coronation of Her Majesty The Queen, club member Mr. A. Miller, a flag maker, presented to the club, an Artillery flag and a Union flag which can be seen in the foyer of the T.A.center in Crow Road
As the sixties approached, the War Memorial houses in Mosspark, although maintained by Earl Haig Homes, requested assistance with re-decoration and repairs. The club decided to send volunteers to help and to provide a Xmas parcel for each house. This action once more brought together the club and branch who agreed to work out a policy that would be beneficial to both. It should be pointed out that one event in particular that carried on despite all the difficulties was the inter branch bowling competition, all the Scottish branches were keen to participate in this event.
1960 was a difficult year for the club, as gunner membership was declining the club started to admit more associate members, while this decision helped to reverse the financial situation, it brought with it other problems which were counterproductive to being a regimental club. Many senior members were of the mind that the club should resist the changes that were being proposed and decided to step down rather than participate in the new wave of optimism.
In the final years of the sixties, major changes in the management committee of the club took place, a new secretary and a new treasurer were introduced, systems including cash and carry and changes regarding subscriptions were implemented, a substantial increase in drawings allowed the club to carry out extensive renovations giving the club a more modern appearance, this in turn brought more people into the club.
The success of the sixties carried on into the seventies which turned out to be the most active and profitable decade in the club’s history, the branch had been re-established with its own separate office bearers, £500 held by the club was transferred into a branch account, a ladies section of the R.A.A. was formed, many activities and visits took place during this period, relations between London, Edinburgh and Glasgow were at their highest level, the club and branch celebrated their 50th Anniversary with a dance in the Plaza Ballroom, although it had been a great 10 years, everything was about to change. The eighties saw the membership of the club take a dramatic drop in gunner members, younger men leaving the regiment were more interested in the modern version of entertainment, venues starting late going into the wee small hours playing disco music was more to their liking.
To meet the ever increasing costs of running the club such as the huge increase in rates, more and more associate members were allowed membership, accepting their support also meant giving them more say in the running of the club, the Ladies Section in particular was very successful in raising funds, as it became more difficult to get gunner members to act on the committee, their places were filled with associate members, this also caused some concern as the only members allowed a vote were the Ordinary Members ( gunners ), and by 1990 their number stood at just 39 while associate membership was 250.
It was now obvious that the club was no longer a bone-fide regimental club in the true sense of the word, all the old traditions in relation to the Royal Artillery had diminished; the constant struggle to make ends meet was not something the few gunners left were prepared to take on. The situation was not helped by some of the older members who decided that the branch would be better served by moving out of the club to hold their meetings at the T.A.centre in Crow Rd. The same members were also conscience that closing the club would benefit them by several thousand pounds, and so a decision was taken by the gunner members that the club should be wound up.
As in accordance with the club constitution, the property was sold for £115,000 and distributed to the gunner members, investments valued at £20,000 plus the money raised from the sale of movable assets was distributed amongst all members, and £2,000 donated to Erskine hospital.
The club closed officially on the 5th May 1991, Branch meetings continue the 3rd Wednesday of each month at Artillery House Crow Rd. Glasgow
Thank You Bill Park for this information
"Glasgow in the late twenty's was like any other Scottish city, trying to come to terms with mass unemployment, poor conditions and the struggle to make ends meet.
One group of men who considered themselves more fortunate than others were the Gunners of the two Royal Artillery T.A. Units stationed in West Princes Street and Taylor Street in Townhead.
They decided to help by going round the more affluent parts of Glasgow asking for food and clothing which they distributed to those in most need.
While there was no difficulty in handing out the food, finding storage space for clothing and other items collected was causing quite a problem, initially they were given permission to use the stores in the T.A.centres. When this was withdrawn the idea of starting a Club, not just for social reasons, but also to use as a distributing centre, was formed.
About the same time a group of Artillery officers were already members of the R.A..Association and had elected a secretary who was responsible for collecting their subscriptions and passing them on to London.
While they recognised themselves as being a Branch they realised that only by accepting the general rules of the Royal Artillery Association could Glasgow be accepted as a Branch, the officers were agreed that should a meeting be called to consider the formation of a branch they would give it their full support, and if successful, would hand over their membership cards and subscriptions to the new administration.
On 1st November 1928 the first meeting to consider the formation of a Branch and Club took place, although the elected Chairman found it necessary to explain the difference between Branch and Club, it was agreed that everyone would work together towards the establishment of both.
However, over a period of time and as the meetings progressed, less officers were taking an active interest in the running of the branch while the club was gaining a lot of support, by 1935 the activities of the branch had more or less become the responsibility of the club who were looking after the interests of all members, fortunately some officers had shown a great interest in the success of both club and branch, this brought a response from RA Headquarters in London who asked the club to take over the full running of the branch, i.e., electing office bearers , looking after the war memorial houses, the club auditor to act as factor, and in general all Association business, this was the situation that lasted through to the late sixties, when the branch was once again reinstated as a separate organisation.
Thank You Bill Park for this information