Chairman of the Buxton Branch of the Royal British Legion, Brian Mycock, delves into the archives on a trip down memory lane to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the organisation, known affectionately as ‘The Legion’.
After the 1914-1918 war a local Comrades Association was formed and with the help of Canadian wounded still in Buxton, they opened a headquarters in Spring Gardens.
At the formation of the Legion, the Buxton branch was formed on July 21, 1921, and has been here ever since.
Pre-World War Two, the branch was able to host the National Conference of the Legion in 1936 with the help of the local council, using the Pavilion Gardens and Temple Fields for parades. Over 10,000 ex-service personnel from all over the country took part. I believe this was the first time German ex-service personnel were present at a National Conference.
At this time all meetings were held at the Eagle Hotel. It was also where special ‘Dug Out Nights’ took place, where bread, cheese and tea were enjoyed in candlelight and surrounded by sacking as during the war. Very many of these members served together in the Notts and Derby (Sherwood Foresters) Battalions, in France.
In 1938, the branch held a Festival of Remembrance at the Pavilion Gardens.
After World War Two, the branch decided to raise funds to buy property for a club for the many returning home, and this resulted in the purchase of Hardwick Hall from Derbyshire County Council. The official opening was conducted by the Marquis of Hartington MC in 1947, later to become the Duke of Devonshire.
A strong women’s section was formed in 1928. Their headquarters was at the Oddfellows Hall, prior to moving to Hardwick Hall, a move which was commemorated with a fancy dress party. Sadly, the women’s section closed some years back at local level.
In the local wells dressing we had a horse and cart in the 1927 parade, and in 1947 a Marchingtons (Dove Holes) lorry. In 1962, the Duke of Devonshire MC unveiled a bronze memorial plaque, mounted on the clubroom wall and dedicated by the vicar of Buxton Rev C Storrs Fox MA.
In 1965, three members, E Parker, L Blake and G Roberts returned 25 years after the fall of Oignies, where they served, and paid their respects to the local boys buried there. The branch entertained the band from Oignies and made exchange visits between 1966 and 1967 which led to the twinning with Buxton.
In 1972, the British Legion became the Royal British Legion.
The Buxton branch has continued to keep going, despite the burden of such a large building (owned by the Legion). This has led the local committee to try and obtain smaller premises many times. Even last year we had hopes of taking over the ex-Liberal Club property at Fairfield, but this fell through with great disappointment.
We still join the town in remembrance of the fallen of all wars in November each year and are available to help any ex-service personnel and families.
We do need more members. There is always a chance to join - although an ex-service organisation, any person interested in what we stand for can join as a branch member.
The club, now in its 65th year, is open to anyone wishing to support the charity and again could do with a renewal of members.