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Cotswold Branch

Cotswold Branch

1983 – Present Day

Our story all begins with a mention in the Cartophilic Notes and News of March 1983. In case you do not have one to hand, it reads : “…three new branches, all either launched or about to be – Winchester and Solent, Kent, Cotswolds…”. We were an “about to be”, but not too long after, as it was on the 17th of March, 1983, at the rather grand Carlton Hotel in Cheltenham, that three local collectors met to discuss the next stage in their formation of “a little card club”.

We are delighted to report that two of those founder members are still very active in the hobby – one has designed the Official Cartophilic Society Convention Card for many years, and the other is currently our Branch Chairman! So three cheers for Geoff and Dave.

By 1985 we were rallying out at Swindon Village Hall in Cheltenham, with several Cartophilic Society luminaries attending! At that time we charged 20p to attend meetings and our annual subscriptions were £1; things have changed a little, and we now charge £1.50 as a meeting attendance fee, with annual subscriptions at £5, but we still feel this is great value!

From the meeting of September 16, 1987, we moved to new larger premises at the Cheltenham Motor Club, Priory Lawn, London Road, Cheltenham, and our meetings were held at this address every third Wednesday of each month. But we kept our rallies at the Swindon Village hall for several years, at least until 1989. At first we had one “all day” rally a year, usually the first Sunday in June, and it opened from 10 am till 4 pm. But it was so popular that it was decided to call that our “Spring” Rally and to add an “Autumn” in September.

At some point we moved to The Cotswold Area Civil Service Sports and Social Club in Tewkesbury Road, Uckington, Cheltenham GL51 9SL. Its a bright, modern building, which does not look like it has been on this site for over fifty years, and it also has the bonus of free, ample, car parking. Plus its own website at

Our Branch meetings took place on the third Wednesday of every month – apart from May, when we moved to the first Wednesday. They started at 7 pm, and lasted until about 9 pm. We even had a visiting dealer at each; John Shaw was a frequent regular, and we also had visits from Mike Towersey and Keith Johnson. In December we held a special Christmas event.

In 1989, George Hebden retired as secretary, having held the post since the branch was formed. It was written that he deserved applause for many things but it must be noted that due to his diligence there had been a branch report in every copy of Cartophilic Notes and News. His post was taken by Tony Gardner who had a definite flair for organising meetings, and it was his idea that Cotswolds Branch hosted the 1995 Cartophilic Convention at Cheltenham Town Hall.

In 2007 we again hosted the convention, and this time was the first time for the Cartophilic Society to visit Worcester. Even the sun was out for our visit, and it was a very well attended event with lots of cards changing hands. Our Branch Secretary did sterling work manning the door, which involves checking memberships and collecting admission from non-members, which at that time was £2. We managed to arrange for the Convention to be mentioned on the radio during the Steve Wright Show, which might have attracted a few of the new faces we saw on Saturday. There were a few niggles, queuing time at the café, and a lack of chairs, something which was echoed when we found out our AGM room was not available and we had been moved to a smaller room, usually seeing service as the nursery. See photos of the event – and unconventional seating at

Two life members were created at the event, Alan Stevens (our retiring membership secretary) and Vic Belshaw (who never did give up trying to save East Midlands Branch). Tony Walkley won the Cartophilic Cup, narrowly beating Gordon Howsden. We also announced the venue for the next year`s event to be Thetford in East Anglia. Sadly this did not work out and we ended up at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, instead.

Our hat trick was in 2015, when the Convention was at the Perdiswell Golf & Leisure Centre, in Bilford Road, on the way to Worcester. This year the Convention took place on the last Saturday and Sunday in April (25th and 26th), a bit of a change to our usual Friday and Saturday events. We opened the doors at 11 am and continued until 5 pm on the first day (though members, as always, had the first hour all to themselves) and then re-opened 10 am till 4 pm on the Sunday

In 2019 we took the decision to cancel our Spring Rally because it conflicted with Reading’s huge all day fair, which so many of our dealers and buyers also like to attend. We planned that Spring 2020 would be huge, in order to make up for missing last years, but it was not to be. Sadly our Spring this year was cancelled by coronavirus, and we fear that our Autumn will also fall by the wayside – though it would be wonderful if this was able to take place! Watch this page for the first signs of breaking news. And hope, as always, for the best.

[Our featured card is The Bell, Tewkesbury, card number 7 from Hignett “Celebrated Old Inns”, it`s right opposite Tewkesbury Abbey, and was built before Henry VIII was King. It is not the original building, having been rebuilt in 1696 after a fire. But it ably represents all of the lovely half-timbered buildings that still remain throughout the Cotswolds]

and many thanks to our Branch Sec. for all the additional info!

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