Amersham & Chiltern RFC – 1924-30
This page was written by Roger Cook, who has written a history of the club (now out of print).
Chiltern Rugby Club was formed in 1924, principally by the Halton family of Copperkins Lane, well supported by Eric Redfern and by rugby and sporting enthusiasts living in and around the Chesham Bois, Chesham, Amersham, Missenden, Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield areas. The club grew rapidly to run three regular senior sides and a schoolboy fifteen before 1928.
The enthusiasm for rugby was surprising, the closest private clubs being Thames Valley (now Maidenhead RFC), Reading and Oxford although it would be some seasons before fixtures could be arranged with these clubs; other fixtures were played in the Surrey Thameside area with the exception of the RAF (Halton). Local sports in the Chiltern area were very active and well organised, with football and cricket the major seasonal sports. The pecking order amongst the clubs was the same then as now, with Wycombe Wanderers then of the Isthmian league, the premier club of the area followed by Chesham and Amersham, then of the Spartan league In fact Chesham were so well supported they started a third eleven for the first time. Naturally field sports such as Hunting and Shooting were also active as they are today.
The villages of Holmer Green, Seer Green, Missenden and Kingshill, Ley Hill, Chalfont Wasps, Coleshill and many others were well established in the local Chesham Football league. The order within the cricket clubs was very much the same with the town sides of Amersham and Chesham leading the way with a history of supplying cricketers to the County and with the village sides well organised into the Chesham Cricket League formed in 1911, of which Ley Hill had in the 1924 season, won the first division.
Amersham Athletic CC formed in 1919 and now called Amersham Hill CC operated on one of the grounds considered for use by the Chiltern Rugby ground committee. Eric Redfern, the club’s first secretary, was directed to approach Mr. Nunn a local sports enthusiast, with an opportunist offer of between seven and ten pounds to secure the use of the Amersham Athletic Ground, Woodside Road. The Cricket club were at the time under threat of losing their ground to building speculators unless they could raise £1,000 to purchase the ground from Hyrons Farm, Woodside Road who were selling out. Through generous donations from the local community at the time of eviction, they have survived.
Other sports in the area such as athletics, cycling, bowls, tennis, shooting, equestrian, hunting and many others were prospering with the expanding population, which included new middle class commuters to London who were looking for their sport and leisure at weekends. The time and the area were ready to accept a permanent rugby club.
The first record of rugby being played in the Amersham and Chesham area was on 27th March 1915, between the 97th Field Company Royal Engineers and the 98th Field Company Royal Engineers on the Meadow, the home of Chesham Cricket Club. Both units located locally in support of WW1. Second Lieutenant S. Ayris, the Chesham Cricket Club opening batsman and a member of the 97th became the organiser. The match was arranged to raise funds to clear the debt of fourteen pounds accrued by the club and owed to the Lowndes estate, the owners of the sports ground; both teams fielded several local sportsmen, the result was never published. The idea of a local rugby club to serve the communities of Amersham and Chesham had originally been the plan of Ernest Gladstone Halton and his four London commuter companions, Donald Richardson, Bertie Side, Eric Redfern and son Ken Halton. Ernest as a young man had lived in Islington before moving in his early married life to Edmonton, North London and a former rugby player himself.
Examples of Bucks Examiner newspaper reports for Chiltern RFC first season:
Ernest Gladstone Halton was born 1874 in Islington, London and married Edith Salter in 1902. Ernest’s father Walter Fox Halton was the Principal Clerk for the GPO living in Soho, London and for some time Postmaster General for Egypt. Ernest moved to El Ezbah, Copperkins Lane, Chesham Bois (a house designed by J H Kennard) circa 1906 and commuted to his work in London. Ernest was internationally known as an Editor, Author and Critic for the Art Journal and the Studio Magazine. Among his many published works was ‘Modern Book Illustrators and their work and Sketches by Samuel Prout’, The Paris Exhibition 1900, etc. Ernest died at Harrow in 1958 aged 84. Ernest had three sons Hugh Walter, Kenneth Ernest both born in Edmonton, 1903 and 1905 and Geoff Herbert born in Amersham 1908. All were former captains of school rugby at Sutton Valance, Maidstone, Kent. Ernest was elected as one of only five pre-WW2 vice presidents of the club.
Hugh Walter Halton was born on June 7, 1903 Edmonton, London. Died: Nov. 2001, Winter Park, Orange County, Florida, USA. Married Christine Horton 1930 Rangoon. Founder Member, Captain 1924 and Chiltern RFC player 1924-1926.
Hugh Halton died at the age of 98. After Sutton Valance School Hugh attended the Royal School of Mines, University of London, where Hugh received a degree in metallurgical engineering. Following graduation from the university, in 1926 he sailed to Rangoon and spent 14 years in Burma mining Lead, Tin and Wolfram at Hermingyi near to Dawei where he unsuccessfully tried to duplicate the Chiltern Rugby experience. When Hugh returned to England on his first leave a year later Chiltern were running a Chiltern Second XV. In 1930 he married Christine Frances Horton in Rangoon.
Hugh became the manager of Consolidated Tin Mines of Burma. In 1937 he returned to England, and with the exception of a short stint at a mine in Portugal, he remained in the metals industry in England until 1940. Then Hugh travelled to Wallace, Idaho to oversee the start-up of a new refining process at a lead mine in that region. In 1941 his family sailed to America.
Hugh’s son Nick remembers: ‘My last memory of Britain was walking along the green walk above the beach at Goring by Sea, West Sussex and seeing all the barbed wire concertina roles, pill boxes and other anti-invasion obstacles on the beach itself. We were not really supposed to be there since we did not live permanently there, but we had to stay someplace until notified to proceed to Southampton to board the ship. I do know that after we had been “at sea” for two weeks, my mother spotted some land low down on the horizon. She asked one of the ship’s officers if that was North America and he replied that it was the North Coast of Scotland. Evidently we had been going up the West Coast of Britain, proceeding to sea during the day and running in towards land to pick up additional ships in the convoy at night. It took weeks in total. Embarked in the ship were some RN types who were going to the states to pick up a lend lease destroyer and sail it back. Most were young sailors and they pretty much ran amuck. We sailed in to Halifax and a group of Canadian Royal Marines came out in boats and took them all off under guard. Quite a tense nervous trip for the ladies as cabin doors were removed and replaced with curtains in case of the ship being hit by torpedoes and the doors jammed with people inside’.
Geoffrey Herbert Halton OBE: Born: 1908 Amersham, Bucks. Died: 1993, New Forest, Hants. Married: Nancy Peter, Liskard July 1937. Died 1967 Worcester. Founder Member and Chiltern RFC player 1924. Geoffrey moved to the family home in Killaspy, North Road, Chesham Bois from Ealing where he had trained in the research laboratory with Napier Aero Engineering in Acton Vale. Geoffrey and Nancy had two sons Tim and Robin. Tim died in 1995 and was married to Angela. They had four children and lived in Yorkshire. Robin died in the early 1970’s in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Kenneth Ernest Halton: Born: April 1908 Edmonton, London. Died: 1974, Goring, Nr. Worthing, West Sussex. Age 66. Married: Margil Macauley, St Pancras 1935. Founder member, President 1949-1951, Chairman 1924-1925, Captain 1925-1927, Chiltern RFC player 1924-19.
Ken commuted to London to work for a company associated with Lloyds of London with other like-minded friends who were keen on creating a rugby club in the Amersham area. He was survived by two sons Anthony and Simon. Together with their friend Eric Ainsworth Redfern, the experienced secretary of Chesham Bois Lawn Tennis Club, Ken set about arranging a game over the Christmas holidays against old boys from the local Berkhamsted School on their school ground to alternate the following season using Dr. Challoners School ground.
Donald Stanley Richardson was born in Uxbridge 1904, married Margery Turk In 1941 at Amersham and was resident at the Dial House, Bois Lane. Donald was well known as a big game hunter before the war and during WW2 was involved in the development with Barnes Wallace of the ‘Bouncing Bomb’ used by the famous Dam Busters 617 squadron.
The initial response by the local public was rewarding and a meeting was arranged at Eric Redfern’s family house ‘By the Way’, Clifton Road, Chesham Bois on December 20th, 1924 with the purpose of forming a permanent rugby club. A provisional committee was formed consisting of K.E Halton, D.S Richardson, H.W Halton, A.W.W Side, and E.A Redfern. Eric Redfern had attended Merchant Taylors where he learnt his rugby. His career was in textiles initially with Liberty’s as a salesman, maybe through a connection with Captain Ivor Stewart-Liberty. The family lived at ‘By the Way’, Clifton Road, a house built in 1923 by Eric’s parents Ben and Nancy.
Eric Redfern arranged with the local Amersham station master (described by Hugh Halton, then the last of the founder members living in Florida, U.S.A. in the 1980’s, “as a long thin individual with an amiable and agreeable disposition who always dressed with butterfly collars and L.N.E.R standard issue railway uniform”) to carefully position a hand written poster which would catch the eye of the commuters. It was later discovered that the stationmaster was severely censured by headquarters management for this action. The poster announced the formation of a rugby club which would become, for many years, the only club in the South of Buckinghamshire. Only Olney RFC in the far north of the county then existed, although from 1891 High Wycombe Rugby Club had existed but had disappeared from the records after a few seasons, maybe due to WW1.
It was through the Olney connection that Chiltern would become members of the East Midlands Rugby Union. A club with an open membership, which was unusual as nearly all other clubs at that time were Old Boys or private clubs with restricted membership. The poster at the station was very effective and it soon became very clear that there was more than enough support to sustain rugby in the area and so the match against Berkhamsted Old Boys went ahead as planned. For several years until WW2 this was to be a traditional Boxing Day match with no washing facilities and no tea for the players on their home Dr. Challoners school ground. Following the home match the Berkhamsted XV climbed into their bus and the Chiltern players walked to their homes in their muddy kit.
Eric Redfern: Eric was born in 1904 in Edmonton before his father moved to Chesham Bois. Eric having spent his early life working in London before he moved to Cheshire and Lancashire and was lost to the club.
The Berkhamsted XV for Boxing Day was drawn together by rugby enthusiast R.O Hutchison while K.E Halton led the visiting side. In spite of rain, the ground at Berkhamsted was in excellent condition that resulted in a fast and open game considering the two scratch sides. The Berkhamsted scrum included the Oxford Blue, A de H Boyd who went on to live in Ceylon and the experienced old Blue R.O Hutchison which enabled the Berkhamsted three-quarters to gain the advantage and score a try and a placed goal, eight points to nil at half time.
Hugh Halton in his early memoirs from Florida, USA clearly recalls that arrangements were made with Mr Yates of the Dr. Challoners Grammar School to play on their ground on alternate seasons. Mr Yates was also a member of the Chiltern Cricket Club as was the Haltons and the future President Ivor Stewart-Liberty.
The 1924 Chiltern Boxing Day team: D. Forbes (fullback), R.B Middleton, H.W Halton, E.A Redfern, N.S Finlason (three quarters) J. Tragett, K.E Halton (Capt.) (half-backs) I. Forbes, A.W.W Side, G.L Stroud, P.H Stacey, F.L Stroud, A. Smith, G.W.O Moore, O.E.F Moore, (forwards). Olaf Ernest Fine Moore at No.8 was much later to become a victim of the Second World War when he died of colitis as a prisoner of the Japanese at the Malai Camp, India in November 1943. He is commemorated locally on the Amersham war memorial and at Chiltern RFC. Olaf travelled to Singapore in 1934 and again in 1938.
Following the match, another meeting was held at Eric Redfern’s house on December 27th, 1924 where again Eric Redfern was again directed to try a local landowner Mr. Ivins in an attempt to hire his field in Clifton Road, Chesham Bois. Flushed with the immediate and responsive success Eric Redfern quickly announced that a general meeting would take place at the Halton household ‘El Ezbah’ in Copperkins Lane on Monday 25th, January 1925 where a formal governing and selection committee was formed. El Ezbah, Copperkins Lane became the official headquarters of the club until 1946.
Kenneth E Halton, Hugh W Halton, Donald S Richardson, Albert W.W Side and Eric A Redfern were elected as the general and selection committee with D.S Richardson elected as honorary treasurer and E.A Redfern as honorary secretary.
Playing members subscriptions were fixed for the rest of the season at ten shillings and sixpence for full members, ten shillings and sixpence for honorary members and five shillings for holiday, school and University members. The secretary was asked to purchase a set of club shirts as he had textile connections in the city, he chose a white shirt with a 7 inch claret band across the chest from Mr. George Lewin’s sports shop in Crooked Lane, City of London.
Each of the twenty members that attended the inaugural meeting were instructed to arrange a game against a club previously known to themselves and co-ordinate the fixture with Eric Redfern. Within the week, a complete fixture list was available for the rest of the season. A range of names for the newly formed club were discussed but Ernest Halton had previous experience of these debates, as a year earlier he had been involved in the formation of Chiltern Cricket Club, along with several members of the committee and it was to that name again that the majority voted with the additional title of Wanderers as the club at that time had no home ground.
Before the week was out Thomas “Teddy” Tyrwhitt-Drake and Mr. Ernest Harrison Forward, of Finches Lane, Little Chalfont, Estate, land speculator, developer and the owner of both Bakers Farm and the Pineapple Public House at Amersham Common had offered the use of the field behind his public house together with the use of an old cow shed adjacent to the public house as changing rooms and so the Wanderers in the proposed title of the club was abandoned and only used in future years for touring teams.
The first match of 1925 was arranged on 10th January, against the R.A.F (Halton) at the Halton Camp, Wendover. The match was played on a wet and heavy ground and Chiltern found themselves 12 points to nil down at half time. The second half was more even but the home side crossed the visitor’s line for three more tries, finally winning the game 21 points to nil. The following week, Saturday 17th January was the inaugural home match. The game was to be played on the clubs newly acquired home ground, the visitors were arranged to be Old Merchant Taylors.
The ground itself was in reasonable condition as Fred Jarvis, the local farmer, allowed his six cows to graze the field during the week, but posts had to be erected and thanks to Mr. Albert Gomm, a notable local sportsman and more important to the rugby club a builder and neighbour of the Haltons in Copperkins Lane, donated scaffolding poles and concrete to the club but more importantly, the basic foundations and erection techniques.
Bertie Side, Ken Halton and Hugh Halton, an unemployed student at the time, used his newly acquired knowledge of triangulation to mark out the pitch. Dr. J.C Gardner, a former Cambridge Blue at rowing, Captain of Amersham CC 1905 and Chairman 1904-1916, President of the Amersham Boxing Club. A notable local sportsman in his own right, who was also to be a future club vice president and as the Medical Officer of the Amersham Union, felt he was properly qualified and agreed to attend to cover for any first aid.
Mr. Hance, the publican of the Pineapple, agreed to provide teas at one shilling a head in the back bar and so all was ready for the kick off. The exception was the opposition who were forced to “call off” during the week through a shortage of players, it was an International weekend at Twickenham. At the last moment University Collage Hospital agreed to fulfill the fixture.
The match report in the Bucks Examiner ran to half a column, finishing with praise for the match referee Mr. R. Ross, a rugby enthusiast and club member who was later to organise a pool of club member referees. Throughout the game, he was not called upon to award either side a single free kick, but the end result was that Chiltern lost the game by 28 points to nil. Chiltern had to wait just one more week, 24th January 1925, to record their first ever win. The opponents were an Old Merchant Taylors XV in a rearranged match at the Pineapple ground. O.M.T’s home ground was then located in Teddington in 1925 and is now the home of St. Mary’s Hospital Sports Club. Many local boys attended Merchant Taylors and the match was no doubt organized through connections with Eric Redfern a former pupil.
The weather at Amersham Common was fine and the ground in excellent condition that encouraged a fast and open game. After fifteen minutes R.B Middleton playing on the right wing showed a turn of speed that carried him past three of the opposition to score Chiltern’s first ever points. W.A Scott playing at full back converted and for the rest of the half Chiltern attacked O.M.Ts line. They were finally rewarded with a second try, this time scored by the inside centre H.W Halton after some fine work by the half back Eric Redfern. The second half started with O.M.Ts setting up a fine attack which resulted in a line out at the Chiltern try line, from which O.M.Ts scored a try. With ten minutes left all the Chiltern backs combined to send the flying left wing, N.S Finlason over for the concluding try, giving Chiltern their first historic victory, 11 points to 3.
Fixtures were arranged for the rest of the season against the Wasps, Civil Service, Park House, National Bank, Lensbury, Old Paulines, Thames Valley, H.A.C, Old Whitgiftians and Arlington. Six games were won against O.M.Ts, Wasps, Park House, National Bank, Old Whitgiftians and Arlington and there were eight defeats.
In that first season forty players were used, N.S Finlason the flying left wing (who unfortunately died from cancer in June 1944 at 38 years of age) was the top point’s scorer with seven tries followed by K.E Halton and D.S Richardson with five tries each. The problem area in the Chiltern game was to find a full back who was also a place kicker. From over forty tries scored only seven were converted and in seventeen games a different full back was selected for each game, usually a forward from the game played the week before was nominated.
After the first home game it became obvious that the three coppers of hot water used as washing facilities and heated by fires set outside the cow shed that the existing facilities would not attract better teams to Amersham Common, particularly as the fires would often extinguish themselves on a wet day. Once again the Halton’s with help from Bertie Side and Eric Redfern and materials procured from Albert Gomm, a builder of Copperkins Lane with premises behind the Heatherton House School, set about building a concrete bath and renovating the old cow shed, unused by the pub, into some habitable changing rooms. The cow shed (changing rooms) was demolished about 2013.
A major problem for the club was the basic playing and changing facilities and despite all efforts to improve the situation at the Pineapple, the club felt it would never progress and improve their fixtures. An attempt to improve the situation included an abortive effort where an architect was engaged with a view to erecting a new pavilion for an estimated sum of £150, only to find that the site could not be drained.
A ground and pavilion committee was therefore set up under the chairmanship of Charles Herbert Penny, who also played his part for the club on the field as one of the club referees. It was to take several years and considerable effort by Charles, described by Giffard Newton as “a really dynamic man”, to negotiate finance and locate a suitable permanent site for the club. Gifford also recorded two facts when he played in his first game while still a Taunton schoolboy in 1928 on the Pineapple ground: ‘The stench of alcohol in the scrum, quite an experience to a youth who had only played schoolboy rugby. Two baths were only available for washing, these were filled by bucket from a supply in the pub. By the time it came for me to have a bath being a new boy, the water was nothing but thick mud’.
The secretary also reported that a Chiltern Seven had entered the West Herts R.F.C rugby sevens competition without any notable success. The club having established itself on the playing field then promoted several social events and on the 14th, March 1925 held their first club dance at the Amersham British Legion Hall. Tickets were five shillings and sixpence. Whiteside and Co. were engaged for the catering and dancing was to the music of Squire Newton’s Dance Band, an event that was to remain popular for some years.
There was an air of great excitement around Chesham Bois and Amersham at the start of the 1925/26 rugby season. The club playing membership had increased and an A XV was added to the fixture list. The club rules written by Eric Redfern had been agreed by the committee with subs for senior players set at one guinea. Pre-season meetings had been held and the inaugural 1924/25 committee had been re-elected ‘en bloc’ to represent the club for another season. Fixtures for the season had been finalised and trial matches arranged. The response to the trials was so encouraging that fixtures for a second XV, later to become the ‘A’ XV, were hastily arranged and Eric Redfern persuaded to become their captain.
Initially at the outset of the club, a figure of some standing in the local area was sought to boost the credibility of a sport that in the South of England was founded out the old boys, hospitals and services network. None more suited to the role was Captain Ivor Stewart- Liberty of The Lee. A keen sportsman himself who relished the idea of becoming the first President of Chiltern R.F.C.
Ivor brought to Chiltern as their first ever coach G.D. (Khaki) Roberts a lifelong friend. ‘Khaki’ was an outstanding sportsman. He not only excelled in his chosen profession in the courts of law but also on the rugby field as a player for England, Barbarians, Oxford University and Harlequins, a low handicap golfer and top class competitor at lawn tennis. Ivor and Khaki had a strong association not only from University but after the First World War from Chiltern Cricket Club and Chesham Bois Tennis Club that had friendly links with several members of the newly formed rugby club committee. The club gained the services of the experienced Baker brothers due to a new posting by the Army, the Bakers were immense characters who lived at Stanbridge House, Amersham, which has now become a block of apartments adjacent to Dr. Challoners School. Euston Edward Francis Baker C.B, C.B.E, D.S.O, M.C and Bar during WW1 had been mentioned in dispatches three times. Freddie had the distinction of being the youngest Colonel in the British Army at 23 years of age.
The club also secured the services of forwards, Justin Richardson who had played for Richmond F.C and S.G Sale, the Berkhamsted school captain of rugby. The club also gained the full time services of A.G Keeble at full back. He had just left school and would resolve the place-kicking problems of the previous season. Geoffrey Francis Alcock Grubbe was the oldest surviving player from the Pineapple era who died in 2000. He joined the club from Berkhamsted School. He was 18 years old when he was persuaded by Eric Redfern to take up rugby for Chiltern. Starting on the wing in the first ever Chiltern A XV against Rosslyn Park B XV on the 16 October 1925 but preferred playing in his favoured position of loose forward, by his own admission being a bit short of pace and physical presence ever to play in any other XV.
Geoffrey had moved to the family home in North Road, Chesham Bois from Ealing where he had trained in the research laboratory with Napier Aero Engineering in Acton Vale. He played a little rugby with the company’s team at their magnificent Acton Town Sports ground, now used by the Old Actonians Association. Geoffrey in the summer played cricket for St. Michael’s Church together with other Chiltern members and Amersham C.C, but mainly for the Thursday XI. His favourite way of keeping fit was to run around Chesham Bois Common.
Wanting an outdoor experience in agriculture Geoffrey applied to the Hudson Bay Company and after an initial training period he was sent to Canada. He was located in the West of Winnipeg between Rapid City and Carnegie. After two years and the worst of winters he returned to England. The outdoor life still beckoned and he toured the world spending time in South America, following the Amazon River from its source to its mouth and then touring Australia. When WW II arrived Geoffrey joined the Royal Fusiliers, gaining a commission in 2nd Herts Territorial Regiment before being seconded to the Royal Indian Army, serving in India and Burma.
After the war he returned to take up a position at Wisley where he trained in Horticulture, securing work in the Amersham and Chesham areas as a landscaper and gardener, working until he was over ninety years of age. He was instrumental in the reconstruction of the Chesham Bois Common pond in 1995. His memorial service was held at St Leonards, Chesham Bois where the club was represented. Another new player for the 1925/26 season was Jack Gardner, a useful A XV loose forward, one of the many players who went on to play for the club for many years. Jack as a Sergeant in the Military Police was last seen in Antwerp in 1944 during WWII on a motorbike. At that particular time, directing Dick Wheeler’s tank, the 1937/38 season club captain, off a landing craft and through the docks and on to Germany via Arnhem. Jim Randall another Chiltern player who played in Dick Wheeler’s side also landed his tank as part of the same “Market Garden” Operation.
Ron Webb joined the club and became a stalwart member particularly before and through World War II years and whose background was via Webb and Foulger, formerly R Webb and Sons, a Chesham company making brushes of which Henry Webb was the part owner and happened to be the uncle of Ron Webb and like ‘Giff’ Newton an Old Tauntonian. Both had family connections with the well-established Chesham Cricket Club who had strong support from the Lowndes family of Chesham.
Ron Webb was manager at the Chesham factory until 1957. The business was then amalgamated with United Transport and Ron with his golden handshake brought a preparatory school in Surrey. His wife Connie, in the summer of 1932 won the Chesham Bois Lawn Tennis Club Ladies single championship and Ron just managed to lose in the men’s final. Ron’s son occasionally visited the club. At Christmas time, the club found ample support among the younger players, home from school. So strong was the support, that the committee arranged their first ever youth game against West Herts, played at Watford on the 30th December 1925. O. St. J Hamlin recalled that he scored the first try.
The team selected: E.E Carter, O. St J Hamlin, D.S Batchelor, G.S Sidford, J. Speer, S.M.L Hattrick, G.H Halton, S.M Bennett, L. Side, S.G Sale, A.G Kebble, G.de Mendel, D.J Adamson, J.Glauert, J.Teagle.
The committee noted the requirement for youth rugby and matches for the schoolboys and younger players were arranged for the school holidays. The highlight being a match played against Rosslyn Park Public Schools XV on January 13th at Old Deer Park, Richmond and covered by the national press. The Daily Telegraph listed the following Chiltern XV: M.C Black (Brighton) G. Beyts (Wellington) H.P Deane (Dundalk, Dublin) C.D.R Gray (Fettes) M. Ionoff (Brighton) G.N Hooper (Christ`s Hospital) N.L Kelly (Eastbourne) S.G Sale Capt. (Berkhamsted) V.F Sheppard (Berkhamsted) G. Stroud, E.M Jukes (Merchant Taylors) S. Black (Berkhamsted) W.N.D Lang (Sherborne) H.D Oclee (Tonbridge). C.D.R Gray in the backs, S.G Sale, E.M Jukes and V.F Sheppard for the forwards were noted as the star players for Chiltern. The result being in favour of Rosslyn Park 36 points to 23.
The Schools holiday XV expanded their fixture list taking on matches against Rosslyn Park, London Irish and The Merlin’s, a Public School XV. All these matches were reported in the national press, in particular the Daily Telegraph. The match against The Merlin’s reported that the Chiltern outsides were superior but the forwards were outweighed, J. Parry and H. Vick made several good runs and J. Romer and P. Norton played well in the forwards.
The A.G.M at the end of the 1925/6 season was held at the Griffin Hotel, Amersham with Captain Ivor Stewart-Liberty in the chair. The officers for the coming season, the accounts and the revised rules of the club were proposed by Colonel E.E.F Baker and were all adopted in thirty four minutes. From the Griffin all the members adjourned to The Crown, where they were joined by numerous friends to sit down to the first annual club dinner. Captain Stewart-Liberty once again presided and his good friend Major G.D (Khaki) Roberts, treated the assembly to one of his renowned after dinner speeches.
Ken Halton 1st XV captain, in his inaugural speech mentioned that both F. Walker and P.M Bennett would have trials for East Midlands the following season. He also mentioned that the 1st XV had improved greatly since Captain F. Stroud had taken over the leadership of the forwards. Mr. Curtis representing the East Midlands Rugby Union replied for the visitors speaking of the success of the new club.
The 1925/6 season started and there was no firm agreement reached about a new ground. Charles Penny had opened negotiations with Teddy Tyrwhitt-Drake for a piece of land in Weedon Lane but had heard no more. Other possible areas had been viewed, in Chiltern Road, Clifton Road, Chesham Road, Rectory Hill, Chestnut Lane, White Lion Road, Elm Close and Rickmansworth Road without any positive movement by the owners when approached. The club was again offered the pitch behind the Pineapple at an annual rental of £10, with the use of a cottage as changing accommodation for ten shillings a week.
This was regarded as being too expensive and the landlord and vice-president Mr. E Forward was approached about the cost, which he immediately waived, much to the relief of the committee as there was great interest being shown by the local community in the new rugby club. With other sites unavailable Charles Penny decided to pursue his preliminary discussions with the Shardeloes Estate regarding the purchase or lease of seven acres at a site between Weedon Lane and Copperkins Lane. The enquiries were also being monitored by the Chiltern Council as they had also had designs on the site. The pressure was increasing to give Shardeloes a firm offer so Charles called a special meeting to discuss his progress towards securing a new ground.
Charles Penny summarised his efforts to obtain the selected ground located off Weedon /Copperkins Lane, he stated: ‘that at least £1000 would be required to purchase the land and build a clubhouse’. The assembly of members agreed that the future success of the club could be based on having its own facilities and agreed to approach the R.F.U and the East Midland Rugby Union for a loan and negotiate a 35 year lease for the ground from the Shardeloes Estate.
The R.F.U were able to make loans for the first time at 2.5 percent fixed interest. The amount was not to exceed 2/3 value of the land. Preference was given to clubs purchasing their own grounds. It was later to transpire that the land could have been purchased for £1,050 and a pavilion would have cost a further £500 but the R.F.U refused the loan because the question of ground access did not meet their requirements.
Charles had then personally sought out ten neighbours and friends to guarantee £50 each, on this basis that he hired an architect to draw up plans for a clubhouse. By the February of 1926, it was reported that the A XV had so many players available that the club would be aiming to run a third team. The committee decided to postpone the decision to run a ‘B’ XV until the following season. With Dr. Challoners Old Boys starting a football team in 1926, the demand on the youth of Amersham and Chesham Bois had suddenly reached new proportions, certainly the number of members at Chiltern had increased beyond expectations.
The A.G.M for the 1926/27 season was once again held at the Griffin Hotel Amersham. At the meeting it was decided to form a committee to run a third team, the ‘B’ XV. Membership had risen to 149 of whom 60 were full playing members. The selection committee with a non-playing chairman would meet to select teams ten days before the match so that players could be told where they were playing on the Saturday before.
The club opened the 1927/28 season with trials at the Pineapple ground such was the success of rugby in the area. The first game against West Herts ended in a drawn game, both sides failing to score. However as the season progressed Injuries and bad weather took their toll and several games were cancelled.
On the 8th October Chiltern B XV played their first game against Artists Rifles ‘B’ at Osterley Park. Winning by 26 points to nil, scoring seven tries and one goal, N. Kelly scoring three tries, P. Ford two tries, M. Browne and J. Rattle one each and J. Moir scoring the goal.
The first Chiltern B XV: G.Key, (Fullback) H.Rattle, P.Ford, A.G Keeble, J.Rattle, A.M Browne, N.Kelly, G.Kelly (Capt.) J.Glauert, A.Henderson, R.Henderson, J.W.J Moir, T.Welch, H. Salmond, C.Mawer.
At times throughout the season the club had more players available than games and on 6th January 1928, a ‘C’ XV was arranged, the club lost the match against R.A.F Halton 12 points to 3. The A.G.M. for the 1927/28 season was again held at the Griffin Hotel followed by the annual dinner at the Crown Hotel, Ernest G. Halton was in the chair and the club was proposed by Mr. Blackwood an Old Cranleighan, an opponent in the match played that afternoon. The club for the 1928/29 season again elected C.H Penny as Chairman, R.Nott as 1st.XV captain, R.W Webb as vice-captain, M.J Abbott as A XV captain, H.Salmond as B XV captain. K.E Halton as Secretary, I.T.W Cownie as Treasurer, and G.H Halton as Match Secretary. The secretary R.B Middleton reported that the club had 149 members of which 60 were full playing members.
The British Broadcasting Corporation were setting up and experimenting with test broadcasts on closed circuits for their future outside broadcasting service covering England v Wales on 21st January 1927 at Twickenham. H.B.T (Teddy) Wakelam, the Captain of Harlequins A XV and the newly assigned BBC commentator for rugby union was great friends of the club president, Captain Ivor Stewart- Liberty and club coach G.D. (Khaki) Roberts a former Harlequins team member. Together they used the Chiltern club match against Rosslyn Park to test the quality of signal and to give ‘Teddy’ much needed commentary practice before the first International England and Wales 21st January 1927. Teddy had a system mapped out using squares that was used for ten years before he became thoroughly familiar with the reporting technique.
Teddy had a blind man from St Dunstan’s sitting alongside to listen to his description and content of the match. Teddy found that continuity of a story supplied by his co-commentator Charles Lapworth was his key factor as his commentary was likely to run away with too much game detail. In March 1938 the first televised match England and Scotland put Teddy’s radio commentary into second place with the exception of a great following from the far situated British Commonwealth rugby fans. Teddy stated ‘that there comes a method of expression that plain everyday ordinary speech is by far the best. It is no good endeavoring to embark on long well rounded phrases, or snappy journalistic titbits, and you are then left high and dry on the air like gasping fish. Moreover, plain simple stuff is far easier for the listener to grasp’. This was primarily the idea of the numbered square system.
At the start of the 1928-29 season Eric Redfern, one of the remaining players of the first ever match and a key member in the clubs foundation hung up his boots, having suffered a serious shoulder injury the previous season. This left only the brothers Halton and R.B Middleton as inaugural playing members. The Schools holiday XV were increasing their fixture list taking on matches against Rosslyn Park, London Irish and The Merlins, a public school XV. All these matches were reported in the national press, in particular the Daily Telegraph. The match against The Merlins reported that the Chiltern outsides were superior but the forwards were outweighed, J.Parry and H.Vick made several good runs and J.Romer and P.Norton played well in the forwards.
The secretary recorded that Chiltern R.F.C had agreed to propose Old Wycombiensians as members of the R.F.U later to be renamed as High Wycombe RFC. High Wycombe had originally been formed as a rugby club in 1891 in association with the football club but had dispersed before WW1, presumably later reformed as Old Wycombiensians in 1927. This meant that Chiltern had another local club to play. Chiltern already had fixtures in Wycombe against The Royal Grammar School and Wycombe Old Boys. Both of these clubs were later to be absorbed into High Wycombe RFC. The Chiltern B XV team included Giff Newton, then a Taunton Schoolboy. Later in the season, Giff Newton home from Taunton School made his debut for the 1st XV on March 1st against Old Blues, a game that was lost 16 points to 0.
The A.G.M for the 1928/29 season recorded that the club had shown steady progress in playing strength which reflected in the record number of wins in the clubs short history due to the improved playing strength and consistently turning out three XV’s. The number of matches may have been greater but for the extended bout of frost later in the season. The season results were: 1st XV Played 21 Won 16 Lost3 Drawn 2 Points for 316, Against 115. A XV Played 21 Won 9 Lost 11 Drawn 1 Points for 234, Against 219. B XV Played 16 Lost 9 Lost 17 Points for 180 Against 188.
The 1st XV in 1929-30 opened their sixth season and the last season at the Pineapple with a match against a West Herts XV winning the match by 3 goals and three tries, 24 points to a try, 3 points. The A XV playing at Watford also had a victory over West Herts 14 points to 6. The B XV playing on the extra home pitch in Cokes Lane. Little Chalfont lost to West Herts 19 points to 9. The club had recruited several new players amongst them was John Raymond Evans, a hooker who had previously played for the Welsh Secondary Schools and Newport R.F.C.
In memoriam to the Chiltern R.F.C members who in the cause of freedom gave their most precious gift. World War II 1939-1945.
Major J.E Anthony. 5th Bn Grenadier Guards. Died Jan 1944 Age 32 Commemorated at: Anzio War Cemetery, Italy and Chesham Bois War Memorial.
Captain M. Cooke-Hurle. 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry, R.A.C. Died August 1944 Age 36 Commemorated at: Bayeux Cemetery, France.
Capt. E.J.R Davies. 130 Field Reg RA. Died May 1943 Age 28 Commemorated at: Rangoon Memorial. Myanmar.
Captain G.L Day. Seaforth Highlanders. Died April 1945 Age 25 Commemorated at: Rangoon Memorial.
Flying Officer B.F Dill-Russell. RAFVR 115 Sqdn Witchford. Died February 1944. Commemorated at: Runnymede Memorial, Surrey.
Lieutenant J.R Evans. 3rd Bn Parachute Regiment. Died March 1943 Age 29 Commemorated at: Tabarka Ras Rajel War Cemetery, Tunisia.
Pilot Officer W.J Frost. RAFVR. 44 Sqdn Waddington. Died November 1941 Age 29. Commemorated at: Runnymede Memorial Surrey and Beaconsfield War Memorial.
Flight Sergeant D.E Gale. RAFVR Died September 1943. Commemorated at: Christiansborg Cemetery, (Gold Coast) Ghana
Captain J.H Grayburn. V.C. 2nd Bn Parachute Regiment (1st Parachute Brigade) Died September 1944 Age 26 Commemorated at: Oosterbeek War Cemetery and Chalfont St Giles War Memorial.
Lieutenant C.N Hembrow. 42nd (23rd Bn The London Reg.) Royal Tank Reg. Died November 1941 Commemorated at: Halfaya Sollum War Cemetery, Egypt and Gerrards Cross War Memorial.
Flight Lieutenant J.P Hodgkinson. DFC and Bar, D.S.O 23 Sqdn. RAF Died July 1943 Age 27 Commemorated at: Beach Head War Cemetery, Anzio, Italy and Amersham War Memorial. Captain J.E.D Lobb. 51st (The Leeds Rifles) Royal Tank Reg. Died April 1943 Age 26 Commemorated at: MEDJEZ-EL-BAB Cemetery, Tunisia and Amersham War Memorial.
Squadron Leader J. McCallum. R.A.F Died October 1946 Commemorated at: Yokohama Cemetery Japan.
Private O.E.F Moore. 1st (Perak) Bn. Federated Malay States Volunteer Force. Died November 1943 Age 40 Commemorated at: Thanbyuzayat Cemetery Myanmar and Amersham War Memorial.
Major H.D Oclee. 1st Bn The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) Died April 1943 Age 34. Commemorated at: Massicault War Cemetery, Tunisia.
Lieutenant H.W Ross. 1st Bn. Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) Died July 1943 Commemorated at: Cassino Memorial, Italy and Amersham War Memorial.
G.E Sale REUTERS Ltd War Correspondent. Died September 1943 Age 38 Commemorated at: Salerno War Cemetery, Italy. Houses of Parliament.
Sub- Lieutenant J.A.G Sidford. RNVR Fleet Air Arm. HMS Malabar. Died January 1942 Age 24 Commemorated at: Lee-on-Solent Memorial.
Captain D.E Smith. 24th Field Regiment RA. Died January 1944 Age 34 Commemorated at: Anzio War Cemetery and Chesham Bois War Memorial.
Squadron Leader I.G Statham. AFC 177 Sqdn. RAFVR Died March 1943 Age 35 Commemorated at: Rangoon War Cemetery Myanmar
Captain R.T Turner-Hughes. No.3 Special Services Bn. Royal Welch Fusiliers: Died October 1942 Age 25 Commemorated at: Johannesburg West Park Cemetery Gauteng, S. Africa.
Capt. D.D. Tweddle. RA. Died November 1944 Age 25 Commemorated at: Imphal War Cemetery, India and Gerrards Cross War Memorial.