41 Club History
JOHN SHUTER - THE FIRST NATIONAL PRESIDENT 1945-47
After Louis Marchesi formed the first Round Table on 14th March 1927, the following year, a second Club was formed in Portsmouth and before long there were Round Table Clubs forming across the United Kingdom, Ireland and world-wide.
Seven years after Liverpool Round Table was formed in 1928, the members who had reached retirement age had so much enjoyed Round Table life; typically found that they could continue in membership if they became honorary members. The numbers of honorary members within the club grew to such that in 1936 they formed the first 41 Club. Ex-Tablers’ from other clubs soon followed suit, but the outbreak of the Second World War slowed things down a bit.
However, following the end of the war in 1945, four clubs, hosted by Wakefield 41 Club and supported by Liverpool 41 Club, London Old Tablers’ Society and Lytham St Annes 41 Club, met at Wakefield on the 13th May 1945 and, after considering and rejecting other names in typical Round Table banter, formed ‘The National Association of Ex-Tablers' Clubs’
The sole object of the Association was to link together, whatever their name or title, those clubs formed by Ex-Tablers’ for the purpose of continuing the friendships created in Round Table.
It was expected that Liverpool 41 Club as the first Club formed, would provide the new National President of the Association, but recognising the work done by John Shuter, the representative from London Old Tablers’ Society in promoting the idea for a new Association, John was duly elected as the first President of ’The National Association of Ex-Tablers’ Clubs’.
After the second National 41 Club Conference in Blackpool in 1947, Wakefield 41 Club proposed that the motto on the Menu Card used at the Conference should be adopted by the Association. Liverpool 41 Club, whose motto it was, raised no objection, and so, “May the Hinges of Friendship Never Grow Rusty” entered 41 Club.
Though now shortened to “May the Hinges of Friendship Never Rust”, the phrase actually comes from a poem entitled “To Continued Friendship” published in 1858, which in itself has become the Associations’ Final Toast.
Eastbourne 41 Club turned up at the 1949 Bournemouth Conference with a plaque bearing a design for a logo and pin badge. It consisted of the Round Table motif with the Latin numeral XLI imposed on it. This simple design upset two groups of people, namely Round Table who did not like the idea of their motif being nicked and the northerner 41 Club members pointing out that XLI whilst being a good idea had connotations with the beer X-L brewed up North!
A badge design did emerge consisting of a rising sun and the words ‘41’, but this was not well received so a number of new designs were proposed resulting in a short list of two, which were voted on at the Scarborough Conference of 1954. The final design chosen was ‘The sun at its meridian representing Ex-Tablers extending the Chain of Friendship to the four corners of the world’.
Typically of Ex-Tablers, Reading 41 Club upset the apple cart by proposing that the original badge had been fine, and after much last minute discussion the new badge and logo was accepted which is still in use today.
Also following the Bournemouth Conference in 1949, Wakefield 41 Club produced the first Association magazine or as called then the ‘Bulletin’. The magazine has evolved through many name changes and styles to the present glossy life style format ‘Link’ magazine that is now sent to every member in both hard and electronic copies.
The annual 41 Club Conference and AGM continue to be a highlight of the 41 Club year, having evolved from the delightful amateur feel of the early 1950s when it is recorded that “we all had a good time, which is borne out by the fact that the children went to bed at midnight, the ladies at 1.30 and the men folk at 3. To be followed by two 41ers who put on the dust sheets in the Palm Court and foraged in the ash trays.” Indeed at the banquet, it was in some ways quite formal with tails being obligatory for the top table until 1971!
Today 41 Club Conferences and AGM are professionally staged at large suitable venues across the country, but the fun and fellowship continues as strong as ever.
As Round Table continued to grow after the war, the number of 41 Clubs being formed increased rapidly and so did the ‘The National Association of Ex-Tablers' Clubs’
The formation of these 41 Clubs was not confined to the British Isles - they began to appear in countries overseas where Round Table flourished. In the early days many of these overseas clubs affiliated to the ’The National Association of Ex-Tablers Clubs’. As the number of overseas 41 Clubs grew, National Associations began to appear in other countries.
Inevitably the next step was the formation of an International Organisation. This happened in 1975, when the National Associations of Belgium, France and Germany together with our National Association formed ‘41 International’. The Inaugural Meeting was held on the 14th June 1975 at Le Touquet in France, the Founder International President being the Michael Matthews, then President of ‘The National Association of Ex-Tablers' Clubs’.
‘41 International’ continues to grow to this day and many 41 Club members have enjoyed the fun and fellowship as well as making new friends across the world at ’41 International’ functions, events and meetings.
At the 1966 41 Club Conference in Llandudno, after the passing of twenty-one years, Round Table presented 41 Club a beautiful silver candelabra holding three candles, one to represent our days in Round Table, one for our Association and one for the continuing light of friendship between the two.
To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of 60 years, Round Table presented 41Club with a ‘Friendship Torch’ which was blessed at a service in Birmingham Cathedral on 21st May 2005, followed by a Celebratory Lunch to which members from 41 Clubs throughout the world attended.
Plans are now in hand to celebrate the 70 years of 41 Club in 2015.
’The National Association of Ex-Tablers’ Clubs’ or 41 Club as more commonly called, continues to this day, evolving with the times, with new Clubs forming every year, meeting the needs of Ex-Tablers’, whether this be continued friendship over a meal or as more active 41 Clubs continuing to have fun, assisting the local community, or taking part in activities that they did when they were in Round Table.
’May the hinges of friendship never rust’ is a very apt motto for all who are or were members of Round Table.