Thames and Avon Branch of the Murray Club
Apprentice Boys of Derry
The Thames and Avon Branch of the Murray Club has the distinction of being the first English Apprentice Boys of Derry Club to be formed outside of the Liverpool area. The idea of forming an Apprentice Boys of Derry Club in the South of England had been considered for a number of years by members of the other Loyal Orders here in southern England. The idea became a reality when on the 21st August 1982 the club was presented with it's charter at the Landor Hotel, Clapham North, London. The late Brother Ronald Magee was installed as the first President and Officers of the Parent Murray Club in Londonderry were in attendance on this auspicious day. The Club returned to the Landor Hotel the following year with a social evening to celebrate it's first anniversary and to raise money for the UDR Benevolent Fund. Fundraising was also under way at that time to enable the Club to purchase a Bannerette.
The Club's membership quickly increased and by the end of 1982 there were 26 on the books who came from all over the south of England - from Essex to Cornwall. As the membership was so widely spread the Club did not have a fixed meeting venue, but instead met at locations where there was a cluster of members such as in London, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Oxford and Bristol.
After a few years the membership was approaching the 50 mark and the time had come to build on the missionary work of the Club by forming new Clubs in areas where there was a quorum of members. The first offshoot Club was the City of London Campsie Club, which was formed in 1985. This was followed by the Solent and Southdown Browning Club which was founded at Portsmouth on 22nd August 1987 to coincide with Thames and Avonís fifth anniversary celebrations being held there. Members from the City of London Campsie Club were subsequently able to open the City of Westminster and Benfleet Campsie Clubs.
The Club continued its nomadic life by meeting in various locations but with the membership now concentrated in the Oxford, Bristol and Plymouth areas. The loss of members to the new Clubs formed from the Thames and Avon Club started to take it toll and the fortunes of the Branch began to wane in the early 1990ís. The Club continued to meet, albeit infrequently, until the mid 1990s, but after the meeting in Swindon in June 1995 no formal meetings were held for over 3 years and the future for the Club looked uncertain. However the Charter was not returned to the Parent Club in the hope that things would improve. Then in 1998 some members of the City of Westminster Campsie Club transferred to the Club and at a meeting in Oxford on 25th November 1998 the Club was re-launched. Since then the membership has built steadily and the Club is meeting again in Oxford and Bristol.
The Officers and members look forward with confidence again and are determined to keep the crimson flag of the Thames and Avon Branch flying proudly.