How did it all start?

The Burgess Hill Boys’ Club

How did it all start?

When a town grows up as rapidly as Burgess Hill has done in the years since the Queen’s Coronation, the Social Services of the town became inadequate for the increased population; especially the young population.  This fact was recognised by influential people in the town but it took popular singer, Frankie Vaughan to ask the question, “Is there a Boy’s Club in this town?”.  The occasion was when Mr. Vaughan was on his way into the town to open the 1958 Goose Fair and the question was asked of Mr. Frank W. Franklin, the hard working Organising Secretary of the Sussex Association of Boy’s Clubs.  The answer had to be “No”, for although there were other activities for the Youth of the town, there was no Boys’ Club to cater for the very special needs of boys just entering their boisterous teens.  Frankie Vaughan was not the man to take no for an answer and said, “Well, lets start one.” and Mr. Franklin had got another job of work.

About this time, Mrs. Margery Vincent was reading some articles written by Frankie in the London ‘Daily Herald’ in which he appealed to the ladies to give their support and active help to the Boys’ Clubs all over the country.  Mrs. Vincent wrote to Frankie and asked him to put her in touch with any Club where she could be of use — “Mrs. Vincent, I can and will” said Frankie Vaughan in the Herald and sent her letter to Mr. Franklin.  Meanwhile, Mr. Franklin had not been idle, he had lectured the Burgess Hill branch of the Lions Club about Boys’ Clubs and told them that a Club would shortly be started in the town of Burgess Hill.  A Sponsoring Committee was formed and the important people of the town were lobbied for their support.  The search for a suitable premises nearly proved a stumbling block from the very beginning, every possible venue was tried, but with no success.  Now boys themselves were approaching Mr. Franklin, they had heard that there was going to be a Boys’ Club in Burgess Hill and they were anxious to join.  Not nearly as anxious as the Sponsoring Committee, who were at their wits end to find a meeting place.  Then, quite suddenly word came from the Trustees of the Gymnasium Hall in Leylands Road that we could have their Hall for one night a week.  After many months of searching, we could now really open the Club.

All through October the Sponsoring Committee searched for equipment and it is a measure of their success that we were able to announce in the Press that the Club would open on November 30th, 1959, under the Leadership of Mr. W.E.J. Snelling.

The success of the Club was immediate and straight away the boys took over their new CLub. To-day, nine months later, we can report to Frankie Vaughan that there are 40 very active boys banging about in his Boys’ Club, THE BURGESS HILL BOYS CLUB.

– – – – – –

The Sponsoring Committee of the Burgess Hill Boys’ Club consisted of the following hard-working townspeople :

Mr. H.T. Addison
Inspector W.W. Kilborn
Counsellor R.G. White
Mr. W. Skeel
Mr. W.E.J. Snelling
Mrs. M. Vincent
Mr. R. Vincent
Mr. H.P. Waterman

Now that Reg White has left the town, his place has very ably been taken by Counsellor C. Judge.

The Committee has been advised throughout by Mr. F.W. Franklin, Organising Secretary, the Sussex Association of Boys’ Clubs.

This text is transcribed from a two-page record  describing the founding of the Club, written in the summer of 1960, nine months after the doors were first opened for membership.


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