The History of the Royal British Legion in Wickford.

On a recent ‘drop in’ day one Saturday morning last month Mr R.Dudley, the Chair of the Royal British Legion, came to see us at Wickford Library. He wondered if we knew any of the history of the British Legion in Wickfordand and could fill in  some of the blanks.

The Wickford branch was formed in 1927/1928 and originally met in the upstairs meeting room of the Swan Pub, and later moved to a large house that originally stood in the Broadway. The meeting hall in Runwell Road has apparently been used for a number of organisations, possibly the Salvation Army before they moved to Jersey Gardens, and also the Royal Order of Buffaloes, but it had also been used a church or chapel as there had been stories of a font under the floorboards. I subsequently found an article about the Baptist Church using it before they moved to their present site in Shotgate. Prior to WW2 the Legion  was a Branch only, having no Social side.

Can anyone help in adding to the story ?

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  • British Legion – The beginning of the Wickford branch.

    It was on Friday 2 March 1928 when Rowland Smith, the principal of St.George’s School, Wickford, freely allowed the British Legion to hold a meeting on the premises. During this meeting it was decided to form a Wickford branch, a proposal which was brought about mainly by the efforts of Arthur Samuel Kershaw (d. 1946) who had moved to Wickford in 1914. Two months later a meeting was held at the High School when it was decided a Women’s Section should be formed. The first president of the Wickford branch was Dr Frew and Mrs Frew was elected the first president of the women’s section.
    According to the Essex Chronicle of 18 September 1931 the British Legion purchased land in Jersey Gardens where they intended to build a hall. This does not appear to have materialised as the land was sold in 1935. Meetings were held at the Swan Hotel and the women sometimes held meetings in the Church Hall, London Road.
    In 1950 the British Legion purchased for its headquarters the timber building of the old Baptist Church in Runwell Road.

    By David C Rayment (05/04/2022)

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