In April, the Bexley Coin Club attained the milestone of its fortieth birthday. Founded by members who had been crossing the River Thames to attend the then nearest Society, the Havering NS, membership increased apace during the early 1970s, topping out at 108 in 1975. This figure placed the Club nationally at number six in terms of published membership totals, excluding the Royal NS and the British NS. Since then membership has steadily declined until today it stands at twenty. The Club almost folded in 1988, with just £65 in the Bank and insufficient funds to pay the following year's expenses. However, our new Chairman offered to organise three Club Auctions a year, which he still does, and which have continued to be very well supported, and indeed have enabled the Club to continue.
We have been privileged to organise the annual BANS Congress on two occasions. Firstly in 1991 at Avery Hill College, Greenwich, and more recently 1n 2007 at Darwin College, Canterbury. The latter Congress was organised jointly with the Kent NS. The Club has also assembled and put on display two multi-week public numismatic exhibitions at Hall Place, Bexley, a local listed Henrican Tudor mansion, which is home to the Borough Museum. The first of these exhibitions was given a page of publicity in the April 1975 issue of Coins and Medals.
In the past year, the Club has lost its two remaining Founder members, Stanley Draper and Alan Miles. Stan was a gentleman and served the Club as Secretary, Treasurer and President. Alan was the Club's inaugural Chairman, a post which he held for twenty years and in which he excelled.
At present our membership is small but keen. The writer compiles the annual Programme with the usual mixture of Club and guest Speakers, competitions and Club auctions, A new approach, to encourage members to disseminate their knowledge and talk for a few minutes, has proved to be a success with our annual 'Show & Tell' evening.
In the past, the future of local Clubs and Societies has been debated. External factors, notably the suitability and affordability of accommodation, and competition with the Home Entertainment industry can prove to be a Coin Club's death knell. But it is up to the Clubs to accommodate, adapt to and innovate in regard to changing social trends. I believe that the Bexley Coin Club hat been able to manage this.
Let us look forward to the Club's next milestone. To all Club and Society organisers our message is: Never forget that meetings must be fun!