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Histories of Clubs of RI Presidents

Rotary Club of Wolverhampton, Staffs, England

Rotary International District 1210



Home of RI President

T. A. Tom Warren, 1945-1946 (convention site)


Tom Warren became an honorary member of Bournemouth, Hants, England, for nearly 20 years, after he retired as an education administrator.


See President Warren's president's page for his bio


Wolverhampton was the home club of Tom Warren, President of RIBI 1937-1938 and President of RI in 1945-1946. The Wolverhampton Club is one of the oldest in the Midlands and owes its origin to a visit by George Stevens to the Rotary Club of Birmingham in the summer of 1921. He was so impressed by what he saw and heard that he arranged with some friends and colleagues to hold a meeting at the Victoria Hotel to discuss setting up a local club.

On September 13, 1921, a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce was held at which it was decided to invite Gilbert Vyle of the Birmingham Club to a further meeting at which he could advise on the formation of the proposed new club. This was held at Reynold's Restaurant on November 24, 1921, with the Mayor, Alderman James Thompson in the Chair. 11 days later, with the Mayor again in the Chair, the first interim meeting was held at lunchtime at the Reynold's restaurant. There were 18 people present among them Charles Mander, later to become Sir Charles and to be President of RIBI in 1929-1930. A. H. Granville Barker was the Interim Club secretary and James Thompson became the first President. Members were charged an entrance fee of one guinea and a similar annual subscription. (One guinea=21 shillings).

After a further 7 weeks, on January 24, 1922, the new club held its Charter meeting. Unfortunately no records of this gathering have survived but thereafter a weekly bulletin was circulated to all members. Within a year the membership had risen to 60. In 1923 Charles Mander became the new President and although both the entrance fee and annual subscription had doubled, membership continued to grow reaching 100 later in 1923. In the following years, the club helped to found ten clubs in the Midlands and on the Welsh border, ranging from Shrewsbury in 1926 to Wolverhampton St George's in 1993. Today the Wolverhampton Club flourishes with just under 90 members and meets at the Masonic Hall on Tuesdays at 12.45.

It may be of interest to note that because the club came into being before either the RI or RIBI had been formally created, the Wolverhampton Club constitution is based on the earlier British Association of Rotary Club rules which among other things, allows for a recess during the month of August. As a result, Wolverhampton continues to close down its meetings during August!1

Based on the Wolverhampton Club's 75th anniversary booklet compiled by Robert Lampitt, and with thanks to Club President 2002/3 Peter Barnett.
1In the section on the Wolverhampton club, this appeared:-

"It may be of interest to note that because the club came into being before either the RI or RIBI had been formally created, the Wolverhampton Club constitution is based on the earlier B.A.R.C rules which among other things, allows for a recess during the month of August. As a result, Wolverhampton continues to close down its lunch meetings during August!"

The Wolverhampton Club is not however unique either in RIBI or in RI. In the late 1980s there were over 40 pre-1922 clubs world-wide which had kept to their earlier constitutions, among them the Dallas Club. Many of these had clauses that were not in the RI standard club constitution, but only in those issues that did not meet the legal or ethical standards of RI were they required to change. In Britain there are still 5 clubs (London, Edinburgh, Leicester, Dundee and Wolverhampton) whose constitutions are still pre-1922 and who have not yet fully adopted and implemented the standard Rotary club constitution.

Prior to 1985, RIBI clubs had their own distinct club constitution but in 1985, it was agreed that RIBI clubs would change to the RI Standard Club Constitution, with the exception that the post of Immediate Past President was retained and that of Sergeant at Arms was not included.

At the Council on Legislation in Singapore in 1989, it was proposed that every club should move to adopting the RI Standard Club Constitution and that any differences should be registered with the RI General Secretary by the end of that year. This caused a stream of protest from the pioneer clubs and Chicago even threatened to sue RI. Eventually the furor died down and the pioneer clubs registered their constitutions.

Following the proposal, some clubs, among them Cowdenbeath, received a notice from the RI European Office in Zurich telling them that they must change from meeting fortnightly (every two weeks) to weekly. On investigation it transpired that there were at least eleven clubs in a similar position, meeting on alternate weeks in contravention of the new club constitution which specified weekly meetings. These were all working under the old RIBI rules which allowed for this. A formula was suggested by the then RI Director from RIBI in consultation with the RI General Secretary whereby the decision was left to annual votes by the clubs concerned.

Today there are still In RIBI at least a dozen clubs who meet every two weeks rather than weekly, among them Cowdenbeath, Sandown and Rugby. In addition, there are several more who only meet four times in a month even if there is a fifth meeting day available, while some like Wolverhampton close for the holiday month of August or hold joint meetings. This is not unique to RIBI clubs. In continental Europe, especially in France, many city clubs like those in Marseille, have a single joint meeting in August instead of a regular club gathering. Others close completely. The attitude of clubs towards Bank Holidays, like Christmas and New Year is equally varied and in many cases is affected by local factors with many not meeting in the week in which the holiday occurs.

Basil Lewis Rotary Global History 2002

Also see Discussion of RIBI meeting regularity and constitution.

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