Forty years ago, on 4th May 1977, "over 100 people packed the Hunters Lane Congregational Church to launch the Wavertree Society". That was how the Liverpool Echo described the event the following day, though the poster advertising the meeting had referred to it as the inaugural meeting of the "Wavertree Association". A slide show of old photographs was given by retired policeman John Maw, entitled "Wavertree - Then and Now", and those present were urged to attend a further meeting two weeks later, at which a Constitution would be adopted, members enrolled and officers elected.

The first General Meeting of the Wavertree Society, held at the same venue on Wednesday 18th May, was chaired by Rev. F.O.Brown. It was addressed by Mrs Elizabeth Scarland of the Civic Trust for the North West, Miss Janet Gnosspelius of The Woolton Society, and Mr John Harrison of the Liverpool City Planning Office. All three speakers explained the purposes of a local civic (or 'amenity') society, and the potential benefits to Wavertree of having one.

Also on the platform was Mr Jack Yaffe, of Sandown Lodge in Olive Lane, who, in the words of the official note of the meeting, "gave first impetus to the Society". Mr Yaffe - a retired solicitor - had led the local campaign to try and prevent the building of houses on Crawfords' Playing Field, for which planning permission had been granted before nearby residents got to hear about it. He set out what he saw as the new society's main objectives: "If an amenity society operates methodically, inspecting the register of Planning Applications regularly, deciding on the Society's views, it can make representations on proposals at the effective time. If the Society had been here before there might not be so many garages in the main street, and we might still have Paradise Gardens".

A draft Constitution had been circulated to all those present and it was resolved that "The Wavertree Society be formed". People were then given an opportunity to join the Society, and to make nominations for Officers and a Committee. After a half-hour interval, it was announced that Mr Yaffe had been nominated as President of the Society, and this was agreed unanimously.. The post of Chairman was contested by two rival candidates - Rev. Frank Brown and Miss Catherine Barclay - and, after a ballot, Miss Barclay was declared elected by 28 votes to 26.

Mr Brown became Vice Chairman, and Miss Ruby Williamson became Hon.Secretary. There were 14 nominations for Ordinary Committee Members, but (under the Constitution) only 10 vacancies, so once again a ballot took place. Of the 10 people elected, two of them - Mike Chitty and Joyce Kirkby - are Committee members of the Society 40 years later!

The report in the Liverpool Echo, 5 May 1977 (below) and the poster advertising the inaugural meeting (right).

Images © COPYRIGHT Mike Chitty

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