Our History

The Society was formed on the initiative of a Mr.W.M. Howarth who placed a letter in the Lancashire Daily Post on Tuesday 13th October, 1936 as shown below: –

 “Sir,

 It is a well-known fact that there are many stamp collectors in Preston and district and it should only require a little effort to form a Philatelic Society to include and benefit the advanced, the medium and the beginner collector. The subscription should be as low as possible.

Will all the stamp collectors who are in sympathy, communicate with me, when a meeting will be arranged to carry out the work of forming a Philatelic Society.

 Yours etc.,

W Howarth

121 Shelley Road

Preston”

The inaugural meeting was held in the Kingsway Cafe, 29A Church Street, on 4th November 1936 and was attended by 17 people. According to the original minutes of the meeting the idea was greeted “with great enthusiasm” and a resolution was passed to form a Society to be known as “The Preston and District Philatelic Society” and the resolution was carried unanimously. It was further agreed to hold meetings in each winter month, offers of displays for each month was settled by offers of the people present at the meeting. The subscription rate was fixed at 2/ 6d (12.5p per annum).

At the second meeting held on the 2nd December, officers and a committee were elected. Mr. Ashton-Taylor was elected President, and Mr.Howarth as Secretary/Treasurer. The first Committee consisted of Mr Arthur Winter, Mr.F.Coupe, Mr E.R.Taylor and Mr.C.Sladen. Mr.Taylor volunteered to organise an Exchange Packet. By the end of the first season, some 30 members had been enrolled and some first-class displays had been given by members.

In April 1937, the grave decision was taken to increase membership subscriptions to 3 shillings per annum.

The 1937/38 season continued with the same officers and committee and once again some excellent displays were given by the members. The President announced at the April 1938 meeting that a Silver Cup had been presented to the Society by an anonymous donor. This was to be called the Society Cup and is still competed for each year.

The Empress Cafe (which was re-named the Kingsway Cafe) was the venue of the inaugural meeting of the Society. The entrance was next to Toppings chemists and the dining-rooms were above the shops.

In May 1938, Mr Ashton-Taylor was once again elected as President and Mr C.G.Speight became Secretary. The Exchange Package was taken over by Mr W Howarth and it flourished under his care for the next ten years. Mr Ashton-Taylor retained the office of President until 1945.

The 1938/39 Season continued the successful progress of the Society, the roll of members was now 55 and included Mr S.H. Paviere, the Curator and Director of the Harrjs Museum and Art Gallery. The first Society Cup competition was held in February 1939, and adjudicated by Dr. Fernhead of Lytham St Annes, who awarded the trophy to Mr R. Booth, for his entry of Charity Stamps of Holland. The winning entry was displayed for a short period in the Harris Art Gallery. The custom of displaying the Cup winning entry continued for a number of years at least until 1959

Although many members, including the President, had joined the Forces after 1939, the activities of the Club were still faithfully carried on. Meetings were regularly held, at first in Mr Arthur Winters photographic studios in Fishergate and from January 1942, in the Preston Scientific Society’s rooms. During this difficult period Mr Winter, in his capacity as Vice President, presided ably over the affairs of the Society. According to the minutes of the period, many members who were in the Forces attended when on leave, and the Cup Competition continued to be held annually. The Society raised considerable sums of money for the Red Cross Society by stamp auctions and by money donated by members.

In season 1950/51, a knockout competition was arranged at the suggestion of Mr Sladen to be held during the interim meetings. Since 1952, the winner of this competition, which is now held annually, has been the recipient of a handsome cup donated by Mr Roger Blackburn, son of Dr Roger Blackburn, and known as the “Roger Blackburn Cup”

In 1952, the Society took a stand at the Guild Hobbies Exhibition organised by the Preston Rotary Club, and held in the Public Hall in Lune Street. A representative display of stamps, covers and other philatelic material was displayed by members and aroused considerable public interest.

In 1957, the Society celebrated its 21st Anniversary with an exhibition of postage stamps in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery from 27th April to 11th May. The displays loaned by members included Great Britain, British Commonwealth, The Americas, China, Egypt, Aero-Philately and thematic collections (including Royal Tours on stamps and the Rotary Jubilee stamps). A section was given by Junior members and there was a General Post Office exhibit including old type uniforms and other relics, through the courtesy of Lt Col. D. McGregor, Head Postmaster of Preston at the time.

In 1958 the Society displayed about 50 frames of stamps at the Preston Rotary Hobbies Exhibition which was highly commended.

Mr W Howarth died on the 27th December 1959 at the age of 90. If he had not written that letter to the Editor of the Lancashire Daily Post in 1936, the Society may never have seen the light of day.

The year 1961 saw the arrival of the Society’s 25th Anniversary, but no special celebrations seem to have been organised to note this milestone. However, 13 members did attend the North West Federation of Philatelic Societies reception held during the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain at Blackpool in June and announced the Society’s Silver Jubilee.

 In 1972, the Society produced a special cover for the Guild Merchant and at the A.G.M. that year Mr Richard. C. Cusack was elected as Life President, a position he held until his death on 5th December 1986, aged 90 years.

In 1977, Mr Tony Gregson presented a Trophy to the Society for an Annual Competition.

In September 1983, the Society hosted the North West Federation of Philatelic Societies 22nd Annual Convention; this was their first ever Stamp Convention held on a ship! The Society took over the Turbine Steam Ship (T.S.S.) Manxman, which was moored in Preston Dock, for the day.

The exhibitions covered displays from North West Societies, and included the Postal History of Preston and displays of stamps designed by David Gentleman, who also gave a very entertaining illustrated lecture. The Isle of Man Postal Authority attended and the Post Office gave a display of postal vehicles. Special cards, featuring a Manxman postal mark, were flown by Spacegrand Aviation from Blackpool to Dublin and Douglas, for Irish and I.O.M. postmarks respectively.

A double-sided card issued for the North West Federation of Philatelic Societies 22nd Annual convention showing T.S.S. Manxman, Preston Dock on one side and Preston postmarks on the other.

1986 was the Society’s Golden Jubilee Year and to celebrate the occasion, a special Philatelic exhibition was mounted in the Mezzanine Gallery of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery from 14th February to 21st March 1987; these were the earliest dates available due to other exhibitions. However, it was agreed with the Museum and Library to mount an initial stamp exhibition in the Rotunda to be opened on the actual 50th Anniversary of the Society’s formation on 4th November 1986. This event was opened by Mr Stan Mortenson, the former Blackpool and England footballer, and attended by the Mayor and members of the Council, and by Society members and friends.

The main Exhibition opened to the public on 14th February and comprised a wide variety of philatelic material covering stamps, postal history, and thematic collections. Items from the Museum’s collection were displayed, including part of two founder members collections which had been bequeathed to the Museum, namely Mr R.Booth’s Great Britain Victoria and Mr.Cleaver’s collection of World War One Military postmarks. The valuable John Booth collection, previously donated to the Harris Museum, was also displayed; a fascinating collection containing many items connected to Preston and also representing British and World postal history.

Also shown was the Roger Blackburn ‘Postal History of Preston’ Collection. This collection had been bequeathed to the Society on the death of Dr.Blackburn as a reference collection. It is still being maintained by the Society and added to as suitable material becomes available.

There was also a Post Office display showing uniforms, old pillar boxes and videos of the story of the Post Office. A children’s quiz on the displays during the event was held and many entries were made. The winners, senior and junior, had their prizes presented later at the Post Office headquarters by Mr David Brewer, the Head Postmaster. Quite a number of schools arranged conducted tours and the majority showed a great interest. Members were on duty each day during the Exhibition to answer queries from the public. About 5,000 people visited the event.

To further mark its Jubilee, the Society requested Mr Malcolm Mynott B.A., our only life member and a well-known postal historian, to write the “Postal History of Preston, Garstang and the Fylde” and the postal markings used from 1705 to 1900. The book was entered in the Literature Section of Stampex in London and was awarded a Silver medal. The medal was presented to Malcolm at the opening of the Jubilee Exhibition, to hold on behalf of the Society. The book is now unfortunately out of print. As Malcolm says in his introduction to the book, the contents only cover from 1705 up to the end of the reign of Queen Victoria, with the exception of the village postmarks which extended to the 1940s, and it was intended as a starting point for future students to enlarge.

The Society also designed and issued a special cover in conjunction with Leyland Vehicles to celebrate the Society’s 50th Anniversary and Leyland Vehicles 90th Anniversary. Some covers were signed by Mr George Simpson, Leylands Managing Director and by Mr Stan Mortensen. The proceeds of these were donated to the charities designated by the two gentlemen.

1992 was once again a Guild Year and the Society initiated a Hobbles Fair at Tulketh High school on the 20th and 21st of June in co-operation with 30 other societies from the Preston area. A total of 800-900 adults and children attended during the two days in spite of the hot sunny weather, and the other Guild events being held at the same time. A competition was held for the children and each participating society presented a prize. The profits were equally divided between the School and the Mayor’s Charity.

1992 also saw the Society once again hosting the North West Federation Convention held at the Harris Park Conference Centre, Garstang Road, Fulwood. It was combined with a Stamp Fair on the Saturday and a Telecommunications Exhibition on the Saturday and Sunday. The event was opened by Eddie Woodfine, a former Head Postmaster of Preston, and at the time a Royal Mail Regional Manager. We were joined on this special occasion by our friends from the Stamp Club of Recklinghausen (Preston’s Twin Town in Germany). Both events were very well attended.

In 1996, when the Society celebrated its 60th Diamond Anniversary, the Society still had a very healthy membership and a very active Committee. Most meetings were well attended and the annual stamp competitions well supported with visits arranged to and by neighbouring societies and were much enjoyed.

Venue of Society meetings in 1996- Windsor Castle Pub, Egan Street, Preston

In October 2013, a presentation was given at the Harris Museum, by Society member Mr Paul Gaywood, to launch the new ‘Post It’ exhibition at the Harris Museum, Preston. Paul discussed Preston’s postal history, and supported with excellent image presentation and a detailed description of the inception of the postal service, the audience heard how the service had evolved from its humble beginnings to the large organisation of the present day.

Three collections of Preston postal history, which had been bequeathed to the Society were used to prepare an excellent display for the ‘Post It’ exhibition held in the Discover Preston Gallery at the Harris Museum which ran until February 2014. In conjunction with the exhibition, two associated workshops were also arranged at the Harris, for young people and adults respectively.

A 1708 Postal Cover (the earliest in the exhibition)

In 2017 a celebratory meal was held at the Function Room at Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Club in recognition of the Society’s 80th (Oak) Anniversary. Speeches and anecdotes on a life of philately and stamp collecting were provided by the Society’s President Mr Derek Williams and the Chairman Mr Niall Thomson.

In recent times the Society has led a somewhat nomadic existence changing its meetings venue from the Windsor Castle Public House to St Andrew’s Church on Tulketh Road, from there to St Michaels and All Angels with St Marks before moving the short distance to its current ‘home’ at the Thurlby Club on Egerton Road, Preston – back to the beginning in the sense that we are currently once again on licensed premises.

Whilst the 2020- 2021 Covid 19 pandemic meant face-to-face meetings were no longer possible, the Society made valiant attempts to enter the digital age and arranged online internet meetings and a Society website to maintain contact with members and keep the Society ‘in business’.