Chapter 9 - Another Change of Venue (1987-1989)
The late 80s saw some dramatic changes in the Club. By this time, some members, not content with drinking at the bar, were actually to be found behind it serving the drinks. There were other ways that we were helping out the Arts Centre. One of the most popular was the Saturday morning Working Parties. Every few months, it was the Club's turn to field half a dozen or so members to do odd jobs around the Centre on a Saturday morning. Some of the jobs were very odd indeed and included painting, planting bulbs, cleaning windows and cleaning up in the bar.
In 1987 we had a demonstration of packet radio by Andrews Computers Ltd and later that same year, we had a demonstration of satellite tv. Little did we know that both of these technologies would become commonplace household items within a few years. Other activities included a DF Hunt and a gliding event where members had a chance to fly without an engine at the London Gliding Club, Dunstable. This proved to be very popular and we repeated the event the following year.
The Club put on a display at the Capital Venture Day event in Battersea Park and we also tried our hand at a few contests. The first contest of 1987 was the March vhf/uhf event for which we travelled to our usual South Downs site of Mount Harry. It was cold and bad weather threatened. We had started to put the station together when the snow began to fall. It didn't take long for our enthusiasm to disappear. We packed our things up again and got down the hill as soon as possible. We didn't want to get stuck up there!
Later in the year, we managed to stay up the hill for the May 70cm contest. The weather was a lot better this time but the Gremlin was very active. We did a few more contests including VHF-NFD the following year but as we got towards the end of the 80s, our contest activity became very low.
The Club organised a DF Hunt in the Summer of 1987 but enthusiasm for this type of event also waned although there were several attempts to revive it.
The year 1987 was the 50th anniversary of the Edgware & District Amateur Radio Club and Dennis, G3MNO, came along to give us a talk about how they had recorded their history. He encouraged us to do the same and suggested that we set up a proper archive.
One Friday evening in 1987, there was a terrible tragedy when the Arts Centre unexpectedly closed the bar early by mistake. Many of the members were devastated and some still haven't fully recovered to this day. The Arts Centre apologised and pledged that it wouldn't happen again.
The most significant event in this period was the change of venue. In July of 1988, the Arts Centre moved from Harrow Weald to new premises in Hatch End. The accommodation here used to be a college and was much larger. We were a little concerned about the move because it was not as convenient a place to get to. The previous premises had a bus station just opposite, the new place seemed more remote. Our fears were justified as the move was not popular with some members who stopped coming to the Club. It took many years for the membership to recover.
Maynard De Borde, one of our older members died in 1988. Many will remember that Maynard was instrumental in securing us a place at the old Arts Centre in 1978 just when we were desperate for new premises. Life continued at the new place but initially there was a lot of work for the Centre's management to do. The bar was temporary and we hadn't got a shack. By 1989, after negotiations with the Centre's management, we secured a small rent-free room attached to the Rayners Room for our use. Many members put in some hard work to turn this into a suitable shack. Three of our members: Grant, G7BMU; Brian, G7BSH and David, G0FAO organised fund raising activities to raise money to buy a new rig. We bought a new FT290 out of the proceeds.
We continued to appear occasionally in various shows: in 1989 we put on a station at the St Joan of Arc's school fete in Rickmansworth. We continued with our annual dinners which were still popular. Construction Contests attracted a large number of entries.
The costs of using the new Arts Centre were rising, however, and by the end of the '80s we had to put up our subscription rates.