Society of Civil & Public Service Writers - History of the SCPSW

History of the SCPSW

The seeds for the formation of a Society of Civil Service Authors first germinated in the mind of A.A.Rayner during the latter part of 1935. This idea was mulled over with two of his colleagues, I.O.Evans and Bernard Newman, firstly in the office (Office of Works later to become the Ministry of Works) and later in the comfort of the aptly named pub The Two Chairmen, which was situated in nearby Dartmouth Street.

However, it was not until the 18th February 1936 that the first recorded meeting of the Society took place, and this was held at 6pm in Conference Room 'A" of H.M.Office of Works, Storey's Gate, Westminster. Those present at this inaugural meeting were:

Bernard Newman 
James Layer 
Vincent Brennan 
Charman Edwards 
Miss A.M.Paterson 
I. O. Evans
Jackson Budd
Grierson Dickson
Miss Mary Codd
C.Harwood Gibbs-Smith
Charles Neilson Gattey (a young man not yet out of his teens).

Bernard Newman was in the Chair at this initial meeting and spoke of the two main aims of the proposed new Society as:-

'The development of the social possibilities of such a corporate body of authors, and the practical assistance which might be rendered one to one another amongst them.'

Membership was open to both serving and ex-Civil Servants who had had at least one book published (not at their own expense), whilst Associate Membership was extended to all Civil Servants who were free-lance journalists, contributors to periodicals, plus other aspiring authors.

A twelve member Executive Committee was proposed comprising a nucleus of seven or eight, with power to co-opt as necessary. The following nucleus were elected:-

Grierson Dickson/J.R.Barker - Ministry of Labour

Jackson Budd - Customs & Excise

Charman Edwards - Dept. of Overseas Trade

H.E.L.Meluish/L.A.Pavey - Inland Revenue

Bernard Newman/A.A.Rayner - Office of Works

It was suggested at this meeting that in order to meet initial expenses those present should contribute 2/- as a first instalment of an, as yet, undecided annual subscription. It was an indication of the interest generated by this first meeting that the majority of those present paid up on the spot. (Although it has also been suggested that no doubt there were some Civil Servants, then as now, who did not have a couple of bob to spare).

The second meeting of the Society was held at The Two Chairmen pub in March 1936 and it was during this meeting that the following rules were drafted:-

1) The Society shall be called 'The Society of Civil Service Authors'.

2) Objects: To foster friendly relationship among the members, to furnish mutual assistance, and to further the interests of the members generally as authors.

3) Membership: Full membership shall be open to Civil Servants and ex-Civil Servants who can substantiate to the Committee their standing as authors, and to the Editors of Civil Service periodicals. Associate membership shall be open to all other Civil Service writers at the discretion of the Committee.

4) Subscription: The annual subscription shall be 10/6 for full members and 5/- for associates.

5) Committee: The Committee shall consist of, the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, and nine other members. The Committee shall have the power to co-opt. Five shall form a quorum for the transaction of business.

Alteration of Rules: These Rules may not be altered except by a two-third vote at a General Meeting.

It was agreed that Humbert Wolfe (Director of Establishment at the Ministry of Labour) should be asked to become the first President of the Society, and James Layer of the Victoria and Albert Museum to be invited to serve on the Committee. The official address of the Society would continue to be that of H.M.Office of Works (subject of course to obtaining official permission).

The first General Meeting of the Society was held at The Two Chairmen on the 21st May, 1936 with Bernard Newman in the Chair, and about fifty members and prospective members present. (Presumably there was a room in the pub large enough to cope with the influx of extra customers). It was during this meeting that the decision was taken to hold future meetings at the Camera Club in London's Adelphi W.C.2., and a list was prepared of members willing to offer their services as lecturers to the Society.

In November 1936 a new Committee was elected (as the six-month term of office of the former Committee had expired). All members were re-elected with the exception of Grierson-Dickson, whilst three new members were appointed, thus bringing the new Committee to the full twelve allowed under the Constitution. The new members were:-

Miss E.M.Neate 
Vincent Brennan
Mr Harris 
Foreign Office
Air Ministry
Dept. of Trade

In April of the following year (1937) H.E.L. Melhuish of the Inland Revenue was appointed Treasurer, and in April 1938 Grierson-Dickson was re-elected to the Committee; whilst Charles Neilson Gattey replaced A.A.Rayner. Also in April 1938 Jackson Budd was elected Chairman following the resignation of Bernard Newman; Grierson-Dickson became Vice-Chairman and Charles Neilson Gattey was appointed Publicity Officer.