Te History of Diss and District Woodturners Club

Club History - Part 1 by Leslie J Burrows

In the winter of 1993 I had bought a lathe from Billy Briggs when he updated, with this information Ken Knockles suggested forming a Woodturners Club for Diss and the surrounding area. In January 1994 the Diss Express published an invitation to local woodturners to attend a meeting on 31st January in the White Horse pub in Diss. About 20 interested woodturners, some experienced , some novices and some yet to acquire a lathe assembled that evening in the pub and it was decided to form a club.

The first committee was formed.

The aim of the club was to provide a forum, demonstrations and "hands on" sessions for anyone interested in woodturning. It was agreed that the first meeting would be on 25th February 1994. At this meeting proposals by the committee were considered and accepted with membership fees set at £10.00 per annum and a charge of £1.00 per session for visitors. There was discussion about topics members would like for meetings and that members display examples of their own work at club meetings. It was also proposed that the club officers draw up Rules and Constitution and submitted to members for consideration. Also that a Monthly News Letter be circulated at future meetings.

Club History - Part 2

The members of the newly fledged club did not lack entusiasm. Monthly club nights consisted of demonstrations from members and experienced turners using a borrowed lathe, and supplemented with films and talks by suppliers of tools and materials. Fundraising was also important in order to purchase a club owned lathe. A Record lathe was purchased in June 1996 for £99.00.

In our first year we held an open day at Peter Orford's Border Timber Supplies at Bressingham to which suppliers of woodturning tools and materials were invited. Club members displayed their skills with items they had turned and offered some for sale. The open days continued anually until Peter ceased trading.

In 1998 and 1999 the club took on a stand at the October Craft Fayre in Diss Corn Hall, organised by the Citizens Advice Bureau. This gave the club publicity and attracted new members. Club members demonstrated and sold items they had made with a percentage returned to the club. In 2000 the CAB ceased running the Craft Fair and the Diss Woodturners Club took on the organisation and running of the event. Vendors of many crafts filled the hall and the club was able to benefit further. A Challenge Shield was awarded to the member whose entry in the competition was judged the best. The club continued to run the Craft Fair for the next four years and in 2001 accrued funds of £405.00. In 2003 the profit from the raffle was donated to East Anglian Air Ambulance and the following year a donation of £300 was passed the British Heart Foundation. By 2004 public interest in Craft Fairs had waned and it was decided not to continue in 2005.

Club meeting places have changed a number of times since the 1994 start in the White Horse, moving to Peter Orford's Portacabin in 1997 until 2000 when Ken Hatton bought the cabin and had it rebuilt in his garden. The club BBQ's started in 2003 and have been an anual event ever since. Monthly meetings continued in Ken's until the move to Chris Davies workshop in (date unknown).