By Clair Helm (nee Stokes)
Since deciding that The Club history should be recorded I have witnessed several conversations about how it started, where it started and most controversial, who was there!!!
There have been many dates quoted ranging from 1966-1968, venues named as The Mail Coach Inn, The West End and the unofficial meetings at the basement of Tanky’s shop on High Court. As for the names that may or may not have been present, I couldn't possibly comment, as I was still just a twinkle in Tanky’s eye!!!
Therefore, the following is an amalgamation of several tales from various sources, I apologise now for anything that may be inaccurate, but unless someone gets you all together (and you know who you are!!) and sits you down with pen and paper, then, this is it!! To be honest, I hope that the following sparks some contentious feedback, therefore please send your version of events to any of the present committee members, and put us straight!!
As Tom’s (Ferguson) version was the most accurate for dates, I shall start here!
The 7 th November 1968 saw the first Open Meeting held at The Mail Coach Inn, West Street. However, other sources have said that prior to this (possibly as early as 1966) several friends met in the basement of Tanky’s shop in High Court. Names mentioned were Mick Allen, Pete Jennings, Albert Hattersley, Tom Ferguson and Sheila Stokes.
All of the above got together whilst skiing in Derbyshire, at places such as Ringinglow and Edale (yes, there used to be snow in them there ‘ills!!). Apparently, ‘they all just used to turn up!’. The harder ones use to travel 2 ½ hours to get to Appleby on a Sunday morning to ski at Dun Fell for the day. The weather was ‘horrid!!’ – high winds, snow, mist and ice – Perfect!! I believe that back then, to get to the top of the slope, they used to walk up, carrying their ‘tackle’ (Heaven forbid!!). The first tow was a home built modification of a mini engine!! The funds of which were raised by donations from the members!! That was until Tanky ‘acquired’ a Bimbo tow from Brighams, the basis on which all subsequent tows were built.
So back to the meetings…..
Several meeting places were frequented, including The West End Hotel and The Hallamshire Tennis Club. Certainly during the late 1970’s The Club met at the back of The Rising Sun, Abbey Lane, at the Castle Climbing Club building, because I remember that!! I believe that The Club began meeting at The Norfolk Arms as a regular event around 1985 onwards, as we had become too big!!
Returning back to the early days, many of The Club traditions have stuck through the years.
Opening Night has always been near the beginning of November. Unfortunately, this year (2001) we have had to break traditional slightly by moving it to Tuesday night.
The Christmas Noggin seems to be quite a traditional meeting time also. I believe that it has grown to the current ‘get together’ over the past few years from members getting together to exchange Christmas cards
Lastly the AGM was first held 9 th May 1969 at The Norfolk Arms and I am pleased to say that this is still the same (second Wednesday of May).
One of my learnings whilst researching the history was how it became the ‘Hallamshire’ Ski Club.
Way back in 1966 (67 or 68), there was already a Sheffield Ski Club – whatever happened to them I do not know! As the meeting area (and presumably skiing area) was the Hallamshire area, I suppose this is how it became to be named!!
Local skiing certainly was the ‘birth’ of The Club, however it was not long before members were travelling further afield. In 1969 The Club travelled (by bus) to the Cairngorms for their first ‘Scottish Experience’. I've heard many stories of these Scottish trips that followed and it would be fantastic to see this tradition be restored, but I think we are all spoiled by the European sunshine and the European beer!!
The first foreign ski holidays were organised by Tanky and Sheila, although neither of them can agree on the first destination, the nearest is Austria!!
Soon after members were enticed into travelling further afield by the extensive (no sorry, expensive!) Alpine resorts. No long standing club member will forgot ‘Dennis’s Trips’. As a child the most exciting part was the coach trip. Of course having smaller bums and shorter legs myself and my junior travellers were perfectly happy, however, I do now sympathise with the ‘grown ups’ who did not have the privileges of more modern coach transport!!. I understand that the gins were a necessity!!
In more recent years The Club holidays have become more civilised and there are several and variable trips organised by members. From what I hear, they have become more and more popular.
Believe it or not, many a day and night have been spent at Ringinglow playing on the white stuff. Alas, this has unfortunately not been in recent times but ask any ‘established member’ and they will reminisce the times with great enthusiasm. They were the times when knees weren’t quite so sore (and the Ski Village wasn't’t built!). In 1986 I can witness skiing for several weeks, it must have been up to April. It all culminated with a fancy dress day, supported by Welwyn’s Chilli Pot and I think there might have been a bit of Gluwein involved too. I can fondly recall a hula girl (no sorry, I think it was as a ‘Savage’, mum?), Superman (Dennis?) and someone in their underwear (????!!!!) Enough said!!! We skied, honest!!
Over the past years The Hallamshire Ski Club has seen its membership start from a handful of enthusiastic skiers, reaching a peak around 1986 of 400 hundred, to an average of approximately 80 presently.
Remember it’s history. The Club is what we make it!!