Captain L. J. Lawrence

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Stories about Captain L. J. Lawrence

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Captain Lawrence was a very dedicated man and quite passionate about running a youth club that was second to none and he achieved this with the “The Dunmow Youth Club” that I attended in the mid to late 50’s.

He called on his military training and assertiveness to maintain control and the respect for his position as leader and we did our best to uphold this.

All activities were catered for where possible, but money was always short so this somewhat limited what he could achieve.

When I was a member Mrs Steel gave ballroom dance lessons on a Wednesday evening and we were allowed to freestyle after completing the very exacting session she had scheduled for us but we really just wanted to learn to “Jive” as this was the in thing at the time.

We also had gymnastic lessons on another evening and developed a cracking team that included the late Colin Beaty.

Of course we had the fold away table tennis tables and they were used to excess any chance we had.

Music was also a major part of our young lives and a few of us wanted to form a Skiffle Group and together with the help from Captain Lawrence and his oldest son Peter (who became the drummer) we gathered together a rag tailed outfit and called ourselves “The Hams”.

 You might think this is a strange name for a musical group but this name was derived from Peter being a bit of a radio ham working for (Marconi) and of course Captain Lawrence working for the “Dunmow Flitch of Bacon Company”.

We played in numerous competitions with other youth clubs in this area also in  The Folks Hall, Takeley Silver Jubilee and The Bocking Working Mans Club to name just a few. It was great fun as we always brought our own supporters with us so at least we were guaranteed some applause.

I found being in the youth club with Captain Lawrence as leader had a very positive influence on my young life and look back on those days with great fondness.

Clive Smith

Great Dunmow

I remember Capt Lawrence kindly allowing us to use the Youth Centre to let us us the facilities for our new born group (The Stilleto’s) back in the 60’s on a Sunday evening even making us from scratch a Pair of speakers.

Richard Byford Singer and Rhythm Guitar, Frank Broadfield Lead Guitar, George Johnson Base Guitar and myself on Drums Unfortunately I have no photographs that have survived the ensuing 55 ish years

Alec Hopkins

Maldon, Essex

Hi Roger

what a great thing you have done brings back great memories,we were so lucky to have such a great youth club and although i’m not sure i remember meeting your Father i certainly knew of him ,if only there were people to carry on his great work.

I used to live at 23 the causeway,where my mum still lives,for me a great facility on my doorstep was fantastic for a young teenager.My sporting love was and still is Table Tennis and i along with many others used to receive coaching on Fridays from Peter Hill ,he was one of the top coaches in the area,so being so close to the club i was practicing most nights.this lead me joining the club league teams playing along side Dean Andrews,Cec Butcher,John Letch,Peter Short and a number of others.And to this day we are great friends and myself and Dean are coaches giving back what we received.

Any way before i ramble on too much i have a couple of table tennis pictures from sunday practice at the club if you would like them.

Best Regards

Keith Martin

Keith Martin

Chelmsford, Essex

For about six months before I was old enough to join the Youth Club I used to stand by the Kings Head and watch what was happening and wish I could go in. When I finally got to join I wasn’t disappointed. I loved it. There was so much to do and a great place to meet all your friends. Enjoyed playing table tennis and occasionally pool on the small table which was also where Mrs Stinson served the drinks and snacks. Never ventured into the big billiard room. I loved all the social nights and various events that took place. We used to go on a coach to dances at other youth clubs  – Halstead and Earls Colne- and always to the games evenings that took place between various youth centres at Stansted. And also had dances at our Youth Centre.  We too had a group made up (the Stilleto’s) of Richard Byford -guitar and vocalist – Frank – guitar  – George Johnson-  guitar and Alec Hopkins on the drums. Sometimes my friend Ursula would sing with them. Great times.

I was there when we had the giant rummage sale to buy the curtains for the Youth Centre. For weeks we were collecting and sorting stuff. My collection area was the Causeway and Beaumont Hill to Parsonage downs. Some quite big houses there. The boys from Church End used to wait to see what I collected and often swapped something of their own for something better in my collection. Good Days.

From the end of November we used to meet on Sunday afternoons at three at the Centre where Capt Lawrence would conduct Carol Singing Practice. After, we were allowed to stay for the next hour to listen to the countdown of the Pop charts. I think lots of the boys went just for the charts. In the warm, with your friends, listening to the charts.  In the week leading up to Christmas we would sing all around Dunmow. And the money was for  a Xmas party for the Home Boys and less fortunate children. I loved the year Capt Lawrence let me have the money and list of children and their ages and I was in Dolly Dowsetts for hours getting the presents.

Also went to Wicken Bonhunt for a weekend. Loved it . There was a drama workshop and Janet Hoy was brilliant – so talented.

And later to Danbury camping. Great weekend.

Also attended lots of the evening classes that came included with the Youth Club Membership.

And once I played table tennis with Cec Butcher and his team against RAF Debden. Only the once.

Great times . Loved it all. So many good times and so many good friends. Was a lovely place to grow up.

Thank you to Capt Lawrence ,John Letch, Tony Margrave and Michelle for all the time they gave up for us to have such an enjoyable time.

Sandra Baker

Braintree, Essex

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