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History 1926 - 1976

The Rotary Club of Manchester took the initiative in starting Rotary in Rochdale, with the inaugural meeting being held on 13th July 1926 at the Flying horse Hotel. The Mayor, Councillor H. Wycherley was in the Chair.

There were 25 founder members, joined by a further 6 people by the time the Club was Chartered by Rotary International on 22nd October 1926.

The first meeting venue was the Wellington Hotel before the Club moved to the Flying Horse Hotel in 1930. The cost of a meal was then 3/-. The cost of the Charter Dinner in 1927 was 15/-. Annual subscriptions were 2 Guineas.

Early donations by the Club included sand for playgrounds, footballs for the unemployed, children were taken to the seaside, a picnic for the blind was organised and concerts arranged.

Gracie Fields performed at the Club's Ladies Night in 1931.

Keen to spread the idea of Rotary, the Club fathered the Rotary Club of Bury in 1927 and then in 1929 fathered the Oldham Club. In 1933 both the Middleton and Heywood Clubs were established.

Rochdale Rotary Founder Members image

During the War Years donations were made to Inner wheel for their work with the Red Cross, a wireless set was given to the 71st Searchlight Regiment and headphones provided for the local squadron of the Air Training Corps. Parcels were sent to members of the Club and their sons serving with the Forces, and concerts were arranged and comforts and amenities provided for the Forces stationed in the district.

Club Presidents 1926 - 1967

Rochdale Rotary Club Presidents 1926 to 1967 image
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1947 saw the 21st Charter Night by which time the Club had 45 members including 5 of the Founder Members. The Club continued to participate in all forms of Community Service and in 1949 helped to set up a local club for the Hard of Hearing.

In the Fifties, the Club sent parcels to displaced persons, provided transport for the Inskip League, gave a refrigerator to the Moorland Children's Home, purchased 48 white sticks for the blind and supported the Meals on Wheels service and the Leonard Cheshire Home. Then in 1959 the town of Rochdale was twinned with Bielefeld, Germany and Tourcoing, France. Following which Club members travelled to the two towns, and hosted visitors from them.

In 1957 the Club moved to the Wellington Hotel, where its larger seating capacity allowed an increase in membership. By 1960, the Club had 54 members which increased to 59 by 1966.

In 1961 a Cheese and Wine evening was held in the Town Hall, for which 624 tickets were sold. The event made £270  for the Boys' Hostel. The event was repeated for the next three years with similar success. In 1963 food parcels began to be delivered annually at Christmas to up to 150 needy people; a scheme which was to continue into the 21st century.

1970 saw the formation of the Rotary Club of Rochdale East. The Rochdale Club moved its meeting place back to the Flying Horse Hotel in 1972 and then to the Kingsway Hotel in 1973. By 1976 there were 65 Rotarians in the Club.

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