Roehampton Club


Steve Riedlinger - Club Archivist

Steve Riedlinger, the Club Archivist at the Roehampton Club talks to Max about his work. Steve has been commissioned in the lead up to the Roehampton Club's 120th anniversary to investigate the wealth of historical material held by the club with the goal of bringing the club's heritage to the attention of members and potentially, in future, the wider public.

In this podcast he shares his unique insight into his approach to what was essentially setting up an archive from scratch. He tells us about some of the interesting and often unsung members from the club’s history. He also reveals how the club’s decision to ‘go digital’ with the commemorative materials makes them more readily available.

Please Note: This is an automated, machine-generated transcription. We have presented this 'as is' and have not undertaken any editing.

Welcome to the max communications 2020 podcast a series of podcasts where we explore various archives and collections my name is Faith Williams and I'm joined today by Steve Riedlinger club archivist for the Royal Roehampton club would you like to introduce yourself and tell us about how you came to be at the club yeah thank you faith i was invited to to come into the Hampton club uh nearly two years ago now when I'd been working at a another at a golf club and pulled together a lot of the archive material at this other club uh in readiness for the publishing of a book and the the chief executive at Roehampton club asked me to come in and and do a similar role at Roehampton uh in preparation for an anniversary coming up uh next year which would mark the 120th anniversary of Roehampton club and i was asked to come in and catalog and doc ent all the material that the club has uh in readiness for this event that uh is is being planned for for next year so that's how i how i arrived at the club so how would you describe your average day how do you how are you preparing for this anniversary then well the the the the project started with going into uh the various areas of the clubhouse where this material had been kept to look at it for the first time and to work out the best way of listing it indexing it making sense of of what was what was in it and uh in preparation for uh what the what the club intends to use uh in relation to its it's its 120th anniversary uh next year and because it covers uh many sports because the club started as a polo club it it uh included polo and then uh a golf course was formed and then other sports such as tennis and uh squash uh evolved over time and then other other areas of the club other sections of the club uh came came to four there's a bridge section there's an arts club art and photography so there are various different sections of the club each of which have its own have their own history and uh the the the my role was to find out how this information was uh kept in in at the club in originally and uh to to see the evolution of the club in amongst the various sports so a lot of archives have kind of a built-in audience so they've already had an idea of who who they think would use their collection but you're really starting from scratch aren't you starting from scratch in the sense that a a club a sports club in this in this particular sense is is looking to uh celebrate and doc ent its heritage for the first time in in the sense that to look at the the breadth and depth of what what what what it what's represented but but also to to to find ways in which it can be used the the the occasion that that stimulated the whole thing was was was that this anniversary that that's coming up in in next year it normally clubs would would would celebrate an event with a book as an example of what a lot of other sports clubs tend to do [Music] but because of new technology because of the uh advantages of material that can be available now apart from the archives that exist with with others with other catalogs and other archives you you have the ability to create a very a much more uh meaningful archive in the form of the uh of a website or using an existing website to make the material more readily available in different ways a book may still end up being uh an option for the club but once you've once you've published a book uh it's a finite uh product it's it it it ends once it's published and from experience with experiences with other clubs more more information comes out when a bug a book is published people see a book for the first time and it and it will stimulate ideas and events that they were aware of from the past that could have added to it and the value of of having say a website or a a different way of accessing material means that it can be it can be dynamic it could be used consistently to add to what's already there so there's a big value in looking at different ways of celebrating heritage but adding to it continually because uh it never changes and information becomes available uh all the time which is one of the one of the one of the interesting aspects of what i find what I'm finding uh with with what I'm doing so who do you anticipate will access your collections former members current members there'll be there'll be a combination primarily will be will be existing members looking looking uh looking at the records for their own use it might be family history it might be it might be simply to to confirm a record of of of what they what they've achieved at the club depending on what sport they were involved in and uh and yeah whether how long ago that they actually join the club but that there are other areas of the club that would that would also be using the archives to look at uh anniversary events that in the future so that events can be planned or information provided in relation to an event that is happening in the future so for example uh if if if in two years time we have the anniversary of the of the walker cup the amateur golf competition uh there would be members of the club involved in uh the walker cup amateur golf in general and there would be interest particularly amongst the golfing members of of of the club to recognize the past and the part that the club played in amateur golf in general the walker cup and other other amateur events that that uh derived from from what happened 100 years ago so that's just an example but each sport will have its own interest and its own history and the archives uh will help in uh looking at what has happened in the past and what anniversaries are relevant and how the club can use that information to to celebrate something that is that that the club can can participate in and broadcast as well to to their members it looks like the club's really looking to the future with that kind of project them a long term thing i think they're looking they're certainly looking obviously to preserve the the value of the archives they currently have but also they're looking to find innovative ways to use that information across the different sports in relation to attracting new members for for members to appreciate the heritage that they that they already part of certain aspects they may not be aware of so it it's uh it's it's it it it's like a yes it is it is a way of reinforcing the the heritage of that of a particular club which attracted members there in the first place what type of material do you have i mean obviously you've got results but pres ably you have photographs awards things like that there are there are lots of photographs in in the clubhouse that that have been digitized but the the actual material uh that I've been going through is a combination of there are lots of bound vol es of membership application forms uh minute books committee meetings scrapbooks uh and and on well honest boards as well and and trophies so the the project that we I've been involved in with with with max has been to doc ent the the the relevant aspects of of examples of all all that material and there's there's quite a lot of it as well obviously we've got anything in excess of 25 000 membership application forms dating back to to 1901 and the the information in those application forms apart from the names that stand out and there would be prime ministers or uh links with the links with the monarchy Winston Churchill was was probably the most celebrated member of the club but there are so many other uh notable characters who who did join the club at a time when Roehampton club was was it was the pinnacle at the pinnacle of high society in in southwest London by nature of where it was and certainly by virtue of the polo that uh that started in the early 1900s which attracted the great and the good at the time uh to be to be part of a society uh gathering that people want to be part of you've alluded to the fact that it's quite an elite club and obviously there's still current members and things like that so would you say there are particular challenges that come with that when you're dealing with the collection well at least it was it was certainly an elite club when it when it started because of of its origins and the the the original members who founded the club but uh but it's now it's it's now evolved into a family orientated sports club covering lots of different sports and it's of its time it's it's it's still a private members club but it's it's open to any any anyone who wants to apply to join the club to to enjoy any of the sports that that they have available so it's it's just picking up on the the origins of the club and how it's how it's transformed into that the family orientated sports club that it is today do you keep the collection on site then the collection is currently on site and thanks to to max we've we've identified a number of items that that needed that needed treatment and also uh confirmed the the storage facilities that that we currently have uh need need to be looked at as to how if we're going to keep them in the condition that they're in at the moment uh how best we need to go about securing them for the future so so that's that's a side issue of of one aspect of of looking at all the material we currently have what are your hopes for the future of the archive then i think i think uh as much usage as possible certainly with more use from the members and contributions from the members where a particular event that would come up from the archives that would that that they would have knowledge of that they can add to or stories of members uh who have joined the club that they can share their their own personal journey either within or outside of the club before they join the club because there are there are some very very interesting people uh at the club with with stories to tell of of where they've been and what they've done some of them have written books very interesting books and this is a way of sharing their their their own backgrounds with what they've done and uh and how and how they've enjoyed the club Roehampton club is a sports club but it's quite sociable as well isn't it it it's a it's it's a very much a social club and uh again so you you'll have you'll have different sections different sections of the club with different sports but there will be there is a very active uh events team uh who who are pulling together as many different types of social events as possible to to attract to attract the members who who who would want to be part of this and and and it could be anything from a from a book launch to to uh to it to a golfing event or or a an event that relates to any of the particular sports to to to a demonstration of of of different crafts uh or or actually how to how to make how to make best use of your ipad that there are there there's there's a very active schedule of different events designed for the different demographics within the club whether you're uh whatever age you might be to to and and that was that was something i I'm very impressed with to see uh how much how much effort's being put in to to help a certain generation now make best use of new technology and again that links into how how they could make more get more enjoyment from the archives once once once people know how best to go about it that's really interesting how much you've engaged with your membership do you engage with the wider community or other clubs or organizations yes very much so depending on the what i find from the application forms and what what what stimulates the articles that I'm writing that would inevitably bring me into contact with with other institutions so an example would be that because it's because the club is based in where it is at Roehampton the grounds uh of the the original grounds for for the the club were shared with a a a very wealthy local family and the the family home that related to this particular piece of land is now the home of the university of Roehampton so that that that ended up with meeting with my meeting with my counterparts at the university to to to see photographs and uh material that related to the origins of the club and the land that we we jointly shared at one point in time so that was one aspect of of an external gathering because of where we are there there's a a queen Mary's hospital was was a was a hospital that was very much part of the uh the technology of limb fitting during as a result of the first world war so a lot of the members of the club in the first world war some of them ended up being hospitalised and losing limbs and there was one of the members was very much involved in funding the setting up of the hospital for that purpose so there are very much there are very local links with other historical institutions that that that determine me my meeting with with other other other archivists in those institutions or or other clubs that they were members of so uh a lot of members in the early days were members of other clubs so the Chelsea arts club would be another example where the members of Roehampton were artists in their own right one or two of them were famous artists specialising in in horses and because so many of the members at the time owned racehorses or or polo ponies or both this this was a rich ground for artists to get to be commissioned for the work they did and they happened to be members of another club an arts club where they could they could share more time with their own people apart from spending time at Hampton where they play a sport uh as well as finding work so with an archive dating back to 1901 and with all the great and the good that you've had part of your club what in your opinion is the most interesting item you've come across i think i think it would be the the the individuals the the application forms certainly because of the the the unknown or individuals that come out of the woodwork around the the application forms with with with what they've done either locally nationally or internationally and there are there was a very interesting vintage map of Richmond park which which I've also found which I'm still looking at to find out more information about because it relates to the first world war and the second world war and it's a it's it's one of the oldest maps I've seen of Richmond park so and there'll be other there'll be other aspects I've not even found yet that will come out of the material that that I'm that I'm I've yet to see to work to work out the significance of what it might have been so maybe stuff of interest to people who are not sport focused they may be geographers or things you wouldn't necessarily expect that that's yes it could be social history it could be it could be it could be a pioneer well a pioneer in mental health it could be it could be it could be aspects are away from the sport itself but the the individuals who are members of the club uh may not have may not have been recognized in the way they could have been for for what they did but and also the fact that they were they were local to the Hampton area would you like to point anyone in the direction of publications or websites to digitize some of your things are they available for viewing i think initially it's going to be it's going to be for the benefit of the members of the club and i think i think one once that's been established then then the club that the club then will have the opportunity or the decision to be made as to how to share this with external uh areas of the community depending on what what what the content is but but the the initial the initial focus is to work out what the benefit the benefits for the club uh and for the members but also we'll be as we work our way through that we'll certainly be paying attention to what benefits we can share with with the local community as well is there a big party plan for 2021 not not as yet i think we've got to work out whether we can have parties well yeah there might be a small number of parties but but but yeah they could well there'll be other ways of of sharing this information well with zoom with video calling there's and I've I've been part of that already with where I've seen examples of of uh muse s of being doing virtual tours there's lots of different ways of sharing uh heritage now with new technology and and i found i find that i find that very interesting as to how it's being received and the innovations around making it enjoyable to to to witness and watch I'm sure in years to come people will be very interested in reading all the things from the time period currently that we're going through well that's a project in itself uh and yeah which which will also be interesting to see how that how it's portrayed in the future definitely well once we've learned the lessons as well yeah that was one of the consequences of the of of the lockdown was was another excuse to look back and and looking back at the the the 100 years ago when we had the last pandemic which which was obviously a lot more serious in many ways than than the one we have now but but all but but interestingly why it was called the Spanish flu and and then then then to discover it was called the Spanish flu because Spain was neutral during the first world war yeah they were the only ones publishing it the only ones publishing and and it was only when the king of Spain uh contracted the the the virus at the time that it became uh associated with Spanish flu and i then discovered that the king of Spain was a was a polo member of for Hampton club oh wow that was a that was an excuse for me to write an article on on the links the links with the past but also as to the origins of the of naming the naming it as the Spanish flu and uh and if i if I'm to if I'm to believe my writ the research i looked at the origin to the Spanish flu well the flu as it was was was actually in America of all places before before and had nothing to do with with Spain or Europe but but actually the origins were in America which which is quite ironic seeing what's going on at the moment with uh where everyone's trying to find out the origins of of the coronavirus yeah well i suppose at the end of the day it doesn't really matter as long as we have to just have to keep going and we yes absolutely thank you for agreeing to talk to me today really interesting didn't realize that a sports club could have so many fingers and different pies thank you very much Steve okay faith cheers cheers.