the history of Croydon rifle & pistol club
Croydon Rifle & Pistol Club was formed at a meeting held on the 19th October 1944 by members of the Croydon Home Guard and was known then as Croydon Rifle Club.
It was to be a civilian club affiliated to the old Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs (now the N.S.R.A.) and the subscriptions set at 5 shillings (25 pence) per annum.
22LR ammunition was to be charged at 3/4d per hundred & pro-rata for lesser quantities!
The first committee meeting was held in January 1945 and the finances were given as £45 -£27 cash in hand & £18 credit with the S.M.R.C. In the beginning the club was located at Queens House, Popular Walk, Croydon & later moved to the timber ranges on the land where the Fairfield Halls now stand.
Membership, at this time, was limited to 75 due to overcrowding of the facilities,
In April 1945 a second club was formed -a club within a club - The Home Guard Rifle Club, membership being confined to Croydon Rifle Club members. One could rightly describe this as a 'fiddle' because they immediately received a free 'hand-out' of seven .303 rifles and seven .22 Winchester repeating rifles from the Government, presumably from the stocks of the Home Guard which was being run down at that time plus a handout of .303 ammunition. It's interesting to note that whilst the minutes record the firearms coming into the club, as of 1975 (from when this original copy has been taken from) there is no record of the rifles being disposed of and they no longer remain a club asset.
In 1952 a pistol section was started and the club became Croydon Rifle & Pistol Club. It was about this time that our aspirations to have our own range commenced but it wasn't until 1955 that a combined press effort by the clubs Press Officer & the late Peter Day, made impact and in 1956 our site at Beddington on Jessops Way was viewed & agreed upon but it wasn't until March 1958 that spoil from the building of the flyover & of rebuilding Croydon was beginning to arrive at the site to form the banks.
Meanwhile the club was still using the Fairfield Range for shooting but every weekend was spent dismantling the huge adjoining hall which had been an A.R.P. training centre during the war & a band rehearsal hall prior to that. The council had given the club permission to dismantle the hall & salvage materials and the present buildings at Beddington, particularly the clubhouse, are made from these materials. The salvage filled seven long low-loader lorries.
In August 1960 the club had to vacate the Fairfield Range as it was then due for demolition ready for the Fairfield Halls to be built. We therefore became homeless but the Cheam Rifle Club immediately offered us the use of their range at Banstead for pistol shooting & we were fortunate to get one night a week for rifle shooting at the Sydenham Road Drill Hall. This situation lasted for some three years -meanwhile a very small party of about four members led by Russ Coffin (who almost lived at the Beddington site) began building the new range. Everything was contributed by members -architects plans, labour, money. It should have been called the 'Russ Coffin Range'. He did everything -bricklaying, plumbing, carpentry, electrics -you name it, he did it.
Croydon Club received two £100 grants from the NSRA but used only £100, returning the other grant. In June 1963 the pistol section commenced to use the range in Jessops Way.
It was about this time that we formed an alliance with the Surrey Lions Club -who were also range-less. They were to have a couple of sessions at Jessops Way and in return supplied & laid the electricity mains cable from the lane to the clubhouse.
Early in 1964 the Rifle Section also moved into Jessops Way and in 1966 the Mayor of Croydon became Patron of the club.
The official opening of Croydon Rifle & Pistol Club took place in October 1966 and the highlight was when the Mayor of Croydon fired the first opening shot from a fixed rifle at a plate, previous sighters having been fired to ensure accuracy. After the first shot the plate remained unbroken and amid ribald commentary a second shot was fired -again no broken plate! A third round was about to be placed in the breech when one of the other shooters, ready to commence firing when the plate broke, took a look through his sighting scope and yelled 'Both bloody shots have gone through the same hole without breaking the plate!'
The plate still hangs in the clubhouse as evidence.
Publicity Officer 12th April 1975