The 300th edition of the Bookhams Bulletin came out in August 2011 – some 78 years! There aren’t many local magazines that can boast over three hundred editions. The photo shows the very first Bookhams Bulletin in 1933 and it has come out regularly every year since that date. This is quite a record as a village magazine published over such a long period and even continuously through the Second World War.
1933 was some 14 years before the Bookham Community Association was formed in 1948 and from the first Bulletin you can see it was then produced by ‘The Bookham Social Service Bureau’ whose work had to do with child welfare and the immediate relief of poverty and distress. The background to 1933 was the great world depression and the appalling poverty at that time lasting through the 1930s. A milk fund had been set up for necessitous children and a young people’s club in 1932 and in January 1933 the Bureau launched a huge appeal for funds to find work for the unemployed. As the depression deepened it acted as a labour exchange for casual work locally and they themselves employed some people to construct a bowling green and children’s corner.
The stated mission of the Bookham Social Service Bureau was to ‘introduce the voluntary social worker to the already existing work and to encourage new desirable schemes involving health, recreation and information.’ It established the Bulletin whose purpose was ‘making known and thereby assisting the work of all organisations which aim at improving the conditions and increasing the amenities of the district.’
Mr Hanchard was honorary editor of the ‘Bulletin’ and Dr Price acted as business manager. It could be collected from the village shops, price 1d for those who could afford it – the money went into the milk fund. The front and back covers consisted entirely of advertisements. Early issues featured appeals for boots, clothing and domestic items for the needy, in an age where an ordinary family might earn 26/- (130p) a week (£67 per year).
In 1940 during the Second World War the magazine shrank to a true pocket size. After the war in September 1949 and with the 64th edition of the Bulletin, Bookham Social Services Bureau decided to wind up their affairs and there, but for the newly formed Bookham Community Association the ‘Bulletin’ could have ended but from the beginning of 1950 the BCA took over its publication.
It is interesting to think of the world situation early in the 30s. Britain still had an empire that covered about a quarter of the world – it was in 1933 that Hitler came to power in Germany, Russia was ruled by Stalin. Spain would soon come under the rule of Franco. Mussolini was in power in Italy. In London there were the fascist marches of Sir Oswald Moseley. Many thought what a good job Hitler was doing rebuilding and industrialising Germany unable to foresee the utter destruction he would cause – Winston Churchill was one of just a few who warned against his intent. The subsequent years through to the end of World War II would see the slaughter of around 20 million of the world population. Here in Britain Ramsey McDonald was Prime Minister and George V was king and the Duke and Duchess of York were blissfully unaware that they were to be the future king and queen of England.
But through all these years the Bookhams Bulletin has steadfastly been produced. The 100th edition came out in 1958 and at that time the fate of the Old Barn Hall was in the balance requiring major maintenance work with no money to pay for it. Fortunately the situation was saved following a meeting in the following January. The middle 50s saw the beginning of the great expansion of the Bookhams from around one thousand five hundred houses to the near six thousand of today.
The 200th edition appeared in 1986 (it had come out regularly but some years only saw three editions instead of the usual four). The edition doesn’t make a great deal of reaching its double century – of interest is an article on Bookham Commons quoting from our present warden (now called ranger), Ian Swinney who even at that time had been resident for 7 years. How fortunate we are that much of the Commons had been saved from being sold as building land back in 1923 by being acquired by local residents and given to the National Trust.
So now we are in 2011 with the 300th edition! Gone are the old green pages and we are launched into a real colour magazine. It is now distributed to all 5,700 houses in the Bookhams. It exists purely by the support it receives from you the readers. We can only wonder what the village and the world will be like in the year 2036 for the four hundredth edition?