Liverpool DA, as it was then known, was officially founded in 1921. Prior to this our area was encompassed in the Lancashire, Cheshire and North Wales District Association founded in 1914, itself a replacement for Manchester DA founded in 1911 and dissolved in 1914.
This was of course before the formation of the Regions of the Club, which didn’t come along until 1948.
The importance of Liverpool as an area of the Club is emphasised by the first meeting of the Lancashire, Cheshire and North Wales DA being held in the City of Liverpool in 1915, followed by a Social. The last camping meet of 1915 attracted a record attendance of 28 campers, which included six children.
It was during this time that P J (PeeJay) Maddock, later to become the Club Chairman, designed the Club badge of a tepee, now used as the symbol of Camping Clubs and camping sites throughout the world.
Liverpool, along with Manchester and Queensferry, became sections of the parent DA in 1920 and shortly after that a local member, Topham Steele, who incidentally wrote many articles in the Club Magazine under the pseudonym of Pajaro-Raro, (from the Spanish for “Rare Bird”) suggested that a lot of the criticism levelled at the Club hierarchy that most events took place in the South, was justified and pointed out that it was up to members themselves to do something about it. And so it was that Liverpool DA was conceived from an area described as the liveliest in the whole of the Club at the time.
By 1921 there was more than sufficient support for Liverpool DA to be established in its own right and while the city flourished the rest of the original Lancashire Cheshire and North Wales DA covered the Region.
Liverpool was the twelfth DA to be formed although five of the original twelve had dissolved by this time replaced by others reflecting the ever tightening geographical areas covered.
The Club’s magazine was then known as ‘Camping’ with it’s Headquarters at Union Street in London and Club membership was at an all time high of 1500 (present membership, 2007, is in excess of 400,000)
By 1925 there were only seven active DA’s listed in the Clubs fixtures.
It is interesting to note that the parent DA produced the Club’s first ever DA newsletter called ‘Campers Pie’ in 1923.
Whilst it is relatively easy to plot the birth of our DA, and I am indebted to Hazel Constance, the Club Archivist, for a lot of the research used to write this history, what happened after that has no recorded information other than old minute books and the occasional fixture list.
Members of the DA would have been at the forefront of all things pertaining to the Club’s activities and the greater access to, and the enjoyment of, the countryside
I feel certain that many DA members of the day took part in the 1932 Kinder Scout Trespass, an event that, more than any other, opened up the countryside for everyone in Britain.
The Club site at Bakewell in Derbyshire, formally known as Hopping Farm Youlgreave, was assisted in it’s building by many members of the North West Region including my own Father, a fact commemorated by the installation of a ‘Centenary Seat’ in the Family name at the site.
The North West Region also had a site at St David’s Bay Anglesey, managed again by the local members, and I have a hand made pennon struck for the workers who helped build and maintain that site.
While a lot of reference is given to ‘local members’ it must be noted that with so few members of the Club in those early days, the geographical divides that we all now observe, were hardly noticeable, with members from all over the North West meeting together most weekends.
I recall that in the fifties, 99% of campers were just that, Tent Campers, working quite often until lunchtime on Saturday and then travelling much further than the modern camper or caravanner to put up the family tent and all the paraphernalia that went with it!
There were fewer campers in those days and less sites too, so travel was the order of the day.
The formation of the North West Region along with five others in 1948 saw the Lancashire, Cheshire and North Wales DA-1914, North Lancs. DA-1930 and ourselves, unified into the North West Region we are familiar with today.
North Lancs DA, incidentally, are the only DA in the Club with a pennon that does not have the Club badge on it, something that is no longer allowed but North Lancs are permitted to keep theirs.
The Scottish Region was the first Region formed in 1947, Yorkshire Region not being formed until 1949.
All eleven DAs in the North West Region have developed from those first three, although there have been a few boundary and name changes along the way.
In 1956 our DA’s area was increased to accommodate North Wales, having relinquished that area, it resulted in the Lancs and Chesh DA that we now know with ourselves becoming Liverpool and North Wales DA.
The DA always tried to ensure that weekend meets where evenly split both sides of the river, the price of the Mersey Tunnel toll being an important consideration.
It was this very factor which caused a split in the DA some ten years later when the decision of the Tunnel authorities to raise the toll from a shilling to one shilling and sixpence was the last straw and a group of our members from the Wirral decided to form a section of the DA for those residing on that side of the river.
The section eventually achieved DA status taking the name Wirral and North Wales DA and in 1967 we changed our name to Liverpool and South West Lancashire DA.
The suggestion for a DA in Northern Ireland in the early sixties required that they should first form a section of a local DA to test their viability, and the nearest DA to Northern Ireland, you guessed it, Liverpool!
As a section of our DA, Northern Ireland automatically became members of the North West Region and on our pennon string we have a North West Regional Meet pennon from 1967 with Northern Ireland DA listed on it. Northern Ireland DA went on to become a Region in it’s own right and now has DA’s of it’s own.
The Boundary changes of 1974 returned the Wirral to our area, but no name change this time, enough is enough although Wirral and North Wales DA’s name was shortened to just North Wales DA.
Someone did try to change our name sometime after that, Ken Lee, brother of our own Ray Lee and uncle of Phil, put a Notice of Motion before an AGM that we should change our name to ‘Merseyside DA’ it was defeated after a lively debate. Ken went of to Australia, but I promise you he wasn’t sent!
The early days of DA camping were so much different than today’s luxurious lifestyle in the modern caravan along with all of the conveniences. Speaking of which, can you imagine at the time my family started with the DA, everybody used the same toilet, yes, literally the same toilet.
Part of the Stewards responsibility was to dig a hole in the ground, about 18”x12” (46cmx30cm) with the depth being gauged by the number of campers on site. Over this hole was erected the DA ‘Latty’ tent. The spade and extracted soil was left just outside the entrance flap and would be used to cover up whatever had been deposited in the hole. The ability to squat, whistle and do your business all at the same time was an acquired but necessary skill. Filling it in at the end of the meet was never a job that had too many volunteers.
Fetching fresh water in a bucket made of canvas, cooking on “Primus” stoves and having the Steward dish out the morning milk still warm and fresh from the churn, were all part of the charm and character building that we all benefited from, and yes, it really was great fun!
The DA was not afraid to travel to far away places for it’s weekend meets, as I recall, Easter was in variably spent at either the Forest of Dean or Betws-y-Coed and the Peak District, the Dales and North Wales were very much the norm for weekend meets.
The original pennon for the DA had as its logo the Liver bird alongside the Club badge. As far as we know only, there is only one in existence, carefully stored in the archives at Club headquarters. I have had the honour of holding this very fragile part of the DA’s and the Club’s history, and here it is reproduced for you.
Also shown are the only two other pennons to have been issued by the DA other than Commemorative meets and events.
Firstly, the Liverpool and North Wales DA and then the current Liverpool and South West Lancashire DA.
The only other authorised pennon from the DA is the CCY pennon, designed by the CCY committee in the mid sixties; it has never been changed and is therefore still the current LSWLDA CCY pennon.
The DA has in recent years adapted a logo, the Liver Bird, derived from the original pennon design but in actual fact it is known as the ’Higsons’ Liver Bird because it was designed for the famous firm of brewers. This particular design was adopted by the City Council when Higsons no longer brewed beer in the City and we made slight changes to the base to accommodate the DA name.
At the AGM in February 2007 the logo was further developed to incorporate the Lancashire Rose to better reflect the whole area that the DA covers.
We also have our own ‘corporate colours of burgundy and grey. I am often asked “why Burgundy?” Well it’s simple really; Liverpool is a city of two teams, Liverpool FC who play in red, and Everton FC who play in blue. So in order not to show allegiance to either team we mixed the colours together and ended up with burgundy, so now you know.
We are probably the only DA in the Club to have it’s own ‘evening dress’, black ‘T’ shirts with shiny gold Liver Bird logos, nobody tells anyone to wear them, but gather together in a hall or marquee, and the best dressed DA in the Club is easily noticed and are proud to ‘Fly the DA Flag’.
So there you have it, for the present anyway, a short history of the only DA in the Club to have had three names, spawned three other DA’s and a Region, and to have operated in three different countries!
Liverpool and South West Lancashire District Association, truly we are: –
“THE SOCIABLE DA”