History of the Society

This page consists of two sections: a Timeline immediately below, and towards the bottom a Table of Society Officers.


April 1974 Kent Family History Society is the first to be established in Kent, covering at that time the whole of the ancient (pre-1889) County.
Early 1978 R.F. Gambier, chairman of the Federation of Family History Societies, sends out a circular letter asking family historians if they wished to form a Society in the Bromley area.
Jul 1978 The North West Kent Family History Society is formed, meeting at Stockwell College, Bromley on the third Friday of each month. Our first chairman is C.L. (Dick) Bourton, and the area covered was described as "South East London and western Kent".
Autumn 1978 First issue of our quarterly journal 'North West Kent Family History' is produced by editor Fred Whyler and issued to all members. The first four years' of society journals are typed, duplicated & assembled by the Chairman.
Apr 1979 First Society AGM held at Stockwell College, attended by 54 members. Membership stands at 80.
1979 A group at Woolwich decline an invitation to become a branch of N.W.Kent FHS, and form themselves into a separate society (Woolwich & District FHS).
Oct 1979 Closure of Stockwell College and growing numbers at meetings forces a move to Bromley Central Library.
Dec 1979 Society has 167 members.
1979-80 A major Society MI recording project conducted at Nunhead Cemetery, coordinated by Guy Nevill.
Apr 1980 Second Society AGM held at Bromley Central Library, attended by 74 members.
Dec 1980 Society has 310 members. During the year Society volunteers have been engaged in MI recording at Keston, Orpington, Knockholt, Westerham and Footscray.
Early 1981 After a limited amount of census transcribing in earlier years, the Society embarks on a major project to transcribe the 1851 Census for the whole of north west Kent. This project is coordinated first by Pat Pingram (1981-83). Succeeded by Ken Wickham (1983-86), Stephen Archer (1986-96) and Maureen Fearn (1996-99).
Apr 1981 Third Society AGM held at Bromley Central Library, attended by 90 members.
May 1981 First Directory of Members' Interests compiled by Basil & Jean Benwell, published in booklet form and issued free to all members.
Jul 1981 Society becomes a registered Charity (No.282627).
Dec 1981 Society has 366 members.
Apr 1982 Fourth Society AGM held at Bromley Central Library, attended by 76 members.
Dec 1982 Society has 486 members.
Mar 1983 Journal now typeset by Josephine Birchenough and printed at A5 size.
Nov 1983 First Computer Group is formed, co-ordinated by Stephen Archer. For about two years it meets every couple of months, in members' homes.
Dec 1983 Society has 583 members.
1983/84 Society wins the Elizabeth Simpson Award for best society journal. Editor at the time was Jean Stirk.
1984 Joyce Hoad takes over the Society Library from Frank & Mabel Lord and runs it for the next 16 years.
1984 The first House Groups are formed, initially at Beckenham, Bromley, Orpington, Penge, Petts Wood and Sidcup.
1984 First printed publication appears (the 'Index of Bromley Settlement Examinations').
May 1984 First One-Day Conference held at Chislehurst & Sidcup School. George Pelling presents the Society with the 'Elizabeth Simpson Award' for the best society journal of 1983.
Dec 1984 Society has 639 members.
Sep 1985 Society's Tape Library is started by Tony Field, with audio-taping of talks at meetings.
Oct 1985 2nd One-Day conference at Beckenham, 'Records Through Time'.
late 1985 An Events Committee is set up, chaired by Gill Valentine for its first four years.
Dec 1985 Society has c.700 members.
Feb 1986 First meeting of the Society's Publications Committee, under the chairmanship of Jean Stirk. Until now publications have been infrequent and ad-hoc. Now a change in policy takes place, to turn our project work into publications for sale. The committee also embarks on a major project to publish a guide to family history research in west Kent (eventually published 1989).
Sep 1986 The Sevenoaks Branch formed, meeting at Sevenoaks Community Centre, Otford Rd. First chairman is Maureen Barnes.
Nov 1986 A meeting with officers of Kent FHS establishes a mutual boundary between the two societies, for projects work. This is a line running from the Thames at Northfleet and Gravesend south to the Sussex boundary at Frant - see Society Area.
Dec 1986 Courier Service begins, run by Lynne Marsh.
Dec 1986 Society has c.800 members.
1986 Society wins joint first place in the Federation's 'Elizabeth Simpson Award' for best UK society journal for 1986.
1986/87 Society wins the Elizabeth Simpson Award for best society journal, for the 2nd time (joint UK winner). Editor at the time was Jean Stirk.
Early 1987 Society acquires its first computer for Secretary admin.
1987 3rd Members Interests booklet published.
1987 First Overseas Members coordinator appointed.
Dec 1987 Society has c.900 members.
Jan 1988 After eight years at the Central Library, pressure of numbers forces the Bromley meeting to move to the large hall at the Civic Centre.
Sep 1988 Society hosts the Federation of Family History Societies Autumn Conference 'Villages within the City' at Avery Hill College, Eltham, attended by 380 people. It also sees the launch of the Society's first 1851 Census Index publication. A further six census indexes are published in the ensuing years, finishing in 1999.
Oct 1988 Inaugural meeting of the Society's Dartford Branch on Sat 22 Oct, at North West Kent College of Technology. Formal opening by Anthony Camp, Director of the Society of Genealogists. First chairman of the branch is Josephine Birchenough.
late 1988 Society starts work on transcribing the 1881 census for N.W.Kent, as part of the national project. Roy Cornell takes on the coordinating role in 1989.
Dec 1988 Dartford Branch meets for one time only at the Royal Victoria & Bull Hotel (Sat 3 Dec). Regular meetings resume in Feb 1989 at North West Kent College of Technology.
Jan 1989 After two years at Sevenoaks Community Centre Sevenoaks Branch moves to St Nicholas Church Hall, South Park, Sevenoaks.
Summer 1989 West Kent Sources, a guide to family history research in west Kent is published by the Society, the result of three years' work and coordinated by the publications committee. New editions of the booklet appear in 1994 and 1998.
Nov 1989 Society attends Bexley History Fair at Hall Place.
Dec 1989 Society membership reaches c.1200
Feb 1990 The Society's first microfiche index is published (Orpington MI's).
Early 1990 The Computer Group is reformed under the coordination of Peter Searle, later (1991) Ron Anthony. For ten years it meets in members' houses every six weeks or so (until the formation of the Computer Branch meeting at Orpington in 2000).
Mar 1990 Member number 2,000 is signed up.
Apr 1990 Bromley becomes a branch with the same status as Sevenoaks & Dartford. A branch committee is set up under Jill Valentine.
Autumn 1990 4th Directory of Members Interests published.
Oct 1990 A Computer Day Conference in collaboration with the Society of Genealogists is held at Sevenoaks School for Girls (a full account of this appears in the March 1991 journal).
Jan 1991 Sevenoaks Branch moves from St Nicholas Church Hall, to Cornwall Hall, The Drive, Sevenoaks.
1991 Tunbridge Wells FHS is established, covering the parishes overlapping the Kent and Sussex border around the town of Tunbridge Wells.
Apr 1991 A Project Coordinator is appointed for each meetings branch, reporting to the main Society projects coordinator.
Dec 1992 Society has 1500 members.
1992/93 Society wins the Elizabeth Simpson Award (best society journal) for the 3rd time. Editor at the time was Mari Alderman.
Oct 1993 Taskholders Meeting is held at Hextable.
Dec 1993 Society has 1533 members.
Mar 1994 Death of Josephine Birchenough - founder member, family history tutor, first chairman of Dartford branch etc. Obituary appears in the July 1994 journal, and an annual bursary/award is set up in her memory.
Apr 1994 For the first time the Society AGM is held as part of a One-Day Conference, at Eynsford.
Oct 1994 Taskholders Meeting.
Feb 1995 Sevenoaks Branch moves from Cornwall Hall, back to its original venue, the Community centre.
Feb 1995 Death of Dick Bourton, first Society Chairman and later President. Obituary appears in the July 1995 journal.
Apr 1995 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at the John Roan School, Greenwich.
Oct 1995 Taskholders Meeting is held at West Wickham.
Apr 1996 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at the Churchill School, Westerham.
Dec 1996 Society has 1689 members.
Apr 1997 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at Bullers Wood School, Chislehurst.
Dec 1997 Society has c.1700 members
Mar 1998 Society website launched.
Apr 1998 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at St Josephs School, Crayford.
Dec 1998 Society has 1794 members.
Sep 1999 Twenty-first anniversary conference, 'Time and Tide', held at Avery Hill College, Eltham.
Dec 1999 Society has 1865 members
Apr 2000 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at Dartford Grammar School for Girls.
May 2000 Internet mailing list launched, run by Denise Rason.
Jun 2000 Computer meetings in members' houses cease when the Society's new Computer Branch is formed, meeting at Crofton Halls, Orpington. Its chairman and initial driving force is Tony Field (passed away Jan 2001).
Dec 2000 Society has 2024 members.
Jan 2001 The Society Library acquires permanent premises at Hextable Heritage Centre, open once a week and run by Society Librarian Audrey Rainer.
Apr 2001 Society AGM held on Thursday 26 April at Sevenoaks Community Centre, Bat and Ball, Sevenoaks.
Sep 2001 Bromley meeting day moves from 3rd Friday of the month to 3rd Wednesday.
Dec 2001 Membership stands at 2060.
Apr 2002 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at Dartford Grammar School for Girls.
Dec 2002 Membership peaks at 2119.
Apr 2003 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at Cleeve Park School, Sidcup.
Dec 2003 Membership stands at 2080.
Apr 2004 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at Otford Memorial Hall.
Dec 2004 Membership stands at 2067.
Feb 2005 Dartford meeting moves to Dartford Technical College, Heath Lane.
Apr 2005 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at Greenhithe.
Dec 2005 Membership stands at 1971.
Apr 2006 Inability to fill posts on the Computer Branch committee forces closure of the branch.
Apr 2006 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at Eynsford. Read more...
Sep 2006 North West Kent FHS wins the FFHS award for best society website. Read more...
Oct 2006 A family history display is mounted at Bromley Library. Read more...
Dec 2006 Membership stands at 1778.
Apr 2007 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at Cobham Hall. Read more...
Jun 2007 A Taskholders Meeting is held at Dartford. Read more...
Dec 2007 Membership stands at 1637.
Apr 2008 Society AGM and One-Day Conference held at Sevenoaks School. Read more...
May 2008 Death of Jill Valentine - Bromley Branch Chairman in the early 1990's. An obituary can be found in the September 2008 journal.
Aug 2008 Death of Val Pike, the incumbent journal editor.
Aug 2008 New editor Pauline Heathcote appointed.
Nov 2008 New treasurer Isabel Leslie appointed.
Dec 2008 Membership stands at 1534.
Apr 2009 Society Library moves to Summerhouse Drive Library, Joydens Wood.
Apr 2009 Society AGM and Family History Day held at Dartford Technology College. Read more...
May 2009 Dartford Branch meeting venue moves to new Dartford Technology College.
May 2009 Death announced of Edmund Roberts, the Society's first Treasurer, and Chairman 1983-86.
Jun 2009 Society Library official opening at new location (24 Jun).
Oct 2009 A Taskholders Meeting is held at Dartford.
Dec 2009 Membership stands at 1557.
May 2010 Society AGM and Family History Day held at St Edith Hall, High St., Kemsing. Read more...
Jan 2011 Bromley Branch meeting venue moves to Bromley Methodist Church hall.
Jan 2011 Society Research Service launched, run initially by Vera Bailey and (from June 2011) by Stella Baggaley.
May 2011 Society AGM and Family History Day held at Sevenoaks Community Centre, Otford Rd. Read more...
Mar 2012 Membership stands at 1367.
Apr 2012 Society AGM and Family History Day held at Sevenoaks Community Centre, Otford Rd. Read more...


Society Officers

This shows in tabular form the dates of service of the principal officers of the Society since its formation in July 1978. See also the current Society Officers.

Year President Chairman Treasurer Secretary Projects Coordinator* Journal Editor Year
1978-79 [none] Dick Bourton
Edmund Roberts
Kathy Drakes June Biggs Fred Whyler
1979-80 June Biggs
Guy Nevill
1980-81 Meriel Lucas 1980-81
1981-82 Jean Stirk
1982-83 Arthur Fernee
1983-84 Dick Bourton
Edmund Roberts
Joanna Hards
1984-85 Stuart Valentine
1985-86 Helen Norris
1986-87 Guy Nevill
Elaine Williams
1987-88 1987-88
1988-89 1988-89
1989-90 Mari Alderman
1990-91 Jean Stirk
A. Chapman
1991-92 Linda Sullivan
Peter Searle
1992-93 A. Chapman / Mike Lucas 1992-93
1993-94 David Cufley
Mike Lucas
Denise Rason
Ron Anthony
1994-95 Ken Lee
1995-96 June Biggs
1996-97 Stella Rhys
Stella Baggaley
1997-98 1997-98
1998-99 [vacant] 1998-99
1999-00 Ken Lee
Walter Eves
2000-01 Bob Woodward
2001-02 Walter Eves
Brian Waymont
2002-03 Jean Stirk
Vera Bailey
2003-04 Bob Woodward
Valerie Pike
(2003-Aug 08)
2004-05 2004-05
2005-06 2005-06
2006-07 2006-07
2007-08 [vacant] 2007-08
2008-09 Isabel Leslie
(Nov 2008-2012)
Pauline Heathcote
(Aug 2008-date)
2009-10 2009-10
2010-11 2010-11
2011-12 David Cufley
[vacant] 2011-12
2012-13 [vacant] Vera Bailey 2012-13

* Ceased to be a Committee post in April 2007