The Association was formed in 1928 in response to concern over flooding in the Raynes Park area at that time, and the magazine now known as "The Guide" first appeared in 1931. The objects were to protect the interests of residents living in the area and to promote social activity.
Later, the Association’s area was extended to cover West Barnes, hence the present title: The Raynes Park and West Barnes Residents’ Association. There are more than three thousand copies of "The Guide" printed every month to cover the present membership.
Early copies of "The Guide", before the forming of the various sections such as the Camera Club, the Horticultural Section, Music for All, the Stamp Club and the West Barnes Singers, were much more comprehensive in their news items, because they could afford more space. The type was also smaller and there were more adverts. The number of pages in the 1930s seemed to vary from 16 to 20. There was a fair amount of Council news, ratepayers’ news, Rambling Club news, Nursing items, education items, forthcoming events, Townswomen’s Guild news, household news, HAS, fire alarm items, Chamber of Commerce, traffic information, concerts and many other items. There was a monthly paragraph called "Shop Locally" and the whole schedule for the Raynes Park Horticultural Society’s Flower Show was printed.
In April 1932, membership was close on 1000. These early "Guides" also contained many warnings about burglars being very active in the locality and there was an amusing item which stated that the road stewards could not guarantee to deliver the "Guide" where there was a "Beware of the Dog" sign! Whist drive news often occupied a whole column and there was also gardening news and all the films for the month at the Raynes Park cinema, the Rialto. There was a paragraph for questions, and a jokers' column.
Printing, relative to the financial situation, was a good deal less than it is now, I am sure, and certainly we could no longer afford to have bound stiff-cover volumes. There was a "General Information" section which gave notice of quarterly General Meetings, Births, Deaths and Marriages, Maternity and Child Welfare Clinics, Ante-Natal Clinics, Dental Clinics and the PDSA. There was also a Safety First section, Road Accidents (unfortunately the two don’t seem to have been linked!), and Post Office and library opening times. Surprisingly, in those days, there were no small ads.
The Association has always declared itself to be non-political, although until the late 1970s or early 1980s nominees were elected to the local council. In the early days there was never any shortage of nominees for positions on the committee, and even local councillors were allowed to hold these positions. In his ‘Chairman’s Report’ for 1932, Mr Squier Perry was able to claim that the Association had secured directly:
It is pleasing to see that we were as active then as now!
The minutes of the very first meeting of the Association are reproduced below.
Messrs. Neale, Moore, Wickens, promoters, together with Messrs. Dobbie, Motte, Harrison and Burford and about 120 other residents.
Mr Wickens was elected Temp. Chairman and Mr Moore was asked to take notes of proceedings.
Mr Wickens outlined circumstances resulting from "Flood Meeting" resulting in this inaugural meeting. Motion from the Chair to form Association carried with acclamation.
Rules were provisionally adopted as printed.
Report of Residents’ Committee to approach Merton and Morden UDC respecting action to prevent recurrence of flood. Council agreed to do as suggested. Vote of thanks from Chair.
Chairman, S Wickens, Esq. Vice-Chairman, Mr Dobbie. Hon.Secretary, Mr Moore. Treasurer, Mr Burford. These were declared duly elected.
The meeting terminated at 10.30 p.m.(Signed) A.W. Moore (Hon. Secretary) (8.3.28)