The Charitable Organisation TOC H
In 1915 a British Army chaplain, the Revd. Philip (Tubby) Clayton, decided to start a club for the troops in Poperinge, a small town in Belgium that was at that time filled with guns, lorries and men on their way to and from the war front just a few miles away. The club was opened on 11 December 1915 in a large white house, whose owner had sought safety in France, and soon became known as Talbot House.
The name commemorates Lt Gilbert Talbot who was killed on 30 July 1915 and who was the younger brother of the then senior chaplain, Neville Talbot. In the army signallers’ code of those days the letter T was Toc and the house soon came to be known to everyone simply as TOC H. It remained open until the spring of 1918 when the German advance brought Poperinge into the war zone and at the end of the war the house was handed back to its owner.
Some of those who had enjoyed the tranquillity and friendship of Talbot House, however, decided to preserve the atmosphere and spirit and quickly established similar “houses” not only in London and other British cities but in all countries of the British Empire. Over the years TOC H adapted to a changing society by providing through its numerous local branches such services as residential work camps, play schemes for children, holidays for people with handicaps, hospital library services, visiting schemes for the housebound and the many hospital broadcasting services.
The first known TOC H hospital broadcasting service started in Swindon (UK) in 1938 and their first known hospital service outside of UK started in Harare, Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, sometime prior to 1977.
During the 1950s TOC H was responsible for starting 22 football commentary services and one music based service in 23 towns and cities in UK. In addition to football, TOC H commentary services also covered speedway, cricket, rugby, boxing and wrestling.
A further 5 more music based service were started by TOC H in UK in the 1970s.
See Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 for details of hospital services started by TOC H.
In 1996 TOC H had over 360 branches in the United Kingdom and a membership of just under 4,000, with up to a further 5,000 listed friends, volunteers and supporters.
In addition to the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe, TOC H has operated in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, India, Germany and Belgium.