John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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The Emeralds, Mallards, Broadswords and Hellfires Club

Early Days

The Emeralds and Anchors
 1. It may have been around the time that Chris Woodhead arrived in Thornton,[more] or perhaps even before, that the Emeralds, Mallards, Broadswords and Hellfires Club had its beginnings. It started off as the Emeralds and Anchors, with Fairhurst being the Emeralds and Leech the Anchors (which is understandable because of his connection with the sea; his father was a trawlerman). Leech appeared to be the leader, so it was he whom Chris approached to “apply for membership”. And Leech did not, as it were, welcome Chris with open arms straight away; Chris had to do a bit of appealing to him, and show him how much he wanted to be a part of the Club, before Leech would agree to let him join. Leech gave Chris an initial “grilling” and then probably made some pretence of consulting his fellow-member Fairhurst about the matter.

The Emeralds, Anchors and Mallards
 2. And after all these negotiations, Chris was admitted into the Club; but he was not given any particular designation, except “C”, his initial. So at first, then, it was the Emeralds and Anchors and C’s. And after a while Chris said, “Look, he’s Emeralds, you’re Anchors, and I’m just C. Why can’t I be something else?” It was learned that Chris liked trains; the fastest steam locomotive was called “Mallard”, so Chris was designated as the Mallard: Emeralds, Anchors and Mallards.

The Emeralds, Mallards and Broadswords
 3. And then they invited Michael Music to join them, and asked him what he would like to be called; and he wanted to be the Broadswords. So, for a while it was the Emeralds, Mallards and Broadswords. Not, please note, the Emeralds, Anchors, Mallards and Broadswords; for the Anchors dropped out: Leech was thrown out of the Club. It started with his getting banned from Fairhurst’s house; Leech’s behaviour generally eventually became too much for parents—or anyone for that matter—to bear. So that is how the Anchors became omitted.

Leech’s proposed “Anchors”, perhaps May 1961
 4. I have a vague memory of Leech proposing to me that we form a “club” called the Anchors. If I am not just deceiving myself and this really happened, it possibly occurred after Leech was slung out of the original Club, and he wanted to form an independent or rival Anchors. A location down New Lane by the level crossing comes to mind.
[1] Compare the story Timothy Leech, paragraph headed To 1961 and Note [5]. If the train-spotting notes from “The Observer’s Book of Railway Locomotives of Britain” have any bearing on this half-memory, Leech’s proposal could have occurred in May 1961. The other date given there, of August 1961, would appear to be too late.

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