Recalling a Presidential Address

When ex-Press Club chairman Terry Field arrived as a guest at the Club’s Christmas luncheon, held to mark its 150th birthday, he brought with him a treasured memento relating to the Club’s Victorian era.

Terry is pictured here showing former chairmen Gerry Armes and Jerry Johns and ex-Press Club director Beryl Williams a 125-year-old illustrated volume that was originally presented by Club members to one of the organisation’s first presidents, Hugh Gilzean-Reid.

From 1984 - then Press Club chairman Terry Field and museum curator Alexander SchouvaloffFormer Press Club chairmen Terry Field, Gerry Armes and Jerry Johns together with ex-Press Club director Beryl Williams - and a treasured memento


Terry explained that the volume, painstakingly illuminated and illustrated with photographs of the board members in 1869, came to light after a chance discovery in 1984 by Alexander Schouveloff, curator of the Victoria & Albert Museum theatre archive, amongst a job lot of old books offered for sale at Christie’s in London.

Alexander’s former connections with Birmingham – he formerly worked at Birmingham Rep – led to him telephoning Terry.

“I thought it was some kind of hoax at first,” recalled Terry. “But he finally convinced me the find was genuine and invited me to London to look at it.”

The elaborately hand-decorated Address, signed by Sir Algernon Borthwick, Club president in 1889 and 1890, read: “We, the members of the Birmingham Press Club, desire to present to you some enduring record of your valuable services to this institution during the five years which have elapsed since you were enrolled one of its members, and more especially during the years 1886, 1887 and 1888 in which you presided over its operations.”

It added: “We remember with pleasure that in a period of financial crisis in the history of this institution you led the effort to restore it to a sound condition, and that it was largely through your influence that we surmounted our difficulties and that our financial standing is now thoroughly satisfactory.”

  • Hugh Gilzean-Reid, who founded the Middlesbrough Daily Gazette, was elected in 1885 as Liberal MP for the former constituency of Aston Manor, while Sir Algernon Borthwick, a former president of the Newspaper Press Fund, took over as proprietor of the Morning Post in 1876. The newspaper merged with the Daily Telegraph in 1937. Sir Algernon was elevated to the peerage as Baron Glenesk after leaving the Commons in 1895 following ten years as an MP.