Our History - past and present


A brief history of the Rotary Club of Cambridge together with some records which might be of interest to the wider audience

This page is about to be change is please come back in May 2015

Here is a complete list of all members of the club since it was founded.

The brief history of the club

Founded in 1905 on the ideas of Paul Harris, a Chicago lawyer, Rotary was originally confined to the U.S.A. It soon spread to the U.K. clubs being established in Belfast 1911, London 1912, and Manchester 1913.

The idea was infectious and Rotary came to Cambridge in 1922, only four years after the end of the Great War, as it was then known.

E.S.Peck, a pharmaceutical chemist, who became our first President, along with C.B. Bowes, a bookseller, set up a small committee with the object of forming a club. This led to 31 men being invited to become founder members.
The first meeting took place on the 20th June 1922 and our Charter; Rotary International Club 1416 is dated 28th September 1922.

This pioneer group consisted of men from diverse trades and professions, one of the strengths of Rotary being the belief that all occupations are worthy of respect and have a contribution to make. The spread continued, with our Club encouraging the founding of Cambridge South 1966, Cambridge Rutherford 1983, and Cambridge Sawston 1987.

Harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of individuals in our Club has resulted in many successful achievements, some being worldwide, and others at local level. In 1928, the Club supported the formation of The Cambridge Preservation Society, and the Club was the inspiration behind the establishment of the Cambridge Folk Museum in 1934. Support was also given to the Y.M.C.A and members were active in the support of their Boy's Club until its demise in 1962.

After W.W.2 the pace of change accelerated and the world became much more inclusive. So has Cambridge Rotary. The Club has become dual gender and our first lady president was appointed in 2002.

Changes in technology have made it much easier to communicate, with the result that more recent projects have included support for disaster relief via Shelter Boxes, a Rotary inspired charity. Our own Club has organised and transported caravans to provide help to families made homeless by earthquakes in Italy in 1980 and later Greece and Turkey 1999.

At a local level, activities have included practical and physical support for educational projects concerned with drugs and their effects, mock interviews to help young people to improve their presentation techniques, courses to promote leadership and team building, and inter school tournaments in conjunction with the university to develop design and practical skills.

The Club has also sponsored concerts and events to raise money for local charities. The list is endless and will continue to be so.

In the words of a Club member, echoed by one of our lady presidents, we must continue to adopt, adapt and improve.

With help, perhaps yours, we shall.

From time to time the club grants Paul Harris Fellowships and the Roger Asbury Award