In the early 1960s, Charles Graves (the renowned journalist and writer, son of the actor George Graves) had once pointed out that 'the eccentricity of the Eccentric Club is to be noted primarily in its fantastic generosity to charitable causes'.
Indeed, the Club's name used to be associated with many good deeds. Before the First World War, before moving to the fashionable Ryder Street premises in St James’s, the Club was famous for its open doors, friendly attitude towards strangers and good food - both inside and outside of 21 Shaftesbury Avenue: whilst inside it was for the members and their guests, outdoors there were always queues of the poor awaiting the distribution of food, particularly long - before the Christmas, when the Club members were giving away their famous, 'best in London', free Christmas hampers.
During the First World War, the members of the Eccentric were entertaining the troops on the frontline, raised over £25,000 for the limbless soldiers, regularly visited the wounded soldiers in the hospitals and distributed amongst them food, tobacco and pipes. At the same time, a number of hospitals, hostels and orphanages were built by the Club.
Shortly after the First World War, there was a memorable performance at the White City when over a thousand of war veterans were entertained and comforted by the members of the Club. On average, in the 1920-1940s the Club was spending over £1,000 a year on various charitable needs.
During the Second World War, further £50,000 were raised to support the victory and many of the Club's members were fighting on the frontline, while back at home the premises in Ryder Street were seriously damaged by the enemy bombs, and a large part of the Club's original archive and library was burnt down...
In the 1940s-1980s, the Club was raising considerable funds for the good causes: restoring the ruined buildings in the post-war London, helping the National Flood Distress Fund in 1947, promoting amateur and professional sports...
In 1965 the Club donated a substantial amount to the Sail Training Association for the building of the schooner Sir Winston Churchill to participate in the Tall Ships Race. In 1970 the Club became a new home to 600 bridge players from the Crockford’s gaming club which was then closed. In 1975 the Eccentric Club members, Joe Davis and Noel Miller-Cheevers, were amongst the founders of the International Snooker League. The Club’s Snooker Room, acknowledged by many as ‘the finest in London’, was later named after Joe Davis. The Eccentric Club Golfing Society was arranging competitions both in Britain and abroad. Members of the Lord’s Taverners Cricket Club had an associate membership of the Eccentric almost from their very formation in 1950. Until mid-1980s, the Club continued participating in many charitable projects.
The revived club aims to honour these traditions. We believe that today, in the times of common globalisation, it is essentially important to support our local and national charities, which far too often remain undervalued and underfunded whilst the larger international organisations' needs seem to take a priority.
Local environmental and historic conservation issues may seem less important than the starving nations elsewhere, but they cannot and should not be ignored - for the sake of our children and our country. Having said that, our club has never withdrawn its support to the charitable causes abroad and responds swiftly to the Red Cross and similar emergency appeals.
We also believe that just like the paintings and sculptures are being returned to the museums and galleries, the history of the Eccentric Club and its many members, recovered and preserved by us, will return to British people and to the mankind a huge chunk of their historic and cultural heritage. For more than two centuries a great number of the most outstanding individuals were related in one way or another to the club, they have promoted its values by enriching the mankind with their thoughts, inventions, creations and acts, but only a handful of them are remembered today, despite a significant role they have played in the past. These ‘eccentrics’ are the missing pieces of the historic and cultural mosaic of our heritage. Neither them, nor one of the most important clubs in British history, such as The Eccentric, should be ever forgotten.
Since 2007, the Committee of the Eccentric Club has been undertaking a painstaking in-depth research into the Club’s history, uncovering many important documents, earlier thought to be lost, helping dozens of individuals and their families to learn more of the past of their ancestors, commemorating the former club members who had spent their lives for the benefit of the public, living by the ‘Nil Nisi Bonum’ motto, and then undeservedly forgotten. One of the most significant discoveries was the establishment of the connection between the club, founded by Jack Harrison in 1890, and the Eccentric Society, an off-shoot of the Brilliants Club, which existed as long ago as in 1760s, though with a better-documented history from 1780s-1800s.
Since 2008, we have raised funds and made donations to the following charities and good causes:
Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan Appeal
BBC Children in Need
The Barn Owl Trust
Eagle Heights Wildlife Park
Hawk Conservancy Trust
British Wildlife Centre
Cancer Research UK
Save the Children
Help for Heroes
The Rotary Club Campaign
‘End Polio Now!’
The Pushkin House
The Dame Vera Lynn Trust for
Children with Cerebral Palsy
The British Heart Foundation
Metropolitan Masonic Charity (Cyberknife Appeal)
The Children's Hospital
Royal National Children's Foundation
Movember (Prostate Cancer Charity)
The Royal Berks Charity
Variety (The Children's Charity)
Keep Wales Tidy Campaign
Lymphoma Association Fund
PGM London Fund of Benevolence (‘Driving to help those in need’ Mini-Bus Appeal)
Whether you are the Eccentric Club member or not, you too can show your good will by donating to the Eccentric Club – all donations, however large or small, help us to continue our charitable work, to research, restore and preserve the important segments of our historic and cultural heritage, to help those in need and to upkeep the charitable traditions of this country.