- 1844-1985 (Creation)
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0.02 cubic metres
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On 18 January 1812 a requisition was presented to the Lord Mayor of York, Lawrence Dundas, asking him to call a public meeting to consider the expediency of forming a local branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society in York. The meeting was held on 29 January in the Great Assembly Rooms and the resolution was passed to create an auxiliary branch to be named the Auxiliary Bible Society of the City and Vicinity of York.
Between 1900 and 1973 this was variously, and inconsistently, recorded as the ‘York Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society,’ ‘The British and Foreign Bible Society, York Branch’ and ‘The British and Foreign Bible Society, York Auxiliary.’ In 1973 the decision was taken to change the name formally from ‘York Auxiliary’ to ‘York Action Group’ on the suggestion of Bible House, the headquarters of the Society. However a year later, in 1974, this was formally changed again to the ‘British and Foreign Bible Society, York Group.’
Among the Branch’s original sponsors were Quaker philanthropists William and Henry Tuke and American born Quaker and grammarian Lindley Murray. The new York Branch was headed by a President, an office filled by successive Archbishops of York, and a Vice President. Below these senior offices were the lay committee, the treasurer and the branch secretary. From at least the 1820s the Branch had a Ladies Association and a Juvenile Society, by 1900 known as the Juvenile Association, and these were represented at meetings by their respective secretaries.
This basic structure underwent very little change prior to the 1950s although the Juvenile Association no longer appears in annual reports after 1940 and the secretary for the Ladies Association had, by 1950, been replaced by the Regional Women’s Secretary. Prominent members of the Branch committee included the Tukes and Joseph, Arthur and Theodore Rowntree.
The York Branch supported the mission and fundraising activities of the national British and Foreign Bible Society which had been inaugurated in 1804 to encourage the wider circulation of the Bible internationally through translation. At the first meeting of the York Branch more than £600 was raised for the Society’s work and the Branch continued to promote its aims and raise funds for its work in the UK and around the world through a regular programme of events including coffee mornings, garden parties, sales of work, musical evenings, lectures, and exhibitions. Money was also raised at schools and colleges in York through the efforts of the Juvenile Association.
In 1912 the Branch celebrated its centenary with a special meeting at the Festival Concert Rooms, its centenary fund raising £1500 throughout the year. In 1963 the German theologian Dr Martin Niemoller was a guest speaker for the Branch at the Wesleyan Chapel in Priory Street and in 1971 a musical evening at The Guildhall advertised a performance by soprano Phoebe Coleman to raise funds for the provision of Macedonian bibles in Yugoslavia.
In addition to its centenary celebration in 1912, the York Branch marked its 150th anniversary in 1962 with an exhibition at St William’s College, opened by HRH The Princess Royal. In 1969 York played a key role in the national life of the Society when it hosted the annual British and Foreign Bible Society National Rally which was attended by 800 members and included an address by the chairman Lady Owen and performances by the York Townswomen’s Guild Choir.
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