History of Birmingham Fencing Club
Birmingham Fencing Club (BFC) is one of the oldest in the coutry, having it's origins in the Birmingham Athletic Club founded in 1866. A military defensive section was developed in 1871 and the members had a reputation for robust fencing with single-stick and bayonet, as well as foil and sabre. The club presented fencing and athletic displays annually at Birmingham Town Hall and at athletic clubs in the Midlands, including Smethwick, West Bromwich, Tipton, Cradley Heath, Bilston and Worcester. A notable personality in the club at the time was R. E. Cole who was secretary for many years. He fought a single-stick match in 1906 and won the first veteran's epee competition in 1939.
Demonstrations and displays continued after the First World War and by 1929 new premeses were required. The club moved from the Athletic club and Birmingham Fencing Club was formed, meeting at the Tally Ho Tennis Club in Edgbaston. In 1932, a well qualified professional coach, Professor Henri Faubert, was appointed and he remained with the club until he retired in 1972. Birmingham fencers continued to do well in competitions, AD Pearce fenced in the 1928 and 1936 Olympic Games. The club was well supported at that time by the Amateur Fencing Association and Charles de Beaumont was appointed a Vice-President.
New premises were again required in the 1960s and the club moved to the University where it has remained, initially sharing facilities with the University Fencing Club to the advantage of both. Club members continued to be successful in national and local competitions, Clive Purchase fenced in the British National Epee Team in 1966. In the 1970s, many of the active members moved from Birmingham or joined the newly formed West Midlands Centre of Excellence and the membership of the club showed a considerable decline. However, in the 1980's by separating from the student club a strong and steady revivial to a robust and well respected community fencing club, one of the largest in the Midlands with foil, epee and sabre was and still is directed and coached by Mike Whitehouse.
To buy a copy of Dr Graham Ayliffe's book "History of Birmingham Fencing Club and the Easter International Tournament" priced at £3.50 please contact Mike or Joan Whitehouse on 0121 443 3136 or by email.
Last updated 18.September.2011