When I spoke to Gerry Pulcella, at one of our club meetings, and told him that I was researching the history of WMWT he told me about Joe Catley and how he had moved to Wales and started a wood turning club. Gerry did not have much information about the club other than it was close to where his daughter lived at the time.
I was intrigued to find out more so first checked the AWGB list of clubs; this showed that the club was possibly Mid Wales Woodturners. After some asking around I spoke to Graham Lovett who confirmed that he knew Joe well and had been invited to the club several times to give demonstrations . Graham did not have any contact details for Joe but thought that Brian Bateman knew his brother. I spoke to Brian and he confirmed that he knew Joe Catley’s brother and would find contact details for him.
Brian did send me Joe’s contact details so, not knowing what to expect, I phoned him at Sunday lunch time on 7th September 2014. Joe must have thought that he was getting some sort of crank call when I told him that I was Chairman of WMWT and wanted to ask him some questions about the club. Joe, patiently, explained that he had left the Midlands 17 years ago and was I sure that I was speaking to the right person and how had I got his phone number. Once I told Joe that I had got his contact details from his brother he was happy to speak to me. He confirmed that he joined WMWT in 1990, left to move to Wales 1997 and set up Mid Wales Woodturners in 1999. Joe and his wife were about to go out to lunch so we exchanged email details.
During our email exchanges he told me that he had some old newsletters from various dates going back to 1998 and would I like him to post them to me?. I accepted the offer gladly as some of them covered dates not available in our newsletter archive. In my dealings with Joe he has been very generous in giving his time and answering my questions.
The following are notes, in Joe’s words, taken from some of our emails.
Who were some of the early turners at the club?
Joe. Amongst others Reg Sherwin, Phil Reardon, Ray Key Gary Rance, Roger Warren-Finding (who sadly died) left a legacy that I still have, and a Grinding Angle Guide which his widow allowed me to reproduce for Mid Wales Turners.
Where you involved in any outside events?
Joe. A double Decker Bus in Sutton Park run by the park rangers involving pole lathe turning and associated prep which was filmed, we then watched ourselves on screen in the bus.
Later I instigated having a Woodturning Class at Marston Green Horticultural Society Annual Show where we also put on a display and sale of members work.
One of the members Phil Brownlees retired from work and moved to Tenbury Wells and was involved in various sorts of woodwork. A couple of club visits to his to his home followed including me and my wife travelling over from Wales.
The newsletters, together with the information Joe has given me has been most helpful to me in putting together the first 25 years of WMWT.
I did invite Joe and his wife to our anniversary meeting. He thanked me for the invite but said that it would involve a 2-3 hour train journey each way and that would not be practical
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