In World War 1, three padres bought and established a house on the Western Front in Belgium, to bring some comforts of home from the horrifying shifts in the trenches. It was a place of fellowship and refreshment, were all ranks were abandoned, and some described as a fun-loving pub without booze. The ground floor house amusements, magazines, a canteen and a means for writing home. A Library was provided on the next floor an above that were bedrooms. The loft, known as a the Upper Room was converted into a Chapel. It is estimated that 25,000 men made their communion there and went forth strengthened and renewed to meet the fury of the trenches. No fewer than five men who later won the Victoria Cross took Communion there. It was called Talbot House, TH for short, which they pronounced Toc H according to the army signaller’s convention.
The Toc H movement continued after the war, to allow men to come together, helping and thinking of each other as family. The four values were To Think Fairly, To Love Widely, To Witness Humbly and To Build Bravely. By 1930 there were nearly 1000 branches worldwide. In 1927, the Reverend Owen W. Williams, the Padre Christ College Toc H and Assistant Chaplin of Christ’s College, proposed the establishment of a separate boys’ club for the poorer boys in the community. Jack Bruorton, an English ex-pat, offered to lead it. He had already been involved in the Boys Brigade, Scouts, was a boxing referee, a musician and a church sidesman, and kicked off the club with about 8 – 10 husky boys ranging from 9 – 13 years of age. It would have similar principles to Toc H, and the goal was…
To take boys off street corners and place an emphasis on physical training.