In this display cabinet we have some items from the early days of Quiz Walks and is mostly from the various bits and pieces Les Bradbury kept in his files. We would be delighted to hear of other artifacts from members past and present.
Don't Get Lost: Clue Sheets & Panic Envelopes
Organisers didn't make things easy for competitors in the early treasure hunts in the late 1950s. Today when you start a walk you get a complete set of directions along with the cryptic clues. Not so then. Instead competitors were given a slip of paper called a clue sheet covering the first stage of the walk only. They then had to scramble around at the end of that stage to find the clue sheet for the next one, and so on. As one of the early competitors, Brenda Marks, puts it in a piece published in the club magazine "News and Views" in December 1958:
Now these are usually little rhymes written on flimsy pieces of paper and usually number about 16. On most occasions they are hidden in the most awkward places, on top of l2ft. brick walls, outside public conveniences, inside pig sties and outside public houses which shut five minutes before you arrived. You are expected to scratch about until you unearth the now soaking wet clues.
The receptacles usually used to hold the clue sheets were tobacco tins with a label stuck on the front asking members of the public not to walk off with the tin on the day in question. But even with this precaution in place there were many stories in the early days of competitors not being able to find the precious tin that would take them on to the next stage - something that especially seemed to afflict those coming up in the rear of the field after their fellow competitors (albeit unwittingly?) had made that tin a bit harder to find!
Solution? A "panic envelope" system was introduced - competitors were given a couple of sealed envelopes at the start, one giving the location of the halfway point, for use if they failed on the first half, the other giving the finishing point if they failed on the second half. One such unopened "panic" envelope has survived from a walk organised by Peter Juneman that started from Cobham and Stoke D'Abernon station in 1959.
However, if you hold it up in good light you can make out the words SANDOWN TEA ROOMS ESHER on the flimsy piece of paper inside. Opening the panic envelope in those days cost you a points deduction, so we wonder if anyone who actually got lost on clues 7 to 11 back in 1959 was smart enough to do the "light" test.
The "panic envelope" also reveals another sign of the times: the finishing location, Esher, was different from the starting location, Cobham and Stoke D'Abernon station. Back then competitors travelled to walk venues by suburban train, not by car, so it wasn't essential to make the walks circular, although many organisers did.
Also, in the early days, competitors may have been required to find "treasure". As with the "panic envelopes" above, this treasure could be anything small that could be hidden in a tobacco tin or wrapped in plastic. Sometimes the treasure was a simple token, although, as with this example, John Cooper rarely did the simple!
At the end of the walk, the treasure would be exchanged for bonus points and sometimes there may have been less treasure than competitors - first to arrive gets the prize! Again the competitive spirit led to accusations over "missing" treasure and the practice faded out.
An Early Score Sheet
As you may have gathered, the scoring system in the early days was very different to that now. Points were awarded both for finding the clue sheets themselves as well as for solving the clues. The points were then reduced by the number of minutes taken to complete the walk.
This score sheet from a walk organised by Les Bradbury in the fifties.
Treasure Hunter's Certificate
Probably produced between 1965 and the early 1970s. It cannot have been earlier than 1965 because that was the year when the Elmbourne Young Peoples club changed its name to the Thursday Club. The name "Quizwalks" was adopted in the mid-70s.
The letters BBC in the shield, in a deliberate misrepresentation, referred to Bradbury, Bradbury and Cooper (Les, his wife Reta and John himself.)
Note the motto!
The End Of Quiz Walks
The tombstone and epitaph shown here appeared in the August 1964 edition of the club magazine "News and Views". Like Mark Twain's death the demise of treasure hunts was greatly exaggerated. In fact it was in 1964 itself that they were given a new lease of life by the decision to switch from the "all day" marathons to the "afternoon only" format that's still in use today.
As the anonymous creator of that premature epitaph was forced to acknowledge in the very next edition of "News and Views":
"The death certificate of the Treasure Hunting League seems to have been issued a trifle prematurely and the burial ceremony carried out with indecent haste. I'm glad to hear it. My apologies to the "corpse". If then the patient has been buried alive I hope it won't be long before he is exhumed and the kiss of life applied."
Les Bradbury's Tables
Most years, Les would turn up at the annual end of season lunch bearing some form of table showing the results of a long trawl through his archives. This example, almost certainly from 1979, lists the top ten walk participants during the 1970s.
In 2007, as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, we had special shirts made.
The Last Supper
On Wednesday 2nd January 1974 John Cooper, and his wife dined out with Les Bradbury and his then partner, Lillian. Sadly, this proved to be a last supper as John died a few days later from a heart attack. Ironically he had gone from being a virtual chain smoker to a non-smoker in the two years before his death at the age of 60. Les Bradbury kept the bill in his files.
In a way it was fitting that the four of them should have chosen to dine out at The Running Horses at Mickleham. This is in the heart of quiz-walking territory and has been used as the venue for many walks over the years.
Between the inaugural walk on 29th September 1957 and his death John Cooper made a prolific contribution. According to statistics compiled by Les Bradbury he organised no fewer than 46 walks in those 17 years. We owe him a lot.