Page 8 of 8The last link with our founders was broken with the death, on 12th October 1947, of General Sir Ian Hamilton at the age of 94. His appointment as a member of the Council dated from the early days of the S.M.R.C. and he was an active Vice-President of the N.S.R.A.
Ill health brought about the retirement of George Pethard in 1947 and, following twelve months in an acting capacity, A. J. "Jerry" Palmer was appointed Secretary the following year. He had first joined the staff in 1924 and represented Great Britain in the Dewar International Match of 1934. Many will remember the dulcet tone of his voice over the P.A. system at Bisley in the 50's and 60's.' Upon his own retirement in January 1970, another long serving member of staff, R. C. "Ron" Russell, filled the Secretary's office for the next 15 years.
A return to the capital came on 9th March 1953 when the Society, which by now had become the N.S.R.A., having sold "Mayleigh" for £5,000, moved to an office building and showroom at 113, Southwark Street, SEl which had been purchased for £11,500 and subsequently became the new "Codrington House".
On becoming Chairman in 1959, General Sir Lashmer Whistler made strenuous efforts to establish a permanent range for small-bore shooting and, following his sudden death in 1963, it was hoped that a "Whistler Range" would become a memorial to him at Bisley. Various plans were considered until 1977 when, with financial assistance from the Sports Council, a demountable 'National Range' was constructed on the Bisley Century Range for our Rifle Meetings and used for the first time that year.
The establishment of a permanent range, capable of hosting the National Small-bore Meetings as visualised by General Whistler, has yet to be realised.
With Bisley known as the "Mecca" for marksmen and being developed as a National Shooting Centre, the decision was taken to move out of London and establish the Association's Headquarters within Bisley Camp. The old "Roberts Hut" site was purchased from the N.R.A. and, financed by the sale of the Southwark Street premises for £145,000, a new "Lord Roberts House" built, just within the camp boundary, opening for business on 5th February 1980.
Whilst Secretary of the Association from 1985-93, Group Captain Dennis King, a former winner of the Earl Roberts British Championship in 1956, found much of his time taken up, in the face of adverse publicity by the media, arguing against punitive firearms legislation. Public opinion was now very different from that of the early years of the S.M.R.C.!
With the less restrictive appeal of air gun shooting, the N.S.R.A. as the Governing Body for Air Gun and Match Crossbow Shooting, established, at a cost in excess of £200,000, a purpose built National Indoor Shooting Centre at Aldersley, Wolverhampton. This facility, opened by the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor S. S. Duhra, on 28th October 1991, not only hosts the National Air Gun Championships but is open daily for use by local clubs and individuals.