1922 – for the Rotary Club of Maidstone it all began in 1922 as Rotary International Club No 1386, Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Club No 97, and member of District No 12 (now District 1120). Our Founder’s Day is the 8 May 1922 and our Charter was presented on the 14 December 1922.
Our records show that on 24 April 1922 a number of businessmen were entertained to lunch at the Royal Star Hotel (now the Royal Star Arcade) by the No 3 District Council of the (then) British Association of Rotary Clubs, the object being to form a Rotary Club of Maidstone. It was decided to hold a meeting on 8 May at the Central Picture Palace, King Street (current site of Boots) and to invite other businessmen to consider the request. The meeting decided to form a Club and fourteen present signed as Founder Members.
The Founder President, pictured below, left, was James Hillier French JP, later to become Mayor of Maidstone on two occasions. His classification – Secretary, National Farmers Union.
Fortnightly meetings were held at the Carlton Café, High Street (near the site of the NatWest Building) until the move to the Royal Star Hotel on 14 January 1924 where a luncheon price of three shillings had been negotiated.
1930 – the Club changed to weekly meetings, but continued the Friday tradition.
1985 – the third move of venue was to the Boxley Hotel on 3 May 1985 due to the closure of the Royal Star Hotel.
1997 – when the Boxley Hotel closed in 1997, we moved to our present meeting place at the Maidstone Masonic Centre, Tovil.
2010 – we Inducted our first ever lady President, Pat Thomas – a major event in the Club’s history!
Over the years Maidstone has assisted the formation of new Clubs (usually referred to as Daughter Clubs). We helped to form the Tenterden, The Weald of Kent, Malling, Maidstone Riverside and, more recently, Maidstone Dawn Patrol, Clubs. Rotary used to be an all-male organisation, however ladies are now welcome as members of every club worldwide.