Older members have suggested the Chamber was started in Newham during 1878. But the earliest reference found about a local Chamber was a receipt in the archives of a banking member, dated 1903. A subscription to East Ham Chamber of Commerce, it was for 10s 6d (52-and-a-half pence) – the same amount requested in 1916. In that year, a junior clerk at the bank received 40 pounds per annum.
From then until April, 1945 no records of a Chamber appear to exist. But on that date, the local Rotary Club held a public meeting at the Town Hall (now East Ham Town Hall) to establish East Ham Chamber of Trade and Commerce.
At a meeting on October 18th, 1946, convened by a representative of the then National Chamber of Trade, various planning issues were considered. It was realised, though, that no organisation existed in West Ham to represent the business community’s interests. The Rotary Club were called in again and the West Ham Chamber was founded on February 19th, 1947. The two worked independently of each other for some 20 years.
Eventually, after many meetings when the Borough of Newham was formed in 1965, the two Chambers merged on January 1st, 1967. The merged organisation started with two presidents and NINETEEN vice-presidents. Initial membership was 1,500 and subscriptions ranged from two pounds to six pounds fifteen shillings (6.75 pounds). That was when shopkeepers were actively involved in local issues.
So, the Chamber as it is now will be celebrating its golden anniversary at the start of next year and our current Executive Secretary will have been in post for 10.5 of those years.