Beginnings of Scottish Minorities Group and links with North-West Homosexual Law Reform Committee

Prior to 1967 sex of any sort between men was illegal throughout the UK. In 1958 a group of people who were in the main neither lesbian nor gay set up the Homosexual Law Reform Society (HLRS) to attempt to make changes, led by A. E. Dyson. Pace of change was slow and in 1964 Alan Horsfall and Colin Harvey founded the North Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee (NWHLRC).  Alan had been, as he put it, "slapped down by the Labour Party" for having tried to introduce a motion concerning the recommendations of the Wolfenden Committee which reported 1957. The tale was written up by Alan Horsfall in New Left Review (i/12 pp29-31) as "Wolfenden in the wilderness."  (Information from Reforming Spirits by Alan Horsfall, The Pink Triangle Trust. )

Anthony Grey had become the chair of the HLRS and supported the idea of local groups, although the committee never espoused this. However, he put Alan Horsfall in touch with Colin Harvey who was senior social worker for the Church of England's Manchester Board for Social Responsibility. He was married and had no particular interest in gay law reform but became involved anyway. See note on Allan Horsefall's contributuion.

Public meeting posterFlyers and word of mouth around gay bars and clubs publicised the first meeting of the NWHLRC and the address given was that of Alan's own house which was rented from the National Coal Board in a mining village on the outskirts of Manchester. Colin sent out invitations to social work contacts.  Pretty soon the Committee was exclusively gay.  The first meeting was on 6 Oct 1966 and the next on 11 Nov 1966, as shown on the poster.

The poster from 1966 advertises a public meeting at Houldsworth Hall on Deansgate, Manchester. Click on it to see a bigger image.

In about 1968 the North-West Homosexual Law Reform Committee established the Esquire Clubs Limited with directors nominated from their number. See Newsletter Oct 1968 in NAS GD467/1/1/1.

Ian Dunn wrote to Alan Horsfall in and on 16 Nov 1968 was writing to Alan Horsfall thanking him for sending a copy of Ray Goslings article in New Society. In a letter dated 26 Nov 1968 Alan Horsfall suggested to Ian Dunn that he contact the HLRC's recent Chair, Colin Harvey, who had moved to Glasgow's Jordan Hill College of Education as a lecturer in social work. Next day Ian wrote to Colin, and received a reply when he wrote again, suggesting a meeting and giving the name of three other interested people.

Ian wrote to Jim Halcrowe, one of the three mentioned by Colin Harvey, on 14 Jan 1969. Both had written to the Church of Scotland.

A first meeting took place on 7 Feb 1969, mentioned in a letter from Colin Harvey to Ian Dunn. A second meeting was mentioned in a letter from CH to ID of 16 Mar 1969.

A third meeting was projected for 9 May 1969 to be held in the chaplaincy of Glasgow University at Andrew Melville House, 65 Oakfield Ave., Glasgow W2, in a letter from CH to ID.

The name SMG (Scottish Minorities Group) was being used when ID received a card from CH on 24 Jun 1969 asking as an SOS that he had no SMG headed notepaper to reply to respondents to a survey carried out by the group. A letter of 28 June 1969 acknowledges receiving the notepaper and notes that there were 30 replies to the survey, including Prof Millar [Psychiatry Aberdeen Uni], the Edinburgh University Chaplain, David Campbell (Davidson clinic) & Keith Wardrop (Forensic Clinic, [Glasgow]), Tom Scott.

The story will continue as the Ian Dunn's 1968-9 file in the National Archives of Scotland is investigated further.

Note on Colin Harvey ... more to follow

Colin Harvey moved to 163 Mugdock Road, Milngavie, near Glasgow in April 1969. The house formerly belonged to Prof. Freddie Fielding who moved to London about that time to take up an appointment with the Fine Arts Commission. [Letter from Ian Dunn to Tom 29 May 1969 in GD467/1/1/1]

Heatherbank Museum of Social Work was founded in 1975 by Colin and Rosemary Harvey. Its first site was as part of their early Victorian house and the adjacent coach-house situated in Milngavie, seven miles north of Glasgow. By 1993 both Colin and Rosemary had died and the following year the Museum moved to Glasgow Caledonian University. In 1996 the University took over responsibility for the funding of the Museum and in 1999, new premises were developed on the main campus in the city centre.