The History of the British Chamber in Belgium

The British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium has not always been around, although it may feel like it! The origin of the British Chamber is in 1898 and has since then carried out work across the years, only taking a break when war has broken out across Europe!

There are not many documents remaining from the beginning of the chamber in Belgium. The first President of the chamber, which documents still exist of, is C. W. Twelves who was president from 1910-1914 as well as the secretarie-general B.G. de M. Taunton 1910-1934. As shown in the 1978 Articles of Association below the British Chamber in Belgium became incorporated on the 27th of April 1910 and used to be the chamber for Belgium and Luxembourg.

1910 articles of ass.jpg

The British Chamber in Belgium was nearly not to be, as World War 2 spread across Europe. The chamber, then based in Antwerp, decided to postpone all chamber activity until after the war just before Belgium was invaded. It was started back up again in 1948 under president W.N. Doley, OBE

As Travelling across the channel was a lot harder and rarer for members of the UK government back then, visits and events were much less frequent but on a larger scale. One of the largest events we still have the event plan of is the 1960 Golden Jubilee Banquet held 11th February 1960 in Brussels. With Belgian, Luxembourg, UK and Commenwealth officials in attendence it was a grand event. As shown below guests were dressed to impress at the rare visits of foreign government officials

 

The now very polished chamber annual report1980 annual reports and directories were not always this way. Back in the 1980s the chamber would release a monthly Business Journal you can see on the right which would include what important speaches had been given at the chamber and any recent chamber functions that had taken place.

Members too also had the chance to take out a page to promote themselves, although the adverts aren’t what you’d see today! (see below)

 

1980 advert

Overall, the chamber has grown over all of it’s 119 years and been through a lot of changes, from being joint with Luxembourg and being based in Antwerp to what you use today in Brussels. Although events are not all as glamerous as the 1960 Golden Jubilee Banquet, we now host many more events every year all of a high standard and covering a lot more topics than can be in one gathering a year!

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