Rishton's Toc H

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Former location of Toc H taken in July 2001.

The Toc H was founded by Tubby Clayton, who was honoured in Accrington with a civic reception on the 18th October 1951. TOC H is an organisation made up of groups of people meeting together and serving their community in worthwhile projects.

On the 29th June 1966, the new Toc H building was opened by David Bailey M. B. E. A lamp for the building was presented to them in memory of his son Kenneth, who was killed during the second World War.

The name Toc H comes from Talbot House but it became known by its initials T. H., which was `TOC H` in the signallers language of the day. The original Talbot House is in Poperinge, Belgium, and was set up to provide basic comforts to the young men going to and from the battle lines of the Western Front. It was named Talbot House in memory of Lieutenant Gilbert W L Talbot, aged 23, brother of Padre Neville Talbot, who was killed at Hooge in the Ypres Salient on the 30th July 1915.

Toc H logo

The building was the former Workingmen's club, based at the corner of Howarth Street and Walmsley Street, and also The Salvation Army Hostel. It was numbers 1 and 3 Howarth Street in 1947.

The Toc H logo is a stylised World and the Toc H lamp.


TOC H lamp is the universal symbol of TOC H across the World.

There is a saying in Lancashire, that when someone is being a little stupid, or thick, that they are "As dim as a Toc H lamp". The TOC H lamp was a "lamp of maintenance", adopted by the organisation in WWI - it bears the Cross of Ypres, and is an oil lamp, hence the dim light - it was intended purely as a symbolic focal point for TOC H, not for it's brightness. The term TOC H originates from the signallers' language for T. H., short for Talbot House, the original soldiers' refuge, opened by "Tubby" Clayton, at Poperinge, near Ypres, in 1915.

The Origins of Toc H.

TOC H was founded in the middle of the strife of World War 1, in 1918. It started in a house in a Belgian town named Poperinge (as was mentioned above), at the time, a few miles behind the front-line trenches. The house was called Talbot House (whose initials, in army telephone jargon, gives TOC H its distinctive name). In this house a young Army chaplain, the Rev. 'Tubby' Clayton, set up a rest centre for soldiers. From the start, it was open to all ranks, which was very unusual. Many who visited gained a deeper understanding of other people, and of their own Faith.

Where TOC H began - Talbot house

After the War the men who survived returned to civilian life. They decided to try to recreate the Talbot House experience in peacetime. They started creating opportunities for other people to have that same experience, whether the divisions were of rank, class or any other. To begin with, they set up residential houses like Talbot House. Later, they started forming local branches, which met weekly. Very soon women were fully involved too.

Since then, TOC H has spread to many countries. It mainly works quietly at local level - bridging barriers, giving service, challenging prejudice and encouraging all to find a faith to live by.

Tubby Clayton, founder of Toc H.

Toc H currently Participants in community based and residential projects. Over 150 Toc H groups and 55 projects attract up to 5,000 participants worldwide.

They run Programmes like in Touch, which is a community based programme aimed at building friendship, confidence, and support for individuals and families.

The Toc H approach is tried and tested drawing on 85 years of history supporting community action and creating social capital. This has often been achieved through simple good neighbourliness based on four principles:

  • Friendship â€" to welcome all in friendship, to lessen prejudice and to see the needs of others as our own

  • Service â€" to give time for others and learn about local, national and international conditions and how they affect people

  • Fair-mindedness â€" to listen with respect to others and to seek and encourage understanding

  • Spirituality - to discover meaning, test belief and practise reconciliation in a diverse society.


the Compass

The earliest statement of the aims of Toc H was drawn up by Tubby Clayton, the Rev 'Dick' Sheppard of St Martin-in-the-Fields, and Alexander (later Sir Alexander) Patterson early in 1920. It was revised in 1936 and again in 1967, to read as follows:

  1. FRIENDSHIP: To love widely.

  2. SERVICE: To build bravely.

  3. FAIR-MINDEDNESS: To think fairly.

  4. THE KINGDOM OF GOD: To witness humbly.

TOC H Contact Information.

The registered office of Toc H in the U.K. is at:

Toc H Central Services,

The Stable Block,

The Firs,

High Street,




HP22 4JU.

 Tel 01296 - 642020 - fax 01296 - 640022. mailto: info@toch.org.uk


A Hyndburn Chronology by Paul Lanham.

http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/dave/TOC_H/faq.htm Web link no longer available

Toc H Information Page

Philip Hollywood