The Hertfordshire Mountaineering Club was formed in 1958, by Peter Spence, together with Robin King, Geoff Clough, Herrick Thwaite, Reg Boot, Graham Brown and Graham Daniels. They originally met in Peter Spence’s house in Shephall, Stevenage, but in 1960, moved to the Marquis of Lorne, Stevenage Old Town, where they were joined by Tim Farnell, Bob James and Ian Robinson.
The first Annual dinner was held in the Roebuck, Stevenage, and shortly afterwards the club moved to the Station Hotel, Knebworth, where they were welcomed by Sam, the landlord. During the early sixties, Hugh Chapman, Richard Watts and Ian Borrowman joined the club.
Early in the life of the club, Peter Spence negotiated the rental of the upper floor of a coach house beside the Watkin Path in Nant Gwynant, North Wales. The club used the coach house for many years, when the only heating was a cylindrical stove. There was a trap kept in the garage where the kitchen area is now located. Disaster struck when the chalet used by the lessor, Mr Chamberlain, burnt down. He left the area and Peter and the members then had to re-negotiate the rental with Mr P.H.O.Williams, the owner and farmer whose grandson, many years later, sold the south side of Snowdon to the National trust.
Mr Williams was generous and kept the hut rent down for a few years, but then it had to be increased to economic levels. This was beyond the means of the founding group. However over the years the club members had taken groups of students from Stevenage Technical College to the hut (as this helped to defray the costs). Through a tutor there, Colin Brice, the club were able to introduce and help Herts County Council take over the lease for the whole of the coach house, and they honourably allowed the HMC to be the only non-educational outfit that could rent the coach house, and this the club has done to the present day.
To those of us who endured the rigours and hardships of the cold, hard floors of the upstairs, the delights of bunks with mattresses and cookers are hard to believe. The coach house has undergone a number of refurbishments since the take over, and is now known as the Herts Snowdonia Centre.