About us

Welcome to The Bushmen, a club celebrating over seventy years of cricket, dining and other events which have included some of the greatest names in British broadcasting and other media, the arts and even sport. The core membership consists of current or former members of the BBC World Service, broadcasting from Bush House, Central London from 1941 to 2012.  But all manner of other people, including mere writers and scribblers, are also members, enjoying and supporting its activities on and off the cricket field. Despite the name, the Bushmen have women members, of equal power and status.

The first cricket team from Bush House took to the field in the depths of war in June 1941. Organized by Hugh Carleton Greene, it travelled to Woburn Abbey, a stately home under temporary occupation by the Political Warfare Executive. The Bushmen won, although oral tradition maintains that the players were distracted by news of the fall of Tobruk to Rommel. There has been plenty of drama at Bushmen cricket matches since then, but rarely so important an historical event. Those among you who know their military history will appreciate the apocryphal nature of this story.

Other matches were arranged during the war years and participants decided to continue a cricket and dining club after victory. The club was named simply ‘The Bushmen’. It played matches and ate dinners for twenty years without any rules. When finally compelled (by an importunate bank) to adopt a formal rule book, it produced a very short document, ending with an elegant and still extant clause: “The Bushmen, founded in war-time, exists to celebrate the arts and pleasures of peace.”

And so it does, to this day. On the cricket field, we play twenty matches or so each season, in agreeable rural settings generally within easy reach of London and invariably within easy reach of suitable liquids. There are weekend tours of Dorset and Suffolk, and an end of season overseas tour. Destinations have included several parts of France, Milan, Munich, Menorca (the jewel of the Mediterranean) and most ambitiously, Kerala in southern India. All manner of cricketers have appeared for the Bushmen, from the great West Indian Sir Learie Constantine to … others. Sir Learie’s bat is one of the prized annual trophies presented to the Bushman with the most significant innings of the season. Availability has been the secret of many long Bushmen careers, especially mine.

We dine three times a year, with distinguished guest speakers generally from the worlds of cricket, broadcasting, media and the arts. A number of politicians have sometimes snuck in. Sebastian Faulks has appeared for us both as player and speaker. Former cricket stars Simon Hughes and Ed Smith have spoken to us but we have not yet enticed them onto the field.  Intermittent, less formal, social events also happen when someone has the energy to organize them.

Once again, welcome to the Bushmen. Our Latin motto “Nec tamen consumebatur” will be recognized by Biblical experts as a verse from Exodus: “Behold the Bush burned but it was not consumed.” There is also a looser translation: “the batter needs another drink.”

Richard Heller
Chairman 2013

Read a history of Bush House (BBC website).