HISTORY OF THE HASH DISORGANIZATION

The Hash House

The “Hash House” was the mildly derogatory nickname given (for its unimaginative, monotonous food) to the Royal Selangor Club Chambers in Kuala Lumpur by the British civil servants and businessmen who lived and dined there between the two World Wars, when it had become something of a social center of the times. Situated close to and behind the present Selangor Club, its function changed after independence and it became an office for the Water Board. Sadly, the “Hash House” was demolished around 1964 to make way for a new highway, Jalan Kuching, although the buildings housing the original stables and servants quarters are still in existence.

The Ancient Harriers

The idea of harriers chasing paper was not new to Malaya in 1938, as there had been such clubs before in Kuala Lumpur and Johore Bahru, and there were clubs in existence in Malacca and Ipoh (the Kinta Harriers) at the time. Note: the early harrier groups in Malaya were based on English public school “paper chase” or “hare & hound” runs, which date back as far as the 18th Century (Flying Booger). “Horse” Thomson (one of the Kuala Lumpur Hash House Harriers’ founding fathers) recalled being invited on a run shortly after his arrival in Johore Bahru in 1932, which chased a paper trail and followed basic Hash rules every week, but was so magically organized that it had no name. The club flourished in the early 1930s but is believed to have died out around 1935. The other branch of our ancestry comes from Malacca, where A. S. (“G”) Gispert was posted in 1937 and joined a club called the Springgit Harriers, who also operated weekly under Hash rules and are believed to have been formed in 1935. Some months later, “Torch” Bennett visited him and came as a guest on a few runs.

The Hash House Harriers

By 1938, “G” Gispert, “Horse” Thompson, and “Torch” Bennett had all moved to Kuala Lumpur and, joined by Cecil Lee, Eric Galvin and H. M. Doig, they founded their own club, following the rules they had learnt elsewhere. Gispert is credited with proposing the name “Hash House Harriers” when the Registrar of Societies required the gathering to be legally registered. Other early members included Frank Woodward, Philip Wickens, Lew Davidson, John Wyatt-Smith and M. C. Hay. After 117 runs, KLHHH was forced into temporary hibernation by the arrival of the Japanese. Sadly, Gispert did not live to see his extraordinary creation revive, being killed in the fighting on Singapore Island on February 11th, 1942.

Postwar Rebirth

It took nearly 12 months after the war for the survivors of the Kuala Lumpur HHH to reassemble. Bennett put in a claim for the lost hash mugs, a tin bath and two old bags from Government funds, and post-war Run No. 1 was a trot around the racecourse in August 1946.

The Hash Spreads Out

Strangely, it took another 16 years for the second HHH chapter to be founded, in Singapore in 1962, followed by Kuching in 1963, Brunei, Kota Kinabalu, and Ipoh in 1964, Penang and Malacca in 1965. Perth, Australia was the first “overseas” Chapter, formed in 1967. Even in 1974, when KL HHH had Run No. 1500, the HHH had only 35 chapters worldwide. Now the Hash world has over 1200 active chapters, in some 160 countries, and this despite the total absence of any central organization. We are unique!

  • This article was written in 1992 by Mike    Lyons, Kuala Lumpur HHH, from research material prepared by John Duncan.

    WORDS FROM A FOUNDER

The Hash House Harriers were founded in a moment of post-prandial inspiration at the Selangor Club Chambers, about 1937/38, by the inmates, who included myself; E.J. Galvin, Malay Mail; H.M. Doig (H&C – killed in an air crash just before the Japanese War); and A.S. Gispert of Evatt& Co. Gispert was the real founder – a man of great wit and charm, who was killed only just returned from leave in Australia to rejoin the Volunteers. I am glad of this opportunity to salute his memory. He was a splendid fellow, and would be happy to know the Harriers are still going strong, and are as merry and bright as ever – or more so. Gispert was not an athlete, and stress was laid as much on the subsequent refreshment, etc., as on the pure and austere running. It was non-competitive, and abounded in slow-packs. Life was then conservative rather than competitive.

The name was a mock allusion to the institution that housed and fed us. Later, Torch Bennett returned from leave, and produced order out of chaos – a bank account, balance sheet, and some system. But we prided ourselves on being rather disorganised – or the minimum organisation sufficed. The original joint masters were myself and “Horse” Thompson, still running somewhere – a past-master at short-cuts and the conservation of energy.

Celebrations were held in various places, and the first was in what is now the Legislative Council, then the Volunteer Mess. The oratory, I recall, was much the same as now. Lew Davidson is an old member. Morris Edgar was one, but apart from Lew and John Wyatt-Smith I do not think there are any more ante-diluvians still running. Philip Wickens was also one who kept us going post-war.

We started up again after the War due to Torch Bennett, who discovered a Bank Balance and put in a claim for War Damage on one tin bath, and two dozen mugs, and possibly two old bags (not members). We started by a small run in reduced circumstances round the race-course – then the horses were not much better.

The Emergency cramped our style but did not diminish our activities, and we were even called in for information on various by-ways in Selangor, but our period of usefulness to MI 5 was brief, and our information probably otiose. But the hares ran into two bandits at Cheras, who were later copped.

An Irish Accountant, Kennedy, drew up the Rules when we had to register as a Club, and he seems to have preserved the old traditions just as you do now.

Cecil H. Lee Selamat Tinggal HHH Kuala Lumpur 24th October 1958


Hit Counter provided by orange county property management