Hashing started in Kuala Lumpur in Malaya in 1938 when a group of young British ex-patriots decided to try to get fit and have some fun into the bargain. They each took it in turns to lay a paper trail around the countryside with the challenge being to follow the trail. After their runs the group would return to the Sengalor Club in Kuala Lumpur for a meal and drink.
It was A S Gispert who thought up the name of Hash House Harriers. It has been said that it was this memorable name which more than anything helped turn the paper chase into the new sport of hashing. A hash house was slang for a cheap eating house (this was meant tongue-in-cheek, the Sengalor Club was not what many people would think of as a hash house!) and a harrier was the name given to a cross country runner in England. Other prominent members of the group were ‘Horse’ Thomson who was so called because he was said to look like one and Torch Bennett who had red hair. So began the tradition of awarding hash names. Kuala Lumpur being the original hashing club is known throughout the world as the Mother Hash.
The Second World War brought a halt to hashing, and the club members were spread far and wide on military duties. However after hostilities had ended hashing recommenced in Kuala Lumpur largely through the efforts of Horse badgering his old chums. During the Malaya emergency of 1948-1960 many British military personnel ran with the Kuala Lumpur Hash and it was they who would later start new hash chapters.
In England the first recorded hash was the Plymouth Commando Forces H3, which was formed in 1971/2 by Ray Thornton. The hash was short lived owing to military postings depleting the numbers. However, Ray went on to found Bicester H3 in April 1974 (which is the oldest surviving hash in the UK), Donnington H3 in 1976 and Looe & Liskeard H3 in 1982. Hashing returned to Devon in March 1981 with the formation of Tamar Valley H3 which was and still is very popular, with as many as a hundred runners turning up.
Drake Hash House Harriers was started on 23 January 1984 by TVH3 runners who as tradition would have it, were unhappy with the length of time it took to get served at the bar! However, our founder members, who are known as Drake’s Parents, like to suggest that it was actually created to concentrate solely on off-road trails. The close ties between the two clubs were acknowledged by Drake continuing to call itself ‘Son Of Tamar Valley H3’ for several years after it was formed. Cream Soda is the founder who we have to thank for dreaming up the name Drake. He named it after the famous Elizabethan, Sir Francis Drake, who was born and lived in west Devon. The club was originally known as Drake’s Hash House Harriers but became Drake when someone left the ‘s’ off when writing the hash mag. Drake H3 is also still going strong and in fact it is believed that Devon now has the highest concentration of hashes anywhere in the world.
Since those early days hashing has spread throughout the world with around 2000 hash chapters in existence in nearly 200 countries. Little could those few ex-pats back in 1938 guess what a monster they were creating, but it is them we have to thank for creating a truly magnificent pastime.