The Ancient Order of Froth Blowers could have easily found a place in my book Freemasonry and Fraternal Societies, which discussed the many fraternal Orders such as the Oddfellows, the Buffaloes, the Foresters and the Druids. Like these societies, the Froth Blowers was a charitable Order, collecting and donating money to children’s charities, with the many members having a good time while doing so, mainly in the form of drinking beer. This was happening during the Roaring Twenties and early 1930s, during the time of Prohibition in the US. They met in pubs, they had jewellery celebrating their membership, and celebrated drinking fine ales, meeting in ‘Vats’ (their version of a lodge). They were charged to blow froth from other members’ beer and also occasionally non-members, as long as they were seen to be of a peaceful disposition.
The Order was founded by ex-soldier and merchant Bert Temple in 1924 to raise money for the children’s charities of surgeon Sir Alfred Fripp, Temple being forever gracious to Fripp for conducting life-saving stomach surgery on Temple. The Order quickly took off, with membership costing 5 shillings, every member receiving a pair of AOFB cufflinks and booklet. If any member wasn’t wearing the cufflinks at the meetings, they were fined, the money going to the children’s charities. With cries of ‘beer, beef and baccy’, the Order was frivolous and frolicsome, and Fripp journeyed around the country, speaking at the Froth Blower Vats and recruited around 700,000 members by 1928, raising over £100,000.
Fripp died in 1930, Temple passing away the year after, and it was decided that the Ancient Order of Froth Blowers Limited should be put into liquidation. The funds were then used for a Girl Guide retreat in West Wickham, which is still being run with help from the residual AOFB Trust Fund today, administered by a member of the Fripp family.
The history of this short-lived but quintessentially British Order can be found in The Zestful Gollopers; The Amazing Story of Bert Temple, Sir Alfred Fripp & Ye Ancient Order of Froth Blowers by David L Woodhead and Ian Brown (ISBN: 978-0-9574569-0-7), who are involved in the Friends of the Froth Blowers, who meet in various pubs and celebrate the essence of the original Order. One of the pubs where they have met is the Swan in Fittleworth, where the AOFB first met. The Friends also support the Froth Blowers Brewery which makes a variety of ales and is based in Birmingham. It’s a great little book and well worth a read, the book presenting an illustrated easy-to-understand but in depth discussion of the AOFB.