One of the most important aspects of the TV/TS Group was the helpline, which was staffed by volunteers. This was open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and was often taken by Yvonne for the first hour. It was invaluable for those living outside of London before the advent of the Internet. Vic Shirman (pictured) was appointed phoneline co-ordinator at 2 French Place

Although the help side of the TV/TS Group was important, Yvonne always managed to arrange a party. This was taken at Yvonne's "Burfday" Party 1984.

Trannies came from across the country to visit the TV/TS Group in Upper Street. However, during Easter 1984, Yvonne received a visit from the editor of the TV journal Queen, a Japanese TV magazine. Peiko and Chinkio were also taken to TransEssex

Yvonne at 2 French Place during one of the party nights. It used to get packed on the party nights and there were a number of diverse themes for the parties

This is the history of the Transvestite and Transsexual Group (TV/TS Group) that met every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening at 274 Upper Street in Islington.

274 Upper Street was leased by London Friend, a gay organisation, which sub-let the premises to the TV/TS Group. The Group was started by London Friend around 1972 and was run by a committee. ; Yvonne took over running the group in 1978, supposedly for a month. The TV/TS group ticked over for a number of years, steadily growing in reputation. In the late 1970s, Steve Francis and Ron Storme were holding Drag Balls every 3 months at the Porchester Hall and these, Andreas's Restaurant and the TV/TS Group were the only venues readily available to transvestites and transsexuals. Yvonne opened the doors to 274 every weekend.

The format of the group was social; sometimes there were parties with some music, lots of food put up by Yvonne, wine and coffee. On normal evenings, Yvonne bought a couple of bottles of wine and tea and coffee was available over the counter. Karen ran the counter and made the tea and coffee. It was known universally as 274 or the Group and 274 consisted of two small rooms a single toilet on the first floor and a changing room on the top floor. One night in 1982, Liz's 21st birthday party, over 80 people attended.

At the start of the 1980s, Yvonne got a number of interested in forming a membership to ensure the continuance of the Group. The ideal was to lease a women's dress shop with meeting rooms attached for transvestites to socialise. A membership was formed in 1982 with the aim of owning or leasing a building for transvestites by transvestites. A house magazine (The Glad Rag) was also started and the first membership secretary and editor was a dedicated member of the group, Andrea Belsey.

Within a year the membership had started to grow, albeit slowly and it was decided to split the membership secretary's job and editorship. Elaine Barker now took over the membership and a member of the group, Christine-Jane Wilson who was a printer, produced the Glad Rag while Andrea remained editor; all this under the aegis of Yvonne Sinclair.

Yvonne had a reputation for straight talking but she was also able to help and advise a great number of transvestites, transsexuals and their partners. Advice that was greatly accepted by those who understood what she said.

Elaine Barker worked wonders getting the membership off the ground, taking memberships from across the country and abroad. Yvonne and Elaine also contacted local radio stations and newspapers to get Yvonne on the radio and to the attention of the "agony aunts". Yvonne then wrote the Wives Book, entitled "Transvestism Within a Partnership or Marriage". This book was the first common-sense approach to the subject of transvestism possibly anywhere in the world. Yvonne's advice was sought after by advice columnists desperate to advise those who couldn't cope with their transvestism.

Yvonne then turned the TV/TS Group into a registered charity and opened the first office dedicated to answering enquiries about transvestism.

However, by 1985 London Friend had learnt that the lease was about to expire and they and the TV/TS group had to find a new home. Now the need to find a place was critical. Efforts to raise money were doubled and Yvonne introduced the Buy A Brick Scheme (BABS fund); any donations greatly accepted. The Glad Rag had gone from a couple of A4 sheets to a small A5 magazine, which was widely read. More and more people were coming in through the door every evening.

Yvonne began contacting estate agents with a view to renting a property and a number of opportunities presented themselves. One property, in Hoxton Street, Yvonne had very high hopes for because it was owned by a gay man who ran a gay shop but his solicitor refused the group the lease for some reason. Losing this property was heartbreaking because the group were on the brink of signing. Another property in Redchurch Street offered a possibility but there was a lot of work to do on the building.

Then Yvonne began to realise that the group were looking too down-market so she set her sights higher. She found 2 French Place and successfully negotiated the lease. The building was hers for the next 12 years; a big commitment for the TV community.

Leaving 274 was a big wrench. Anyone who visited this place would understand the fun and excitement it generated; it would be impossible to re-create this atmosphere anywhere else. There was so much enjoyment and happiness in 274 that words cannot describe the emotion.

Yvonne locked the door to 274 Upper Street for the last time on Sunday, 1 June 1986. She opened the door to 2 French Place on Saturday, 5 July 1986.

It poured torrential rain and there was a small flood inside. Yvonne, true to form, dealt with it while others stood around incapable of doing anything.

The month that passed between closing 274 Upper Street and opening 2 French Place were fraught for Yvonne. She had taken on a huge commitment, the place was an empty shell and she was on her own. Luckily, a number of group members visited French Place and one in particular, a builder named Christina, offered to help out. Christina gave up a month's work to help turn French Place into a social group. Other group members also pitched in, notably Dave Cottle and Tall Paul. Everyone got a nickname from Yvonne, in fact, if you weren't christened or insulted by Yvonne you felt you'd offended her in some way. Tall Paul was notable for laying the wooden floor on the ground and with the very last nail, hit a water pipe.

And so, French Place became the new home and meeting place for transvestites, transsexuals and their partners. This was the first ever building run by transvestites for transvestites.

Unfortunately, with all this success, envy and jealousy began to creep in. The Glad Rag was now being printed by a different group member, Frank, and this led to a bizarre outburst by Christine-Jane Wilson, who saw the £5000 she was paid to produce the magazine pass to someone else. During a well-earned break in 1987, a committee was formed behind Yvonne's back because people wanted to run the group themselves. The group was very successful with Yvonne running everything and it was now earning a lot of money through memberships, magazine sales, a well-financed conference and people coming through the door. Some of the committee members, Vic Shirman in particular, began a whispering campaign, backstabbing and slyly briefing against Yvonne.

When Janette Scott accused Yvonne of taking money from the group after being briefed by Shirman, Yvonne decided she'd had enough because the fun had gone out of the group.

Yvonne Sinclair walked out of the group on 15 June 1988, only to return once a couple of weeks before the group closed forever.

Yvonne had done so much for the transvestite community yet she had been driven out by the greed, envy and jealousy of lesser individuals: The Conspiracy of Fools.

Vic Shirman took over the running of French Place with the aid of a number of committee members. However, the committee members soon fell away or were replaced and Shirman passed the co-ordinator's job, in 1990 to a man who claimed to be a doctor, Mr Shaw-Larkman.

At the end of November 1988 the accounts were passed to Vic Shirman; the group had over £35,000 in bank deposits and an annual turnover of £50,000. Despite money being received for the Glad Rag, memberships, etc. the TV/TS group finally closed its doors in February 1992, assets: NIL.

The TV/TS Group