The Working Mens Clubs of Doncaster -
The community centres for the working class.
The Working Men's Clubs of Doncaster The Community Centres for the Working Class 2 The Working Men's Clubs of Doncaster The Community Centres for the Working Class 3 Acknowledgements It would be impossible to mention everybody who has helped with this project, but particular thanks go to the following people: Geoff Elvin, Kerry Parkin, Craig Johnson and staff at Doncaster CSV, Jenny Edwards, Connor Marick, Russell Bowley, David Fretwell, staff at The Yorkshire and Humber Heritage Lottery Fund, Neil McGregor at Doncaster Museum, Helen Wallder and staff at Doncaster Local Studies Library, Tom, Alan, Andy and Shaun at Intake Club, Dr Michelle Winslow, Dr Richard Stevens, Dave Gravel, the over-sixties group at Highfields WMC, Jim Warren, Peter Anelay and staff at Stirling Centre, Debbie Heppel and staff at Mexborough Day Centre, Guy White, Barry Crabtree, Doncaster Free Press, Howard Johnson, Sue Forbes, Rebound, Darron Heads, Claire Kendell, Jack Ridgill, Dave Lane, Lyn O’Hara, John Oldroyd, Pete Moorhouse, Wheatley Club committee, Pat and friends at Denaby Main and Institute, Chris Carr, Dr Ruth Cherrington, Carcroft Village Club, Bullcroft Officials’ Club, Armthorpe Social Club, Highfields WMC, The Graceholme Club, Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers at Yorkshire Main Commemorative Trust, Askern Spa Club, Norton Coronation Club, Norman Poulson, Alan Cartwright, John Wilson, Lyn Charles, John Bryan, George Kennedy, Stella McGuire, the Jet at Bentley, Doncaster Trades Club. 4 5 6 Contents 4 9 11 13 15 19 19 23 29 33 34 36 38 40 41 45 51 55 58 Acknowledgements Foreword Introduction The working men’s club movement ‘The great beer question’ The clubs of Doncaster Former clubs Clay Lane Social Club Clubs in Doncaster today The Doncaster CIU Doncaster Trades Club What can you expect to find in a typical Doncaster WMC? The club steward or stewardess Membership and rules The role of the committee Clubland entertainment The organist and drummer Clubland and the local press The Scala Club 60 61 63 64 71 79 80 82 86 90 95 103 105 107 109 111 112 Agents Club entertainers today Oliver Reed comes to Clay Lane Club Club trips The club as part of the community Politics, clubs and the Miners’ Strike, 1984-85 Sports and games Cards and dominoes Eyes down: bingo and other games A man’s world? Women and clubs The future of clubs The smoking ban and its effect on clubs ‘Save the Working Men’s Club’s and the Entertainment Industry’ Into the 21st century Bibliography Picture credits References 7 8 Foreword Working Men’s Clubs are part of the fabric of Doncaster’s communities. For decades, WMCs have played a key role in towns and villages across the borough, and were often much more than places to have a drink. They bound together people who often endured hardship, enabling them to help and support each other, and they played a part in community cohesion – ‘the Big Society’ – long before politicians coined the phrase. Clubs were formed by working people for working people – not a million miles away from the ethos of the Labour Party – and it is important to document the role they played, and continue to play, not just in Doncaster, but across the country. Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP for Doncaster Central 9 10 Introduction For over a century, working men’s clubs1 have been part of Doncaster’s landscape. They have been the focus of many communities’ social life and a paragon of working-class initiative and self-organisation. Over recent years though, clubs have assumed a less prominent role, and the heyday of the immediate post-war decades is now looked back on with fond but fading memories. Battling bravely against changing fashions, smoking bans and cheap supermarket beer, the clubs of Doncaster are still here, and they continue to offer much to their local community. This book is about the unique heritage of the working men’s clubs in and around Doncaster. It is an archive of photographs, memories and stories about the clubs as they used to be; it also offers an insight into the state of clubs today, and how they will adapt for the future. 11 1 12 1 The working men's club movement ‘The principle upon which the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union is based is that working men are to be raised by their own endeavours.’ 2 The Working Men’s Club and Institute Movement (CIU) was founded in 1862 by the Reverend Henry Solly (1813-1903), a former Unitarian minister3 , teetotaller, social reformer and pioneer of workingclass rights. Solly had previously established the Charity Organisation Society4 and had for many years been interested in helping disadvantaged people to better themselves. In its early days, the CIU movement boasted a host of eminent supporters, including Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria, and it exemplified the nineteenth-century trend of social reform that had developed in answer to the social and health-related problems of the era. Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation may well have brought economic benefits to many, but they also went hand in hand with social unrest and health problems, both mental and physical. In this era of rapid change, middle-class philanthropists, such as Solly and his contemporaries, saw the working class as ‘little capable of the thought of, or the power to originate and manage clubs until taught and inspired by others.’5 They aimed to act as instigators of social change, using their wealth and influence to nurture a happier and healthier workforce. The reformers’ motives were not always entirely philanthropic, though: they wanted to avoid the civil discontent that would almost certainly arise in newly built-up towns and cities, should standards of living not improve. From the start, Solly had a clear vision of the nature of clubs, as he stated in his original manifesto: “ The union is formed for the purpose of helping Working Men to establish Clubs or Institutes where they can meet for conversation, business, and mental improvement, with the means of recreation and refreshment, free from intoxicating drinks; these Clubs, at the same time, constituting Societies for mutual helpfulness in various ways.6 The main aim of these early clubs was to provide education and recreation for working people, in a similar way to the Mutual Improvement Societies, reading rooms and Working Men’s Institutes7 of the earlier nineteenth century. Solly said of existing recreational establishments: “ While, however, all these efforts have been productive of unquestionable benefit, none of them met that which is undoubtedly the first great want of working men after their day’s toil – viz., unrestrained social intercourse, the means of chatting with one another, with or without refreshments.8 ” The new clubs were also designed to foster social cohesion, trust and self-governance, and from the early days, their non-profit-making nature reflected this underlying ethos. The clubs were run democratically, in the interests of the members and the wider community; responsible governance was a key tenet of the CIU and its affiliates. The initial clubs of the 1860s were generally funded by donations and loans organised by magnanimous middle-class benefactors. This system of patronage would dissolve gradually as newer clubs began to be created through the effort and organisation of working people themselves. Even by the 1870s, independently funded clubs had started to appear, setting the trend for the genuinely working-class club movement that was to follow. The Reverend Henry Solly ” 13 CIU Journal, February 1898 14 CIU Club Journal 2011 'The great beer question' Drinking in Victorian times was rife in all strata of British society. From ale houses to gin palaces and gentlemen’s clubs, the mighty British Empire was bobbing on a sea of alcohol. Many people drank at work and during the daytime - even soldiers imbibed on the battlefield to make their plight seem more bearable. It is no surprise then, that the teetotal philanthropists of the day saw it as their duty to alleviate this social malaise. The Reverend Solly had very definite ideas about the dangers of alcohol: “ The club rooms in every locality will form the strongest counteraction to the allurements of the Public House. The desire for social enjoyment and the love of excitement are the impulses that habitually drive the Working Classes to visit the Beer Shop. These instincts also form a great temptation of reclaimed drunkards. They remain as strong as ever in their nature after they have become abstainers, and the Public House stands before them as the most available means for their gratification. Music, also, which ought to purify and refine, is now extensively employed as a temptation to drinking and other vices. Until there shall be established in every locality an institution that shall meet these instincts with superior attractions, but without temptations to evil, it is unreasonable to expect a great diminution of the drinking customs of the working population. This want the proposed Clubs will supply. Here the Working Man will obtain, at a charge within his reach, social intercourse and healthy mental excitement – the refreshment he requires or the improvement he seeks.9 Early clubs were, therefore, ‘dry’ meeting places, developed partly as an alternative to the bawdy pubs and music halls of the day. Of course, pressure from club-users grew gradually against the nondrinking policy, and by the 1870s, alcohol began to appear. By this time, even the Rev. Solly had grown used to the idea that drinking in moderation would attract a larger clientele to the existing network of clubs and therefore boost their chances of long-term survival. Demand for gambling was also on the rise, and card games with minimal stakes were also allowed in clubs from this time on. By the 1920s, the majority of clubs across the country served alcohol, although some remained true to the original aim even into the 1980s, offering only tea to their members. The Reverend Solly parted ways with the CIU in 1878, but not before he had paved the way for his successors to develop this national organisation into one of the greatest working-class movements in the world. Today, there are 2,150 clubs affiliated to the CIU, with 2,000,000 members. At its peak in the early 1970s, there were over 4,000 affiliated clubs and over 4,000,000 members. Somehow, the CIU does not seem to be as well known as, say, the TUC or some of the major trade unions.10 It goes about its business in an unostentatious manner, being a long-term paragon of working-class initiative and self-organisation. For just £6 per year, CIU members have access to a wide range of facilities and support structures, including legal advice and representation, use of the CIU convalescent home at Saltburn-by-the-Sea, and a host of educational and sporting activities. In addition to this, the CIU member is part of a union of clubs. Armed with a CIU card, he or she can gain free admission to all CIU-affiliated clubs across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.11 “ The benefit of the CIU was that it’s there as a social club for everyone. It’s a non-profit-making organisation anyway, and it’s there for people to come out, socialise. They can talk but its nonpolitical, so they can talk politics or talk whatever they want in the club, talk their differences out. You could call it a CAB, a Citizens Advice Bureau, because some people want to go out and talk about their problems, and by talking to people, some people can help them, some people can guide them in the right direction, and perhaps it could be a saviour for some people. So that’s a part it plays as well.12 ” ” 15 ‹‹ Bill Bridgin, a famous former member of Dunscroft Social Club or Ikey’s, as it is called by the locals ‹ The former Askern Road WMC and Institute, Toll Bar Stainforth WMC and Institute 16 “ Every member can obtain the associate card and the pass card. By obtaining that associate and pass card, it does allow them to get into the other 2,100 branches in Great Britain itself. ” “ Each club then is also given a club journal which is printed every month from head office. Head office sends every club one free. They can obtain more if they want them, and inside there’s a lot of information about union policy and that 13 kind of thing. ” “ When we go on a trip out, we find a nice working men’s club, like in Skegness or somewhere, and one of us signs for everybody, and they allow us in, you know, the women, half a dozen women or so. And if there’s any music or they want a sing-song, we get up and give them 14 a song. ''The English working class have a wonderful talent for organisation. The whole trade union movement testifies to this, so do the excellent working men's clubs, really a sort of glorified co-operative pub and splendidly organised, which are so common in Yorkshire.'' 15 George Orwell speaking about Northern clubs The CIU logo that is displayed by affiliated clubs ” Balby Ashmount Committee, c.1955 17 This certificate shows the affiliation of Norton Coronation WMC to the CIU in 1942. It is still on display at the club today. 18 2 2 The clubs of Doncaster Former Clubs There are certainly fewer clubs in Doncaster today than in previous years, but many local people still remember the ones that used to be household names in the area. Here is a list of some of those that have been mentioned by interviewees: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Adwick-le-Street WMC Armthorpe Mere Lane Armthorpe Miners’ Welfare Askern Ex-Servicemen’s Club Auckley WMC Balby Ashmount, later known as The Oaks Barnby Dun Power Station Club Bentley Comrades Club Bentley Reform Braithwell WMC British Legion Club Brosdworth Officials Club Brodsworth Miners’ Welfare BRSA Club Burghwallis Village Club Cabbage Club (Adwick Allotment Holders) Carcroft Independent Social Club Chequers WMC Clay Lane WMC Denaby Officials’ Club Eden Grove Sports & Social Club • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Granby Road Tenants’ Association Ex-servicemen’s club (‘Soldiers and Sailors Club’ near Doncaster Market) Greenfield Club, Dunscroft Friendly Island Social Club, Bentley Harworth Comrades The Hop Inn Club, Denaby ICI Club Irish Club Kiki Club, Kirk Sandall Kirk Sandall Pensioners’ Club Kirk Sandall Social Club Langold Hill Top Club Liberal Club, now the Catholic Club Londesborough Social Club, Bentley Manor Road Social Club, Hatfield Marr Club Mexborough Hope Club Mexborough Main Street Club The Midas Club, Broadway The Navy Club • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • New Exchange Club Northcliffe WMC, Denaby Northgate WMC, Mexborough The Old Volunteer Radburn Social Club, Rossington Rockware Glass Club Royal Social Club, Dunscroft The Scala Sprotborough British Legion Stainforth Miners’ Welfare Stainforth Democratic Stainforth, Mosses Stainforth, The Legion SYPTE, later Mainline Sports & Social The Old Market Club, Dockin Hill Thorpe Marsh Power Station Club Thurnscoe Coronation Club Thurnscoe Memorial Club Woodlands Comrades Woodlands British Legion 19 20 21 22 The clubs of Doncaster Clay Lane Social Club Clay Lane Social Club (WMC) was founded in 1957. Like many similar institutions, it was funded by public subscriptions and donations. According to Alan Cartwright, a founder member of the club, a group of pioneering locals went from house to house on the Clay Lane housing estate, making a collection, asking residents if they would like to make a contribution to the cost of building the proposed social club. Alan says that the members of the local community were very generous and forthcoming, with many hundreds of donations being made, thus enabling building work to begin and the club to be founded. For over 30 years, the club was very successful, particularly on the entertainment front. All the major clubland ‘turns’ and stars played at the club, with the occasional appearance by an international star. The most controversial booking was, without doubt, guitar legend Bert Weedon, who gave a single onehour performance in 1968 for an unprecedented Clay Lane - Explorer Social Club fee of £125 (equivalent to approximately £2000 in 2011). This caused much consternation among some committee members, with a mutiny being only narrowly averted. Weedon’s extraordinary fee is still a topic of conversation amongst former members to this day. Like many working men’s clubs in the Doncaster area, Clay Lane began to decline in the wake of the miners’ strike of 1984-85. The club was refurbished in the mid 1980s and even had a celebrity re-opening, courtesy of honorary member, the actor Oliver Reed (see Entertainment section). Several more relaunches and attempted revamps followed, most notably a renaming of the club as ‘The Explorer’ towards the end of its days. This was a reference to the street names on the estate where the club stands: Shackleton, Livingstone, etc. Clay Lane Social Club finally closed its doors in August 2008. Now, much to the heartfelt regret of former members, it stands derelict and awaiting demolition.16 The guitarist, Bert Weedon. 23 “ From ‘46 up to ten years ago, it had a good run. I mean, I remember seeing some of the real top artists at the Wheatley Club. Now that was the club to get involved with; it was a club and a half really. There was a chap called Tommy Jackson who had a stall on the market - a flower stall. He was their concert secretary, and he got all the top of everything for that club. They used to take the money like, but that was it in those days. Everything was running, every factory in Doncaster. There was the motor car factory in Carr Hill - Ford - they had a big factory down there, all the others – Bemberg’s or ICI as it finished up. There was plenty of money knocking about then.17 ” “ I’m led to believe that this club [Dunscroft Social] started at the corner of the lane up here. We always called it Cuckoo Lane. That’s where it first started in a smaller building, then they came up here to a big wooden building, and then of course, as it developed, they had all this built, and I think it was about 1937. I remember standing outside here. As kids, we used to stand out here asking men for cigarette cards. Remember the old cigarette cards? So that dates me, doesn’t it? 18 24 ” In most parts of Doncaster, working men’s clubs are still part of the local landscape, as they have been for decades. In fact, people are so used to seeing them that they take little notice until one actually changes or is demolished. This is exactly what happened at Balby Ashmount a few years ago: sadly, all that remains of this once-busy club is an empty space and a pile of rubble. Despite their architectural similarities, the clubs of Doncaster are varied and interesting. Each has its own unique character and has idiosyncrasies that reflect its locality, its members and its committee. The clubs connect us to a bygone era, a time when British industry thrived, jobs were plentiful, and community spirit was strong. Through bleak economic times, they still offer a wealth of services and support to their neighbourhoods. “ I can remember when I walked into the club now, for the first time, and I asked to be a member and the committee man that was on then, God bless him - he’s dead and gone now - and you had to pay a shilling to be a member. I had to pay a shilling and put my name down and be proposed and seconded.19 ” “ The Granby, you got barred on a Friday and back in on a Sunday. The Top Club logged membership, quite traditional. You sat at that table, and everybody had that. The Legion, you were expected to be quite smart in there. People got dressed up, shirt and tie on a Sunday. You had three different clubs on 20 the go really. “ ” The New Exchange Club was in Exchange Buildings, which is somewhere near the Woolpack, in that corner, that building there from Bowers Fold towards Sunny Bar. The first building was called Exchange Buildings, I don’t know what it’s called now, it might still be called Exchange Buildings, but the club was held within that and went from the market 21 through to Silver Street. “ ” That’s when we all went to the clubs during the war. That’s when it started 22 really, then they continued it. ” “ There was no lager. Lager wasn’t available. It was extra mild. Nobody asked for lager. Well, it wasn’t there. It 23 just wasn’t there. “ ” I mean, a lot of it is the price of beer. People go to Tesco’s now, buy three cases [of beer] . . . DVDs, computers. There was nothing. If you didn’t go out, well what did you do? There were no tellies; there were no telephones. I didn’t even have a landline, me. So, you think about it: you had nothing at home. So, what did you do? You went to the club. If you wanted to talk to somebody, you 24 went to the club. “ ” It was originally made of corrugated tin. My aunty, in nineteen-forty something, she had her wedding reception in there, and it was made of tin, wavy tin. There was a picture of all these miners years and years ago in the strike.25 ” The original Scala club in Sprotbrough 25 “ I was entitled to go in [to the Trades and Labour Club] from 1956, so late 50s, I started going in. A group of us used to meet there once a week in the club and play cards and such like. I could go out with ten shillings in my pocket and still take some change home, and I’d have played cards, and not have been winning it. That’s all it used to cost: 10d in old money for a drink that I used to drink, a 26 bottle of beer; 5p in today’s money. ” “ They were two strongish fellows, carrying two trays, a tray with about ten to twelve pints and a tray on top with the same on again. Never saw them drop one. They used to make a fortune. If a round came to, say, a quid - late 60s early 70s - you’d say, ‘Keep the shilling,’ and that actually got him a pint. Now, if he was doing that on every table, and he was getting paid for it, he was making a nice 27 wage. ” 26 “ This club [Norton Coronation Club], everybody said it started off at The Laurels, but it didn’t. It originally started off as a stable at the back of The Royal, and then it moved to the chapel. I was talking to Collin Potter, who said that, originally, the pipes that came from the cellar were like glass sections, and every now and then, you used to take them apart and wash them individually, and they used to slot into each other because plastic wasn’t thought of. The only problem was you had to be careful you didn’t drop them because if you ran out of 28 spares, it wouldn’t reach [the bar]. ” “ That was what they used to say: when you were at the pit, all you ever talked about was women, and when you went to clubs, you talked about cutting coal. We cut all the coal at the club, everybody did it. But when you were at the pit, you didn’t talk about the pit; you talked about what you did last night and 29 what you did the night before. ” “ You couldn’t move. If you went in the Wheatley club at 12 o’clock on a Sunday, you wouldn’t get a seat. It could hold 200 or 300. We used to play snooker, tenpence corner for pairs. If you got beat, you wouldn’t get another game that day, that’s how busy it was. The concert room was packed every night when the groups 30 were on. ” Wheatley Club welcomes an Italian visitor in the early 1980s The Coronation Club in Armthorpe, built in 1920, is the oldest in the village. Originally, it was known as the Farmworkersâ€™ Club, later, the Legion and ultimately, the Coronation. The original building was a wooden structure, formerly an old World War One army hut. In fact, it was brought by rail from York and transported to Armthorpe by horse and cart. It was replaced by the present building in 1954. 27 28 The clubs of Doncaster Clubs in Doncaster today There are around 80 members’ clubs in Doncaster today, many of which are affiliated to the CIU. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Arksey Victoria Social Club Armthorpe Coronation Club Armthorpe Social Club and Institute Armthorpe Colliery Officials’ Club Askern Miners’ Welfare Askern Spa Central Balby Bridge Balby Road Recreational Club Barnburgh Working Men’s Club & Institute Barnby Dun Social Club Bentley Top Club Bentley Miners’ Cricket Club (The Jet) Bentley West End Club Bullcroft Sports Bullcroft Officials’ The Burghwallis The Campsall Carcroft Village Catholic Club Comrades Club Conisbrough Castle Working Mens Club Conisbrough Cricket Club Co-op Club Denaby Main Institute Denaby Miners’ Welfare Doncaster Trades • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Dunscroft Welfare Dunscroft Social Edlington Miners’ Welfare Edlington Officials’ Club Edlington British Legion Edlington Working Mens Club (Top Club) Graceholme Social Club, Edlington Groves Social, Conisborough Hatfield Main Hatfield Woodhouse WMC Hawthorn Social Hickleton Village Hall Highfields Miners Welfare Scheme Social Club Hyde Park Intake Social Club Ivanhoe Club, Conisborough Mexborough WMC and Institute Mexborough Miners’ Welfare and Athletic Club Mexborough Imperial Club and Brewery Mexborough Concertina Club Moorends Comrades Club Moorends Social Club Norton Coronation Club Park Social Club (Waggie’s) Parklands Sports and Social • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Pilkington Bowling Club Rossington Colliery Officials Club Rossington Ex-Services Social Club Rossington Labour Club Rossington Miners’ Welfare Rossington Top Club Rostholme, Bentley Scawthorpe Social Club Skellow Grange Sprotborough Country Club Stainforth Central Stainforth Old Club St Albans Club, Denaby Stonegate Club, Thorne Thorne Coronation Club Thorne Democratic Tickhill Institute Toll Bar Central Ukrainian Club Westminster Recreation Club Wheatley Club Woodfield Social and Recreational Club Woodlands Rhinos’ (The Bomb) Woodlands Park Social Club York Bar WMC 29 30 31 Intake’s committee and its oldest member, Jack The Intake Social Club opened its doors on Friday August 21st, 1931. In its first week of trading, the bar takings were £40-19-3d, when a pint of bitter was 6d and a packet of cigarettes cost 2d. On the day the club opened, it had a membership of 55, until it is recorded in December 1934 that the membership had grown to 320 and the bar takings were a massive £95-11-1d. On the 12th July 1934, the first Club Secretary, Mr Cyril Cheetham, sent a letter of thanks to T.Potts Esq. for carrying out the transport arrangements on the occasion of ‘The Children’s Outing’. He enclosed a cheque for 30/- in settlement. We are, and hope, always will be the heart of the Intake Community. Like all CIU clubs, in a nutshell, we are the community centres for the working class.31 32 The Doncaster CIU The South Yorkshire branch of the CIU was opened in 1904, and Councillor J H Bagshaw was elected secretary. Initially, there were 50 clubs, but this number soon increased to 179, and the branch became regarded as one of the most progressive in the country. In 1912, clubs in the Doncaster area came together to form their own branch of the CIU. The Doncaster CIU area is surprisingly large, stretching right across to the East Coast. It is not surprising, though, that Doncaster should have its own specific region: as a centre of coalmining for generations, the town was surrounded by industrial villages and suburbs that became hotbeds of working-class energy and organisation. In addition, the Plant (Doncaster Railway Works), ICI, International Harvesters and numerous other industries employed thousands of people, many of whom collaborated in creating their own individual clubs that were often linked with their workplaces and localities. “ I’m not bigger than the club. They elect me, and they can fire me. “ ” 33 [For] anyone who has served on the committee or served or done a duty for the club, there's four awards. You've got your Certificate of Merit - that's a ten-year award. You've got your Long Service award - that's the twenty-fiveyear award, and then you've got your Distinguished Service Award, which is a forty-year award. We do presentations; I go out to do presentations. It’s just in recognition of their services, by giving 34 them a certificate. The Doncaster CIU is not immune from the processes of rationalisation that sweep the nation in times of economic decline: there are plans afoot at CIU headquarters to amalgamate the Doncaster region with Wakefield, York and Leeds. Such radical alterations of boundaries will inevitably bring about changes to job roles; however, Dave is philosophical about the future, believing that change must be embraced at the top level of an organisation in order to set an example at ground level. ” A region that is so densely packed with clubs requires efficient management, and this is provided by a local group of elected CIU members. Based at Doncaster’s new Trades Club in the town centre, Dave Gravel CMD32 oversees all of the area’s clubs in his role as Doncaster CIU Branch Secretary and NEC Member of the CIU. Dave racks up the miles every month as he tirelessly criss-crosses the region, attending meetings, offering advice and overseeing all of the affiliated clubs in his patch. Occasionally, he gets time for a drink himself at his local, Ikey’s (Dunscroft Social Club), where he is still club secretary. Dave has been involved in clubs for decades, having been on the committee at Stainforth Central Club at the age of 19. Behind him is a 38-year career as a miner; he was also a volunteer for the Mines’ Rescue Service and worked on disasters at Bentley Pit and Flixborough. His knowledge of CIU procedures and etiquette is impressive and he does his job with evident pride. The advice he gives to clubs covers many areas: rules and by-laws, membership problems, gambling legislation, and many other issues that require an in-depth knowledge. 33 The clubs of Doncaster Doncaster Trades Club Situated in the heart of Doncaster’s main shopping centre is a new, state-of-the-art complex called Doncaster Trades Club. This excellent facility was opened in 2008 and is now the thriving hub of Doncaster’s clubland community. A brief history of Doncaster Trades Club, by Geoff Elvin: Doncaster Trades club began life in 1895 on Cleveland Street, located between Wood Street and Young Street. It was a place for trade unionists to socialise. Due to area improvements, the club was forced to move in 1904 to upstairs rooms above a milliners shop on High Street; it was here that the club decided to hire out accommodation for meetings of trade unionists and others. One of the first bodies to hire rooms on a regular basis was Doncaster Trades Council, an organisation that was to offer great encouragement to the club over the years. The stay in High Street wasn’t long. Due to redevelopments again, in January 1906, they were forced to move once more. This time to a detached property at the bottom of Frenchgate, the old dispensary, which had previously been occupied by a school of industry for girls. The club continued to prosper, and by 1911, the organization was able to negotiate for a piece of land adjacent to the new bridge and next to the Brown Cow public house. In September 1913, John Thomas Kay, then the first Labour Mayor, was able to open the doors of the new premises, using a golden key supplied 34 by the main contractor, Dennis Gill. This was the club’s first purpose-built location. 55 years later, the club was forced to move once more, to allow Doncaster Council to install a roundabout at the Frenchgate end of the North Bridge. 1997 and we are at it again: improvements to the bus station and Frenchgate (Arndale) Centre meant that the Local Authority slapped a compulsory purchase order on the club. After six years, the club moved to a temporary headquarters (the SR Gent building on Trafford Way) while negotiations went ahead to allow the club to be part of the new Frenchgate set-up. On 6th October 2008, the club opened its new and current premises in the Frenchgate Centre, a new beginning, everyone hopes, which will help us to face the many challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead. The old dispensary Above right: The Old Trades Club Above: Trades Club 1968 - 1997 Right: The current Trades Club 35 What can you expect to find in a typical Doncaster WMC? “ I do think that working men’s clubs have their rules and standards that they keep up and how they are run. There must be regulations that most of them adhere to, certainly at that time. So, I think they felt they could go into a working men’s club anywhere in the land and they’d find something similar, they could fit in easily, 35 and I suppose that was one of the attractions. ” Despite the ubiquity of working Men’s Clubs in Doncaster, there are still many local people who have never set foot in one. From the outside, some clubs can look quite forbidding, having functional, rather than aesthetic architectural features. The visitor should not be put off by this: you will generally find a warm welcome inside and a code of conduct that encourages members to behave considerately towards newcomers. The concert secretary in his box, overseeing the evening’s proceedings. “ This fellow had moved down from Newcastle and it was his first time in here [Denaby Main Institute]. He was stood at the bar. I looked at him and said, ‘Come and pull a chair up here, mate.’ He says now, ‘I’ll never forget that day I came in here and didn’t know 36 a soul, and you shouted me over.’ ” Most clubs have several different rooms, the largest often being the concert room, which has a stage and a small PA (public address) system. The chairman or concert secretary usually has his or her own ‘box’, equipped with a microphone with which to introduce artists and make announcements. The tables are generally set out in rows for optimum use of space, and there will be a dancing area in front of the stage which becomes increasingly busy as the night progresses. The chairman’s box at Intake 36 Behind the scenes, most clubs have several other less-visible but equally important areas, notably the committee room and office, where the establishment is run on a day-to-day basis, and the kitchen, where food is prepared for functions and meals. One should also remember the important backstage dressing room where the artists prepare themselves before performing. These facilities are rarely grand and always seem to have a wall plastered with publicity shots left by previous acts. The games room is also a common feature of most institutions, dominated by snooker and pool tables, but also featuring a darts board, trophy cabinet and the all-important notice board which keeps members up to date with the activities of the various sporting sub-sections. For those who want a quieter evening (or afternoon), many clubs offer a lounge. This room has the feel of a pub, with comfortable seating and a more intimate atmosphere than the larger rooms. Unlike pubs, clubs are not renowned for their luxuriant beer gardens. The most you might find is a concrete patio furnished with a couple of picnic tables. What every club does have though, is a dedicated smoking area built in response to the smoking ban of 2007. A typical smokerâ€™s shelter. This one is at Highfields WMC In terms of layout and appearance, Doncaster Trades is, perhaps, the ultimate 21st-century club, having a dazzling array of state-of-the-art facilities that are spread over several different floors. To the hardened club-goer, the first visit to the Trades can be quite bewildering, as it is superficially very different from most other clubs in the area: it has lifts, plush carpeting and subtle lighting. In essence though, this is still a traditional club in many ways, being the centre of CIU operations for the area. The lounge at Ikeyâ€™s 37 The club steward or stewardess “I love it. You’ve got to like people for a start. I love meeting people and I love the community thing, but it’s rapidly disappearing.” “ The steward’s responsible for running the bar, orders the beer when we run short, the bottles from breweries, etc. She gives me a list when I go to Batley’s, the wholesalers, for crisps and things like that, and she also makes sure there’s bar staff on for tomorrow night. A lot of people don’t appreciate that in the morning, at nine o’clock, cleaners come down. Moira, she comes down, works out the takings from the day before, puts the float in ready for next day. She has to log it all at the end of the week, tot it all up and take it to the bank. Not only that, 37 she has to make sure the bottles are all stacked up and restocked. People forget that they open at 12.00, and people say, ‘You’re only open twelve while three.’ Then, she’s got to open up at 7.00 to do it 38 all again. She loves it, though. ” “ Well, I get up very early anyway, and there’s always jobs to do here. I open at 11.30 and close at 4.30, then I open again at 6.30 till 11.00. Sundays, we open all day, and if there’s any major sporting event on, we open all day for that as 39 well. ” The job of club steward or stewardess is very important in a club. Their personality and ability to ‘keep a good pint’ are two major factors in the venue’s potential success or failure. Just like their publican counterparts, the steward and stewardess are responsible for ordering stock, employing bar staff and cleaners, and for the security of the premises. Usually, they live in a flat within the club or in an adjacent house. Stewardship is a job for a very special type of person who can cope with the pressures of work 24 hours a day, get on well with a diverse range of personalities – both customers and officials – and be up in the morning to let the cleaners in or to accept a delivery of stock. Spare a thought for the steward who will still be there after closing time until the last glass is washed and the doors are finally locked. The club is quite different when it is seen as a work place, rather than a venue for fun and recreation. Moira, stewardess at Norton Coronation Club, told us the tale of her first day there when she and her family spent the whole afternoon bailing water from the club’s cellar during the floods of 2008. She had been expecting a quiet start to her job, but was inundated with water and customers. It is a testament to her resolve and adaptability that she managed to deal with all of these problems and make it to the end of the first night. “ Well, I’m completely in charge of the bar. The committee don’t really have a say in that department. The staffing, the money, the stock control is all entirely up to me, and I do all that. I organise staff, and I do all the ordering. If I want to put a new beer in, I always consult John [club secretary] because he’s always here, and we work together on that. We work together all the time and it works, it actually works. I don’t look at it as ‘them and us’. It’s got to be a team; it’s 41 got to be a joint effort. ” 38 Talking of glasses, there is one job in the club which can be considered rather mundane but nevertheless essential, that of glass- and bottle-collector. On a busy night, this member of staff can be rushed off their feet as the bar staff call out for more glasses and customers want their tables cleared of empties. After time has been called, the collector has the task of persuading members to drink up. This role, therefore, is quite important in the link between the bar and the customer and is essential to the smooth running of the club. Often, glass-collectors are young people doing a part-time job, but in some clubs, they are older, having done the same job for years. On a busy night, the club would not function without the essential services of the glass-collector. 39 Membership and rules Unlike public houses, where all and sundry can walk in, working men’s clubs have membership and its associated rules and regulations. Potential new members are often familiar with the club – hence their desire to join – and they have to go through a process of signing up in order to become full members. A list of applicants is posted on the club notice board for a prescribed time period (usually a few weeks), and then, if there are no objections from existing members, the applicant will have a brief meeting with the committee to discuss the club’s rules and code of conduct, before being presented with membership and a CIU card if desired. The CIU card allows access to over 2000 affiliated clubs in Britain. Club membership is renewed annually, and the fee is minimal, in some cases being as low as £1.00. Each club has its own rule book, normally based on the Friendly Societies’ Act or the Industrial and Provident Societies’ Acts. Many clubs are gradually adopting the status granted by the latter. The benefits for the committee and trustees are clear: once incorporated, they are not personally liable if the club gets into financial difficulty. To some people, a long list of rules can be quite off-putting: no swearing, no shorts, no drunken behaviour, and so on. In reality, though, these rules are there for the benefit of all customers, both members and visitors, and they enable a safe environment for club-users. The club caters for those who don’t want the stresses of town-centre pubs, where there is no regular clientele and the drinkers have no long-term commitment to their environment. 40 All clubs have their own rule books The role of the committee The committee is an integral part of any club. This body is usually elected annually and has the responsibility of running the organisation within several sets of guidelines, such as those set out by the CIU (if the club is affiliated), and the Health and Safety Executive. In the past, places on committees were hard to come by, as they offered power, influence, status and other unofficial perks. Nowadays, some clubs struggle to find prospective officials, whereas others still have a waiting list. Generally, a place on the committee is prestigious though, and its responsibilities are to be taken seriously. Each committee has a similar structure, with different positions having varying degrees of responsibility. The committee is entrusted with enforcing the rules of its club. This can mean accepting new members and staff, and also disciplining those who flaunt the rules, for example by swearing or not adhering to the dress code. Occasionally, members can be barred if they overstep the mark. Ashmount Members Dinner › Ashmount Members c.1925 ›› Ashmount Members c.1955 › Ashmount Committee c.1960 ›› 41 The post-war heyday of clubs also saw many committee men seduced by exposure and access to money and power. Many interviewees claimed to have heard stories of corruption and creative accounting within successful clubs, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, the larger the club, the more such stories abound. Names are rarely given, but anecdotes of unscrupulous behaviour are rife, particularly amongst the older generation of club-goers. “ We have a committee. We meet fortnightly. It’s worked democratically. Everything’s done democratically. We have a President, Vice President, a Treasurer, three trustees and seven committee members - a fourteen-man committee. We also have sub-committees, like the finance committee and a committee that deals with children’s and life members’ outings, etc., all answerable 41 to the parent committee. The committee, though, is elected to represent the interests of the members, and nowadays, their business is generally carried out with openness and perspicuity. Members have access to accounts and other official documentation, and committees are run fairly and honestly. “ Members are invited to meetings once or twice a year and they have the opportunity to scrutinise the running of their own club and to make suggestions as to how this might be improved in future. “ Recent legislation has given equal rights to women in clubs, and this could lead to more female committee members appearing on the scene. Perhaps a mixed-sex governing committee will be more effective than the male-only ones which have dominated clubs for generations. 42 ” There was another incident where mice ate into the beer pipes and some beer 42 went missing. ” “ There used to be a saying, ‘a good tank will take two gallon of water’, something like that. I’m talking about a big tank, eighty-gallon. It would take two gallon of water, no problem - or lemonade . . . Well, you know what miners are like when they’re down that pit with dust and rubbish, and the first pint didn’t touch the sides. They say, ‘[it’s] the best pint over there.’ The old fella, Bill, used to say, ‘Harry, when you do the barrel, don‘t forget ’ [smiles and gestures]. He used to put a bottle of lemonade in it! The lads used to say, ‘That’s a good head on that. 44 That’s a good pint.’ ” We used to have tiddlywinks, but the 43 committee couldn’t make enough on it. ” Norton Coronation committee 43 3 44 3 Clubland entertainment “ You could go to see live entertainment every day of the week in the clubs in them days. In the 60s, you could go and see 45 Lulu or whoever you wanted to see. ” “ But some of the big acts, you know, the ones that went on to be big stars, in the 70s and 80s, they all did their duty 46 going around the clubs. ” “ Oh, they’ve all been here [Wheatley Club]. The latest one we’ve had is Billy Pearce, and, before he died, Bernard Manning. Going back years and years ago, Paul Shane’s been here; Lyn Perrie’s been here - you know, from Coronation Street. Well before that, she was a comedian, and her brother Duggie Brown, he’s been here a few times. It was a long time ago, but all them comedians that had been on the comedy shows at one time or 47 another, they would have been here. ” “ At the Labour club, across from us, we saw Little and Large, Cannon and Ball, Shane Fenton and the Fentones. They were all there. They came to the Labour club. He became Alvin Stardust. We saw them all at the Labour club before 48 we saw them on the television. ” “ We wouldn’t have gone if we didn’t enjoy it. I think all clubs used to be nice; they used to get full as well. If there was a good turn, you had to be early or you didn’t get a seat. We used to go to 49 Denaby Comrades. “ ” Guy Mitchell, he came. The Woodlarks - they were very popular in their day. The majority of turns that they had [played] on most days of the week, or they appeared for a week; in some cases a 50 couple of weeks. ” “ I used to get a girl up while I was entertaining to do a comedy sketch. I used to pretend to be away at sea, and she’d have to come and sit on my knee. I used to say I had a wound in my leg, and I want you to rub my wound. This certain night, the lady got up, and I didn’t know she had false teeth. She’s dancing about a bit, and we have a bit of a scuffle and her teeth fell out and fell on the stage floor and just flew right over the other side of the club, and she just picked them up and 51 put them back in her mouth [Laughs]. ” “ In the seventies, young people had started to earn a bit more money. Everyone had a job, so that means they’ve got more to spend. So we thought we can book someone like The Swinging Blue Jeans. There was hell on that night because they didn’t turn up. Remember that? Hippy, Hippy Shakes? They were 52 fighting like anything. “ There was entertainment on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Monday was the Ashmount, Tuesday the Wheatley Working Men’s Club, Wednesday there was something on at the Liberal Club. You could see it any night of the week. 53 ” “ There’s hardly any bands about now. Years ago, there’d be loads and loads of bands. You could have them on and that would attract people in. There would be comedians like Paul Shane, Bobby Knutt, all of them top comedians. There’s none now. I can’t remember the last time I saw 54 a comedy act in that club. ” ” 45 For several decades until the early 1980s, the clubs of Britain were a breeding ground for talent in the entertainment world. Countless household names are known to have developed and honed their acts on the club circuit before moving on to radio, television and then performing in larger venues, such as theatres. In fact, many aspiring artists used the clubs as a stepping stone if not to television, then to a higher level of cabaret. Once you had ‘paid your dues’ on the local scene, you might – if you were good enough – move on to work on cruise ships or some of the great variety clubs of Yorkshire, such as Jesters or Batley Variety Club. “ It was a start for a lot of stand-up comedians. They all cut their teeth in working men’s clubs. If they could get over in a working men’s club, then they could do it anywhere, because if they were no good, they would be booed off stage. 55 ” The club audiences were not always easy to please, and it took talent, nerve and determination for any aspiring performer to stand up on a regular basis and bare their soul. One fledgling comedian of the 1960s – who still wishes to remain anonymous – had his career cut short when he performed at Thorpe Marsh Power Station Club. Unbeknown to him, there were lots of contract workers from Scotland and the North East on site that week. His repertoire of gags about Scots and Geordies fell on stony ground to say the least, and he often reminisces about this being the final night of his brief foray into the treacherous world of clubland comedy. “ There was some great entertainment in them days. Some of then finished up on telly. Marti Cane came in for an audition at Swinton Victoria, and they wouldn’t let her up, didn’t think she was 56 good enough. “ ” They were ever so good. You can’t get that on television. Nobody knew them, and that act, they could do it in every club, but once they’d been on television 57 that was it: gone! ” “ You get people who say, ‘Where you got these from?’ Then, the next person will say, ‘These are fantastic.’ You’re never going to get somebody that pleases everybody. You’re never going to get it. Doesn’t matter who it is, you could have Status Quo on in here and someone will say, ‘Wow, this is banging!’ Then someone else will say, ‘Ah, these are 58 crap!’ ” By the late 1960s, South Yorkshire had established itself as the heart of clubland entertainment and venues were buzzing with life. Carlsberg Lager sponsored a talent competition, and Butlin’s had a show touring the clubs called Here Come the Redcoats, with a cast of clubland entertainers who worked at the Butlin’s camps during the summer. High-quality shows were on offer across the town on every night of the week. Each club had its own character, reputation and type of entertainment, and customers would think nothing of travelling across town to see specific acts, rather than just watching what was on their doorstep. Many artists worked very hard during this period, some ‘doubling up’. This meant appearing at one club to do an early evening spot before hurrying across town to another where they would perform later in the evening. Some did a ‘Sunday Special’, which involved playing both lunchtime and evening at the same venue. “ Yeah, I can remember the Scala Club, and it was all big bands there, all groups mainly and top acts, such as Frank Highfield - when he was on his way down. They used to double with Greaseborough Working Men’s Club. Now, the Greaseborough club had acts such as Shirley Bassey, all the big names, Bob Monkhouse, they had them all. They used to do Greaseborough first, and then they’d go to the Scala Club because they had a longer license to sell beer after 12.00, which was very unusual in them days. So they shared the bill between them. At the Greaseborough Club, there’d be one act on, a compere and then a big act on, and then all the little acts, whereas then, the big act there or the famous act would go to the Scala Club. They would finish off last there, and it was like that 59 every night. ” 46 By the late 1960s, South Yorkshire had established itself as the heart of clubland entertainment and venues were buzzing with life. Carlsberg Lager sponsored a talent competition, and Butlin’s had a show touring the clubs called Here Come the Redcoats, with a cast of clubland entertainers who worked at the Butlin’s camps during the summer. High-quality shows were on offer across the town on every night of the week. Each club had its own character, reputation and type of entertainment, and customers would think nothing of travelling across town to see specific acts, rather than just watching what was on their doorstep. Clubland entertainment was now big business, and a great deal of money was involved. Concert secretaries found themselves handling thousands of pounds each week in commissions and fees. Agencies opened and management deals were signed with artists. Prior to this, artists would arrive at the club armed with their music and a microphone, do three twenty-minute spots, see the concert secretary at the end of the night, get paid and try to negotiate another booking. Now, the trend was for them to have a manager and an agent who would do all the negotiating on their behalf, at a price of course: standard agency commission was 10-15% of the artist’s concert fee. Concert secretaries were very wary about this move and banded together to form an association to protect their interests. Many had been let down by the non-appearance of artists, whose agent had found a more lucrative booking at the last minute. In the South Yorkshire region, Neil Penno became president of the Concert Secretaries Association, which was formed to protect the interests of the clubs. The Association agreed a range of fees, length of time on stage, and to hold audition nights at different clubs on a rota basis, with each club holding one per year. The auditions were to be held during the week so as to maximise profits. One small club took over £170 over the bar on their audition night, which was a big boost to its finances. The Association also provided free legal advice to clubs who found themselves in dispute with artists, their management or agents over contracts. In fact, a standard contract was agreed and distributed to all clubs in the Association. It was an exciting time in clubland, and in response, the Doncaster Free Press, a weekly newspaper, devoted more and more space to clubland news, gossip and reviews. In some respects, the busy clubs of this post-war era had replaced the music halls and variety theatres of earlier times. Variety was still the essence of the entertainment bill, particularly in the larger clubs, as former club singer Lyn Charles explains: A Variety bill was exactly that, and it wasn’t just on stage that you became aware of the diversity of talents on offer... I would regularly be awoken by the sound of ducks, doves and other feathered friends in the bedroom next door. The pelvis of a contortionist was not an unusual sight greeting me in the dressing room. Comedians would test out their act over mugfuls of steaming coffee in the ‘digs’ - common parlance for overnight accommodation. Musicians were welcome there, as a late night sing-song was always preferable to feigned amusement for the class clown. I remember feeling the comedians in 1980s clubland were struggling to find suitable material, as times, in the words of the song, were indeed, a-changing, particularly as to what was deemed funny. It is well recorded that only the brave went to the bar or the toilet when Bernard Manning was on stage. As a young artist, I found his aggression quite frightening. Fortunately, I started the night, rather than followed him! Acts such as The Barton Brothers, who were not really brothers, were allround performers. One of them, a tall, lanky fellow, did impressions, and the other brother played guitar as well as delivering comedy. Often, the comedy element of many acts came about as a means of self-preservation – look at Les Dawson. I remember that Marti Caine was striking in every sense of the word, and even though she sang, it was her comedy, her bravery and movement which stay in my memory. Magicians were rarer and often very old-fashioned. There was not a great deal of variety in their delivery or presentation: man in suit, often colourful and shiny, with girl in feather head-dress and swimsuit or leotard, smiling; ALWAYS smiling. The exceptions were Wayne Dobson and Paul Daniels, who stood out for their patter and comedic timing. On the bill, there was always room for unusual hard–to-categorise acts, such as Mighty Atom and Roy (Mo and Roy Moreland). Ventriloquists often had their ‘dolls’ slumped in a corner chair, and this frightened the life out of me on a few occasions. And yes, some ‘vents’ did talk to them as if they were real off stage! Groups were usually on last if it was a triple bill. Some of them were ideal for dance sets, as often that was all people wanted to do after an enjoyable liquid evening. I was always relieved if this was the case, as I found it hard to perform the disco and dance music of the era. I’d bash out Neil Sedaka, ‘I will Survive’, ‘Black is Black’, but it never felt quite me. You had to provide the variety, though. This was expected. A stand-out band for me were Magic who were in a different league to most of the bands, not just playing the music of Queen, but performing as if they were in rock stadiums - which they now are. I’m sure they would acknowledge that the WMCs were their training ground, and without the existence of the clubs, would they or many of us have the careers or lifestyles that we have now? Duos were popular acts, as were ‘guitar vocs’ guitar vocalists. Duos would usually be thought of as husband and wife, but many were teamed up for vocal ability, looks and similar style. They would often wear matching outfits. Catsuits were ‘in’. Some would try out their own material, but they struggled as the audiences tended, it seemed, to like music they were familiar with. 47 Male vocalists were usually besuited in black velvets, bow tie, frilly shirt and had perms which were very trendy - an example set by Doncaster footballer Kevin Keegan! Most would sing the hits of the day, but opera and the repertoire of Mario Lanza were also heard across the WMCs. Country and western acts seemed to be popular. It wasn’t unusual for me to share the bill as a ‘Singer of Songs from the Shows’ with those bedecked in bejewelled, fringed white jackets and Stetsons. No one seemed to think it strange that we were on the same bill. In one area of South Yorkshire, a man would ride on horseback regularly through the pit village in Stetson and full John Wayne regalia and tether his horse up prior to entering the Miners’ Welfare. The sense of camaraderie and commonality was very strong. Many acts from the Doncaster area travelled up to do a circuit in the North East or Scotland, and the fact that we all came from the same area with the same aims to entertain and earn a living was heart-warming and reassuring. When performances did not, for a variety of reasons, turn out as we would have wished, there was always a shoulder to cry on. The variety circuit was a microcosm, a fully intergenerational, integrated society which reflected the area’s diversity. There were disabled vocal performers with strong singing voices who found gainful enjoyable employment alongside able-bodied members. The live musicians who supported the vocalists were very much a part of that variety, and are something that I feel is sorely missed. The buzz of playing with live musicians can never be replicated by using tapes. The live musicians, even if they were not the best on the circuit, acted as a bridge between the performer and the regular club audience and concert secretary. Working with them was always good preparation for other work: TV or radio shows, theatre performances. You became experienced at working with a variety of styles and in dealing with different personalities. You were able to express yourself with a piece of music and to change the mood to suit the audience. Although I’m not a great fan of the TV-based talent show genre, I do like ‘Britain’s got Talent’! How refreshing to see that audiences still crave diversity on stage. Doesn’t it just show that so many people have a desire to work on (what they perceive as) their talent, however bizarre it may seem to others, in order to entertain, move and encourage laughter in their fellow man. I had an Aunty who had a hotel in Skegness and who had ‘turns’ staying with her. I sang ‘Windmill in old Amsterdam’ with the Ronnie Hilton in her bar when I was nine or ten. 48 I watched the fire-eaters practise in her garden, avoiding her potentially inflammable poodles that were ever-present. I stayed after the variety show finished, watching acrobats cooling down after their performances. I think my Mum, on reflection, was rather relieved that I could sing, but it was always about performing for me, and the WMCs gave me an incredible start and the confidence for tackling not only other venues, after my time in the clubs, but life itself. Crikey, until I’d written this, I’d not really thought in those terms, but as I suggested at the beginning, Variety was OFF as well as ON stage, and it seems it is true. Thank gawd! “ The memory act had a blackboard, and she’d get somebody to write on the back of the blackboard, the name of a dog or whatever the capital of Yugoslavia was at the time. She’d stand in front of the blackboard, and she wouldn’t be allowed round the back, and her partner would write down what was said. She used to say, ‘Dog,’ and people were like, ‘Wow, they got that right. How did they get that?’ There was some kind of contact between her and her partner. It was a 60 merry act, but it was a con. ” “ You’d got seven or eight different acts as part of an evening’s entertainment. The musician’s skills in those days were much the same: you had a band call on Monday morning to go through all the show, and then each evening, you’d do that show and you’d repeat it to the end of the week. Then, the next load of acts would come in, and the days went on like 61 that. ” As in the music halls, alcohol consumption was also a central part of the evening’s experience, and in the clubs the beer was cheap and plentiful. The audience, then, had no sympathy for any substandard act, and if their response was unfavourable, the concert secretary would be obliged to step in and ‘pay up’ the act. Quite simply, this meant that a full or partial fee would be handed over in exchange for the curtailment of a performance. There are very few performers on the club scene who haven’t been ‘paid up’ at some early point in their careers, and many club-goers can think of numerous examples of well-known artists being dismissed, often as a result of drunkenness or the use of ‘blue’ language that was not deemed appropriate for the ladies in the audience. “ This guy turns up in a white suit, Don Fardon, and he’s absolutely out of his head. We thought, ‘Who’s going to get hit tonight?’ because we were on the committee and we’d booked him, and we’d charged everybody £2.50. We had all come from the afternoon shift, and all the wives had met us, and it was absolutely packed. You paid £2.50, and miners didn’t like that. So we came in from the shift at eight o’clock and he was at the bar in a white suit. He was absolutely pissed! He couldn’t talk, and they [the audience] kept saying, ‘Come on, Maurice. Get him on!’ Maurice went to the mic and said, ‘Don’t you lot know that top-line acts don’t come on till ten o’clock?’ He [Don Fardon] couldn’t walk, and he had to keep making excuses as to why he couldn’t walk. He was trying to say that we were country yokels. Top-line turns don’t come on till ten, and he was absolutely pissed. He was falling all over the stage. He fell down on stage. Maurice said, ‘Don’t knock him. 62 He’s got stage fright.’ “ I remember when Guy Mitchell was on there for a week - booked for a week, £600. He came on on the Sunday night; he was drunk, and they paid him up, on the Sunday night. ‘Never felt more like singing the blues’ - that’s all he could sing. He was drunk; he only did one night. They paid him up, told him to pack his 63 gear. He was practically legless. ” “ At the Wheatley Club, they had a female organist, Suzanne they called her, and this act came on in the concert room. He wasn’t really blue; he was just a bit naughty, but they paid him up. That’s the difference between artists now and in the 1970s. Now, they would think it was nothing, but then, because she was there, they asked her to leave whilst he did his act, and it wasn’t a very blue act at all, not compared to today. Chubby Brown was on, got paid up. He worked on Sunday lunchtime, but the secretary said to him afterwards, ‘You’ve been great, but tonight, we don’t want you swearing.’ He [Chubby Brown] said his act was swearing, so they wouldn’t let him on at night because they were 64 bringing the wives. Dickie and Dottie, a risqué club act from the 1960s who threatened to reveal all, but never actually did. “ The acts were always ‘Fabulous Girl Singer’, ‘Top Boy Band’, ‘Excellent Trio’, ‘Star Turn’, and it was all so very low 65 brow, low key sort of thing. One of my first visits to a club, I was 18. The turn that was on was Dickie and Dotty. We went to see her because of the feathers, you know what you’re like when you’re eighteen, but we never saw a thing. We had bad necks by the time we 67 were done. “ “ “ ” ” It used to be different at one time. It used to be all different singers and comedians and country and western. Jack Duckworth’s Vera, Vera Duckworth came in as a singer - or she was supposed to be. We were laughing at her. It was full. If you were trying to get a seat at seven o’clock at night, the whole place was 66 full. You wouldn’t get a seat. ” ” Remember Dickie and Dotty? They played there [The Scala]. They did it with fans and a guitar. They had all the movements and you never saw anything, never saw any of their private parts at all. The way they did it was absolutely brilliant. They did it to music, moving the fans and covering different parts of their 68 body. Yes, Dickie and Dotty. ” ” 49 ‘We hadn’t even turned on the PA when the concert secretary told us to turn it down. And another time, even the drum kit on its own caused the decibel meter to trip out. What can you do? There are sensible sound levels and realistic ones’ 69 Every performer will tell you that on innumerable occasions, they have been told to ‘turn it down!’ whether during a sound-check or in the middle of a show. Often though, as the evening progresses and the alcohol starts to take effect, volume seems to become less of an issue to the club’s management. “ Where the stage was, they had it [the decibel meter] on the corner of the bar. When you wind your guitar up, it sets off and goes like green, green, green, yellow, yellow, red, because it was so close. You only had to hit a good key and it would 70 knock your gear off. ” Today, you will probably see one act per night in most venues, with the performer doing two or three different ‘spots’ that are fitted around the bingo. It is up to the artist to tailor these sets to the mood of the venue. The first spot might be made up of medium-tempo pieces, but by the end, it will be expected that the pace quickens and a steady flow of danceable numbers is required to keep the audience on the floor. “ The entertainment is secondary in the clubland circle. It is secondary to the bingo. It is. It’s a fact of life. You are the entertainers, who come to any club - and it’s a northern thing - you are not there to entertain. You are there to provide something that happens in between the 71 bingo. “ ” I can remember once in The Comrades, I was sat in the audience and I’d done my first spot and they had the bingo on. It got a bit noisy while the bingo was on, so the chairman got on the mic and said, ‘Now, if you don’t give up and give order for this bingo, then I’ll put the entertainment back on!’ I looked at him and he was serious, and when I did get back on stage, I said, ‘Well, that was nice wasn’t it?’ and they all went, ‘Yeah, it was. Get on with it!’ and I thought, 72 ‘Well!’ 50 ” Above: The dreaded decibel meter which is the bane of all club entertainers’ professional lives. Right: A club singer in full flow during the early 1980s. Note the HH amplifier, Watkins Copycat Echo unit, professional apparel and glittery background. “ I did get my own back one night for the bingo. It was a red-hot night and I forget which club it was - it was in Doncaster - and they had the back door open in the concert room because it was that hot. I had a puncture in my car tyre, so I get out the old foot pump and I put it in the tyre while they’re playing bingo. I’m stamping on it, and it starts squeaking every time, ‘Squeak, squeak, squeak.’ The bingo callers were going, ‘Where’s that noise coming from? Give order, whoever’s making that noise, give order!’ I just stopped and waited until he’s started on the bingo again, and then I started again, ‘Squeak, squeak, squeak,’ and he got madder and madder. He didn’t know where it was coming from, 73 but I got my own back. ” Generally, entertainers receive a warm welcome in clubs and they are treated fairly. Their main gripe is often about being sandwiched between the bingo sessions or at being told ‘You can’t put that there!’ when setting up their equipment. “ Another thing we tend to do is provide facilities in the dressing room for tea, coffee, a towel, soap, you know, a sit down, comments book from the artist, and that goes a long way in the performance, you know because they feel a lot more welcome. We have a policy where the chairman will go and greet them with a handshake. We’ll let them know straight away basically what time they’re due on, so they know how long they have to set up. It’s just nice to show them that we are appreciative of their talent at the end of 74 the day. ” The organist and drummer “ When I first started at 11 years old, I’d no equipment, nothing, because you just didn’t. You used the club’s microphone system, which was like singing through a cocoa tin. At the time though, you thought it was marvellous, and all they had was a pianist, no organs, just a piano, and no drummer. Then it evolved after about four or five years, and you got a pianist and a drummer. With the pianist and the drummer, you thought, ‘Oh, this is great.’ But the drummers just had the old great big bass drum, a cymbal, a hi-hat and two skulls. That’s all they had, and every song you sang was the same tempo: oom pah pah, oom pah pah. I did this song called ‘Bachelor Boy’ by Cliff Richard, and so the pianist used to say to me, ‘Right, you start it, and I’ll follow you,’ because there was no written music, not at that point in time - that came later. You started singing, and then the pianist would follow you, and then the drummer would come in. So, I started, ‘When I was young, my father said...’ and that would be it, the piano would come in with the same old pattern and then the drummer would follow. Anyway, then it stopped and it came to just an organist, but it was the old Wurlitzers that the bigger clubs bought when picture houses shut. So, you went from the old way they played to just sustained chords, and that’s all you got. No matter what you did, that’s all you got off a Wurlitzer. A great big bloody hall, and that’s all it could do! Then, you got the drummers who came in, and they used to get the Lowrey organs and the Hammonds. Then, when it got to the proper organs with the Lowries and the Hammonds, you got the Leslie speakers, and I used to be, ‘Let me get up there. I wanna get up and sing!’ I wanted to get up because the drummers then were really good. Then, they got the synthesisers. It was really terrific. Then, you might be really lucky and get an organist, bass and drums. It would be a fairly big club that 75 would have all of them. ” “ Every artist, unless they had brought some self-accompaniment like a guitar or were working in a band, was in the hands of the club organist and the drummer, who may have been good or who may 76 have been bad. “ ” They had some good times in here, and a lot of people haven’t appreciated them. They’ve been damned good. We used to have an organist and a drummer, Paddy Carwell. He’s dead now, though. They’re all gone now. We sold the organ. The organ didn’t get used for about 18 months, and it would have cost a fortune to get it repaired. We had Lorna the organist. She backed up the singers. All they do is turn up with a little machine now. They’re karaoke singers now, aren’t 77 they, really? ” At one time, nearly every club had its own resident organist and drummer. These two musicians were like part of the furniture and, as paid employees, they held posts that were both prestigious and coveted. Armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of popular standards, the duo would start the evening with a spot of their own that served as a warm-up. Afterwards, they would then perform as the backing group for visiting singers and comedians. The acts that were well prepared would bring along their own sheet music or ‘dots’ for the organist and drummer to follow; however, sightreading was not every resident musician’s forte, and things didn’t always go to plan: “ I remember once at Intake Social Club, I went out one night with the backing group, and I gave them my sheet music. Now, my first set opened up with ‘America’, but I finished off with ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story. Now when they took their dots, they went out onto the stage and one started playing ‘America’ and one started playing ‘Somewhere’, so I just went, ‘Whoa! Hold 78 on. Let’s start again.’ ” “ And then it’s expected of you to go onto a stage and instantly make a complete show out of fresh air, worthy of the standard of Andre Previn, you know: 79 perfect. It had to be perfect. ” “ Before karaoke came out, we had ‘free and easy’ with the piano and drummer. They used to have it on at Christmas, didn’t they? ‘Free and easy’, and anybody used to be able to get up and perform. They used to have the drummer and the organist on, and you’d just get up and have a sing-song. They did it at The Westminster, Doncaster, every Christmas, bank holidays, Boxing Days; it was all free and easy. It was free and easy in my 80 club [laughs]. ” 51 52 Duo Russmar 53 In the pre-computer age, performers’‘dots’ were not easily come by. Usually, the artist would have to pay an arranger to hand-write the parts, and this was a skilful, painstaking and laborious process. Not only did the music have to look right, it also had to sound right, and there were actually very few competent arrangers in the whole of Doncaster. Those that could do the job were in great demand and spent much of their days armed with calligraphy pens and manuscript paper, trying to meet a deadline for a singer. “ All I would do is sit down and write from morning until night, scribbling with an italic pen. I used to buy manuscript paper in bulk from London: four reams, and I’d get through it all in a 81 year. ” Today, it is very sad to see so many empty stages in clubs with not a drum kit, organ or Leslie speaker in sight. The majority of resident musicians have been laid off. Thanks to the now-ubiquitous backing tape, their services are no longer required. This represents the stripping-away of another level of individuality from each club and its replacement with bland, homogenised music that differs little from night to night and from venue to venue. “ So the dots things, as time went on, got surpassed . . . because the artists were forced by the powers that be to use backing tracks. So they were on safe ground: you didn’t need the wrath of the organist and drummer to mess up your act when you’ve got the 82 stability of the backing track. ” Mexborough Concertina Club: many club stages aren’t used to their full potential nowadays. 54 A typical hand-written score produced by top local arranger Dave Lane Clubland and the local press “ As Free Press columnist, I always used to travel incognito. No one knew who I was, apart from the doormen, so I could get in, flash my Free Press card. I’d sit at the back out of the way so 83 that you saw the act as it was, not putting a special show on just because I was there. ” In the 1960s and 70s, Dave Bent, a well-respected figure in clubland, wrote a weekly article in The Venue which soon, together with all the club advertisements, became a supplement to the Free Press and required reading for all those associated with the clubland entertainment scene. Dave would spend every evening watching artists perform in clubs. He would see one artist deliver one spot and then move on to another venue. He would usually cover four clubs in one night, his comments and opinions eagerly awaited when they appeared in print the following Thursday. Dave worked tirelessly and had a genuine enthusiasm for clubland entertainment. His comments were always constructive and well-founded, and he must have been an influential figure in his day. His views were noted by artists, managers, agents and, of course, the general public. A few words from Dave could make a big difference to an artist’s career. Doncaster Free Press has been the source of information about clubland entertainment for decades. “ That local paper, the Free Press, used to tell you which clubs the shows were on, 84 so you’d pick what you fancied. ” “ The premise was that with the Free Press, money came in when clubs advertised in the Free Press. In those days [1980s], there were lots of clubs, and the revenue was quite extraordinary, so the more revenue that came in, the more 85 everyone was happy. ” As the 1960s progressed, shows at the larger clubs got bigger and better; stars of clubland appeared on television and became household names. This boosted their image and, of course, their pay cheques. Charlie Williams, Duggie Brown, Lynne Perry, David Copperfield and Bernie Clifton were some of the names that started their careers in a small club in South Yorkshire. Charlie Williams was a popular local performer who went on to enjoy national stardom. In the early 1980s, clubland reviews were written by the mysterious Yardov Ale. 55 Clockwise from top left: Peggy and Julia Palette, Shirley Wilson, Lennie Bennet. Acrobats were sometimes part of the variety bill. 56 Clippings from The Venue 57 The clubs of Doncaster The Scala Club One fondly remembered venue is the Scala Club in Sprotborough, named presumably after the famous La Scala opera house in Milan, but pronounced locally as the ‘Scaler’. This Mecca for talent actually started in Thorpe Lane in 1932, became Scala Progressive in 1935 and then moved to larger premises on Sprotborough Road. It closed in 1968. The Scala represented the zenith of local and national light entertainment, particularly when it moved into a bigger building. The line-up of regularly visiting stars reads like a Who’s Who of the late 1960s and early 1970s show-business world. Local residents would often be up in arms about the parking situation when the club was busy. The venue’s own car park was simply not big enough to cater for the amount of visitors that were regularly attracted, and the surrounding streets were lined with inconsiderately parked vehicles, often in front of people’s gates. Evidently, drivers in this era either didn’t drink alcohol or they were accustomed to the relatively relaxed drinkdriving laws of the day. 86 It was quite common for artists at the Scala to lodge with local families in Sprotborough, and many people had the rare opportunity to see stars in the flesh when they had only been on television a few days before. Sadly, this groundlevel interaction with celebrities has long since gone, and we now live in an era of cosseted celebrities who rarely mingle with the public as they are chauffeured from stadium to studio. “ I remember being a big fan of Bert Weedon as a kid, and there he was one day, playing at the Scala, literally just up the road from where we lived. I actually watched him that night just a few yards from where we were sitting, playing that million-notes-a-second piece, whatever it is [Guitar Boogie Shuffle?] and that was one of 87 those important moments in my musical life. “ ” All the top acts, Shirley Bassey, they had them all . . . then they started to charge; that was frowned on a little bit. But when you’re getting five acts - you might get five acts - and those five acts, they’d be there all week, and they’d change the week after. I’m not sure what they charged, maybe two shillings. There was all sorts, all 88 different acts; there were massive acts there. “ ” The Scala was great. You had to take your tea; you had to go at half past six. It got packed. Donald Pearce has appeared there, Guy Mitchell. There were loads, Dickie and Dotty. I don’t think the 89 Scala’s there any more, unless it’s a supermarket. ” Left: Dennis Stevens behind the bar of the old Scala club 58 The entertainment bandwagon rolled on until the first Tuesday in December 1968. Everyone was shocked to hear that The Scala Club had closed its doors overnight. This was followed shortly afterwards by the closure of the Greaseborough Club near Rotherham, another massively popular entertainment venue. Many people remember the Scala closing down and the building being used as a Grandways supermarket in the 70s and 80s, with its distinctive ‘Serve Yourself and Save’ strapline that advocated the supposed benefits of this new way of shopping. Nowadays, the building is a Sainsbury’s, ironically offering the same cheap alcohol that has contributed so much to the demise of the clubland scene in Britain. Many questions were asked as to why these prestigious venues closed down, and many still remain unanswered after all these years. Was it the greed of artists who increased their fees time after time? Was it that the admission charge of half a crown was too cheap? Were greedy agents, managers and committees skimming off the profits? It may well have been a combination of all these factors, although much more sinister reasons have been put forward over the ensuing decades. On 5th December, 1968, The Free Press published the shocking news that the Scala Club had suddenly closed. “ Like all clubs, they had various scams running. One of them was running the cheapo watered-down bitter – it might have been Whitworth’s or another defunct one - to the Barnsley Bitter pumps. My dad was the steward at the time and had to go along with the various fiddles that the committee were up to. One of the locals that he didn’t respect much anyway would often remark, ‘Mmmm, lovely stuff this Barnsley Bitter, Dennis,’ and wouldn’t drink 90 anything else. “ ” It folded as far as I’m concerned because they were having some very, very good turns, international turns, and they weren’t getting the money, the revenue, over the bar to cover the costs of the turns, and that’s tragic, and it just folded. The outgoings were 91 far in excess of the income, so it folded. ” The demise of the Scala caused other clubs in the area to take notice and begin to cut down on entertainment. Although they were very popular with clubgoers, the week-long variety shows were out; clubs consolidated their positions; the television stars moved on, and once again, clubland reverted to its position held a few years earlier: provider of local entertainment on a moderate basis and in comfortable surroundings. The Kiki Club also boasted a state-ofthe art multitrack recording studio that drew recoding artists from across the country The surviving clubs were much wiser for the experience. The Kiki Club attempted to buck this trend, but is now mainly remembered for being a flash in the pan, as it was only open for a short period. “ When the Scala Club closed down they built a new club, in Kirk Sandall, and it was called the Kiki Club, and that really took the top 92 entertainment. ” 59 Agents Getting work on the club scene can only be done if an artist has an agent. Usually, performers have to showcase their act at an audition night in a club where one or more agents will be observing them furtively. Some former performers actually refer to these nights as ‘cattle-market auditions’ for the way in which the acts were herded on and off stage. In the days following the audition, the performer will hopefully receive a telephone call with constructive comments about their show and a description of the type of work that they might be expected to get. The essential subject of fees will also be discussed, along with commission rates. “ After our audition, the agent came up and said, ‘It’s a good show, lads, and I’m sure I can get you some work for about £100 - £150 a night [in 1986], but remember: that stage is a fantasy world up there, as far as the audience are concerned. You’ve got to get some more 93 colourful clothes and liven it up a bit.’ ” Being an agent is not an easy job though, and the rewards are not massive unless you are fortunate enough to sign an act that hits the big time. Even then, slick, high-level management companies are likely to step in and sideline you at the earliest opportunity, offering lucrative deals and smooth patter. In most clubs, acts are often paid in cash on the night, the fee having been pre-arranged between the agent and the club. Occasionally though, the money is paid directly to the agent, and this means that the artist will be going home with empty pockets, at least until the agent balances his or her books at the end of the month. This no-fee-on-the-night gig is commonly known as the ‘no pick-up’. 60 “ We were skint one night, and we did a gig somewhere near Barnsley – it was a Sunday, I think. We got to the end of the night, the concert sec’ thanked us and said he’d have us back at Christmas – they always said that but never re-booked you. Then, he said, ‘You do know it’s a no-pickup venue, lads?’ We were devastated, and the singer just sat on the step outside with his head in his hands, almost in tears, saying that was it, he was going to pack it 94 all in. ” Of course, a no-pick-up gig every so often ensured that the agent could get their commission from the performer without chasing it up for weeks, so it was a shrewd business practice, really. Club bands in the 1970s and 1980s received considerable kudos from the local people. Many were well-known in the area and had a certain status in their own field. Even today, many people can remember some of the local talent. Names such as Bitter Suite, The Gents, Smart Ass and The Tubeless Hearts are still often bandied around. One must also not forget to mention Ponder’s End, a band that featured Doncaster’s own John Parr for many years before he shot to international fame in the 1980s. Club entertainers today “ Entertainment has changed recently. They’re all loud bands, or screeching vocalists with backing music. No-one seems to play instruments these days. I’m not into that kind of thing and I’m not into loud groups either. ” “ 95 Personally, I would one hundred percent go with live entertainment all the time. I love live entertainment, but then again, obviously, it’s the budget. A lot of venues can’t afford it; a lot of venues haven’t got the facilities to have a live act - as in the bands . . . I suppose, if you go back to the olden days, a guy would come with his guitar and his own amp and a speaker, and Bob’s your uncle, he’s done. But obviously, times have changed and things have moved on. But sadly, a lot of clubs haven’t moved on, but it’s a hundred percent live entertainment for me all the time. 96 “ ” Oh, backing tracks have been in probably since the 70s. It started on tape; then it went to DAT; then it went to CDs; then it went to minidisc; now, it’s gone to 97 laptops. ” There are still plenty of club bands and singers on the circuit today, but in comparison to the 60s, 70s and 80s, the roster is greatly diminished. Falling club attendances have meant that many clubs cannot afford to pay four- and five-piece groups any more. The result is a preponderance of solo artists and duos that use backing tapes to supplement their sound and give the illusion of a full band. In terms of excitement though, nothing can properly replace live musicians, either groups or organists and drummers. Electronic backing and drum machines tend to sound dull and sterile by comparison. Rueben in action on audition night. Chris Carr appears regularly on the local club circuit. The Distance have played all over Europe, performing high-energy shows that captivate audiences. The Dream Divas are a great duo, full of style and energy. “ That used to one of the best nights on a Friday, one of the best bands in Doncaster or South Yorkshire or even the North East, and then all of a sudden, they want £800 as opposed to £300 or £400. You’ve got to sell a lot of beer to get that 98 back. “ ” The thing was that the artists were going from being a band, a nice big sixpart band, fantastic. Then the next time you see them, they’re a quartet; then the next time you see them they’re a duo, and 99 then a singer with tapes. ” 61 A typical signed publicity photo that artists leave with venues after their performance. These can often be found covering the walls of the dressing room. Tony Adams and Grandad were in high demand for years because of their hilarious act. Below: Wild Oates in concert in the early 1980s The inimitable Carlo Paul Santana in action. The Distance organise a future booking after a successful audition night. 62 Oliver Reed comes to Clay Lane Club There are many myths and legends surrounding clubland culture, but few are more interesting and entertaining than the story of the renowned actor Oliver Reed’s two visits to Clay Lane Social Club in its heyday in the late 1980s. At the time, Reed was a good friend of Stan Barlow, an entertainer more commonly known as David Copperfield. Copperfield, who was born on Doncaster’s Clay Lane housing estate, is perhaps best remembered for his prime-time television appearances with Lenny Henry and Tracy Ullman in the popular comedy series Three of a Kind. One weekend, Copperfield suggested that Reed accompany him to his old haunt, Clay Lane Social Club, for a lunchtime ‘jolly’, and, according to eyewitness reports from members, the pair arrived at the club already in a somewhat advanced state of inebriation. Reed immediately made a beeline for the bar and, proffering a wad of cash, said to the barmaid in his rather pompously affected actor’s drawl, ‘Here’s a hundred quid to buy the peasants some beer.’ Many of the club members overheard Reed’s disparaging reference to themselves as ‘peasants’, and with colourful cries of ‘We’ll show him who’s . . . peasants,’ several members seized the bear – bearded ‘Ollie’ - and strong–armed him over to the club pool table where they proceeded to lay him out on the baize and dryshave him. Apparently, Reed found this caper most amusing and even threw a few extra quid behind the bar. So began a drinking session of epic proportions which has, quite rightly, passed into clubland folklore. 100 There is also another verifiable anecdote relating to this legendary episode: on the way to Doncaster, Reed apparently tore his trousers. Later that day, after the infamous ‘dry-shaving’ incident, a lady club member kindly offered to repair the damaged garment. Reed duly removed his trousers and spent the rest of the session seated at the bar in his underpants, happily quaffing away. In fact, Reed returned to Clay Lane for a second visit some months later to reopen the newly refurbished club, when he was made an honorary member by the committee. Inevitably, another Bacchanalian drinking session ensued, and the event was duly reported in the local press. The actor ended the evening by getting very drunk, as the audience expected. He then jumped onto the bar, stripped down to his underwear and stuck a cigarette up each nostril. Such a pity that nobody had mobile phones or digital cameras in those days - there seems to be no existing picture of this display of acting ability. “ So we just brought him in, and David Copperfield said, ‘Look at my buddy,’ kind of thing, because he’s quite a big imposing bloke. He stayed all afternoon. He loved it. He loved it. He got bladdered with everybody because old David Copperfield likes a few beers as well. Then, they invited him down to re-open the club. They made 101 him an honorary member as well, didn’t they? ” Sadly, Clay Lane Social Club, once the flower of the Doncaster club scene and the pride and joy of its local community, has recently closed. It now lies derelict and abandoned in the heart of Clay Lane estate. Many warm memories of it still linger though, and the old regulars still meet up in different drinking holes across the town. Oliver Reed was a famous British actor, whose work spanned many major films from the 1950s to 1999. He died during the making of the award-winning Gladiator with Russell Crowe. He was also famous for his amazing capacity for alcohol. 63 Club trips One of the most popular services offered to the community by the club was the club trip. In the 1950s and 1960s, working-class people had little disposable income, few opportunities for holidays and no private transport. The ubiquitous motor car did not sit outside most homes, as it does today. It is no surprise that the annual organised coach or train trips, almost invariably to the East Coast, were much-anticipated events at the club. The trips were financed by the members who contributed a small amount of money each week into a special club-trip fund. When summer came, this was then used to hire buses or charter trains and to provide the children with spending money for the amusements and food. “ For a lot of the kids, that one trip 102 out was it. “ ” That’s the only holiday we got: the day trip. I came from a family of ten. We 103 had nowt; we had nothing. “ ” You don’t hear of many in the area doing club trips now. That’s how things have changed, not just Armthorpe. Anyway, I was always last-minute, me, and my dad was sat in the house and he said, ‘What time does the trip go, then?’ ‘Nine o’clock.’ ‘It’s five to nine now. Come on!’ I said, ‘You get going, dad.’ Anyway, we caught ‘em up and passed ‘em, and we ran up Mere Lane where the bus was, and eventually, my dad ended up getting on the bus, completely out of breath – he had silicosis at that time – and he coughs and coughs. It was Scunthorpe before he could speak to me [laughter]. He says, ‘You bugger!’ He 104 couldn’t get his breath, he couldn’t. ” 64 “ You used to go on the train to Cleethorpes, that was with the Wheatley Club. That was exciting, going on the train when you were a child, because you never did anything like that. And you got the equivalent of five shillings pocket money from the club and a packet of crisps and a little bottle of pop. That was great because you never got anything like that at all. It was brilliant. And then, we used to go with the Old Volunteer in Silver Street because my dad was a member there, so we used to get trips to Skegness and Bridlington. We used to go in coaches, loads of them. And the same thing, you got your crisps and a little bit of spending money, that was to spend on 105 the amusements when you got there. “ ” We used to have the club trips every summer, and they would be on the trains right up until my two were little, and then they stopped the trains and we used to go on the coaches. I remember just loving it because you used to get all dressed up and take your sarnies, and then get on the train, and then they used to come round with these books, and if you were a member, like my dad was and you had paid your subs, all the children got a pound. It used to be a pound note and it was so much when you were six or seven. Cleethorpes. Then the second Sunday would be the Social Club to probably the same place, and the third would be the bottom club - the Coronation club. That was our holidays when I was a kid. Without a shadow of a doubt, that was the 109 only holiday we could afford. ” “ The last couple have been to Skegness. It depends, because they’ve got a card that’s got five places: Cleethorpes, Filey, Skegness, Scarborough and Bridlington. They fill it in, and they tick the one they want. The most popular one wins - that’s 110 where we go. “ ” We used to get one day out at the coast, the seaside, to Cleethorpes, occasionally to Bridlington, and that was the club trip from Kilnhurst club: one day a year. We’d get ten bob111 apiece off the club, and that was a lot of money - you’re talking about the 40s. If you got ten bob, it was a good day out. It was the highlight of the summer. We never had a holiday; we never went away for a 112 holiday up to starting work. And then it went up. It kept going up and up until the last time I took my two, the year before Dad died, they got a fiver. Was it a fiver or a tenner? It was an amazing amount of money, and they still had eight or nine coaches that last time I went. They used to go up Wentworth Park, from Wheatley club, up Wentworth 106 and block the whole road. ” “ The only time I ever went to the seaside was when I went on the club trips. I never went any other time. It was 107 marvellous. ” “ They used to have a kids outing, where kids would go on the trains. They’d have two trains and extra coaches. I can remember one time - and I’ll never forget this as long as I live - we’d booked extra coaches. We used to walk round the train selling tickets, raffle tickets, and all these kids were sat about. Some were sat on the floor. It was like a bloody parcel carriage with no seats in, and they’re all sat on 108 the floor. “ ” When I was a kid, on the three Sundays - I can’t remember if it was June or July - the Mere Lane club trip . . . would be the first Sunday of the month. That would be to Bridlington, say, or ” “ You should have seen the village on a Sunday morning. There was a surge down to the station at Stainforth. There were absolutely hundreds and hundreds of children. The kids got a bag of fruit on the train; they got their dinner provided and got all these tickets for free rides when they got there. Everybody had a real good day. Then, of course, they started cutting down, so we started going by coach. Now we take two coaches for 113 the kiddies. ” 65 “ Cleethorpes, Bridlington, mainly Cleethorpes, because it was nearest. I can remember when I was a young ‘un, we used to go to Adwick station and get on the train. We used to walk it, walk down from here [Highfields] to Adwick station, and they used to give us a shilling; all the kids got a shilling. The train went right onto the sand. It ran onto the beach, so you stepped off your train right onto the sand. We used to get half a crown and my mum told us it was for the fish and chips. She used to say, ‘Give us your half a crown,’ and we’d say, ‘Do we spend that?’ and she’d say, ‘No, it’s for the fish 114 and chips.’ ” “ They were great days out, and they brought the community together, always. 115 “ ” They come round on the bus, the committee men, giving out free sweets. They’d bring my mum a jug of tea and three or four cups. The kids used to think 116 it was lovely - well my three did. ” “ What the Top Club was famous for really was they used to have trips, take all the kids away. All the village used to go. They used to have 70 and 80 buses. They’d go to Cleethorpes for an afternoon. Mere Lane [club] used to have about 20 buses, 20 to 25. The buses used to be queued up behind each other, right from 117 the club, right up to the Greyhound. ” “ It used to be sixpence from Rossington to Skegness. You caught the train early in the morning and caught it 118 back at six o’clock at night. ” 66 Sometimes, the station platform had to be improvised to accommodate the large amount of people going to the seaside. “ We went every year from Rossington Labour Club. The girls always had new white socks and white pumps to go on the 119 trip. “ ” At Edlington, there used to be about 30 buses for the children, what they called children’s outings, and all through the year they’d save. The dads and whatever would put money in, and when it was the payout, they got it then, and then on a Sunday, they took them on a trip. At Edlington we always went on the bus, 120 sometimes there would be 40 buses. ” “ When I was little, it was whole trains. It wasn’t just getting on the train that was going to Bridlington, the trains were booked out for Wheatley Club, and there would be more than one as well. It was always Bridlington, Skegness or Cleethorpes, sometimes Scarborough, but never further than Scarborough. We never went to Whitby. It always seemed 121 to be idyllic. “ ” I was six or seven then. There used to be forty-odd buses for the clubs, yes, 122 Mere Lane. ” “ Old Yorkshire Traction buses. You know these luxury coaches now, well you’ve seen nothing like these. They were like a bit of a charabanc with a top on. They never used to break down. “ It used to be a train when I used to go. They used to hire so many coaches, to Cleethorpes, always Cleethorpes. The beach at Cleethorpes, you got off the train 123 and you were more or less on it. ” “ In them days, sometimes you didn’t get a holiday. Nobody had a lot of money, and you’d look forward to your 124 day out. ” There can be no better example of a club doing something positive for its local community than the club trip. It is a great shame that this annual excursion is all but extinct in most parts of Doncaster. The reasons for this are clear to see: the declining use of clubs, differing tastes, families having better access to credit and more disposable income. One should also remember that children today no longer see a trip to the seaside as the ultimate experience. It is now just one of many forms of leisure that they might indulge in. “ We have club trips every year. I remember the trips, one of the first trips I went on, yes, I remember them well, excellent for the club and excellent for the membership, and long may it be so. We are one of the few clubs or the only club that still has life-member outings and children’s outings. We were the last club to use trains to take our kids to the seaside. Times have changed: now they tend to want to go to the theme parks more than just to the seaside. That’s the fashion these days. We’re going to 125 Flamingo Land this year for example. ” Nearly all interviewees talked about the club trip with fond memories and expressed their appreciation for what was often the only opportunity of the year to have a holiday of any kind and to see the sea. “ The children nearly always went on the club trips on trains, steam trains. 126 ” “ When my daughter was very, very young, we used to have train trips from here. We used to catch the bus into the train station; the train used to pull away and go to Bridlington or Scarborough. We had great times, great times. Now it’s the old people’s one I go on. I go on that every year. I’ve been going on that for the last 5 years. It’s really tremendous. We stop in a lay-by half way there, get the crates of beer out and the crisps. We have a superb dinner at Bridlington, superb, in a really nice hotel, then there’s taxis to take you round wherever you want to go in Bridlington, free taxis all day. The club can’t do enough for you and the committee’s tremendous. The majority, and I’m not saying all [on] the bus, but the vast majority of them would get out of the bus and go to the working men’s club. Crazy! The same one they went into every year: the Ex-Servicemen’s, or the Solders’ and Sailors’ Club. In fact, they’d sit on the step waiting for it to open, and I’d think, ‘You’ve come all the way from Doncaster 127 to go to another club!.’ ” Many people have amusing stories relating to their club trips in the past: “ I went to Benidorm when I was 18 years of age, in 1963. Not many people went abroad at that time. I went for five days and it took me two weeks to recover when I got back. I won a champagnedrinking competition; I drank twelve bottles in one night. 35 blokes from the Granby Road, Jocks and Geordies off to Benidorm for a week in 1963! It was a regular thing. Everybody wanted to save into it, put in your pound a week or whatever and then off you go to Benidorm the year after - an alcoholic frenzy for five days. You put your pound in and you had to do a raffle, a rota raffle on a Saturday or Sunday. The profits from the raffle went into the gents’ outing. There were no gents in that outing I can tell you now. 128 They were all pit lads! ” 67 “ We used to have a club trip. The children used to go on something like 12 buses. The secretary and treasurer used get off the first bus and drop back and pay out the money, drop back to the next bus behind it as the trip was going to Bridlington or wherever they were going. They were doing this one particular day and they got off the end bus, not realising it was the end bus and there was no bus to 129 pick them up [much laughter]. ” “ That train used to leave here, and it was run by the British Legion, this train. It used to leave about eight in the morning, and it used to take about three hours to get to Cleethorpes. It used to go about half an hour then stop in a sidings somewhere. All the kids used to hang out of the windows and when they got there all their faces were black, with all the smoke that used to come off of the engine. They were absolutely black bright, it’s a fact. ‘Have you been down the pit?’ ‘I’m copying me dad.’ We got there at quarter to twelve and we were back on the train at three o’clock coming back home again, spent half a 130 crown and that was it. ” “ In them days you didn’t go for a week’s holiday. The only time my mum was taking me and me younger sister, that was to Cleethorpes, and that was the day that war broke out, so we couldn’t go, and we were going to go for four days. The days aren’t like that now; there’s nothing like it used to be. If you’d been to Cleethorpes, you’d stop [being] mardy for weeks. Oh aye, you’d had a good day if you’d been to Cleethorpes. Sand 131 sandwiches! “ ” You weren’t going abroad like everyone does now. There was nowt like that then, it was only day trips. We only heard about Blackpool or Cleethorpes, not anywhere foreign, Yarmouth and things. 132 ” 68 “ We were posh, because I was from Armthorpe, and we used to go on buses. Then, my dad was a member of Intake, Intake Social, and they used to take us on the train. Oh we were posh! They used to come round with crisps on the bus, but when we used to go on Intake, Intake was better because they gave us ten shillings spending money. I’ll never forget that: a ten-shilling note! I’d never seen one until 133 we went there. “ ” The life members choose where they want to go, and they go to the same place every year. They choose; they vote where they want to go. They won’t change it. They go to the same place every year, which is Bridlington. I say ‘they’ - I’m one of them. They vote for it and that’s where 134 we take them. ” “ The club arranged a trip to go to Skegness, arranged it with the railway. You just walked up to the station and got on the train and it took you to Skegness, 135 and you came back at six o’clock. “ ” I remember every club used to do them, in summer. When summer first started, you’d have a day out. I was from Armthorpe, but I know they all did them because you used to go to places like Cleethorpes, Bridlington. And when you got there, there’d be buses from all clubs there. Oh it was brilliant. That’s what you got when your dad was a member of a club. That was part of your kids’ treat in summer. For all clubs, they all did ‘em. 136 “ ” ” I always went on the club trips, and now I take my daughter. It’s tradition. 137 Dunscroft Social Club has regularly organised trips for disabled children over the years. 69 4 70 4 The club as part of the community “ The members got together and decorated this club last time. I mean, to have decorators in would cost a fortune, so the members did it themselves. ” 138 Clubs are often commonly associated with beer and Saturday-night entertainment, but there has always been so much more to these institutions than that. The original aim of the club movement was to provide a place for working people to socialise and better themselves, and in this role, clubs gradually became a central part of their community where people would interact and help each other in many ways. “ Five or six of them at the pit sat down and decided we need our own club, and someone says the Granby, that was the road, so they set it up and it became notorious - for fighting, guaranteed. It didn’t matter what side you were on, I don’t think it went a fortnight without a fight. The stewards became legendary, how they ran it. Clubs had strict drinking hours, but the Granby didn’t have drinking hours, it had its own drinking hours, and lock-ins, but you had to be ‘in’. There was an inner circle and an outer circle. If you weren’t 139 ‘in’, you didn’t get in. The committee used to control that. ” Many clubs were based in industrial areas, such as Edlington, Armthorpe and Rossington, where the majority of men would work at the local mine or factory. As a result, the camaraderie that developed during the day (or night if you were on that shift) would often be carried over from the workplace into the club. An intimacy existed within each club that represented a feeling of security and togetherness. Such close-knit communities are difficult to imagine nowadays, particularly for younger people, as Britain’s industrial decline has taken its toll on them; however, the elder generation of club-goers look back to this halcyonic era when, despite people’s relatively low levels of disposable income, there was a sense of solidarity in the community that may be gone forever. Armthorpe Social Club is a prime example: many of the regulars have known each other for decades, both at work and in their local club. The spin-offs from such social cohesion are evident, and they often resulted in an informal support mechanism being part of clubland and community life. Problems could be shared and solved, and you always knew somebody who could help out. “ New Year’s morning - tradition, and it carried on right up to it finishing, like hogmanay in Scotland - you’d be out at your parties, you’d be up all day, some people didn’t go to bed, but you used to take your bottle on New Year’s Day, you’d take your bottle of whisky, bottle of vodka whatever and what you would do is buy a pint of lemonade or pint of soda water or whatever your mixer is, and everyone would share their drinks and say, ‘Happy New Year to you.’ And of course, all the younger ones loved that, but they got a bit out of control. It would become a big singing competition, England versus Scotland. Anything you can sing, we can sing better. So you’d have different singalongs, and so nobody bought drinks, they only bought mixers, and the committee said that was fine. I was on the Granby committee when I was 22, and I thought that was wonderful, that was a great New Year’s Day. Intake life members’ annual party The first time I went, Pete Hutchinson took me, he was a Jock lad, union man, called at our house at half past ten with a bottle of rum, he said, ‘Come on, we’re going to the Granby.’ So we walked down and it was absolutely packed solid. A guy on the organ, a few singers, and that was it, you’d get a few English guys getting up, everyone coming with whiskey and vodka, women coming in with sandwiches, and you’ve never seen anything like it. And it went on all day. Forget closing at half past three, it carried on until four, five o’clock until everyone went home. That went on from when I was eighteen until two or three years ago. People used to come back from Scotland. What a day! You’d say to odd people, ‘Come to the Granby,’ and they’d be absolutely amazed, dancing on the table, all good humoured. And you could go in and basically you didn’t pay for a thing if you didn’t want to. There’d be drink everywhere, Southern Comfort, Bells, and as the years 140 went on the drink got better. ” 71 In Doncaster, different types of club have served different roles over the years. There was a noticeable contrast between the commercial entertainment venues of the 1960s and 1970s, such as the Scala Progressive and the Kiki Club, and the socially oriented miners’ welfares of the pit villages. The former existed primarily to make money, and between show nights, they offered relatively little to the local people. By contrast, welfare clubs have always lived up to their name, offering a wide range of services and support mechanisms to their members. For example, some miners’ welfares still offer NUM surgeries every week where former union members call in for advice. “ Mansfield [Avenue], Paxton [Crescent], George Street. Everybody knew each other and you had characters. In every pub you went to, there was a 141 different character. “ ” It was the only place where children could go. You couldn’t go to your legions or top clubs, but you could go to the miners’ welfare, but you had to sit on the patio with crisps so your dad and mam could have a pint - well your dad could. 142 ” “ They were the heart of the community. That’s where everyone went: they went to the club in villages, especially 143 mining villages, miners’ clubs. ” “ The bank holidays were best. We used to have wheelbarrow races. You know, old wheelbarrows down at the yard, one wheel, and we used to sit on it and run down to The Royal with him on, [drink] half a pint, sup it as you’re coming up, and then push him back. It’s alright going down, but it’s coming back that’s difficult, and you’ve only got one wheel. We did it in the 60s. We had Easter bonnets and five-a-side side football up at the park. It used to be brilliant, but then, nothing. It was the centre of the community and we used to do bus tours out to the seaside - Cleethorpes Bridlington. [It] used to cost thirty bob; it cost thirty bob a piece. It declined when 144 all the oldies packed in. “ ” I mean, you could tell it was part of the community when they used to have the famous leek competitions and the 72 pigeon clubs and the fishing clubs also. It was part of the community. Every club in a village had a part to play in its community. They also raised enough money to send their kids off to the seaside in summer, plus the old-age pensioners, and at Christmas time, they put spreads on for nothing which were for the older people and the kids to eat. Oh, it was definitely part of the community. There was a great spirit in the club in those days. If you weren’t part of working men’s clubs and you were a bit posh and thought you were a bit above them, they didn’t want to know you. They wanted people that were part of them and a part of their community, and if you were taken into their community and they trusted 145 you, you were looked after. “ ” Roberto was a really unusual character, and they all loved him at the club, because although he was Italian, he had red hair and blue eyes, and they couldn’t believe an Italian could look like that. A lot of my dad’s friends, that generation, they’d only just started going to Spain for a holiday, but if they went to Spain, all they saw was the Brits, didn’t they? They didn’t have that greater international travel culture, so they loved talking to Roberto. Roberto’s English wasn’t that good . . . so I ended up translating. I got really fed up that summer because I’d be dragged along to 146 the club every night. ” “ The Legion was really, really strict. They didn’t have union meetings there; they had nothing political, nothing. Wouldn’t have anything to do with anything political. Until four or five years ago, unless you were ex-servicemen, you couldn’t be on the committee. That’s gone now because they’ve got no people left, but their committee was ex-military. They all worked at the pit, but they were all ex-soldiers. They had that ethos, tradition: pay homage to the Queen. No lefties in here. The club closes at two o’clock on a Sunday, even though everyone else is open all day; they always 147 closed at two o’clock. ” “ It was Bullcroft Officials in that room. They were all the officials with sticks and the gaffers. This room was basically for the grafters, and you weren’t allowed to 148 mix. ” “ Everybody used to get themselves made a member. Their dad used to make them a member like ours did with us at the Kilnhurst club. Our old man was a member down at the Kilnhurst club. As soon as he was eighteen, he became a member, and he died in 1999, aged almost 90, so that’s a fair stretch, that’s how far 156 we go back. ” “ At one time, they used to have the Easter bonnet parade, and every Tuesday, years ago, every Tuesday night, it was packed with the dancers, and we used to come every Tuesday and it was fantastic, with the organ. That was the Adwick Working Men’s club. That’s not here anymore. They’ve knocked that 157 down. “ “ We also paid for the cricket ground from our wages. We paid so much into the union, and that was paid off our wages for the cricket ground, the bowling green and the welfare club itself. If you went home sick, you didn’t have to pay - if you were unwell - but every day you were working, you also donated to 149 the welfare. ” “ On Boxing Day every year, there would be a disco for the kids, and they’d get - members again, if they’d paid their subs - they’d get a selection box, a really good, big, selection box. Every child would get one, and then you’d get to go to the disco, which made you feel really grown-up because you were never allowed in. You were allowed in occasionally to the concert room if there was some sort of family event on, but I can’t remember going the rest of the 150 year. “ ” Then we have the old-age pensioners’ dinner at Christmas, which is excellent again. We have two artists, three or four beer tickets plus free wine all night. It’s 151 really good. ” “ What my dad used to call the ‘old cronies’ trips’, the same thing but just for the men, just for the old men. And my dad used to go as a sort of member volunteer, even up until he was 70. He was an ‘old crony’ himself, and he still called all the other old men ‘old cronies’. He used to say, ‘I’m going on the old cronies’ trip.’ And then, my brother started to do that, as a helper, so I think that still carries 152 on. “ ” All ex-working miners, all good lads, all get on with each other. It’s a good crack. What more could you want? The working man’s club is trying to keep the tradition of the mines going, with this village being a mining village, this is the only place that ex-miners go and enjoy themselves and have the crack, taking the 153 piss out of each other. “ ” It’s all done voluntarily. All the money is put back into the club, the community, because this is what its all about: keeping that community spirit, 154 trying to keep hold of it. “ ” ” We all know each other, never argue. 155 We all know each other. ” In working men’s clubs, everybody knew each other, but in pubs it’s not like that, it’s not the same, it’s not the same community at all, it’s totally different. It’s the same at Wheatley club, but everybody in that York Bar club knows each other. They’d be shouting from here right over to there, shouting to each other. 158 It’s really good. “ ” What we do is we pay 50p entry and that gets you a cup of tea, and you’ve to buy a 50p raffle ticket. That pays you out £4. Then, they have the bingo, and the bingo pays you £18 out. And of course, the money that’s surplus goes in the bank, the TSB. There’s a committee; she’s the chairperson; I do the secretary and treasurer, and Jeanie is the vice chair. There are three names on the bank books; we’re in the TSB now. We’ve all got three sets of keys. We trust everybody. They run the raffles, running two raffles a year, most of the stuff is given. It’s not making a lot of money now, not like it used to do. Then we run a football card. The money that we have surplus, we’re having a peaand-pie supper. Debbie’s making the pea and pies. On 27th April, we’ve got a turn coming, which will be paid out of the club. Anybody that wants to come in, friends, they can come in and get pea and pies for 159 £1.20, and a turn. That’s not bad! ” 73 “ I can always remember they said, ‘We’ll have a carry-out,’ and I thought, ‘A carry-out?’ And they’d go to the bar and say, ‘We’ll have six bottles of that and ten bottle of that, and that was a carry-out. There was going to be a party. It happened often; it came from Scotland, because you actually carried out 24 bottles in a crate, and two of you would carry it up the road, and that was a carry-out. That was from the Scottish miners that. Bells Hill and Lanarkshire, they always have carry-outs. It was part of their culture. When you’ve been out having a few drinks, you don’t go home, you have a carry out. ‘Where are you going?’ ‘I don’t know. We’ll just walk up the road 160 and see who’s up and about.’ ” “ For kids, every bank holiday, we have a disco, free pop and crisps. Easter, we do a raffle, for Easter eggs obviously. Christmas, we do a raffle, bottle of 161 whiskey, big cuddly toy. ” “ I’m a life member. I’ve been at the club fifty years . . . you pay your subs, you pay one payment and you keep paying to stay a member of a club. See I don’t have to pay subs anymore because I’ve been 162 here fifty years. “ ” Clubs are a good institution, unlike pubs, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike pubs, but unlike pubs, the discipline and good manners you have in clubs is second to none. You don’t get trouble in clubs and you don’t get people who are in for that – people will tell them; I will tell them; the president, even. We don’t believe it now, but even now, there are children that don’t go on holiday; there are old people who don’t go out for a meal. This club has always looked after its own people. They’ve always put meals on. They’ve always took children on holiday. They put parties on for children at Christmas. All the old people get a gift at Christmas, as well as money and a free hot meal, so that’s important. It’s important to 74 At one time, Ikey’s had its own members’ skiffle group the community. We also give money to charity, local charities. Charities come in here and collect - the local churches and 163 whatever. ” “ It’s a very important part of my life. Certainly, a good social place to come, lots of friends here, and it’s enjoyable to come here. Alan’s daughter grew up in the club; my children grew up in the club, and the same can be said for many, many people. It’s very much a family, part of 164 our life. “ ” In the Top Club years ago, if you went in there and said ‘boo’, you were out, and you were proper out. Whereas if you went in the Granby and you had three fights, you’d get in two days later - and become secretary in a fortnight! 165 [Everyone laughs] ” “ When the fight used to start in the middle, which it often did on a Friday and Saturday, all the tables went. They invented the Mexican wave with punches, round and round they went. ‘Oh, it’s come all the way round,’ the Mexican 166 punch! ” “ I remember there was this labour club in Rossington, before it became a group club in the 70s or 80s, and it was one Sunday lunchtime that I was singing there. These four young lads only about 12 or 13 years old came up to me and said, ‘Hello, mister,’ and I said, ‘Hello, kids.’ They said, ‘Can we help you with your gear?’ I said, ‘No, you’re alright. I’ll get it in myself.’ ‘Would you like your car washing?’ I said, ‘Well, no not really. It’s gonna rain. Look.’ ‘We’ll wash it good, you know. We’re very cheap.’ I said ‘What’s cheap, like?’ They said, ‘Well, ten bob.’ I said, ‘Get on thee way get out of it,’ because ten bob was a lot of money in those days. They said, ‘Are you sure?’ I said, ‘No, go on. Go.’ So, they went, and when I came out to my car, it was stood on four bricks! Yeah, they’d nicked my tyres and I was told by the committee if you’d paid them lads the ten bob, you’d have been alright, and they’d have washed 167 your car! ” “ I’m not a very good drinker now. I’m not supposed to drink at all. I do have a couple of halves . . . you’re trying to drum up revenue for the club as well. You’ve got things that are expected of you, to sell totes or sell raffle tickets and that kind of 168 thing. “ ” We had one [charity night] five weeks ago, made about £1400. It was a good night. We had a disco and raffle; we made some money. It was for a Sheffield 169 cancer charity. ” “ They [the press] must have thought we were crackerjacks. All other people say, ‘What you want to go down a mine for?’ When you work it all out, the friendship and the stuff you get from that is beautiful. I can walk in here and I can talk to any of the lads and there’s no problems. That’s what it’s all about: you can walk into a lot of places and they never talk to you. No one wants to come to any area, indirectly, and sit on your own and have your pint and no one talk to 170 you. ” “ I’d never see anyone without a drink. If one of lads came in and said, ‘Col, I haven’t got much money,’ I don’t mind telling you - and you can put this in your book - I’d go and get a couple of quid out of the bandit and say, ‘Here you are, love. Get yourself a couple of pints.’ I’d lend them money when I know for a fact they wouldn’t give it me back. But it comes out of the bandit, so why should I be bothered? I’d help anybody, wouldn’t see anyone without a drink, full stop. If they’d come into the club, that was it. 171 ” The club was, indeed, rather like an extended family to most of its members, and it would not be unusual for several generations of the same family to go there together. This intimacy could sometimes prove awkward for new drinkers, as everybody knew their ages. It was accepted that you would have to wait until your 18th birthday before being allowed to come into the club, sign up for membership and, perhaps most importantly, go to the bar and buy a beer. “ Well, you went with your own group really, usually family. I mean, when I used to go, I went with my husband and 47 years after their wedding reception in the Coronation Club, Ruby and Tommy were still regulars. his cousins and there used to be about six of us all sat together, and that was it, arguing about which seat you were sat 172 on, which was your table. ” “ Most people’s introduction to a working man’s club was through their dad. Yeah, through their father, like I was, and I wasn’t even allowed to walk in till I was 18. I lived on the estate since I was seven, and I wouldn’t ever dare walk in there while my dad was a member, honestly, because everybody knew each other and they knew who you were. I wouldn’t even dare go in. They’d even challenge me even though they knew my dad. If you didn’t have a membership card, you weren’t allowed in. At one time, you had to carry it at all times. ‘You’ve forgot your card, you know where you live,’ ‘Have you got your card with you?’ ‘Well, I’m a member.’ ‘Are you? Well, where’s your card? Go home!’ Then you went mad because you just thought it was your club, and it was a nice, absolutely 173 corking club. “ ” Well you see, in a colliery village, the life was around that working men’s club, right. During the week, the men would go and play at whatever they wanted to David and John Spencer In Mexborough Concertina Club 75 do, and at the weekend, the wives went, Saturday night and Sunday night, then they used to have the turns on, and there used to be some good ones. I used to enjoy 174 going. “ ” When I first started drinking I used to go in pubs at 14. You could get served, but when you get to 18, you can go into clubs, into the Granby. I found it great because the Granby, as we’ve said, had this camaraderie: Jocks, Geordies, etc. They even had gentlemen’s outings. Now there’s a misnomer if you’ve ever heard 175 of one! “ ” There used to be a waiting list here, but if your father was a member you could get made a member a bit faster, you see. Your father would be sat in here having a pint, and you might be sat out there having a game of snooker but he was there. He always seemed to be there, so he kept an eye on you. You weren’t going to have much trouble were you? That doesn’t happen now. People like me, at my age, I’ve got two sons and they’re 176 not members of clubs. ” “ “ It used to be fathers and mothers and sons and daughters. They all went out. 177 ” It’s only the lads that keep it open. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a future for them, because working men nowadays, they aren’t like they were when there were building sites, pits, factories. It’s all too modern nowadays, no proper jobs, no labouring jobs or owt 178 like that. ” 76 Jock Forbes’ plaque at Wheatley Club “ Domino handicaps, darts, snooker, whatever was going, so the big game was Monday dinner, because you’d got the night shift in and then you got the afternoon shift who didn’t want to go to work, then the day shift who had slept in, and then at two o’clock, the day shift would call in for a couple on the way home. So it was a big day, Monday. You’d get someone on nights thinking, ‘I’ve had five and I don’t want to go.’ Virtually anyone could stay Monday dinner, so that would go on to six o’clock, then you’d either go home and get two hours and think you’ll face the night shift at nine o’clock, or you wouldn’t go. You could do it in them days. It was a big day in a mining village, not just here, anywhere. Monday, Miners’ Monday. It was a big un that, a really big un, and strangely enough it wasn’t a day when there was a lot of trouble. That was a big day that in all the clubs, bigger in the Granby in Edlington because they’d lock 179 the doors. ” Clubs really were self-run institutions. One expoliceman and club-user claimed that he rarely got called out to clubs because there was relatively little disorder in them. If there was trouble, it was often dealt with in-house by members or the committee who knew that such things could be sorted out without the need to involve the police. An example of club rules 77 78 Politics, clubs and the Miners’ Strike, 1984-85 “ The Miners’ Welfare was a distribution centre for food. The distribution was controlled by the union people. The other thing they did, they organised holidays with other countries. The Miners’ Welfare organised holidays in the strike. What happened was we had a public draw, and anyone who got chosen put their names in a hat, and those that were drawn out, the families in Belgium paid for the children to go. There was also clothing. Clothing was sent to the Miners’ Welfare. That was another thing that happened. We had a fantastic theatre group came and did an evening’s entertainment for us at the Miners’ Welfare. Fabulous! I can’t remember the name of the group, but one of them appeared in Coronation Street many years ago. That was a really fantastic night. They came as a gesture, solidarity if you like, ‘We support the miners’ sort of thing. ‘We’ll give you an evening’s entertainment.’ That was really good. 180 ” “ If Arthur Scargill ever came, he couldn’t go to the Top Club, the Legion or the Officials’ [Club]. He could go to the Granby or the Miners Welfare, only those two places. He wouldn’t be allowed through the doors, because of the political 181 affiliation. ” The Miners’ Strike of 1984-85 was a terrible struggle for many communities around Doncaster. Despite the many hardships that people had to endure, this difficult period saw communities pulling together with incredible resolve. The working men’s clubs often became the base of operations for the strikers who would meet there every morning to get their strike allowance (£1 per day) and to get the latest update on picketing tactics. Soup kitchens were established there by women’s groups, often affiliated to the Barnsley-based Women Against Pit Closures group. Even 26 years after the strike, people’s memories are vivid, and emotions still run high. Many clubs were used as distribution points for food and clothing, which came from all over the country and from abroad to be sorted and given to the miners and their families. These distribution centres were usually situated at the local miners’ welfare club. Drinks were reduced to half price; the profit margins of clubs were cut to the bone to enable members to retain some degree of social life. In fact, the prolonged duration of the strike brought many of the clubs to near bankruptcy. However, as is usual in close-knit communities, once the strike was over, the miners supported the clubs and restored their finances, thereby enabling them to flourish once again, cementing their symbiotic relationship which has existed for so long. “ A lot of our members were miners, and we were instrumental in helping them and their families by way of food parcels, and they used to come out here and socialise, and that overcame their problems hopefully, but we did help them 182 tangibly by giving food parcels. ” “ They used to have a soup kitchen, not at this club, at the welfare, in the welfare hall, during the strike. They used to send parcels from London and wherever, and these miners, from here, went down to London, and walked over London Bridge with buckets, collecting money from all the well-to-do people, and all these big shops like Harvey Nichols and places like that. They used to bring the money home, get the groceries, parcel them up in boxes and each family got a box of groceries 183 from the club. ” “ You had two meetings: the NUM official meeting and then the unofficial meetings. They were held in the smoke 184 rooms. ” 79 Sports and games Lord Halifax presents the Halifax Trophy to Brodsworth Main Colliery Officials’ Club Sports and games are an essential part of clubland life, providing a focus for the interests of many members. In Doncaster, the range of such activities supported by local clubs is incredibly wide, showing that friendly team-based competition is a valuable facet of a healthy communal lifestyle. There is not a single club in the area that doesn’t have a dedicated games area, and you will rarely see an unused pool or snooker table. The prices for using the tables are nominal, being another of the many non-profit-making services that clubs provide to members and visitors. The atmosphere around the tables is competitive but jovial, and one can hear a steady stream of quips from players and spectators throughout each frame. Some competitions, however, are more serious in nature, such as the inter-club challenges, but there still remains a sense of decorum and sportsmanship that reminds us that this is only a game and that participation is the most important thing. “ That club yard, it used to be for the pigeons. It was a pigeon square, as it was always called. [People] used to fly pigeons from there . . . If the pigeons had flown, we’re flown. We’re in here [the bar]. The bar used to be full of pigeon men, as they called them. They basketed the birds up on a Friday night, and they used to come in here. And another thing, we had a rugby team here, and they used to play up the road there just opposite The Abbey pub. They used to kick the hell out of each other and then all come in back here, all drinking together. And we had all these things. We had a garden show up to five years ago. It was as good as any in Yorkshire, taking aside that one from Harrogate, like we‘ll give them that [laughter]. We had wonderful shows in here, used to be 30 or 40 exhibitors. The bar would be full of vegetables and flowers, and all got 185 auctioned off for older people. ” 80 “ There was one to Scarborough and one to Whitby . . . We’ve been going down for fishing trips because we’ve got a fishing club. There’s a sea-fishing club 186 and a fresh-water fishing club. ” “ They wanted me to play dominoes. I said, ‘Harry, I’ve only got a tenner. I’m not playing dominoes.’ He said they were playing a fiver a match, two-handed. So I sit down and I play Harry and win the game and the next game. I ended up winning 500 quid. I just couldn’t lose, and there were all-comers coming from all over. We used to play for money in this village more than what they play for now. They play for a pound a man; they used to play for a fiver a man twenty 187 years ago. ” The 1980s were the heyday of the visiting sports celebrity, and big names from the worlds of snooker and darts would supplement their tournament prize money188 by touring clubs and spending an evening playing against the members. Apparently, it was an unwritten rule that the stars would let at least one player beat them during the evening, although six-times World Champion Ray Reardon showed no mercy as he trounced the whole of the Intake team on his visit there in 1981. “ We’ve had Alex Higgins. We’ve had Ray Reardon, going back to the times when he went from here to the World Championship final. He went straight from here. He lost unfortunately. The latest one was John Virgo; Dennis Taylor was one of the most entertaining; Jimmy White and Alex Higgins. “ ” Darts, we’ve had John Lowe, Bristow, Dennis Priestley, many more. We try to look after everybody, all the spectrum. 189 ” Alex Higgins and Jimmy White’s visit to Intake is still talked about today, mainly because both players were incredibly drunk and were thrown out of their hotel in the early hours of the morning. Apparently, they had taken their entourage of acolytes back to the Rockingham Arms Hotel after an evening of ‘pro-am’ snooker. Their partying and noise was too much for the management and other guests, and they were asked to leave. “ We’ve had Dennis Priestly, the darts player. In fact, his mum was a big 190 member here [Denaby Institute]. ” It has long been a tradition for clubs to have their own teams in many of the most popular sports. Inter-club leagues and matches have always offered the opportunity for regular home and away competitions that see the best of each club playing each other in spirited but good-humoured fashion. One only has to look at the trophies on display in every club to see their long tradition of sporting activity and its importance to the community. Above: John Lowe below: Ray Reardon 81 Cards and dominoes “ [We] used to have panel games there on a Monday. There would be seven games: snooker, billiard, darts, cribbage, 191 whist, dominoes, fives and threes. ” “ The concert room on a Sunday afternoon, dominoes handicap. You’d have about 40 tables, 192 40 or 50 tables. ” In these days of electronic media and fast-paced entertainment, there is something rather timeless about long-established games such as dominoes and cards still being played in clubs. Many locals arrive at the club and start setting up for their afternoon or evening games session, placing the dominoes board on the table and setting a scoring device by its side - often a cribbage board serves this purpose. Some clubs leave the dominoes and boards out permanently in a specific playing area. To the layperson, domino and card games can seem rather esoteric, and the fluency and ease with which the locals play show them to be old hands at it. Fives and threes seems to be the most popular game in the area, offering the perfect balance between skill and luck “ We used to have a football team, snooker team, darts team, dominoes team, fives-and-threes team and so on. We had all that lot. The league was club against club. The panel games were the original CIU, where it was club against club, whereas now, we’ve got different sponsored leagues for darts and dominoes, and then you’ve got snooker and pool. We also got a ladies darts team. “ ” 193 [Dominoes games] of fives and threes, ordinary dominoes, star. We used to have darts and dominoes and pool. We used to have a pool league, but that fell through. We had a good team at pool, not bad. They used to have the area finals in here. 194 It was packed. You couldn’t move. 82 ” The recent upsurge in the popularity of poker has not passed the club by, though, and poker nights are a regular and very busy feature of many venues today. “ What we did have in the 70s was panel games. A wonderful night out, you’d play home and away. They still have them now, but not to the same degree. You’d have darts, cards, whist, crib, snooker, dominoes – fives and threes. You’d have seven, and you used to play for points, and you used to have a panel-game league, and all those clubs used to participate. That went by the wayside. It was a fantastic night out. I don’t know why it was called panel games, but that’s what it was called. All those games, you went of an evening, to the club. “ We’d have a bus from Mere Lane and we’d go to places like Moorends, Rossington, Conisbrough. We were based in Armthorpe, but these are all clubs we went to, and we’d have a bus full. The wives would come; we’d make an evening of it. It was a fantastic atmosphere, and they’d come to your club with a bus full. 195 Fantastic night. It used to be brilliant. ” “ In them days, they used to have tugof-war teams and things like this. And before that yard was tarmacked, we had quoits, like say throwing horseshoes, and each club used to play one another at it, and tug-of-war, and you see, all that kind 196 of thing has gone. ” “ Solo, the odd game of crash, where you had four hands. The prize was runs and pairs and flushes. You had thirteen cards apiece, four of you, and you make your best four hands, and the first to get to seven pegs gets paid. On the Wednesday night when bingo was on, we’d have a game of cards in here. It still happens. They used to play it in there, but they just come in here now. They don’t play for a fortune - pennies, like. One time, the club owned two boats, two fishing boats, sea fishing boats. One was moored at Bridlington and one at Withernsea, and we had our own 197 minibus. ” 83 84 85 Eyes down: bingo and other games “ I play bingo; my wife plays bingo, Tuesday night, Thursday night, Saturday night and Sunday night. Nowt wrong 198 with bingo – could win some money. “ ” They used to bring money because they had bingo here. It used to be Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays, Saturday and Sundays, and the women on a Thursday night set up a cancer bingo to raise money for charity. It used to be packed in there. It was all cackling in there. That was the 70s and 80s, and they made some money for cancer then. 199 ” Every club in Doncaster still has bingo nights which often see houses packed full of regulars, avidly engaged in crossing off their numbers. Sometimes, the prizes can be substantial, and a strict code of conduct is adhered to so that everybody gets a fair chance. Usually, players are hoping to be the first to complete a line, two lines or a full house, which pays out the largest prize. Bingo-calling is also an acquired skill, and there is more to it then meets the ear. The caller has to pace their reading appropriately (not too slow and not too fast), speak clearly, and be conversant with the wide range of nicknames that the numbers have. Here are the common ones used in Doncaster clubs: 1. Kelly’s eye 7. Lucky seven 8. Garden gate 11. Legs eleven 12. One dozen 13. Unlucky for some 16. Sweet sixteen 18. Key of the door 21. Key of the door 22. Two little ducks 32. Buckle my Shoe 44. Diana Dors 50. Bull’s eye 57. Heinz varieties 88. Two fat ladies 90. Top of the shop, blind 90 A word of warning for the uninitiated: don’t shout ‘Bingo!’ when you win. The usual call is more likely to be ‘Here you are!’ or something along these lines. “ I don’t play personally, but my wife does. She’s a regular. It’s a big activity within the club, and we have lots of snowballs and different incentives to encourage a game of Bingo. It’s a popular 200 activity in the club. “ 86 ” We even have a members’ draw. It’s been going on now sixty years, the members draw. That’s the last time a 201 member won it! ” In addition to bingo, most clubs run a range of other chance-based games that entertain the members and draw in vital income. Tombola, raffles (often for money or a mixed grill) and sez-u’s are commonly played in an evening. A typical minimum stake might be only 20 pence. Another common favourite is the football card. Punters simply pick a team on the card and write their name on it. The person who has chosen the randomly selected winner gets a cash prize, often between £10 and £20. In earlier days, the numbers were drawn from a bag or box. Today, bingo machines range from compressed-air driven ones full of ping-pong balls to electronic devices with digital displays. 87 88 89 A man's world? Women and clubs Women win equality at working men’s clubs By Stephanie Condron 12:01AM BST 02 Apr 2007, The Telelegraph Women have, for the first time in the 140-year history of working men’s clubs, been granted the same rights as men. The National Executive of the Clubs and Institute Union has voted to grant women members equal access to clubs around the country. Until Saturday, women who joined one club were banned from entering other clubs unless they were with a male member. They were also banned from attending the annual conference. But Kevin Smyth, the general secretary, told the 984 male delegates at this year’s annual conference in Blackpool: “We have to end discrimination in our clubs.” After the motion to grant women equal access was passed by a two-thirds majority, he said:” This is a major breakthrough.” Sue Carr, 61, the secretary of the Ashford Road Club in Swindon, said: “It’s been like the Dark Ages. Every year I come to conference with my husband and have to go shopping while he goes in. Next year, I’ll be in there too.” The Club and Institute Union has some four million club members as well as 30,000 associate women members. 202 “ The thing is with clubs, you see, women didn’t have a place in ‘em. They weren’t on committees; they weren’t allowed. In a lot of some clubs, even up to recently, they weren’t allowed at bars. There were two things: miners were quite chauvinistic anyway, and ladies didn’t pay. But that was the way it was then. Some clubs, they weren’t even 203 allowed in. “ ” They didn’t have any prominence in clubs; they weren’t allowed on committees; they weren’t allowed on anything; they weren’t allowed to sell 204 raffle tickets. “ ” As far as I’m aware, at the Westminster Club, women couldn’t be served at the bar. Up to the 80s, if I had 205 to guess, off the top of my head. ” “ Everything revolved around the opening times, especially on the weekend. When he could get in and when we would have Sunday dinner depended on when 206 they shut on a Sunday afternoon. ” “ At one time, you bring your wife in or a woman, and they couldn’t get served at the bar. No women were allowed near the bar. I remember at Hyde Park Club, women weren’t even allowed in the bar. They had to go into the concert room. That’s like Rosso [Rossington] Top Club. Things have lightened up a lot now. They’ve got women full members. We were gonna do it this year anyway, but we were forced into it by law. So, we made this rule up that you can’t be a committee member unless you’ve been a club member for two years. Unfortunately, this year is the first year we’ve allowed ladies to become full members, but they’ve still got to wait to 207 join the management committee. ” “ Women were classed as halfmembers. It was a working men’s club. Women weren’t even allowed to play on the pool table. Women were like second208 class members. ” “ At one time, you weren’t allowed in without a man anyway - your husband or a male. But of course, women didn’t go to clubs because they had to stop at home and make the dinner. Yes, stop at home and make the Sunday dinner. There’s more women than men now on a Sunday. Lots of women come here on a Sunday 209 dinner. ” Punters at Bentley ‘Jet’ 90 “ When you’re retired, you come down here to have a chat with your friends, something to do, and especially in the winter when you get bored and get away 210 from the wife for an hour. ” “ They used to have a turn on noon and night. All the men would go at lunch time, and if the turn was good or was clean, then you’d take your wives or girlfriends 211 in at night. ” “ A lot of women came. [They] used to come from all over. It was only twenty years ago that women were allowed to be members . . . but they used to come. They weren’t excluded. There’s still some up the North East that the government’s gonna sort out because they won’t have them in. I never saw them go in their purse [laughs], but they could go to bar and get 212 served. “ ” Women didn’t take part really, not on the committees and that. Wait a minute though, they did form a ladies’ 213 section. “ ” That’s what it used to be like in clubs, because it was a working men’s club, weren’t it, so it was a place for a man to have a pint, but at weekends, they took 214 the wife out. ” “ “ Going back to the 50s, I would say that the ladies sat down and the 217 gentlemen bought the drinks. No women on their own. I never saw a woman on her own, and no mucking about either. No kissing in a corner or 215 anything like that. All very well run. ” “ I never bought a drink. Ladies didn’t go to the bar, never. It should be like that now: ladies are ladies. I’ve never seen a 216 woman go to the bar. ” “ ” I still don’t like going to the bar. A woman didn’t need to pay owt. There was no need to take a handbag. My husband would say, ‘What are you taking that for?’ I’d say, ‘I feel dressed with it on.’ No, a 218 woman didn’t go to the bar. ” 91 Clubs are commonly perceived as a predominantly male environment, and in many ways this is true: there are still very few female committee members in the whole of Doncaster, and the clubland clientele is predominantly male. Until fairly recently, some clubs even had specific male-only areas, the only women entering them being the bar staff and cleaners. Recent legislation has changed all this, although as with the smoking ban, there has been some resistance – from men, unsurprisingly. Many interviewees, both male and female, expressed ambivalence towards the segregation of sexes in clubs, feeling that in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, an all-male environment was often a good idea, as it offered a place for working men to socialise and relax after hard shifts at work. The ladies could get on with their own thing with the men out of the way. Ladies did go to clubs, however, but as with the men, their attendance and behaviour followed a set pattern. “ On a night, especially on a Sunday night, you used to have to go out at half seven to get a seat. Honestly, I’m not joking, seriously. That’s when we got married; we got married in 72, so it was about that era. Honestly, we used to have to be in at half seven to get a seat. What happened was blokes used to go out and get a seat, sit down, get a drink for the wives and save all the seats, and when the women came, the blokes would go in the bar for an hour and leave them playing 219 bingo. “ There’s a bloke stood at the door, and he said upstairs is shut, so my wife looked round and saw the games room and said, ‘Is it OK if we go in there?’ [He said,] ‘You can’t go in there, it’s men only. Women are only allowed upstairs.’ She wasn’t very pleased about it, but we had to come out, obviously, as we couldn’t get 221 served. ” At the big session on a Monday, you never saw a female, never, unfortunately. The big night was Saturday night, and they would come out with all the trimmings, with their war paint on, and then they’d go home and they’d be miners’ wives again. You never saw them at big 220 sessions. ” 92 “ “ ” In the week, it was the men, but at the 222 weekend, it was the couples. ” Today, groups of women can be seen in force in certain clubs, often meeting to play bingo in the afternoon or evening. Interestingly, most of these groups use the club as a venue for their activities, but in stark contrast to the male club-users, they rarely drink alcohol. Anne Diamond presents the Miss Queen of the Clubs trophy 93 5 94 5 The future of clubs “ We haven’t got any of them now: working men. They’ve taken it off that sign: Norton Coronation Working Men’s Club. We changed the name ‘Norton Coronation Club’ because there aren’t that many that are working. That sign just invites anyone in, see. Not just working men. So if your title is ‘working men’s club’, there aren’t that many working. 223 ” “ When the colliery closed, you lost the sense of a place where people used to 224 meet. “ ” They used to be queuing up at seven o’clock at night, didn’t they on weekends? We had full audiences all the time. I think all the clubs in the 60s and 70s were packed. Well, they used to be, locally. I would say the beginning of the 80s was the beginning of the end for clubs, when Maggie Thatcher got in. Yeah, after the strikes, that did it. When the pits shut, that was it, and that’s when all the clubs died, I would say. Well, everyone went redundant, and redundancy money ran 225 out, and that was it. ” It is very sad, but clubs in Britain are in decline. One only has to look at the list of closed-down establishments in this book and to read many of the interviewees’ comments to realise that we are now well past the acme of clubland. Gradual changes in fashion, technology and the economy have had damaging effects on the club movement, just as they have hit many other areas of society and industry in recent years. Pubs, too, have suffered immensely. Doncaster, for example, has only a fraction of the town-centre ‘real’ pubs that once graced its streets a few decades ago. The new glass-fronted theme bars that have sprung up are now the norm for many young people, and they represent the typical venue for a ‘good night out’. The traditional pub or working men’s club is today perceived by some as dull and old-fashioned by comparison. Record shops have closed down, the dance halls are long-gone, musical instrument shops are struggling, and the town now only boasts one cinema when at one time, each suburb and mining village had at least one of its own. Many interviewees have questioned whether change actually represents progress, or is just for the sake of profit and the advancement of consumerism. This vast array of distractions that can be used to fill our leisure time is a relatively recent phenomenon, marking a distinct difference in social behaviour from previous eras, even into the 1970s and 1980s. The main areas of growth are television and the internet, both of which offer a bewildering surfeit of ‘entertainment’ and engagement. Today’s sensory overload contrasts strongly with the meagre ration of just three terrestrial television channels that kept the population entertained until 1982.226 This constant bombardment by electronic media is cynically designed to turn everybody into passive consumers, accessing their own entertainment from the solitude of the home. What a contrast this ‘new’ way of life offers, compared to that of the working men’s clubs! Clubs are about sociability, interaction, self-organisation, the enjoyment of other people’s company, and the realisation that the ‘here and now’ is what is actually important, not the vicarious and remote observation of celebrity culture. Add the low price of supermarket beer to this equation, and the insidious tentacles of consumerism seem like a potent force, battling against much of what the clubs stand for. 95 “ Sky has a lot to do with it, Sky Sports. It all seemed to coincide with when Sky came out. When Sky came out, it was £40 per week, really expensive. A lot of my mates had it; they said, ‘Look, I’m not spending all this money to go out and not watch it.’ So they used to stay in, have a few cans, and all of a sudden, when you start to stop 227 in, it’s funny how it catches you. You don’t want to go out. ” “ That is something I’ve seen disappear slowly: that camaraderie. Everybody in the same thing together, anything that’s going for the club, let’s support it and pay the money in, always willing to help, 228 plenty of people for committees and all that sort of thing. ” “ We need to start educating the younger generation. Working men’s clubs have always been well renowned for old guys who have 229 just finished work, old committees, this that and the other. ” “ The main thing is the amount of people coming. Definitely, it’s deteriorated really, really badly, especially on Saturday and Sunday nights, I’m sad to say. It’s not just this club: me and my wife, we don’t go abroad, but we go all over the country, and when we go, we go to working men’s clubs. It’s the same everywhere you go now. It’s really sad. In fact, we went to Blackpool a fortnight ago and [of] the three clubs we normally go to, one had closed down and the others didn’t even open at dinner time. When you look at this club [Intake Social], it’s doing remarkably well compared to a 230 lot of clubs you go into. ” “ Turn the clock back 30 years: no plasma TVs, no 100 channels, no PlayStations, no videos. If you look, you’ve now got in-house entertainment, haven’t you? You’ve got the full range. You think, ‘Do I want a beer?’ You can go to Tesco, Budweiser at 50 pence a bottle. The only negative is you’ve got 75% of what you would like. The drawback is, ‘Would I like to talk to somebody?’ That’s the 231 difference, and what are you going to pay for that? ” “ I don’t think they’ll ever close in villages, because it’s a meeting place isn’t it, and as I’ve told you, when we used to go, it was with his cousins, with relatives. I don’t think that’ll come to a halt. But I don’t know you see, it’s a long time since I’ve been in a club. I don’t 232 know what they’re thinking now. “ “ “ ” The ones who’ll moan are the people who never use it, and I’ll say if you had used it, it would probably still be open today. Members who never go in - there’s probably two thousand members at the Wheatley club - but you can’t get a hundred people in. Where are they all? Why be a member of a club and not use the facilities? 233 It’s crazy. ” 96 They just need to move with the times, and that’s happening in a lot of clubs: they just haven’t moved with the times. They need to 234 know [how] to keep up with everything that’s going off. ” Since the pit shut, it’s killed a lot of them. It was the lifeline for 235 the clubs. ” “ Yeah, mainly miners. They used to have colliers on Monday, all supping, playing the dominoes handicap [laughs]. They used to shift loads and loads of coal on Monday. There was dust in here. The mines shutting down had a huge effect. Two big employers 237 round here shut down. That’s what killed it. ” “ They say, ‘We’re going to town,’ don’t they, the young ones now. They’ll go to town for a drink. Drink is taking too much 238 importance now. “ ” I would like to think that clubs provide a facility within the community, I really do. I mean, I’m a club man so it would be remiss of me to say anything different to that, but they’ll struggle. In fact, I would suggest here that most clubs in the Doncaster area are struggling at this moment in time. Financially, the economy is not very good at the moment, and so the only way that clubs really 238 are getting revenue is from over the bar. ” “ This one will [survive]. The clientele keep this place ticking 239 over. It’s not changed much. That’s what’s helping it. ” “ Hopefully, I think a lot of them will survive, but a lot of them are closing down now, and I can’t see them opening again. The youngsters, we’re not getting the youngsters in here now, where they’re more interested in their computers and their what-have-you. I should say the average age in here now is 45. I can’t see them surviving later on. We’ll survive. I think we’ll always survive, not just because of the brewery, but because of the committees we have 240 and the general overseeing of everything. ” “ I think at the moment we’re doing very well. We’re doing alright, but there’s no future in it is there? When you really think about it, there’s no young kids like there used to be. The truth is, well, we’re trying. It’s you old gits that won’t let them come in. We get one or too young kids coming in, but the problem is that we’re trying to educate them, you know. The idea is not to get off your head, because that’s the thing now isn’t it? You go drinking and make yourself poorly with it. You should have a game of darts, dominoes, pool, whatever you want to do, and go home stood up. They don’t they want to be flat out. We get one or two in playing snooker and pool. There’s not that many because of the size of the villages. They’re the future members though, that’s the thing, but 241 half of them stop their membership. ” 97 98 Left: Monday afternoon at the Social 99 “ Young people now don’t want Bingo and that . . . Young people now want to be stood at the bar with a bottle in their hand, Budweiser or something like that. That’s all they want. They don’t want entertainment; they don’t want anything. We’ve paid hundreds and hundreds of pounds over the years, and it’s never 242 brought any more in. ” “ They’re not surviving; they’re going down, and why are they going down? I can answer that in one. I’ve said it before: it’s 243 smoking. Got to give us a smoking room, that’s all we ask. ” “ Everybody’s changed; their tastes have changed. They have this loud music, and they’re not satisfied until they have it 244 full blast. “ ” Pubs are struggling. The whole licensed trade is struggling. And if you ask members of the licensed trade why they think they are struggling currently, I’m sure the majority would answer, ‘Supermarkets’. Supermarkets sell liquor, whether it’s spirits or beer, they can sell it far, far cheaper than clubs can even buy it. They are selling it and making a profit from that, and they can sell it cheaper than what clubs are buying. There’s something 245 wrong there. “ ” A lot of jobs have gone. You’ve only got to take Wheatley Hall Road now. ICI, they’ve gone. They had three to four thousand workers. Crompton Lighting are still there but only just. Burton’s Tailors, Leger Bakery, Harvesters had three or four thousand. The Plant, that had about eleven thousand in its heyday, all those type of people. And it was a continuation of what your father did as well. Your dad went in; you went in; your older brothers went in. Your first drinking hole, really, you went in with your brothers. They 246 looked after you, basically. “ ” What I’m trying to generate here is a younger atmosphere. Like on Fridays, I’ve got a younger DJ for the night time, but also incorporate where functions can be brought in for a free venue hire and free DJ on Friday evening to try and generate the public back through the door again. Golf clubs found that they were so cliquey that they had four-year waiting lists. What they found was that, as their older members were dying, they weren’t doing anything for the younger generation, and they ran out of membership. They 247 forgot to cater for the younger generation as times go by. ” 100 “ It gets harder, because as I say, I’m in my eighties, and let’s be fair about it: you’re not up to doing as much as you did when you were forty, or even sixty. What you want is for some younger people to be interested, but they seem to think they’re generating enough money to do without half of these things, but you’re not, you see. “ It’s not because of cheap beer in the supermarkets, it’s too dear here in pubs. It’s that that’s the problem, not the supermarkets. If supermarkets can sell it at that price, then they should be able to sell it in the pubs at that price. But they have these conglomerates, all these pubs. They have to buy the beer off them at their price. 252 They’ve got to pay their rent. ” “ We came out of our committee meeting at ten past eight, and there was three in - I counted ‘em. Then, I counted again at half past eight, and there were twelve in. Artists come on and it’s degrading for the entertainment as well when they see a concert 253 room the size that we’ve got and there’s nobody in. ” “ The social side gradually diminished from the 1970s onwards, and we can always say, well, it’s a move towards individualism as a nation, Thatcherism and all that crap, look after yourself. Clubs started declining from then, and it’s where we’ve ended up now. Frank says the Top Club’s great - yes, it’s a good club, but it’s owned 254 by one person; it’s not a working men’s club anymore. ” Above and opposite: Highfields WMC “ You won’t get those days back; they’ve gone; they’ve gone, 255 definitely. “ You know what, we’ve talked about turns, well, it’s all money that’s going out and it’s all got to be found, even if there’s only ten people in the room. We haven’t got to that level like, but as an example, that turn still wants paying, even though they’re 248 entertaining nobody. “ ” Years ago, the only thing you did when you finished work, there were two things: you either watched telly - and there was only a couple of channels then - or you’d go out for a pint and a game of snooker. Now, you’ve got a hundred and one things to do, as 249 opposed to just going out for a pint. “ ” In years gone past, if you weren’t in this club by 7.00pm on New Year’s Eve, you didn’t get a seat. You couldn’t get in. They stopped them. If you let them in the bar, they’d sneak into the concert room. They’d sit on beer crates, anything just to sit down. This New Year’s Eve, you could have got a seat anywhere in the club at 8.00pm. It’s changing times. It’s 25 years since it was that good. It’s just been a steady decline, this is how I seen it anyway, it was a steady decline and then all of a sudden, it was a drop, a real drop. On times like Christmas Eve, they used to queue outside the door, and they’d got snap250 with ‘em, sandwiches for later on. We used to 251 have some blinding nights, took good money. “ ” What I’m trying to do is bring a bit of town into a working man’s club, a bit of pub into a working mans club. Then basically, we’re going more up-market with live entertainment, because where a lot of the clubs have gone wrong or they’ve served their course in certain areas is they’ve started scrimping on live entertainment, and they’ve started thinking that they can get away with a £150 solo or a duo and still make the same money. You can’t do it. People start seeing what you’re doing, and then basically, they go, ‘They’re nipping and tucking. We’ll start looking elsewhere for live entertainment.’ What we’ve actually done is we’ve come in and said, ‘Right, OK, we’ll stick with the solo acts for a couple of months until we actually develop it, and then . . . let’s entertain, let’s do all the marketing, let’s do everything. If we lose, fine, but what people are going to see is changing in regard to different 256 aspects of what this village is. ” ” 101 The locals enjoy a cigarette outside Armthorpe Social Club 102 The smoking ban and its effect on clubs At 06.00 BST on Sunday July 1st 2007, the government enforced a smoking ban in enclosed public spaces. Individuals breaking this law could be fined up to £200, whilst businesses could expect to pay up to £2500. “ I can remember coming back to Kilnhurst club after a club trip, I’d be six or seven years old, and just for that night, you were allowed to go in the club with your parents . . . There was that much smoke in the concert room, because they’d got a turn on, there was that much smoke that it made your eyes run, I mean we were just kids and weren’t used to that 257 sort of thing. ” “ What are killing the clubs are the supermarkets, cheap beer. You can go and get three cases for £20. You can sit at home; you can have a fag, have a drink when you want. People in here, it’s the centre of the community to me, the club. You used to come in, have a drink and have a fag, not go out there when it’s throwing it down or blowing a gale, snow. People used to like to come in, have a pint, ashtray on the table and have a fag. It doesn’t happen now. People have got used to going out, but still, why do we have to go out there? I mean it’s alright in the summer, but come the winter, you say, ‘I’ve got to go out again and it’s 258 snowing!’ “ ” It’s disgusting how they can sell lossleading products at supermarkets, and then we can’t compete against that. The writing was on the wall with the smoking ban. They should, in hindsight, have given you one room that you could smoke in, so you could have sent them in to the TV room out of the way. People who couldn’t smoke in clubs would go to the supermarket for their fags, and then they got used to it and thought to themselves, ‘Hey, this is great.’ They can sell it cheaper than we can buy it in. The corporations and the government and all this lot keep trying this and that, but there’s that much money involved in supermarkets with the shareholders and politicians, they aren’t bothered about 259 working men’s clubs. ” “ Where can the smoker go? You’ve got Albert and Ernie who come in regardless of the weather. They like to come in and have a smoke . . . and now they’re not going to come in, they’ll stay at home. They’re not going to want to be kicked out in the cold. We haven’t . . . been allowed to put that facility on for them inside the 260 venue. ” Until recently, cigarette smoke and club atmospheres were almost synonymous. It is still easy to envisage a large, poorly ventilated concert room on a Friday or Saturday night, where the performer would be watched through an everthickening haze. Everybody went home smelling of smoke, but not many people seemed to mind particularly – this was the way things had always been, and was, therefore, accepted as normal. The smoking ban was enforced blanket-fashion across the country though, and coming at a time when the club trade was already in decline, its effect accelerated this trend. Today, even non-smokers in Doncaster’s clubs think that the ban was illconceived and uncompromising in its approach. Most people think that each club should have its own discrete smoking room, rather like a snug or small lounge, fitted with efficient extractor fans. This would give people the option of staying indoors to smoke whilst still reserving the bulk of the club as a smoke-free zone. In local clubs, there are regular references to the fact that the smoking ban is not actually law in the Houses of Parliament. As a Royal Palace, the seat of government enjoys Crown Immunity from the anti-smoking law. MPs are expected to smoke outdoors in designated areas, but technically, they can’t be fined for smoking indoors. “ Lots of people don’t come, particularly during winter. You’re all right out there when it’s balmy, but when it’s snowing, it keeps people away. People’ll not come out when they can smoke in their houses. I can’t smoke in my house so it doesn’t make a deal of difference; I have to go outside 261 anyway. “ ” It’s killed ‘em now cos, I mean, no disrespect, it’s non-smoking, you see, that’s killed ‘em. To be honest with you, I can understand what they’re doing, and I have no problems with that, but that’s why it’s killed pubs. I don’t smoke now like I used to do, but when I used to, I used to go for a pint and a fag with it . . . It’s killing pubs, killing clubs particularly. 262 That’s what I think is happening. ” “ It’s killed a lot of atmosphere, because you could be having the crack with the lads, then you go for a fag and when you get back, the atmosphere, it’s not the same. When you go back, it’s killed it. You’re removing people, taking them out of that atmosphere, and they come back in and say, ‘Just had a fag, just been talking to so and so,’ but that atmosphere doesn’t carry on from having a fag to coming 263 back in. ” 103 104 'Save the Working Men's Clubs and the Entertainment Industry' The future for Doncaster’s clubs is not entirely bleak. At Intake Social Club, the concert secretary, Shaun Whittaker, has recently formed a campaign group called Save the Working Men’s Clubs and the Entertainment Industry, the aim of which is to encourage people to act positively in helping clubs to survive in the 21st century. Shaun decided to exploit the internet and create a Facebook group that will publicise news and events from clubs and that will act as a forum for discussion for people who want to develop the ways that clubs operate in the current climate. “ Clubs have decided to just go off on their own and just do their own thing and not be part of the community, and it’s been lost, and that’s the idea basically . . . to try it get the community back in. The big statement on Facebook is ‘Intake Club 264 bringing the community together.’ ” “ I just turned the laptop on one morning and saw that the news headlines said that the government had raised the unit alcohol price, I think it was, to about 25p, and this was to try and combat the cheap drinks in the supermarkets. I thought, ‘That’s not going to make one hell of a difference,’ and I was fuming at what they thought they were trying to achieve, and it wasn’t going to achieve anything. So I just set up this group, and it just ricocheted from there. That was on the 265 18th of January. ” “ Intake Social Club In between his secretarial duties, Shaun works tirelessly at his campaign, trying to drag the leviathans of clubland and the CIU into the 21st-century virtual world. He realises that the exploitation of new media could be the key to accessing new audiences and hopefully creating a new generation of younger club-users. The Save the Working Men’s Clubs and the Entertainment Industry campaign has already attracted a great deal of publicity, including numerous television and newspaper stories, and the web site receives an impressive amount of hits each day. The next stage is to produce a set of free, online materials in the form of an ‘information and ideas’ pack. Clubs will be able to access these resources freely and adapt them to their needs, hopefully gaining new ideas about how to develop the services they offer and attract more customers to new events. What we have started on there is like a What’s On Guide - it’s like free advertising. It’s Facebook; Facebook is completely free. What we’ve started doing is, let’s say this Saturday, [in the] What’s On Guide, anyone can post what’s on in their venue, and you can share it on your page so all your friends are going to 266 see it. ” 105 106 Into the 21st century Clubs will survive in future years, but they will have to adapt to the fast pace of change in society. Some clubs will close, whilst others will continue to do well. Sometimes, it is difficult to pinpoint why this is the case; occasionally though, the answer is quite evident. As many interviewees have said, there is a need to bring more young people into clubs and to make use of these fantastic venues. Maybe the clubs could become part of the national live music scene. They are perfectly sized venues with excellent facilities, and one can already see examples of local music nights that feature original bands and draw in a completely new and younger clientele. As non-profit-making organisations and community centres, the clubs might also be able to access public funding to support and broaden the services that they provide to the community. As we have seen, they are the focus of many communities and are not just about alcohol consumption and good nights out. They offer much, much more than that to local people. The spirit and initiative that founded the original clubs must now be used to keep them alive in years to come. “ Clubs will survive, but only a smaller number of clubs. We’re already losing too many, but the better ones, the best supported ones, will survive, providing they are run correctly. So the properly run, the best-run clubs, the best-supported clubs will survive, there’s 267 no doubt of that. ” 107 108 Bibliography Adeney, M., and Lloyd, J., The Miners’ Strike 1984-5: Loss Without Limit (RKP, 1986). Bailey, P., Leisure and Class in Victorian England: Rational Recreation and the Contest for Control, 1830-1885 (Routledge, 2010). Bloomfield, B., Boanas, G. and Samuel, R., The Enemy Within: pit villages and the miners’ strike of 1984-5 (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986). Coekin, C., Knock Three Times: Working Men, Social Clubs and Other Stories (Dewi Lewis, Stockport, 2006). Elvin, G., (Ed. Peter Tuffrey), Doncaster’s Trades and Labour Clubs, (Geoff Elvin, Doncaster, no date). Holden, T., Queen Coal (Sutton, London, 2005). Milne, S., The Enemy Within: Thatcher’s Secret War against the Miners (Verso, London, 2004). Orwell, G., The Road to Wigan Pier (Penguin Classics, 2001). Samuel, R. (Ed.), History Workshop Series: People’s History and Socialist Theory (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1981). Samuel, R., Island Stories. Unravelling Britain. Theatres of Memory Volume II (Verso, London, 1998). Samuel, R., ‘Local History and Oral History’, History Workshop, No. 1 (Spring, 1976), pp. 191-208. Samuel, R. (Ed.), Miners, Quarrymen and Saltworkers (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1977). Samuel, R., Theatres of Memory (Verso, London, 1994). Samuel, R. & Thompson, P., The Myths We Live By (Routledge, London, 1990). Solly, H., Working Men, a Glance at Some of their Wants, with Reasons and Suggestions for Helping them to Help Themselves, (Bell & Daldy, London, 1863). Solly, H., Working Men’s Social Clubs and Educational Institutes (1867) (Kessinger Publishing, 2009) Thompson, P., The Voice of the Past: Oral History, 3rd Edition (OUP, Oxford, 2000). Thornton, J., All the Fun of the Fight (Doncaster Library Service, 1987). Tremlett, G., Clubmen:the History of the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union (Secker & Warburg, London, 1987). Waddington, D., Critcher, C. and Wykes, M., Split at the Seams? Community, Continuity and Change After the 1984 Coal Dispute (Open University Press, Milton Keynes, 1990). 109 110 Picture credits Cover Picture: Regulars at Armthorpe Social Club. All pictures Real-to-Reel Media, apart from the following: CIU Journals and CIU Benefits leaflet, courtesy of the CIU; Balby Ashmount, Toll Bar House and Stainforth WMC, courtesy of Geoff Elvin; Bill Bridgin, courtesy of Dunscroft Social Club; CIU Certificate, courtesy of Norton Coronation Club; Bert Weedon publicity, courtesy of www.bertweedon.com; Wheatley Club Accounts, courtesy of Wheatley WMC; Regulars at the Scala, club steward’s dinner and dance 1958, courtesy of Dr Richard Stevens; Club welcomes an Italian visitor in the early 1980s, courtesy of Sue Forbes; The Doncaster CIU area, courtesy of the CIU; Carcroft Village Club, Old Scala Club, Barnburgh Club and the Liberal Club, The Old Dispensary and Old Trades Club, Balby Bridge and Asmount Committees, courtesy of Geoff Elvin; The Comrades club in the 1950s, Fire at the Old Volunteer, Trades Club in the Northern Bus Station, courtesy of Doncaster Local Studies Library; Norton Coronation committee, courtesy of Norton Coronation Club; The Venue adverts and articles, Doncaster Free Press 1970, The Free Press 5th December, 1968, Dickie and Dotty, courtesy of Barry Crabtree and Doncaster Free Press; Gig reviews, courtesy of Lyn O’Hara; A typical hand-written score, original composition by Dave Lane; Dennis Stevens behind the bar of the old Scala club, courtesy of Dr Richard Stevens; Aim Studios brochure, courtesy of Howard Johnson; Chris Carr publicity shot, courtesy of Chris Carr; Carlo Paul Santana, Intake Social Jubilee week, Tony Adams and Grandad, Wild Oates in concert in the early 1980s, Wild Oates publicity shot, courtesy of Intake Social Club; Askern Club trip, courtesy of Doncaster Star; Carcroft Club Dinner and Trip Letter to the Venue, courtesy of Barry Crabtree and Doncaster Free Press; Dunscroft Club trip, courtesy of Dunscroft Social Club; Jock Forbes’ plaque at Wheatley Club, courtesy of Sue Forbes; members awards, Ray Reardon, courtesy of Intake Social Club; Ikey’s skiffle group, courtesy of Dunscroft Social Club; Intake life member’s annual party, courtesy of Intake Social Club; Lord Halifax presents the Halifax Trophy to Brodsworth Main Colliery Officials’ Club, John Lowe, Ray Reardon’s visit, courtesy of Intake Social Club; Miss Queen of the clubs, courtesy of Intake Social Club. 111 References Working men’s club is often used as a generic term for establishments that are also called social clubs, working men’s institutes, miners’ welfare clubs and so on. The main criterion for such categorisation is affiliation to the CIU or Working Men’s Club and Institute Union, but there are many committee-run and privately run clubs in the Doncaster area that can still be classed as working men’s clubs, despite not being CIU-affiliated. 1 2 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, 04.04.11, Graceholme Social Club 24 25 Stirling Centre, part one, 16.03.11 26 Geoff Elvin, Trades Club, 11.03.11 27 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 28 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 29 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 30 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 Lord Roseby, Union president, 1875. Unitarianism is a liberal Christian creed that believes in one God, in contrast to the Christian Holy Trinity. 3 Solly had previously established the Working Men’s Mutual Improvement and Recreation Society in Lancaster in 1860. 4 From Intake Social Club’s web site, http:// intakesocialclubdoncaster.webs.com/whoweare.htm 55 Concertina Club, 13.04.11, David and John Spencer 1 56 Concertina Club, 13.04.11, David and John Spencer 1 57 Pauline and Ken Young interview, 16.06.11 58 Highfields Group, 31.03.11, Alan Chadwick 59 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 60 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 61 Dave Lane, 06.06.11 62 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 63 Pete and friends, Comrades, 17.05.11 64 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 65 Dave Lane, 06.06.11 66 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 67 Jimmy Cook, 16.04.11 68 Pete and friends, Comrades, 17.05.11 69 Steve Howes, interview 01.03.11. 70 Pete and friends, Comrades, 17.05.11 71 Dave Lane, 06.06.11 72 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 73 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 74 Intake Social Club, 10.03.11, Shaun Whittaker 75 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 76 Dave Lane, 06.06.11 77 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 78 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 79 Dave Lane, 06.06.11 80 Clay Lane Group, 25.04.11 81 Dave Lane, 06.06.11 82 Dave Lane, 06.06.11 31 5 Bailey, P., Leisure and Class in Victorian England: Rational Recreation and the Contest for Control, 1830-1885 (Routledge, 2010), p.124. From Rev. Henry Solly’s initial manifesto, c.1861. Source: Tremlett, G., Clubmen:the History of the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union (Secker & Warburg, London, 1987), p.13. CMD: Club Management Diploma, a course run by the CIU which covers club law, administration and accountancy. 32 6 The first example is Rev F W Robertson’s Brighton Working Men’s Institute of 1849, which spawned other similar organisations across the country, such as the South Shields Working Men’s Institute. 33 Dave Gravel, Trades Club, 15.06.11 34 Dave Gravel, Trades Club, 11.03.11 35 Sue Forbes, Rebound, 10.05.11 36 Derek and Pat, Denaby Main Institute, 01.07.11 37 Moira, club stewardess, Norton Coronation Club, 14.06.11 38 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 39 Joanne, Bullcroft Officials’ Club, 02.07.11 40 Moira, club stewardess, Norton Coronation Club, 14.06.11 41 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 7 Solly, H., Working Men’s Social Clubs and Educational Institutes (1867) (Kessinger Publishing, 2009), p.10. 8 9 Ibid, p.15. 10 Note that the CIU is non-political. There is actually only one CIU club in the Republic of Ireland: the City of Dublin Working Men’s Club. 11 12 Dave Gravel, Trades Club, 11.03.11 42 Pete and friends, Comrades, 17.05.11 13 Dave Gravel, Trades Club, 11.03.11 43 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin, Terry, John & Helen 44 Pete and friends, Comrades, 17.05.11 45 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Ray Bird 46 Sue Forbes, Rebound, 10.05.11 47 Wheatley Club Committee, 06.07.11 48 Pauline and Ken Young interview, 16.06.11 Highfields Group, 31.03.11, Florence Riley, Mrs B. Thakrah, Mrs B. Booth, Beatrice Lisyk, Kath Musgrove 14 15 Orwell, G., The Road to Wigan Pier (Penguin Classics, 2001), p.79. Special thanks to Norman Poulson and John Wilson for this story. 16 17 Dunscroft Social, 14.03.11, Charlie Jones, Harry Church Mexborough Group 1, Mexborough Day Centre, 30.03.11, Sylvia, Barbara Lydia and Lily 1 49 18 Dunscroft Social, 14.03.11, Charlie Jones, Harry Church 19 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 50 Geoff Elvin, Trades Club, 11.03.11 83 Dave Lane, 06.06.11 20 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 51 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 84 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Evelyn, Rob Laver and Gwen 21 Geoff Elvin, Trades Club, 11.03.11 52 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 85 Dave Lane, 06.06.11 22 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Evelyn, Rob Laver and Gwen 53 Pete and friends, Comrades, 17.05.11 86 23 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 54 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 112 The Road Safety Act of 1967 introduced the first legal maximum blood alcohol (drink driving) limit in the UK. The limit was set at a maximum BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood or the equivalent 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine. It became an offence to drive, attempt to drive or be in charge of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration that exceeded the maximum prescribed legal limit. Source: http://www.drinkdriving.org/drink_driving_information_ uklawhistory.php 87 88 Richard Stevens, 01.04.11 91 Geoff Elvin, Trades Club, 11.03.11 92 Dave Gravel, Trades Club, 11.03.11 93 ‘Secret Service’ band interview, 04.05.11 94 ‘Secret Service’ band interview, 04.05.11 95 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Ray Bird 96 Intake Social Club, 10.03.11, Shaun Whittaker 98 99 117 Jimmy Cook and Co, 16.04.11 118 Stirling Centre, part one, 16.03.11 119 Pauline and Ken Young interview, 16.06.11 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 90 Mexborough Group 1, Mexborough Day Centre, 30.03.11, Sylvia, Barbara Lydia and Lily 1 102 Sue Forbes, Rebound, 10.05.11 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 148 Bullcroft Officials’ group, 02.07.11 149 Armthorpe Social group, 23.05.11 150 Sue Forbes, Rebound, 10.05.11 151 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Mike Atkinson 152 Sue Forbes, Rebound, 10.05.11 153 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin Walker 122 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin, Terry, John & Helen 154 Shaun Whittaker, 12.04.11 123 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 155 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin, Terry, John & Helen 124 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 156 Concertina Club, 13.04.11, David and John Spencer 1 125 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 126 Stirling Centre, part one, 16.03.11 157 Highfields Group, 31.03.11, Florence Riley, Mrs B. Thakrah, Mrs B. Booth, Beatrice Lisyk, Kath Musgrove 127 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 128 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 129 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Ray Bird 130 Jimmy Cook and Co, 16.04.11 Mexborough Group 1 , Mexborough Day Centre, 30.03.11, Sylvia, Barbara Lydia and Lily 1 158 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 159 Highfields Group, 31.03.11, Chairwoman 160 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 161 Highfields Group, 31.03.11, Alan Chadwick 162 Armthorpe Social group, 23.05.11 163 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Ray Bird 164 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 165 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 166 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 167 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 168 Dunscroft Social, 14.03.11, Charlie Jones, Harry Church 169 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin, Terry, John & Helen 170 Armthorpe Social group, 23.05.11 171 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin Walker 172 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Evelyn, Rob Laver and Gwen 173 Clay Lane Group, 25.04.11 174 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Evelyn, Rob Laver and Gwen 175 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 176 Dunscroft Social, 14.03.11, Charlie Jones, Harry Church 177 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Evelyn, Rob Laver and Gwen 131 132 Mexborough Group 1, Mexborough Day Centre, 30.03.11, Sylvia, Barbara Lydia and Lily 133 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Rob Laver 134 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 135 Stirling centre, 09.03.1, Evelyn, Rob Laver and Gwen 136 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Rob Laver 137 Charlotte Rawson, 07.07.11 138 Derek and Pat, Denaby Main Institute, 01.07.11 139 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 140 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 141 Armthorpe Social group, 23.05.11 142 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 143 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Evelyn, Rob Laver and Gwen 144 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 145 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 Derek and Pat, Denaby Main Institute, 01.07.11 Stan Pearson interview, 12.05.11 Pauline and Ken Young interview, 16.06.11 Sue Forbes, Rebound, 10.05.11 Stirling Centre, part one, 16.03.11 Wheatley Club Committee, 06.07.11 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin Walker Highfields Group, 31.03.11, Alan Chadwick Ten shillings, equivalent to 50p today. Concertina Club, 13.04.11, David and John Spencer 1 Dunscroft Social 14.03.11, Charlie Jones 114 Highfields Group, 31.03.11, Florence Riley, Mrs B. Thakrah, Mrs B. Booth, Beatrice Lisyk, Kath Musgrove 147 Sue Forbes, Rebound, 10.05.11 Dave Lane, 06.06.11 Clay Lane Group, 25.04.11 Sue Forbes, Rebound, 10.05.11 121 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 101 146 120 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 100 Special thanks to former Clay Lane members, Norman Poulson, Alan Cartwright and John Wilson for their eye-witness account of Oliver Reed’s visit. Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin Walker 116 Mexborough Group 1 , Mexborough Day Centre, 30.03.11, Sylvia, Barbara Lydia and Lily 1 Howard Johnson, interview 15.04.11. 89 Mexborough Group 1 , Mexborough Day Centre, 30.03.11, Sylvia, Barbara Lydia and Lily 1 97 115 113 178 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin Walker 179 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 180 181 182 209 Highfields Group, 31.03.11, Florence Riley, Mrs B. Thakrah, Mrs B. Booth, Beatrice Lisyk, Kath Musgrove Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Les Simms 241 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 242 Dunscroft Social 14.03.11 Charlie Jones 243 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 210 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Mike Atkinson 211 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 212 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 213 Stirling Centre, part two, 16.03.11 214 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Rob Laver 245 Geoff Elvin, Trades Club, 11.03.11 Jimmy Cook, 16.04.11 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 183 Highfields Group, 31.03.11, Florence Riley, Mrs B. Thakrah, Mrs B. Booth, Beatrice Lisyk, Kath Musgrove 240 244 Mexborough Group 1 , Mexborough Day Centre, 30.03.11, Sylvia, Barbara Lydia and Lily 1 184 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 215 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Evelyn, Rob Laver and Gwen 246 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 185 Dunscroft Social 14.03.11, Charlie Jones 216 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Evelyn, Rob Laver and Gwen 247 Paul, Askern Spa Club, 21.06.11 186 Armthorpe Social group, 23.05.11 217 Geoff Elvin, Trades Club, 11.03.11 248 Dunscroft Social, 14.03.11, Charlie Jones, Harry Church 187 Armthorpe Social group, 23.05.11 218 Mexborough Group 1, Mexborough Day Centre, 30.03.11, Sylvia, Barbara Lydia and Lily 249 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 250 Food, for those outside Yorkshire 251 Dunscroft Social 14.03.11, Charlie Jones 252 Concertina Club, 13.04.11, David and John Spencer 1 253 Dunscroft Social 14.03.11 Charlie Jones 254 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 255 Jimmy Cook and Co, 16.04.11 256 Paul, Askern Spa Club, 21.06.11 257 Concertina Club, 13.04.11, David and John Spencer 1 258 Highfields Group, 31.03.11, Alan Chadwick 259 Wheatley Club Committee, 06.07.11 260 Shaun Whittaker, 12.04.11 261 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Ray Bird 262 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Rob Laver 263 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin Walker 264 Shaun Whittaker, 12.04.11 265 Shaun Whittaker, 12.04.11 266 Shaun Whittaker, 12.04.11 267 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 188 Fees for such appearances could easily run in to the thousands of pounds, even in the early 1980s. 219 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Rob Laver 189 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 220 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 190 Derek and Pat, Denaby Main Institute, 01.07.11 221 Concertina Club, 13.04.11, David and John Spencer 2 191 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 222 Stirling Centre, part one, 16.03.11 192 Jimmy Cook and Co, 16.04.11 223 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 193 Wheatley Club Committee, 06.07.11 224 Bullcroft Officialsâ€™ Club group, 02.07.11 194 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 225 Ray Trevors and Anne Holland, 07.07.11 195 Jimmy Cook, 16.04.11 226 Channel 4 began broadcasting on 2nd November, 1982 196 Dunscroft Social 14.03.11, Charlie Jones 227 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 197 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 228 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 198 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 229 Paul, Askern Spa Club, 21.06.11 199 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 230 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Mike Atkinson 200 Intake Social Club, 01.03.11, Tom & Alan 231 Jimmy Cook and Co, 16.04.11 232 Stirling centre, 09.03.11, Evelyn, Rob Laver and Gwen 233 Don & Barry, 13.05.11 234 Shaun Whittaker, 12.04.11 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.11, Colin, Terry, John & Helen Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.2011, Colin, Terry, John & Helen 201 202 By Stephanie Condron, The Telegraph, 02 Apr 2007, page not known 203 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 235 204 Frank Arrowsmith and Andy Summers, Graceholme, 04.04.11 205 Jimmy Cook, 16.04.11 Mexborough Group 1 , Mexborough Day Centre, 30.03.11, Sylvia, Barbara Lydia and Lily 1 206 Sue Forbes, Rebound, 10.05.11 207 Wheatley Club Committee, 06.07.11 208 Moira, club stewardess, Norton Coronation Club, 14.06.11 114 236 237 John Bryan and Tosh, Norton Coronation Club, 08.06.11 238 Geoff Elvin, Trades Club, 11.03.11 239 Armthorpe Social Club, 16.05.2011, Colin, Terry, John & Helen 115 About this book This project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and coordinated by Real-to-Reel Media. In early 2011, Real-to-Reel spent six months working with local clubs, community groups and day centres in Doncaster. Over this time, we accumulated a unique archive of interviews, photographs and video, representing the working men’s clubs of today and people’s memories of them in previous generations. In The Working Men’s Clubs of Doncaster, you will find some of the fascinating stories and images that have been collected for the project. The web site, www.workingmensclubs.org, contains more archive materials and instructions on how to contribute your own media in the form of text, audio, video and photographs. Edited by Dave Angel www.hlf.org.uk 116 www.realtoreelmedia.co.uk