A sporting chance

It’s all been a bit Walsall Wood lately. Here’s a bit of Brownhills ephemera.

Fresh from the bits and bobs box under [Howmuch?]’s sideboard: possibly the only photo I’ve ever seen of The Sportsman/Huntsman, the prefabricated, hideously ugly pub/club that stood on the land now occupied by the rather more aesthetically pleasing Smithy’s Forge. I had no idea it started life as a Working Men’s Club. I assume that’s the railway station building in the background with the tall chiney.

Anybody reading this know the full story? It’s come as a bit of a surprise to me. I thought the building was later than that, and I don’t quite recall a ‘concert hall’ being part of it, although it was a long, long time ago.

I’m also after a better picture, if anyone has one.

The article is from the Walsall Observer, July 5th, 1958.

July 5th, 1958 Walsall Observer image of the unfinished building that would become a local legend. I well remember the inset balcony at the top.

The article accompanying the above image read as follows:

Click for a larger, slightly more legible version.

Building To Start Again Shortly

After a lapse of about three months, work on the partly constructed new premises for Brownhills Workingmen’s Club in Lichfield Road, is to be recommence in the near future.

‘There is no truth in the story that the scheme will be abandoned,’ he added.

[Bob’s note: looks like bad edits were a problem, even then. Who said that?]

When completed the new club will incorporate a spacious concert hall, a feature that will be welcomed by the large membership, as lack of this accommodation in the old building has curtailed social events.

When work on the new site stopped because of unforeseen difficulties, there were rumours that the scheme had been abandoned because of financial problems. It was even said, one member told the ‘Observer’ that the partially completed building were to be converted into a maternity home.

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17 Comments

  • Dave cresswell

    My stepdad took me there one Sunday to see a drag act. I was only a kid and we also saw father Christmas and had coach trips from the working men’s club when I was a kid

     
    Reply
  • D.Evans

    Hi Bob
    was this Plumbers Paradise at one time…? Where was the Dolric nightclub?

    cheers
    David

     
    Reply
    • Hi David.

      You have the better of me there – I’ve never heard of either! But then, that’s not unusual. I can remember going in – and it was very harshly lit, like a school room. I remember the red panels, and washing flapping on the balcony on a windy day. And the rough shale car park.

      Like many clubs, there must be loads of pictures about, but it’s finding them. Think of all the day trips that set off from them. People must have taken snaps.

      Best wishes

      Bob

       
      Reply
    • Caz

      HI Bob n David,
      Plumbers paradise was definately in that vicinity…….i went and got a sink unit from there when we brought a mobile home on sandfield farm….that would have been about 1982.
      My sister and her hubby went to the club in their courting days,late 60’s early 70’s and it was known as the Top Club.

       
      Reply
  • Tarka

    Unsure about Plumbers Paradise, but the Dolric was whats now the nursing home on Hednesford Rd.
    As for the Sportsman (may have been ugly but the BEST pub in the hillls by far) it had a function room upstairs – never heard it called a ‘concert hall’ before!

     
    Reply
  • David Evans

    Hi Bob
    scratching my head..vague ..possibly coffee rooms or tea rooms before..possibly linked to early train station..way before the Plumbers Paradise, I think. May have read it in one of the local books. Doug Birch might know!
    cheers
    David

     
    Reply
  • Rob

    It was known locally as the “Top Club” of the three in Lichfield Road at that time, the others being Middleton House and Sankeys.

    The Dolric was above what was then Platt’s transport cafe in Hednesford Road.

     
    Reply
  • Andy Dennis

    I certainly remember the Plumbers Paradise being there. A pale, windowless, squarish box of a trade warehouse, I think. Can’t place it in time, though.

     
    Reply
  • Caz

    i rmember going there to a large upstairs room…function/concert room where there was an auction taking place. You know the kind……they show you loads of goodies and you hold your hand up with a fiver and basically/usually get ripped off lol. Early to mid 70s possibly.

     
    Reply
  • David Evans

    HI Bob
    I wonder, just wonder, it the original place was a popular venue with the participants in the local Monkey Run at one time..yonks ago that is. Anybody know?

    cheers

    David

     
    Reply
  • Clive

    I remember my mom going there to see Tony Holand (muscle man) I have got his autograph some where. start the bids at £1.000….Hi.

     
    Reply
  • Had the following in an email from Brian Stringer today, thought I’d share it:

    Re the Sportsman/ Huntsman on Smithy’s site. I ran the soccer team from there for a few years and we held our fundraising fancy dress discos in the concert room upstairs. It was a nice room in fact.
    The building with chimney in the background was I believe the former WMC,
    always known as the TOP CLUB. Somebody told me last night that our old schoolmaster Danny Marklew, who was also a Brownhills Councillor. had his lunch in there every day .AHH!!!!!!!!! Memories

    Cheers, Brian

     
    Reply
    • Hi,I remember it being known as the Top Club/Huntsmen and after being closed for some time reopened as the Sportsmen.I have a couple of queries,1.How long was it closed and 2.Did it start life as the new Brownhills WMC ?

       
      Reply
  1. Paradise lost… then found again. « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  March 21, 2012

    […] I noted the following image, which is notable for being just about the only decent picture of The Sportsman Pub-cum-Club I’m aware of, and secondly, because it features a building I’d forgotten the existence of: Plumbers […]

     
  2. Early doors | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  October 25, 2014

    […] angle, that’s the best picture yet I’ve seen of the Sportsman, a popular pub that was originally built as a club in the 1950s. It stood where the Smithy’s Forge is today. I’d forgotten just what an ugly building […]

     
  3. Ticket to ride | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  August 28, 2015

    […] of Brownhills life for years, and Laurence is correct – the Sportsman (now demolisted) was built as a W.M.C. and known as the ‘Top Club’ for years, as well as the Middleton House which was, I believe, the Bottom Club and in-between, Sankeys. […]

     
  4. The people in charge – in 1934 | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  October 3, 2015

    […] would be the ‘Top club’ that later became the Sportsman, and was in the environs of the railway station at Brownhills, about where Smithy’s Forge is […]

     

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