The Brownhills Darktown Poker Club… in 1881


Hednesford Road – nowadays, the building on the right is the Thai Lanna restaurant. I have no idea where the club was in Hednesford Road, but it would be nice to know. Image from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ By Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

Here’s a quick one from local history rapscallion Peter ‘pedro’ Cutler, while I’m prepping some other stuff for the weekend – debauchery and cards in a Brownhills Working Men’s Club in 1881!

What I assume to be the same club was still causing grief for the local coppers in 1921

Cheers to Peter for a wonderful spot, which I think must be from the Lichfield Mercury.

The Brownhills Darktown Poker Club 1881…

Arthur Woodhouse, miner, employed a Coppice Colliery, was summoned by Joseph Cooke, manager of the Brownhills working men’s club, for an assault alleged to have been committed on March 25. Mr Ashmore appeared for the complainant; Mr Loxton for the defence…

…The complainant stated that he was the manager of the Brownhills working men’s club.
He recollected the 25 March when he went to bed at 5 o’clock, was awakened at about 11 o’clock at night by his wife, in consequence of a disturbance in the clubroom. He found defendant, Samuel Thatcher , William Beelan, William Perry and Chas Glover playing cards.

Thatcher left shortly after; defendant then played cards with the rest. A dispute arose in which the defendant was charged with cheating, and in the course of it the defendant took up a jug and attempted to strike another member. Witness then proceeded to eject them, whereupon he struck him twice on the face. In answer to Mr Loxton, witness said that no doubt one of the objects of the club was to enable members to get drink whenever they liked. He could not say whether it was 2 o’clock in the morning when he turned the defendant out. He had no clock in the house, but he thought it was about 11 o’clock. He had never been payed for his services. They had not had a settlement yet. He supposed he was the tenant. The goods were ordered in the name of the club, he could not say by whom. There was a committee but the secretary could not say better than he could who were there.

William Beelan, Army pensioner, and a member of the club, said he was Secretary to the club and was there on the night in question. He and others were playing cards, and during the game he caught hold of the defendants nose, and said “oh you are cheating again, are you.” (Laughter) thereupon defendant picked up the cribbage board or the jug, he could not tell which, to strike him. Complainant then attempted to eject defendant, who said he did not care for anyone at the club. Complainant, however, took hold of him and put him out. He did not use any more force than that was necessary. Witness saw nothing of the subsequent assault. Defendant was afterwards expelled from club by the committee.

In cross examination witness said he did not hear complainant say on his return into the room after ejecting the defendant “I give him one; and if I had used all my strength, I would’ve killed him.” Witness went down on his knees, and offered to fight the defendant in that position.

In answer to the Bench witness said that there were 74 members of the club. George Rooke, Shoemaker, Brownhills, said that he saw complainant turn out defendant, and strike him with his fist at the back door. He didn’t see defendant strike Cooke first. Witness should think this would be about 1:30 or 2 o’clock in the morning. Mr Loxton, for defence, said he contention first of all was that the complainant had no right whatsoever to put his hand upon the defendant for the purpose of ejecting him, inasmuch as the rules only gave the manager the power to expel in case of intoxication. The police had heard the evidence of the complainant as to the character of the club; and they would no doubt decide whether it was a case for prosecution under the Licensing Act. Mr Luxton contended that his client was the aggrieved person, in fact it was he who had to complain of being assaulted.

William Parry, grocer, Brownhills, and a former member of the committee of the club, said that after complainant came back from ejecting defendant his wife said “did you hit it hard?” He replied “No, if I had hit him hard I should’ve knocked him through the brew house wall.”

Colonel Bagnall said this seemed to be a very curious club. It appears to be established for the purpose of people being able to drink day and night without being interfered with. However the magistrates had not that matter before them but only to deal with the assault, in which they had to decide to dismiss the case.

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3 Responses to The Brownhills Darktown Poker Club… in 1881

  1. Clive says:

    Nice one Pedro, sounds like a frendly club!

  2. aerreg says:

    there was another club the goat apoint of view the monkey would have a tennant or manager ie mr heath aworking mens club would have been run by a commitee i think there was another club in either the wilkin or hednesford road the name of which escapes my mind there was a pit by the monkey at the junction of the wilkin road happy new year from aer reg

  3. Mike Stackhouse says:

    Now! When I was a kid, there used to be two Working mens Club’s one in Hednesford Road which I think was The Rose Villa, if not it was just a little way up the road on the same side some where about where the road used to have a small hill. The other was called the Wilkin and was in the other road about half way between The Monkey and the Junction with the A5. dad used the Pear Tree for the main, but used the club to take us on days out. To the seaside.

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