Share and share alike

BrownhillsWMCsharesideone

Brownhills Working Men’s Club share certificate number three, made out for the sum off one pound to David Fullelove on the 22nd July 1957. Image courtesy of Reg “Aer Reg’ Fullelove. Click for a larger version.

Something I’ve had in the file for a while has piqued my interest, and I thought I’d share it with blog readers today, as I hit upon an incidental link between this share certificate supplied by Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove and an older story here on the blog.

This certificate, shared with the young David Evans a while back relates to Brownhills Working Men’s Club, the one affectionately known as 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 now.

This is a fascinating document all of it’s own – in 1957 the club was clearly on a drive to raise money, as David speculates in his covering note below.

BrownhillsWMCsharesidetwo

Note the terms and conditions. Image kindly supplied by Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove. Click for a larger version.

Hi Bob

One of the important social establishemtns of its day was the Working Men’s Club, and in your blog we have seen varous posts and comments which bring to light the role and variety of social activities these institutions offered.

But they required onging financial support and funding….

This remarkable document was showed to me by Mr Reg Fullelove, BEM and its importance and significance may be realised when one considers the date, sum involved, and conditions attached.

My sincere thanks go to Reg Fullelove for offering this to the blog for readers to appreciate

kind regards
David

There is actually a major reason money was needed, as this article I posted in 2012 shows – it seems the Brownhills rumour mill was in overdrive in July, 1958.

Click for a larger, slightly more legible version.

From the Walsall Observer, July 1958. Click for a larger, slightly more legible version.

I have no proof, obviously, and it’s just speculation, but I suspect club members were invited to buy shares in order to pay for the new club, which seemed to encounter problems during construction, prompting speculation about the project’s viability.

I wonder how many of these shares were issued, and if any are still in circulation – I assume the club was long ago wound up, as for as long as I can remember the building was a pub – first The Huntsman, then the Sportsman, and it’s a place of warm memories for many a Brownhills drinker – although aesthetically not the most appealing building, it seems many a good night was had there.

I’m also interested in the territorial nature of such clubs – there were, of course three other clubs in close proximity – Middleton House, Sankeys and Ogley Hay. What made families choose one over another? Facilities? Price? Community ties? I think this is worth exploring. Like chapels and churches, such a choice locally.

The Working Men’s Club (and political/religious club thing generally) is very much on the wane now – the benefits they offered in often basic surroundings, namely cheap ale, being able to take children in – have been eclipsed by changing licensing laws and increasing affluence, but it was a huge social phenomena and I don’t think it’s been recorded enough.

img215

The Sportsman – formerly Brownhills Working Men’s Cluc – known as ‘The Top Club’ – was a very odd bit of brutalist architecture at the junction of Lichfield Road and High Street, Brownhills. It was demolished in the 90s to make way for the Smithy’s Forge pub. Image supplied by Peter Booth.

I’m still on the lookout for more club related ephemera, photos or memories from any local clubs. There must be a huge amount of stuff around, and I’d hate to see such a huge social force pass relatively unrecorded.

If you can help, or have anything to add, please feel free: comment on this post or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Gopoglemail dot com.

Cheers as ever to Reg and David, who continue to expand on our historic record with their generosity of time and spirit.

BrownhillsWMCcommittee1934

The Brownhills Working Men’s Club committee in September 1934, in a photo kindly supplied by Geoff Harrington.

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3 Responses to Share and share alike

  1. ivor230240 says:

    I remember going to the Top Club with my parents around 1953. The room was so full of smoke on Saturday nights that it was difficult to see from one end of the room to the other. One of the stewards used to let my brother and sister and me go to his family quarters to sit and watch the TV with his daughter. In 1961 a visiting darts team were not “signed in” technically Working Men’s Clubs were private clubs and the club was prosecuted for serving liquor without a licence. My Dad was Chairman at the time and he made the front page of the Express and Star being fined £25 for the offence as he was “nominally” responsible.

  2. Steve Cawley says:

    We used to play darts for the top club inthe 70’s,they had quite a few teams also snooker teams in local leagues.committee members were Glynn Holloway who was a local councillor,Harry houghton,Derek rose,
    Also they had the local meeting of Aston villa supporters club on Tuesday night and a dance school run by Stan Jenkins in the upstairs room later in the end of the 70’s.
    The landlord was frank but cannot remember his wife’s name

    • Peter Leek says:

      I remember having one of the share certificates in amongst my dad’s papers ect. My dad Jack Leek was on the commitee of the top club and and as far as i can remember always used the club. My first memories are of being taken in with my parents from a very early age right up till when it closed it’s door’s. My dad also played for the snooker, Crib and domino’s teams and would make the trip every night getting in there about 10pm for the last couple. I was a member of the darts team like that young Steve Cawley, we weren’t the best but we had a laugh and enjoyed ourselves. My dad also done a lot of the decorating while he was working because he would do it on the cheap for the club. Commitee members i recall are me dad, Sam Pratt, Glynn Holloway, Harry Houghton.

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