Bill Barnard: Club classic!

One subject I’m continually looking for information about (and haven’t turned up a great deal, if I’m perfectly honest which is a bit sad in a whole decade) is that of Friezland Lane Working Mens Club in Shire Oak. This club, closed and replaced by housing in the 1980s (I think) had been a very popular local institution in it’s day, like all the local clubs were – but just like all the others, there is actually very scant information available recording their history or life.

This is sad because Working Mens Clubs, political and ‘Non-pol’ clubs weren’t just drinking venues: Because they allowed families to enter, they had entertainment and sports focuses, many having darts, table sports or other teams. They organised day trips and holidays, fetes and fundraisers.

Yet so little remains to flag up their existence in the local history cannon.

So when reader Vikki Swain sent me a couple of photos to post here, I jumped at the chance to feature them.

Bill Barnard on the porch of Friezland Lane Working Mens Club. I don’t remember the club at all. It seems to be made from very light brick, and here seems like a fairly modern building. When was this version created? Image kindly supplied by Vikki Swain. Click for a larger version.

Vikki said:

Hi Bob

Hope you are well?  I came across these photos are of my grandad Bill Barnard. He was the secretary of Friezland Lane WMC.

I believe these were taken inside and outside x

Bill inside the club, seemingly playing a game. doesn’t look like Cribbage. Any ideas? Love the young girl, head on arms at the table. Image kindly supplied by Vikki Swain. Click for a larger version.

Thanks to Vikki for a couple of remarkable images which I hope will kick off a wider discussion. That’s certainly the first exterior shot of the club I’ve seen and that must surely bring back memories?

Also, who is in the second photo with Bill? I note the wee girl at the table! The gents in their shirts and ties, evidently a game going on. These must be familiar faces to regulars are one point.

Please folks, can you help here? What do you recall? Have you any material you can add?

Also, if any image whizz is watching that could retouch these images as a token of thanks to Vikki that would be lovely.

My thanks to Vikki Swain, and if you have anything to add, please do: Comment here, catch me on social media or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

I include an earlier piece I featured on the club to set the scene:


Mr. F Breeden (left) retires from the post of Secretary to the Friezland Lane Working men’s Club in 1957, after 20 years of service. Image from the Walsall Observer.

Here’s a good one found by reader and local historian Clive Roberts, on the subject of Friezlane Lane Working Men’s Club, which I made an appeal for information about last week.

Clive found this image in some photos he’d taken of archived newspaper material. The date is 1957, and the source, the Walsall Observer. The quality isn’t brilliant, but the image cleaned up reasonably well.

Mr. W. Armitage, president of Friezland Lane Workingmen’s Club, Brownhills, presents Mr. F. Breeden (left) with a cheque for £50 on the occasion of his retirement as Secretary to the club. Mr. Breedon, who lives at 152, Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood, has been Secretary for 30 years.

On his right is Mr. J Hession, a Vice-President, and seated (left) is Mr. J Webster, the new Secretary.

If you can add anything, comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers!


From a 1957 copy of the Walsall Observer. Cheers to Clive Roberts for fishing it out.

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10 Responses to Bill Barnard: Club classic!

  1. Pedro says:

    For the record the first mention I can see in the Newspapers Archives Online is in a Games league of 1920.

    In 1921 the club was for sale due to the death of John Craddock.

  2. Vikki Swain says:

    hi Bob,
    I cannot be certain but I think the gentleman 2nd left with the young girl could be Maurice Heap and his younger daughter Michelle?

  3. Carole Roper says:

    Wonderful picture! Gentlemen third from the left is my Dad John (Jack)Whittaker who lived in Wilkin Road at the time.

  4. Carole Roper says:

    Wonderful photo! I recognise my late Father John (Jack) Whittaker, 3rd gentleman from the left in the Friesland lane inside picture!

  5. Katie says:

    Bill was my great uncle!! My nans older brother – I had to double check though as I only remember him much older 🙂

  6. Carole says:

    On reflection and a closer look, the indoor picture could have been in the Goat (Rose Villa] working men’s club Hednesford Road, Brownhills west. I remember they played a game which consisted of buying Metal Strips which had numbers embossed on them ( no idea what it was called). I remember as a child I would collect the strips. I think the game was often played on a Sunday morning not sure.

  7. Pingback: On Annie Thomas, and Friezland Lane Working Men’s Club… | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  8. Tony Thacker says:

    Second from the left looks like Arthur Toddington and second from the right Dennis Clarke, Arthurs brother in law.

  9. Vivienne elizabeth Dolan says:

    Hi. I used to go around Freizeland Road Working Mens club as a young girl until after I married in 1976. I remember Bill Barnard and the picture of him is outside the club after it had a facelift. The original entrance had a canopy over it. It was brick built at the bottom and open wood work joining the brickwork to its roof. It was open at the front with no door. I used to climb onto the wooden part of the structure to pass time whilst bingo was played. Once inside, to the right was the room where weekend entertainment went on. I remember dancing on its wooden floor with my mom or dad and a Mr Corfield used to put something on it that made it slippy so that ballroom dancing could go ahead. I met my husband in this room, after the club had been renovated. I have happy memories of my time in the club.
    My name was Vivienne Giles, my parents being Ted and Gladys Giles.

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