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THE BLACK COUNTRY MEMORIES CLUB

Bent's Coronation Ale
Black Country Memories Club
‘Social Clubs’
Wednesday 12th September 2012
Bow Street Methodist Church
Bilston
Bent's Coronation Ale

Today we welcomed local historian Ian Bott to discuss the topic of Social Clubs. Working men’s clubs were once very popular amongst communities. Local companies quite often had their own clubs, Springvale, Beldray, GKN, Lucas Aerospace, Goodyear, Rubery Owen to name a few. The history of the club dates back to the 18th century, it’s probable that these clubs were developed around coffee drinking. Working men’s clubs came about during Victorian times and as time went by the majority of factory’s also had sports grounds, recreational facilities boomed. Competition amongst workers grew as they enjoyed leisure and sports.

Just some of the artifacts on display President of the Club John Elwell Members listen to our Guest speaker Ian Bott
Top: Just some of the artifacts on display  President of the Club John Elwell
 looking serious, it wont last...
Members listen to our Guest speaker Ian Bott

Ian brought along a great collection of slides to show, unfortunatly there are no curtains or blinds in the room so viewing was rather restricted, never the less his talk was interesting and there were lots of old photographs and memorabilia on display. Spitoons, Bilston football Club scarf, pub trays, glasses and old beer bottles, even ashtrays. The latter item of course is no longer seen in pubs or clubs. Perhaps the smoking ban was the final nail in the coffin for many of these establishments. Or is it because peoples habits have  changed, it could be due to the decline in manufacturing.

Angela Russell & Graham Bold check the display Ian Bott keeps the audience interested      Ted & Bill ready to draw the raffle
Angela Russell & Graham Bold check the display Ian Bott keeps the audience interested      Ted & Bill ready to draw the raffle
Todays  Speaker   Ian Bott All smiling, and all awake, thats always a good sign. Well, all awake bar one...
Todays  Speaker   Ian Bott All smiling, and all awake, thats always a good sign. Well, all awake bar one...

At the end of the afternoon and we all decided that Social Clubs played a very important part in our lives. Spending a few hours at the Free Gardners, Wednesbury Tube Sports and Social Club, or the local Labour or Conservative Club was a way of life for working class people on a Friday or Saturday night.  Bilston has had one in the heart of the town since 1939, Springvale Social Club still going today.