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History of the Co-op Club

The club was officially opened in October 1948. In the first place there was a small club-house at the top of the drive, with a Table tennis room, and a small bar with a full size snooker table. Short cues were used because the space around the table was so restricted.

There were two tennis courts where the Clubhouse and car park are now, and the bowling green.

 

The Co-operative Society was very successful for a perhaps three decades around this time. You could buy anything at the Co-op. Coal, milk, groceries, furniture, clothes and shoes, also insurance and funeral services. The Co-op could truly care for people from cradle to grave.

 

As a result of this they employed a large number of people and the Sports and Social Club was for employees of the society. If you didn’t work at the Co-op and you were allowed to become an associate member you were very lucky.

 

In 1972 it was decided to upgrade the facilities similar to the ones we know now, and the original Club-house was replaced by a much bigger facility which faced onto the bowling green. It covered one of the tennis courts, the other tennis court became the car park. This gave the Club the opportunity to hold social evenings and the desperately needed car parking facilities were a great help.

 

By the late 70’s the dominance of the Co-operative stores was being challenged by the new supermarkets, and in 1984 because the number of employees had fallen so dramatically the Society decided that it was not prepared to put in the administrative effort of the past and that the club should be administered and operated by a committee of interested employees with the Club being charged an annual rent of £280.00. By this time many of the members were not employed by the Co-op.

 

The situation continued in this manner until 2006, by this time there were very few ex-employees involved at the Club and most members were people from the surrounding area. The Co-operative Society was of course well aware of the changes that had taken place over the years and the rent which was then £650.00 hardly covered their now limited administration costs so they contacted the Club informing the committee that they required a rent of £5000.00 per annum. This was effectively cutting the umbilical chord. After protracted negotiations an agreement was reached for the  Club to pay £1000.00 in the first year £2000.00 in the next then £3000.00, £4000.00 then up to £5000.00 in the fifth year and onwards.

 

A very active committee was in place and it was agreed to work on fund-raising as if the Club was paying £5000.00 per year immediately, so that the excess cash raised could be used to up-date the Club, as it was in the need of considerable care and attention.

 

Since then work has been done on the Kitchen area, the Car Park, a Disabled Toilet a New Store for green equipment and the refurbishment of the ladies toilets and many other projects.

 

It was intended to start the complete re-wiring of the Club on the 9th March 2009 but this was put on hold because on Friday 27th February the Secretary was informed by the Chartered Surveyors for the Society that they wanted to sell the premises and that they were prepared to give the Club the opportunity to buy prior to going to the market. The asking price was £50,000.00 and we were given one week to decide if we wanted to go ahead.

 

The committee quickly drew up some ideas for raising the money and held an Extraordinary General Meeting on Tuesday 3rd March. The meeting was very well attended and the member’s response was amazing. £21,000.00 was pledged on the night of which only £3600.00 was in loans.

 

The Co-operative Society was informed that the Committee was confident that the could raise the required £50,000.00 and the sale was agreed.

 

Much feverish activity and fund raising took place over the next few weeks, and the deal was completed on the 8th May 2009.

 

For the deal to be completed it was necessary for the constitution of the Club to be changed so that Trustees could own the premises on behalf of the Club as the Club was not a legal entity in its own right. Mr R Swinglehurst & Mrs B Gillen were appointed the Club’s trustees.

 

Fund raising was very successful to the point that the whole £50,000.00 was raised. This allowed the re-wiring and other updating of the Club to go ahead. The work was completed during 2009 thanks to the hard work of a group of very active members.

 

Much more work is still to do and the future of the Club is now sound as it is now owned by the members.

 

Roy Swinglehurst

Club Secretary

10th June 2010