The beginnings


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The Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Social Club was born in a cottage in a side street, and the rent was 5/- per week.  

It was the 22nd January 1909.


There were some 16 Midwives in attendance, but none of them knew how to proceed. One thing however, that that they all agreed upon, It would be fed on beer (The best obtainable), But how to get it?


None of the sponsors had any spare monies, and there was nothing in the kitty.

All the entrance fees had been spent on providing a worthy home for the arrival.

 

When luck favoured us, we were introduced to a gentleman who described himself as an “Outrider” whatever that might be. He had a kind face and genial smile and we all felt that we had “Struck Oil!”

Having inspected the committee, he promised to persuade his firm to send us a 36 Gallon cask on credit.  That should be enough to last 6 months, he surmised, but the infant had an abnormal thirst and at the end of fortnight, had drunk it all.

An urgent message brought further supplies and the infant smiled again.  The Steward was an elderly man who had been a linen draper.  He wore carpet slippers and his feet were covered in bulbous bunions. He had no memory worth mentioning. (A fact he hotly disputed)

If a member asked for credit for a pint he never made a note of it, and promptly forgot the transaction. His wages were 10/- a week and his hours of duty (In theory) 14 per day. As he took 2 hours to absorb his lunch, and 2 more for a nap, and teatime (uncertain length) the actual period of duty was about 8 ½ hours.

He was the only paid member of the club. All the Officers gave their services for free.

The billiards room was upstairs in the front room and the table (Obtained from Riley’s on the Never-Never) had to be placed facing the window, the result being a ball hit by an inexpert player finding its way through the window and into the street below

The infant had grown too big for such a small habitation and it became necessary to find him new quarters, so in 1910 the suppliers of the “necessary victuals” were approached again and the premises now occupied were purchased and altered for the purpose of the club at a rental of £52 per annum. Everything now being properly organised, the infant had room to spread and by 1914 the bar receipts were £1982. Beer at the time was 2d for a pint of mild and the bitter at 3d proved the contentions of the pioneers that such an institution was necessary, and that working men had the ability to bear it successfully.

 

Then, on 4th August 1914 the first world war broke out. Chaos ensued.

Within a short time the 2 Stewards had been conscripted and we were left with a young girl to carry on. The various members of the committee rose to the occasion, so that the services of the club were maintained. But, the worst was yet to come.

Beer supplies dwindled and then, one awful Sunday the members arrived with their usual thirst to find nothing to quench it. It was pitiful sight to see the stand empty. The government had stopped the supplies of raw materials to the brewers, or had so reduced the quantities, that they had virtually closed it down.

Ginger Ale was now the only liquid on sale and all that did was make the thirst worse!

These were indeed hard times for the infant, however, all things come to an end sometime and when the Armistice came in 1918, the club was still in existence and the 400 members also, although a considerable number had joined the Armed Forces.

In a short time, supplies were renewed, the Stewards returned and all was merry and bright. It should be mentioned that a blow fell on the club during the war. The steward Decamped with the infants money box, containing all the available cash amounting to around £100.  He went without even saying “Goodbye” or even when we might expect him back.  His existence is still uncertain, but , if he is where the infant hopes, he won’t suffer from “Cold feet”

 

In 1930, the mortgage was paid off and the Club was, for the first time the owner of the premises.

Improvements however, were urgently needed, beer having to be left in the yard as there was no room inside, and there was no cellar.  The stewards quarters were deplorable and the rattle of the skittle balls pervaded the building. The committee decided to remedy this state of affairs and work was put in had as soon as the cash was available.

A member of the club gallantly came forward and lent the money and the work commenced.

By 1935 the club was as it is today. It is a great satisfaction to members to know that there is sufficient finance lying at the bank to build a spacious Concert Hall when the necessary Ministry Of Works permits are granted.

 

Written on 25th August 1952 by A.W Phillips ( Aged 85 )