Darlington Club and Institute is a long-established club which has survived many changes. Officially opened on November 6th 1901, it was set up by a small group of local railwaymen - perhaps not surprisingly given Darlington’s strong historical links with the railways. It soon became CIU affiliated.
The group first met in ‘Frarey’s’ cocoa rooms, Tub Well Road in Darlington on March 1st 1901. They were able to appoint a president, treasurer, secretary and committee. The secretary got in touch with Mr B T Hall, secretary of the CIU at that time, who took the trouble to visit Darlington and supplied model rules, books and literature on the working and management of a club.
A suitable property had to be located and several committee meetings were held in private houses to consider various possibilities. A house was found in High Terrace, Northgate and eventually purchased, with the first committee meeting held on June 16th. Interestingly, some of the original committee members were struck off for non-attendance with new people appointed in their place. Darlington was obviously going to expect dedication from its management committee!
The games league was started in 1911 with games played on Thursday nights because in the past this was when most people were paid. The usual games of dominoes and snooker as well as bowls feature among the clubs activities with several significant successes over the years such as the grand slam in 1981. The club teams won all the games on the same night - dominoes, cribbage, darts, snooker and whist.
The club, as with other elsewhere in the country, had its opponents and for the first 25 years had defend itself against those who would have liked to have seen it closed. It fought a case of trespass in 1907. But the opponents couldn’t fight against the club’s popularity and it went from strength to strength, celebrating its 25th anniversary in the week of November 6th – 10th 1926. Since then, alterations have been made which have made the club a more imposing building.
The Golden Jubilee was celebrated in style in 1951 with a whole two weeks of events and since then, more structural alterations have been made to modernise the club.
Darlington Club and Institute has survived for over one hundred years not only because of the hard work of its management committees but also because of the tremendous support of its members and associates and the guidance of the CIU. Let’s hope that it can continue into the future to offer a friendly meeting place for members and their families.
Sept 23rd 2009