“Dr Ruth Cherrington, has been visiting Club House as part of a research project on clubs and she is appealing for members to add their memories to her research.”
I have been finding out as much as possible about clubs for a good few years now, researching different aspects of the movement and drawing upon as many types of resources as possible. It’s a fascinating journey that will one day (soon, I hope!) result not only in this website being even better informed but also a book on the history and development of clubs.
I’m grateful to many people for their help including you, dear reader, and all those who contributed their own stories. I’d like to thank as well former CIU General Secretary Kevin Smyth, who retired in 2009, and Assistant General Secretary Maxine Murphy, for making available to me the treasure trove of over a hundred years of Club Journals and reports. And for their encouragement and support.
This research is very important to me for a number of reasons. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of being taken out to the local club, the Canley Social in Coventry. It was conveniently located (sometimes, so my mother said, too much so!) just across the street and was almost like an extension of our living room. Although it was so near we didn’t get to go all the time as there were seven of us so we had to wait our turn.
My dad was one of the earliest members when the Canley Club opened its doors in 1951. He loved to play bagatelle, billiards and dominoes as well as having a pint or three. Later in life he took up bowls and was quite good at that game too. Sadly my father is no longer with us but I have a photo of him over my desk, with him standing proudly over his CIU games trophies.
The club dominated our social life as, indeed, it did for other residents on the local council estate. It was the same in other parts of Coventry and sometimes we would visit other clubs such as the Lime Tree Club which was just a short walk away over the railway track. As I grew up I realised what a huge role these clubs played in the life of local communities particularly in an industrial city such as Coventry. Many social and cultural events centred on the CIU clubs. I even remember playing in the school band at concerts there. The clubs were always about very much more than beer and bingo.
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