Members say fond farewell to East Ardsley General
MEMBERS and friends of East Ardsley General gathered for a party on Friday night to say a fond farewell to the club that has been a central part of village life for 115 years.
In its heyday the club on Thorpe Road had 1,000 members who were treated to performances by Jim Davidson, Billy Pearce, Little Mo, The Grumbleweeds, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and Billy J Kramer.
But falling membership, debts and the cost of repairs have meant the club has had to be sold and will become a small manufacturing unit and warehouse.
The club dates back to 1897 when it was based in a building, now houses, opposite the Old Hall on Main Street.
By 1906 it had 443 members and as the club thrived the committee started looking for new, larger premises.
In the end they built their own and in 1938 the new club, as it was known, opened on the current site.
While in Victorian times the club’s attraction lay in cheap beer, games of cards and billiards and the possibility of a hot bath drawn by the steward, in later years there was dancing, live concerts and football, snooker and darts competitions.
One former secretary, Phyllis Jowett, said: “It’s a great shame (it’s closing)
“They say there is always the Conservative Club but it is not the same, East Ardsley General was always an entertainment club, with something happening five nights a week.
“I spent nearly all my life there. I worked there for 38 years and being secretary (from 1995 - 2009) was a wonderful job, I have more good memories than bad.
“There were good members and some brilliant committees and there were over 1,000 members at one time, i’d be surprised if they have 100 now but times change and people want different things.”
Phyllis herself made history, becoming the first female secretary of the club and later becoming the first woman in the Wakefield District to pass the CMD (Club Management Diploma).
She has already been to the club to collect her old certificates and on Saturday other former members took part in a sealed bids auction of the fixtures and fittings, perhaps on the look out for a souvenir of the good old days.
“I don’t know what I’ll do with them but at least they won’t end up in a skip,” she added.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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