Leeds nostalgia: Bruntcliffe Working Men’s Club celebrates centenary

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The clocks were turned back 100 years in Morley as Bruntcliffe Working Men’s Club celebrated its centenary.

Members dressed up in period clothing to mark the occasion and the club was full to bursting point as a full cabaret act took to the stage, with dancers shipped in from Blackpool, comedians and singer Suzanna Drake, who has worked with Jane McDonald in the past.

Club president Peter Crossley said: “A lot of hard work has been done at the club to keep it open and entice new members. A hundred years ago, if you weren’t in by 7pm, you wouldn’t get a seat.”

The club was once frequented by comic pianist Stan Richards (Seth Armstrong from Emmerdale), who played there regularly and on his last performance told the audience: “I might not be doing this much longer, I’m going to appear in a new programme called Emmerdale and if I’m any good, you might not see me again.”

Singer Billy Fury’s last booking was also at the club and made four days before he died in January 1983.

The club was formed on May 18, 1904 but moved to its present location on Bruntcliffe Road at the top of Howden Clough Road, near The Angel pub, in 1912.

The original building, Laburnum House, was situated at Bruntcliffe and rented at a weekly rate of six shillings. Ken Goor, who has been a member of the club since 1974, was kind enough to open up the old minutes book, which have some rather interesting entries, including rules on admitting women and not letting rival club members sit down.

On January 8, 1919, there was a proposal to “stop gambling, which is becoming a growing evil” and on February 16, 1921, a suggestion that a strongly worded letter be sent from the club to Morley Corporation resenting the proposed linking with Leeds.

Stripper

On August 10, 1927 came the first mention of a Sunday night concert and that women were allowed to attend and even have a drink!

On June 12, 1933, the steward was reported for “smoking while drawing beer” and on August 30 the same year, an addendum that his wages be reduced by 10/- a week.

In March 1971, the committee decided to “try a stripper” on a month’s trial, adding that “the full committee is held responsible if any comebacks.”

Takings must have been up because in April, they decided to continue the act and in May introduced an organist.

However, by June the novelty must have worn off, because the committee determined to “finish with strippers”.

A degree of rivalry between surrounding clubs was not unheard of, as evidenced in one resolutions passed in June 1917, which stated “that we do not supply Fountain St Club members with drinks until they withdraw the restrictions from our members”.

Another in November 1923, which read: “On Saturdays and Sundays visitors will be allowed one drink only and not allowed to sit.”

Other proposals from the minutes books were more pedestrian in nature.

In December 1904, the committee voted to extend opening hours from midnight to 1am and on May 24, 1905, they voted to start handicaps at darts, dominoes and fives and threes.

Tripe

There was also a proposal in February 1927 that A Toulman be allowed to sell tripe and peas on the premises.

Still other resolutions were even more intriguing.

On October 20, 1915, there was a proposal to stage a “red cabbage show, also to include celery”.

On July 17, 1912, the club voted to order a box of classical clay pipes and on April 15, 1915, there was a ruling that a Mr W Hall be let off with a caution for breaking a window, after he apologised and promised to pay for it.

On April 4, 1917, there was a proposal that the committee pay for all its own drink and on July 24, 1918, there was a motion put that said anyone bringing in a doctor’s note could have one gill of spirits for free (except brandy).

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