Club is still thriving 120 years on

Thornhill Briggs Club c1910
Thornhill Briggs Club c1910

Over the years I have collected many small publications, booklets, pamphlets, brochures and magazines which give the history of a particular building, organisation or social outlet in the Brighouse and surrounding community.

Twenty years ago Gordon Woodhead, the then club president of the Thornhill Briggs Working Men’s Club, researched and compiled a 12-page booklet to celebrate the centenary of the club, which I was pleased to receive a copy of in 1995.

The club is now 120 years old and, if not for a group of men meeting in one of two cottages on or near the present site of the club, it may not have happened.

The earliest record of the club dates back to July 1895 in a record of the half yearly meeting. In the “chair” was vice president William Henry Clayton who, from my own records, in 1901 lived in Oddfellows Street.

Sadly there are no minutes in existence of that meeting. No doubt written in what we would call today a kind of school exercise book which over the years will have either been lost or just thrown away.

In the early days of the club the committee voted that the secretary and treasurer would be paid a salary of £4 and £2 respectively but this was amended to £3 and £1. Whilst these figures sound nothing today, more than 100 years ago these were tidy sums indeed.

In 1897 the committee voted that the bar should be open from 9am to noon and then from 2pm to 4pm and 6pm to 10pm. This was seen as a serious move to compete with local pubs as many of those were open from early morning throughout the day until late at night.

At this same meeting a discussion took place about the installation of a dart board and a piano. It was also to be noted whilst these were two welcome additions to the club facilities, in those days women were not encouraged to visit such places.

By 1900 the club was already thriving and the committee decided it should have new and bigger premises. In May 1900 at a Special General Meeting it was decided to form a building scheme to raise money for the new club.

At another special meeting in 1906 it moved that the opening of the new club with a meat tea would be provided for members, wives and sweethearts at a charge of one shilling with allowances for members.

The club was formally opened by the club president John Henry Batley. Interestingly he was the president until April 28, 1911, when he retired from the office. For the work he had done over a number of years he was presented by the members and committee a gold watch and a gold mounted walking stick.

He was also the president of the Brighouse Industrial Society and had made his short walk to the club from his home in Manley Street many times as did all the club members who also lived in the Thornhill Bridge community and all contributed to making it such a popular club in those far off days.

The new club had a concert room, a large raised snooker and billiard room, slipper baths, a committee room and spacious living accommodation for the steward. The plans of the new club also revealed a number of shops beneath the club which would be of benefit to local Thornhill Bridge residents.

Since those days the club, like many local clubs has had its ups and downs.

But today the club, now 120 years old, still provides a thriving special social outlet for its members - and long may it continue.

Today’s photograph shows the club not long after it was opened, and, below, Gordon Woodhead and Brian Tunaley outside the club under the centenary banner.