A Century of Local Institution

The Kibworth Club, formerly known as the Kibworth Working Men’s Club & Institute Ltd., opened its doors to members on 28 July 1921. This year sees the current members celebrating a century of local institution.

Thanks to the current committee

The original building was a tin hut and later it was replaced by a more permanent structure that is still situated on the same site in Fleckney Road, Kibworth Beauchamp. I am grateful to the committee who granted me access to the Minute Book from the 1920s and a statement of accounts and balance sheet for 1963.

The Kibworth Club

They have proved both informative and entertaining. They provided a window into the local entertainment scene that belonged to previous generations and families of those original members. Some of them are still connected to the club today.

An institution that provided entertainment

My initial impression of this newly-formed institution shows a solidarity of comradeship within the community. Before the days of TV in all homes, this form of alternative entertainment was welcomed. Particularly as the prices of beers, wines and spirits appeared to be somewhat cheaper than the Club’s competitors. It was a place to meet with friends and neighbours not only on a weekend but also throughout the week. It was also a reason to get dressed up (or not) in your Sunday best and discuss the issues of the day. I would imagine topics such as the General Strike in 1926, the trials and tribulations during the Second World War, the Coronation in 1953 to name but a few, would all have been discussed over a pint and perhaps a packet of crisps. All in all a place one could go to and feel safe being among familiar faces.

So popular you needed to be there early

This outlet from everyday work pressures proved popular and, I am told on good authority, that at one time if you didn’t’t arrive early on a Saturday night you could not be guaranteed a seat!

An extract from the original Minute Book confirmed the purchase of stock to be available over the counter and these were:

2 x 9 gallon barrels of Northampton Draught Stout, 6 dozen Guinness, 6 dozen Bass, 6 cases of Ginger Ale, 2 cases of Lemonade, 1 case of Dry Ginger from Furnivals of Fleckney, 1 gallon of Irish Whisky, 1 gallon of Scotch Whisky, 1 gallon of Rum and 1 gallon of Port Wine

As for the supply of tobacco this consisted of 2lbs of Bruno in half dozen packets, 2lbs of Thick Twist, 6 boxes of Woodbine, 100 packets of 10 Players, 25 packets of 10 Gold Flake and a gross of matches. You could also purchase Bovril and Oxo as well as renting a book from the ‘in house’ library at 1d a week.

The club bought in 2 dozen novels at a cost of 12/-. A Mr Chapman was to sell his piano to the club for £15 and a doorman was to be appointed to ensure that only paid up members crossed the threshold.

In 1921 the committee consisted of 10 willing helpers by the names of Messrs. F Holyoak, A Smith, E Bird, F Everitt, G Gamble, R Holyoak, W Newcombe, E Broadwell, H Arnold, and C Stockford with guidance of the Chairman Mr H Billing and Secretary H Lee.

It was noted in 1963 that there were 974 members of the Club but women were not permitted to join.

Entertainment for all occasions

Christmas Party Hats, can you see anyone you recognise?

Over the years the Club has hosted many events, including Snooker tournaments, Whist Drives, Darts matches, Bingo nights, Quiz nights, Skittles matches as well as Dominoes, Pool and Live Entertainment for all occasions. And, of course, the Annual Garden Show where exhibits are judged before being sold in an auction with proceeds donated to a chosen charity.

What did you win at the Annual Show?

There is also free room hire available for weddings and notable anniversaries.

Back in 1979, five times World Champion Darts professional Eric Bristow, ‘The Crafty Cockney,’ paid the club a visit!

However, times change and so do entertainment habits of the general public. Like cinemas, who in their heyday witnessed long queues outside, each form of entertainment is regularly taken in a different direction and the Working Men’s Clubs are no exception.

Fewer and fewer people frequent pubs and clubs these days compared to years ago. But in spite of all that we still find ourselves enjoying a meal and a drink out. Socialising with our nearest and dearest, in local hostelries up and down the country continues to happen. It may cost more today but at least the hospitality trade is still alive and kicking and open for business in spite of COVID!

Glyn Hatfield