Burton Stather Workingmen's Club

Written by Pete Day
First Published

The Beginning

Clarence Golly Mastin brought the WWI ex-army hut on his lorry to the village after the First World War. Golly had been paid to do so by the late Mr Arthur Hill of Rose Neath, Burton Stather who ran it single-handedly.

The club, as I knew it, was established and bought in 1924 by a newly organised committee along with ¾ of an acre of land for £300.00 from Mr Hill. See ET Article.

VE Day 1945

Hazel Porteous nee Skelton recalls her VE Day as a young child in Burton Stather.

We knew it was coming but not exactly when as news was different in those days. Mother bundled us children up in our coats and we were taken to bottom club where there was a big bonfire lit and everyone was happy. Someone was playing records on an old wind up gramophone and the adults were all dancing and singing.

Hazel Porteous nee Skelton

1955 Onwards

The old wooden clubhouse
The old wooden clubhouse. Click for more.

I became a member in 1955 aged 18, at that time the land belonging to the club was divided into allotments. Those using the allotments that I remember were Harold Johnson, Bob Day, George Day, Doug Johnson, Bill Mastin and Fred Mapp. At this time the shop situated at the roadside front of the club, run by Mrs Leeson and then by Mrs Ruby Gray had a door which fronted onto the Stather Road. For a while it did home local families and the last were Dick & Ada Render who lived there when they were first married, after this it became the committee room.

The secretary at this time was my Uncle Harold (Johnson), the steward my Auntie Elsie (Habershaw) and the mainstay members of the club were all Burton families many with the surname Adamson, Day, Freear, Pursglove, Render, Thompson, Crowston and Williamson.

Shortly after I came out of the army in 1960 I became a committee member, the old snooker table was demolished (what a shame) to make way for an entertainment and dance area where a group or duo would play on a fortnightly basis. These nights were very well supported and I recall many good evenings spent there listening to mainly rock & roll but also country and western groups. Games nights were once a week, a Thursday if I remember correctly probably because it was also pay day.

Les Render presents a cup to Bob Day
Life in the old club. Click for more.

The heating was a large potbellied stove centred directly in front of the door, this had a guard around it for obvious reasons although it led a charmed life for when things got a bit raucous in there, as occasionally happened, it miraculously avoided being knocked over despite a few close calls. My sister Vivienne recalls the dust that flew up from the floorboards when everyone was dancing and the conveyor belt matting, appropriated from a local steelworks no doubt, that was eventually laid keeping the dust down a little.

The hut survived the blast of the Nypro Chemical Plant disaster in June 1974 where we sadly lost John Render. John was a local lad and son of long time members and friends Les and Mavis and the Grandson of the last residents Dick and Ada.

Resurrecting The Club

Not long after, the committee decided that although not bad for a fifty year old wooden army hut its life was nearly over. We decided to go ahead and draw up plans for a brand new building on the site. Pete Briggs the son in law of ex stewardess Elsie was a rather good architect. I had my own building company and he had done many drawings for me in the past, and so it was he who drew up plans for the committee. The committee put it out to tender with other firms but I was awarded the contract, not because of my position as President at that time but because my tender proved to be far the better one. In fact, the next closest I remember was Tetleys Brewery fronted by a Mr H Kershaw who duplicated my own plans but at double the cost! As can be verified by the minute book I also came to an agreement with the committee to be paid on an instalment basis as the club did not have full funds available.

A drive for new members both committee and ordinary was started.

Proposed B Hanson, Seconded L Toyne that a notice be put up to draft new members on the committee.

Burton Stather Working Mens Club
Minutes Book 29th July 1976

It worked. On the 19th August 1976 Nigel Day, Dave Adamson, George Bull, Mick Ford, John Hardy and Tim Williamson were co-opted onto the committee and it was now operating at the full legal strength of 12 members and 4 officers. By our next full committee meeting 24th August 1976, 21 new ordinary members were also nominated, and over the course of just one year the total number of new members accepted was 263.

The last committee meeting before the opening voted to increase prices.

Proposed M Ford, Seconded D Adamson that the following increase in price of draught and bottled beers be brought into force at the start of business Wednesday 27th October 1976.

Draught Skol Larger increase of 1p per pint

Bitter increase of 1p per pint

Mild increase of 1p per pint

Vis: ½p on each half of Draught

Bottled beers increase 1p large bottle
increase 1p small bottle
Except Jubilee.

Proposed P Day, Seconded J Hardy that the following by-law be added to the clubs existing one, anyone breaking a que to be charged £2.00 to cover its replacement. No player to play JUMP SHOTS' on the pool table.

Burton Stather Working Mens Club
Minutes Book 26th October 1976

Work stared in June 1976 and by the October we were ready to officially open on Friday 29th of October 1976. As you can see in the article that appeared in the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph along with pictures that can be seen of the bench seats being moved from the old to the new club.

Newly built club approx 1975 -76 Furniture being moved in
Newly built club approx 1975 -76

We demolished the old club and toilets after the new building was completed and fully working. The opening of the new club was a momentous occasion for me being a local lad and my family having had a long association with the club. My Dad, Bob Day (Trail Boss) was one of the founding members and I was very proud of the new building and what it meant for all of us.

Now completed and newly furbished (apart from reusing the old bench seats) we had Central heating, double glazing, a cellar, bar area, stage, two pool tables, fruit machines and within a year we had increased our membership. Many came from further a field than Burton and its surrounding villages, some coming from Scunthorpe and Ashby too. Saturday night was entertainment night and bingo etc. with Thursday's still games night and we had a good ladies and men's team in the local league plus an angling section.

There were more small increases on the price of beer in the new club, funny to read when I think what I pay for my pint today.

The following increases were passed to come into force at the start of business 2nd December 1976:

Bitter up 1p to 24p per pint

Mild up 1p to 22p therefore Mixed @ 23p

Spirits and liquors up 1p per measure

Babie bottle @8p up 2p to 10p

All babies & splits up 2p to 12p

All additives I.E Lemonade, Lime etc to be charged @ 2p

Burton Stather Working Mens Club
Sub Committee Meeting Minutes Book
30th November 1976

A new stewardess, Mrs Rickill was employed and took up position on 19th December 1976 on a 3 month trial basis. She was selected from the five applicants interviewed a week earlier. We looked after our senior members at Christmas with coupons for Christmas drinks issued over the Christmas and New Year period and the children enjoyed a party too on 8th January 1977, both became a tradition.

Burton on Stather WMC Commitee 1976
Front, Left to Right Pete Day (President), Rodger Allison (Secretary), Wilf Pogson (Chairman), Fred Horne (Treasurer).
Middle, Members - Enid Bull, Dave Adamson, Les Toyne, Steve Spindly, Tim Williamson.
Back, Members - Billy Hanson, George Bull, Lewis Adamson, Mick Ford, Richie Skeleton.
Missing on photo are Members Nigel Day and John Hardy.

Subscriptions for 1977 were due on 4th of January 1977 and had a slight increase to 30p for men and 15p for women with a 5p addition on late payments.

1976/77 - 1985 Club Minute Book sees all the usual trials and tribulations, many ups and downs, wrangling with neighbours over land which was eventually proved and the club compensated, some barring (you know who you are!), those barred apologising, a stand in steward, Lenny Pursglove aided by wife Pat taking over twice after Mrs Rickall left at the end of 1977 and again when Mrs E Bowie left in 1979. Many of the committee members worked on an organised rota as relief staff during all these years, organising entertainment, raffles, competitions, trips and other fundraising activities. Apart from our original committee mentioned in the Evening Telegraph article others that served during these years on the committee were C Marriot, S Dixon, M Darker, E Darker, M Day, T Johnson, S Williamson, P Williamson, R Houghton, L Houghton, L Toyne, R Skelton to name just a few. Burton Working Mens Club was one of the first in the area to allow women members and definitely up there with the first to have women committee members, very progressive for such a small village.

The End of The Club

Busy night in the new club
Good times in the new club. Click for more.

We had some good years in our new club but sadly failed in the long run and by 1985 closure threatened. Despite a valiant effort by the committee and some supportive members it was the beginning of the end not only for our club but many other Working Men's Clubs up and down the country. See Article.

We had also suffered a break in and thefts which were particularly hard to take and eventually we had to sell off the club and land to pay debts owing to the Inland Revenue, VAT and the brewery. See news paper cuttings.

This was a very sad time for us all and we explored every avenue. I personally looked at many ways in which to keep the club open even looking at buying it to run as a private members club. See Article.

This quickly proved not to be a viable proposition, one of the many reasons for this were the changes in our drink driving laws. Whilst we are all fully supportive of the reasons behind the changes it certainly affected trade being situated where we were. Eventually I did buy the club but only for the land and held it until 1994 when I began to build the nine dwellings that make up part of Stather Road and Stather Close.

I had built the club house with so much pride and one of the saddest days of my life was pulling it down.

Talking to Brother and Sister Rex Render and Rene Davison

The last family to live in the club hut were Dick and Ada Render with their eldest son Les and twins Rene & Iris born there in 1924.

Moving out of the club rooms in approx 1925/26 and into their house No. 17 Old Row, the living area became a shop and store room run by Mrs Leeson and then by Mrs Ruby Gray, eventually becoming the committee room. In Old Row their immediate neighbours were, Sus Fielding at No. 16 and George and Ethel Adamson at No.18.

Kenny Cox and I were reminiscing about his relative Sus just recently. Sus was a local character and Dick always complained that he kept them awake at night when he kicked the wall dreaming, unfortunately he wore clogs in bed! Well known for his ratting escapades he liked to make sure no one drank his beer when he departed for the toilet by stirring it with a rats tail first. He travelled on foot around the local villages with his Boar Pig that he used for breeding purposes. Our village was once full of characters like this and we will never see the like of them again.

The above as told to me by Rex the youngest of the Render siblings and his sister Rene (aged 90 in 2014).

The Photograph - things to look for and note

The photo by EW Carter we were provided with clearly shows it was a wash day in The Stather when it was taken.

The Stather

Not dated, the photograph leads us to believe it was taken around 1922 - 1925/26 as the club had been used to house families and the line full of household washing makes us think a family was still in residence.

You can see on the photograph that the living area only had been re-felted. As well as the living room there was also a kitchen and two bedrooms with the toilets being outside.

Look closely again and you will see there are two chimneys. One for the living area and one for the part that was the club containing the old pot bellied stove.

South/East of the Club can be seen the toilets, cellar and coal house.

North of the Club is the area of land that became completely covered by glass greenhouses when owned by Eric Cattell. They grew salad and, I remember, about 1500 Christmas Trees. Rex Render (Skinner) and the late Arthur Mills both worked there in 1949. Cattell's also owned a shop selling produce and flowers on Frodingham Road, Scunthorpe.

Originally part of the above property and plain to see are the bungalow and garages which are now Burton Kennels & Cattery.

The land adjoining Stather Road is now covered by two large bungalows and one large house.

In the background can be seen the large chimney and buildings which were the old ship building yard, John Wray & Son, up until 1892. Eventually it became a petrol storage yard and the company I remember as a young man was Power Petrol.

The cottages towards the Ferry House Inn were occupied by the Readhead family amongst others, next going North housed the Marshall and Watson families. I was friendly with the boys in the Watson family George, Reg and Basil and vividly remember their house being hit by a bolt of lightning one afternoon in the early 1950's. Luckily no one was at home at the time but the house was severely damaged and eventually these cottages were demolished. Next the Ferry House. Then the cottage which is being refurbished at the moment (14/05/14) and Villa Farm, both owned by the Killick Family.

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