Birth of Frimley Green Working Men’s Club.
It was 1885 Frimley Green wasnʼt going to be left behind with a new and exciting movement that was happening around the country to which was to change the lives of many men and women and children over the next 100
years. Our story starts with a one room club in the middle of the village, 3 Field Lane, Frimley Green.
The presidents are Mr. W. Chance, Mr. A C Pain and Rev Basset and William Burch. Just a few members of the local community were members at this time but the next few years that followed saw a large rise in locals wanting to join also. This large increase of new members meant a new building was needed and fast!
In 1888 a meeting was held at the rectory with Mr.A. Pain, Mr. Adams, Mr. Kemp and Mr. Smith to consider the best plan to establish a new building . Frimley Green landowners were all invited to discuss the question of where the new premises could be built and how much money could be raised to get it up and running.
The Crown Prince of Siam was stationed and serving in the Army (Frimley Lodge and Aldershot ) On completion of his service in the British Army, awarded a donation of money as a thank you to Frimley Green. HRH Crown Prince becomes honorary member. Kings and princes could serve in the army but not go into war. A construction company (Messers Kemp 1891-1903) was found to start the building and the project was well underway. The site of the new club was to be in Sturt Road. It was to be named The Coffee Tavern Company Frimley Green…Aka FGWMC.
The new Coffee house was for the purpose of providing a suitable place for refreshments and recreation and for the sale of nonintoxicants. Besides the bar there will be a reading room with papers, books and the odd lecture from local upper class residents and a piano which a well wisher donated to the club. At this time, it still went
under the movement of Temperance: no alcohol or gambling but what went on behind closed doors was less formal.
The Tavern/ Club had always worked side by side with St Andrews Church, it had an obligation to care for all
families living in the surrounding area of Frimley Green. In 1936 there was a request in the suggestion box to
have a spittoon tin to be put in the menʼs lavatories and one by the bar. An entry in the club ledger in 1936 reads:
A remarkable sum total was noted on Easter Sunday when four members were playing dominoes. They were Mr. J. Hall, Mr. J. Searl, Mr. R. Routley and Mr. Rees. Hall. Their combined ages totalling 287, impressive for the time! All
were residents of Frimley Green. In 1936 the committee members were Mr. A. Riches, Mr Greenfield, Mr. W. Penhallow and Mr. A. Penhallow , Mr. F. Hill. Mr. L Riches, and M. W. Smith. Through the war years the club still kept its business as usual but a little quiet as many went off to war and the club closed its doors to new memberships.
1940 the suggestion box had a request if they would make a donation for Frimley and Camberley Spitfire fund. £10 contribution was given to the fund on behalf of the club. In 1940 it was slow in new members wanting to join. At this time no entertainment was offered with the exception of Darts and Cards, 1936 the cost of the new dartboard was 25 Shillings. War had a big effect on Football, both nationally and internationally, so the club ventured into football by forming its own team. The Jubilee Club Farnborough was always a favourite rival for these games. A light hearted amateur dramatics project was started up called The Fireflies with Mr. Harry and Kitty Searl who was the fire chief of Frimley Green.
In 1950, delivery of Santaʼs presents for the childrenʼs Christmas party were held up by the railroad strike as the gifts were coming by train. No child received Santaʼs gift until after Christmas, but all the children went home full and happy with party food and having enjoyed party game organised by the ladies of St Andrews Church and Frimley Green Working Mans Club members. In 1951 the club joined the CIU ( Club and institute Union.)
In 1960, the club desperately needed repairs both inside and out. New chairs and tables, curtains and new heating system as open fires were still being used. There was an influx of new residents in the area as more houses and schools were being built. Frimley Green was being modernised and the club was also going for new look! And it needed to expand! In 1961, the annual outing would be Southsea and the charge would be 10/s (50p) per member. Local residents enjoying the day trips out. ( can you see yourself?) (photo Mrs V Adds.)
That year a Thrift Club was formed and 40 members had already signed up to this. Ledgers report all the way through the years that the billiards room had always been the centre of the men folk of the community and was always up for repair! No ladies permitted to enter this sacred domain of masculinity! So as we roll into the 1960s
shrugging off the depression and hardship of the war years, the club started to update its rules and regulations and relaxed into family affairs. Light entertainment was being provided. Up until this time Childrenʼs Parties had been held at St Andrews Church. Outings to neighbouring clubs became popular, sampling their hospitality.
In the next part of the history of FGWMC (1960s to 1980s) you can read how the club became the “The Place to be! With the new function hall and you can get to know the committee team of 1960, bar prices of the day and where your membership was spent. And not forget our very own first Bar Lady!
Written by Debbie Hutson.