The end of an era for a Hartlepool social club. Who remembers the Longhill Quoits Club
They called time on a Hartlepool club after 58 years of trading.
The year was 1981 and the club was the Longhill Quoits Club.
Yet on the very same night that its assets were sold off, another club was enjoying much different fortunes.
Chris Cordner looks back and asks who remembers it all.
It was October 1981 and Fred Lee, the secretary of the Longhill Club, was inviting bids from the gathered audience for the fixtures and fittings.
Chairs and tables went. So did microphones and bingo machines. Tills were up for grabs and the Hartlepool Mail reported at the time: “The occasion was a sad one.”
No-one was more disconsolate than Dennis Chapman who had been steward at the club twice - once for four years and then for another two.
Each time, he watched the slow decline of a club which had paid the price of its proximity to Hartlepool’s industry. When the times got tough for the factories, they did for the club as well.
Mr Chapman said at the time: “When there was still industry around here there was a steady membership but numbers were falling all the time. Tonight is a sad occasion for me and it will be for many of the other regulars.”
Yet it had not always been such bleak times for the club which at one time had a steady membership of 180. It was based in Windermere Road and relied heavily on the nearby steelworks and other factories.
But younger workers could not afford to keep going when their jobs disappeared and the membership finally fell to 66 in its last days.
Then, the prices had to be raised for drinks, it was the final nail in the coffin.
Elsewhere in town on the same night, the Hartlepool Workingmen’s Social Club in King Oswy Drive was experiencing brighter times.
Club secretary Harry Carter accepted the deeds to the property from Mr A Heath, the director of JW Cameron’s and Co.
The club’s sporting secretary Bob Winspear described the occasion as “a great achievement for the club. After many years, some of them hard, it is a nice feeling to pay off the mortgage to the club.”
Names such as Benny Tumilty, Bob Kenthorn, Joe Gallagher and Bob Johnson were among the 500 members who packed into the club to witness the momentous occasion.
Club chairman Herbie James and treasurer Jack Richardson were also there.
But it was Mr Winspear who explained its success. He said it was sport which had made the difference as almost every member took part in one sport or another, whether it was cricket, bowls, football or snooker.
Added to that, many fathers and sons were involved which all added to the winning formula.
But who remembers the days of the 1980s Hartlepool clubs and can tell us more.
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