Hartlepool club owner explains why he shut up shop

Engineers Social Club, Raby Road, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID
Engineers Social Club, Raby Road, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

A fall in trade has been blamed for the closure of a social club in Hartlepool town centre after decades.

The Engineers Club, in Raby Road, announced it had closed yesterday.

Owner Cook Leisure, which runs 15 clubs across the North East, attributed its demise to a change in people’s drinking habits.

The company took over the club about five years ago.

Walter Cook told the Mail: “We have tried our best. We did a refurbishment, put new snooker tables in and an extra function room.

“We bought what we thought was a viable business. Including the purchase, we spent over £280,000.

“But the reality is there is not that much trade in the town centre at present for a social club.

“We can’t compete with cheap beer pubs. Unfortunately, we can’t keep up with the trade changing.

“We have been operating at a loss for in excess of a year now and we just can’t sustain it any more.”

About nine staff are understand to have been affected by the decision to close.

Mr Cook added: “We have some very loyal customers and staff. We have really enjoyed our stay in Hartlepool. We just couldn’t make it a viable proposition in the last 12 months.

“The town has lost an asset.”

Mr Cook predicted other clubs in town will face similar difficulties.

“I have been offered three different clubs under threat of closure. The Engineers was starting to rely heavily on functions.

“It is a sorry state of affairs that social clubs are in a terminal state of decline.”

It was only in February that the club was the venue for a function featuring Liverpool football legend John Barnes.

In May, it welcomed another football icon in Ian Rush.

And just weeks ago it played host to a family fun day that raised money for Cancer Research UK.

A message on the club’s Facebook page said it will be organising a time for members to collect belongings which may still be inside.

Readers told of some of their memories on the Mail’s Facebook page.

Charlotte Macgregor said: “What a shame, I used to love the live music on Saturday nights.”

Therese Allen said: “Going with my dad to the open air boxing in the late fifties.”

Beryl Bradley Brunner said: “Very sad. I used to go in there most weekends when I lived in Hartlepool xx”.

Kevin Hufc Moore said: “Used to drink in the place and played football for the club.”