Now, if I get a complaint about the Worcester Pubs Then and Now books, it’s either: a) ‘cos I’ve left out some gaffer who was found getting across a barmaid, or whose miffed wife ran off with a randy customer; b) that I made no mention of the Camp House, which places me several steps down from Jack the Ripper in the annals of all-time infamy; or c) that I excluded the clubs, by which I refer to those of a social-, works-, and shared interest (such as working-mens’) nature. On the first, I make no comment whatsoever save to say that neither occurrence could even remotely be described as rare. On the second, it’d be a fair point if it wasn’t for the dead give-away in the books’ titles ‘Worcester pubs’ (to wit, pubs within the city boundary – which does signally NOT include Grimley). And on c) hmmmmmm …we-e-e-ell, maybe. I pull-up short of uttering ‘fair cop, guv’ as the A-word (apology) isn’t in my dictionary. But that said, there’s a slim chance that if you’re brave enough to mention the subject to me face-to-face in a bar somewhere, I might – might, mind, no guarantees at all, depending on the day you ask and the state I’m in – concede that, yes, aside from its pubs, Worcester once was also home to some ace clubs.
[Ace of clubs, geddit? Tortured I know, but I was struggling for a catchy title].
The one-time Heenan’s Club in Sansome Place. I won the kids’ fancy dress competition in here on Coronation night, learned to play snooker (badly!), played in two bands on the stage, represented darts and crib teams both for and against and sunk more pints than’d float a battle-hic!-ship
I defend my stance of non-inclusion in the books on account of said clubs not only being largely possessive and clique-y to the point of exasperation, but also their not generally being freely accessible to the hoi-polloi (ie: me and ‘ee, aka the ordinary Joes of society). Even so, that’s not to say that they should be discounted en masse. It’s a point I’m also humbled to make as once upon a far-away time, we of the Faithful City had the advantage of lots of this rarefied phenomenon, some of which I joined and under whose colours I even managed to bluff my way through many a competitive match or two – an admission that today irks me no end as frankly, when it came to anything involving team spirit, I was generally the one left out and sulking in the corner. But for all that, I retain some joyous memories of Worcester’s clubs – few of which now remain to reciprocate the tale. Accordingly, as a belated tribute to them, here’s at least a working list of some of those hallowed establishments where, if only between twelve-ish and two-ish of a Sunday lunchtime, men could stand proud and pretend to be gaffers in their own homes if only while keeping a wary eye on the clock in case ‘Erself flounced in with his dinner, by now dried-up and burned to a frazzle, and walloped it on the bar with a withering look and a comment suitably waspish to match. Or worse… No doubt there’s some I’ve omitted from the list below – and here, please feel free to enlighten me. But for now, the ace clubs of Worcester, for the greater part no more, I salute you.
Archdales, Barbourne Ex-Servicemen’s, Royal British Legion, Worcester City FC Social, United Services, Red Hill Social, Blue Calf, Windshields, Wards, Claines British Legion, Warndon Social, MEB, Metal Castings, Midland Red, Meco, Navy, Heenan and Froude Social (as pictured), St Stephens Workingmen’s, Gas Works, RAF Association, Public Works, Volunteers, Labour, Conservative, Quality Cleaners, Rainbow Hill Workingmen’s, St Johns Workingmen’s, Polish, Porcelain Works, Police.
PS: One last thought: count up how many are still around today. I’m struggling to get past six, poss seven, with one (the last) still in existence but no longer within the city boundary. Oh, and before you demand a suspended sentence for my crime of excluding the City’s night-clubs – ie strung up on a scaffold and hung by the neck until dead – may I point out that by the time Annabel’s, Sacha’s, Tanya’s, Tramps, the Hacienda, and their like came on the scene, I was married with kids and considered it best to stay well away. Feel free, though, to share your memories on the FB page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/worcesterpubsthenandnow) along with the others. BB.