Not Just Beer and Bingo! A Social History of Working Men's Clubs

by Ruth Cherrington



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 7/25/2012

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 260
ISBN : 9781477231845
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 260
ISBN : 9781477231852

About the Book

In ‘Not Just Beer and Bingo! A Social History of Working Men’s Clubs’, Ruth Cherrington traces the history of working men's clubs from their mid-19th origins to their current state of declining popularity and numbers. This book is a unique and comprehensive account of a social movement that has provided companionship, education, recreation and a great deal of pleasure to working class communities for over 150 years. All aspects of club life are covered here in a highly readable, often funny, but sometimes poignant manner. At all times, Ruth Cherrington maintains a scholarly approach, drawing upon wide-ranging research and the wealth of information collected from scores of club goers, officials and entertainers from across the country. They tell their own stories throughout this book, from nights out with the kids to seaside outings, the concerts and Christmas parties, the place of women, the popularity of games and gambling and the many charitable roles and activities that clubs are involved in. Ruth Cherrington illustrates throughout the book how clubs were much loved social and community institutions that have always been about much more than beer drinking and bingo playing. They were often central to working class leisure time as well as at the heart of the communities where they were located. She shows how clubs played numerous social and cultural roles, making important contributions to the lives of their members and their families. She does not shy away from tacking the downsides of clubs life and the criticisms that they have sometimes received for some of their policies and practices. The role of the Club and Institute Union (CIU) is also considered here. Established by a Temperance minister in 1862, it helped to nurture the early clubs, fight some battles on their behalf, eventually becoming a nationwide organization that represented the ‘Union’ of working men’s clubs. As clubs now face many challenges and with around half the number that existed during their heyday in the early 1970s, the key reasons for the decline are laid out for the reader to consider. The discussion doesn’t end there with an account of the ‘fight back’ and what club people, from members through to officials and the CIU, are doing to keep their doors open and to adapt to the rapidly changing times we live in. The work concludes by offering some thoughts about their future prospects.

About the Author

Ruth Cherrington grew up with a working men's club right across the street! It was a central place in her family’s leisure time just as it was for many local people and their children. She acquired a life-long club going habit from a very young age and as an adult became increasingly curious not only about the club across the street but the thousands of others across the UK. With her trained sociologist's eye and interest in social history, she set out to document how clubs came about in the first place in the middle of the 19th century and what they still mean for their many members 150 years later in the 21st century. Her belief in the social, cultural and community roles that clubs have played across the years, witnessed through her own experiences, has added depth and insight to this work. Ruth Cherrington is a scholar as well as a club enthusiastic and campaigner and this combination has placed her in a good position to tell the club story. Ruth never lost the club-going habit and is still partial to a game of bingo!