Clent Club was formed in October 1886 and met in premises at Holy Cross. The Club soon moved to rooms above the shop known as The Enterprise on the opposite side of Bromsgrove Road and was given a billiard table which assisted the Club in gaining some revenue.
In 1896 the Club moved to specially built premises further along the Bromsgrove to Pembrey Road – now a private dwelling. Lord Cobham, as President of the County Union of Clubs, opened the new Club premises and about 40 members attended the ceremony. “Lord Cobham spoke strongly of the real value, especially in country places, of Workmen’s Clubs and begged members not only to use their club for recreation, but to take it seriously as a means of increasing knowledge. He went on to say that he had long looked upon Clent as in some ways a model parish.
Some country places might be said, he remarked, to be under the benevolent despotism of a squire, other under that of a parson. He was far from saying that either of these was a bad thing; but he was sure that in Clent we had a far better state of things, in having a healthy public spirit and in possessing many men ready to take an active interest in the affairs and welfare of the place generally. He instanced the activity of the Parish Council and the acknowledged supremacy of the Clent allotments, as part of the grounds for this opinion. Lord Cobham then formally declared the Club to be opened, and a general inspection of the premises followed. At 8 o’clock a supper was held at the School, to which 57 honorary and ordinary members sat down. The arrangements were excellently carried out by a hard-working committee, who summoned to their aid wives, daughters and other lady friends.”
In the same year the Club registered as a Friendly Society, which is an organisation made up of people joining together for a common financial or social purpose and is governed by the law of the land, relating to such societies. In Clent’s case the objective was to provide male residents with a meeting place to “pursue recreation after the toil of the day”.
By 1910 the subscription was four shillings a year and this accorded the members use of an “excellent supply of daily, weekly and monthly papers, also of a library which included circulating books belonging to the Worcestershire Union of Workmen’s Clubs”. There was also a good bowling green and access to other games including chess, draughts, dominoes, cards and air-gun shooting. Beer was provided on the premises to members but “with certain restrictions to quantity”.
Following the First World War a new Trust was set up by a group of local men and land was purchased at Pool Furlong to build a purpose built Club. This was completed in 1926 at a cost of £1,395.
The club carried on as a Workingmen’s Club over the years, but after the Second World War finance was tight and virtually no improvements were made until 1972 when an extension was added which is now the main clubroom, with this improved facility more people began to use the club. To support this the bowling green had to be dispensed with to provide car parking with a small grassed area maintained for outside seating. Over the years families were encouraged to use the club and its popularity increased, however income remained low and profits generated were not sufficient to support major improvements to the premises and things remained static for many years.
In 2011 a new stewardess was appointed and work began in earnest to increase usage of the Club and maximise income. The opening hours were extended, bar food provided and regular entertainment booked. A new Committee was elected and focused on. The first floor of the premises, effectively derelict for many years, was transformed into high quality accommodation for the stewardess. In 2013 the Club toilet facilities were completely refurbished and improvements made to the roof and water supply.
It was after much deliberation by the current Committee in 2016 that the snooker table was removed and it became apparent that this space could be utilised for more members and would provide a space that could be hired out or used for community clubs in the area. In 2017 refurbishment started in earnest with the main room being completely transformed and updated. In July 2018, the old snooker area was refurbished to the same high standard of the main room and in August 2018, the Members Lounge was fully open. This room was immediately booked for functions such as funeral wakes, christenings and smaller private parties enabling additional revenue without impacting on members day-to-day visits.
The management committee and staff have worked extremely hard over the past two years to create a Club that is ‘fit for purpose’ by improving the Health & Safety standards and Business Model, provides additional promotion with the local community, such as supporting MacMillan Cancer Research through the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning and encouraging local families through events for members and children such as The Easter Egg Hunt and Hallowe’en Trick or Treat Trail.