A bit of history, a few more of the recent changes and .............?

1901 - it would seem that a RT Bottle (builder) was the executor of the will of Richard Hughes (retired butcher), and sold the land (where the club is, the garden at the back and the plot next door, now number 30, to EJ Bottle of 'Dial House' for £300 (about £37,000 in today's money). This was a total area of '2 rods and 38 perches' (whatever they are?).  EJ Bottle then built the club.

 

1905 — The club opened around this time, and we think that the local reverend was secretary for a number of years. Rumour has it that it catered for the needs of the railway construction workers, but it was more likely a club with snooker for the village's middle classes (and perhaps some of the working class?).

 

1912 — The club leased the premises for next 21 years at a sum of £35 per year (about £4,000 a year in today's money - they must have been selling a lot of drinks!).

 

1933 — EJ Bottle sold the property to Harrietsham Working Men's Club, including number 30 next door, via the trustees Lionel Rea of Coles Dane House, Gerald Mercer of the Maidstone Bank and Walter Woolley of Stubble Hill. The sale price was £600 (about £42,000 in today's money!).

 

1940 — The war years - the ground floor used by ARP as a 'gas-proof' room — the air bricks up to recently were still cemented over!

We have been told that members had a right to a weekly bath at No 30 (where the club steward lived). Please do not queue up outside No 30 today (in your dressing gown with towel over your arm!) and demand your bath rights. We have excellent neighbours, and if ever there were these 'bath rights' they ended when the club sold the house sometime after the war.  However, until only a few years ago the club had the right to access what is now our beer cellar via No 30 in order to carry out the 'waste' bucket.  We were happy to relinquish this 'right of way' - and so were our neighbours!

 

1970s — Women still only allowed in once a month, as visitors!  And eventually ... in 2001 ..... rule changes (at last) allowed women to become associate members.

Nearly as significant (joking, honest!) in 2001 a central heating system replaced the two single heaters in the club which were guaranteed to toast anybody standing within a metre of them, or for members to freeze if they moved any further away!

 

2004 — Significant rebuild and refurbishment, proper toilet facilities were built (don't ask about what was here before!)

 

2005 to date — Women could finally become full members of the club (only 77 years after they gained the right to vote!

The club name changed from 'Harrietsham Working Men's Club' to `Harrietsham Club'. A TV was installed, against the wishes of many of the club members!  A 48 hour `snookerthon' took place at the club — 2 crazy individuals played snooker, raising 000s for charity.

Continued success of both the pool and snooker teams in their local leagues.

Friendly, social atmosphere retained and built on with activities throughout the year.

 

Local Cricket and Petanque clubs using our facilities for meetings (unfortunately the game which chucks balls up in the air is now lost to the village).

 

Post Office established in the club's ground floor shop. Although we rented out the shop several times before the businesses (hardware, bikes, storage facility, and greengrocers) moved on, there were issues. The current use not only brings the club a small income but provides an important resource for the village.

 

For five years we held beer festivals celebrating up to seventeen of the very best Kentish ales and ciders (great burgers too!).

 

We have held several 'Open Days'. It hasn't been just the offer of free burgers from our barbecue, or the customary low-priced soft and alcoholic drinks that have made these so successful. Often people from the village have been just curious. Some said they came in because they just wanted to see what it was like inside!  I wish I had a pound for the number of times I heard 'I didn't realize it was like this' or 'I wish I had come in before, but didn't know if I could'!

 

We finally changed the name to 'Harrietsham Social Club' a couple of years ago, and it is now clearer as to what the club is about.  What the name on the front of the club does not show is just how friendly and sociable we are.  We do not tolerate 'anti-social' behaviour. The management committee (of which three are women and what would the old 'working men' have thought about that?) work well together and we make sure that we address any issues which on occasions can arise.