Bentinck Miners Welfare Club.
Ruth of Club Historians recently had the pleasure to visit Bentinck Miners Welfare Club in Kirkby in Ashfield, Notts. Sunday April 11th was chosen because the multi-talented, all-action TaleGate Theatre Company were putting on a community panto that day. This was too good a chance to pass up- visiting a well-established and interesting club and seeing a panto in the grand upstairs function room of the club. Ruth reports she had a great time, oh yes she did….
Bentinck’s history goes back at least 80 years though no-one is too sure about when exactly it was set up. If anyone out there has any information regarding this club’s history, then we would be pleased to hear from you. It was one of several local miners’ clubs which were established to help the miners and their families. Sadly, most of the others have closed down but Bentinck is working hard to stay open and to keep serving the local community.
The links to the local community are very clear to see, even before talking to anybody there. These remain strong and are being nurtured lovingly.
Arriving on a Sunday, there was plenty going on, in and around the club, apart from the preparations for the afternoon’s panto. A local angling association was holding a meeting in one of the downstairs rooms whilst outside, it was all go on the football pitch with many youngsters and their families. The pitch belongs to the club and they let it be used for the Kickstart Mini Soccer League. There are a number of games held on a Sunday morning, one after the other. The man in the burger van outside was doing a roaring trade in bacon and egg cobs, a local delicacy, but this was probably at the expense of the club’s own Sports Bar located just on the side by the football pitch. It’s small but very handy for the outside amenities and the management are hoping to make more of this bar in the near future. In warmer weather, there is seating outside.
Michael Murray from the management team gave me a very thorough tour around the club, pointing out what improvements had been made and what they are planning to do in the near future. Of course it all costs money, but they realise the club needed sprucing up and modernising in some areas to keep the customers happy. I think they have done a good job so far.
Apart from the downstairs sports bar, they have a family room which is becoming increasingly popular. Michael told me:
‘The family room has not been utilised as much as it should have been over the past 3 to 4 years mostly because of décor and activities not moving with the times. Basically we’ve decorated it to some extent which has been well received. We’ve added a table tennis table which was donated to us worth nearly £700. We have plans to change the lighting which will save us money and make it more attractive and decorative as well. And for the World Cup this year we’re going to put an overhead screen projector in. It is very much a family room, as opposed to just a kids room.’
The table tennis table has proven very popular not only with the kids but their parents as well. In this day and day of high tech, home based entertainment, it’s great to hear that ‘real’ games like table tennis are alive and well. The family room also has access to the kids play area outside, which was once the bowling green. In some ways, it’s sad that the bowling green has gone but the area is well used now as there is a local children’s play group on the club premises and they use that space often.
There is a very nice downstairs lounge as well as a games room and the concert room. A great facility they have is that all these rooms are linked by intercom so when bingo is taking place, the players don’t have to be in the room where the numbers are being called.
Upstairs is the function room already referred to which has a lovely big stage - perfect for the TaleGate panto but also other events. It’s not often you find such a proper entertainment room and it comes complete with its own friendly ghosts, or so local folklore has it. Ruth did notice some very odd ‘orbs’ on photos she took in this room which only appeared on pictures of when the performers were active on stage. Clearly, these ghosts like the stage being used and the sound of laughter! The local paranormal group, www.tapitcrew.info, have had several all-night sit-ins at the club and noticed some odd things going on after the bars have closed and the lights are off.
The room was busy for the panto and the look on the little one’s faces when the ‘baddie’ and/or the ‘goodie’ were on stage can’t be described. Some were transfixed. Just as was Ruth! It was a good old fashioned community event. Dads were busy buying pop and crisps for the kids and pints for themselves at the bar. They all enjoyed the event and the Bentinck is planning to invite TaleGate back in the near future for another performance.
Other events that are held include bingo from Friday through to Monday and pool nights.
Michael and his colleagues put a lot of time and effort into making the club welcoming and lively and I felt their strong sense of loyalty to the local community. This club deserves all the support and help it can get so if you haven’t visited yet, then do stop by and join! If you want to help out in some way, I’m sure your skills would be welcome.
Thanks to Michael and his team for showing me around their club plus to the Tale Gate theatre for such a wonderful panto!!!
The Bentinck can be found on Sutton Road, Kirkby in Ashfield, Notts. NG17 8NU
For further information about the TaleGate Theatre Company, see this site, Entertainment section or www.TaleGatetheatre.co.uk
April 13th 2010