Coombe Social Club celebrated its 75th anniversary with a special gala concert on August 28th, 2008
The club can be found on the Brinklow Road in what used to be a small village, Old Binley, at the south easterly edge of Coventry. Historically it has strong links to the local mining industry as there used to be a colliery in Binley. Some current members and club officials claim Scottish roots linked to the mine because after the Second World War, Scottish and Welsh miners travelled to Coventry in search of work. The current Entertainment Secretary, Edmund (Eddie) Davies, who organised the 75th anniversary celebrations, is no exception as his own father was a miner.
The club began life in 1929 as the Old Binley Working Men’s Club, in a small wooden hut, as did many other clubs up and down the country. Unfortunately, an incident of after hours drinking very early on led to trouble with the local authorities and the club lost its Registration Certificate, forcing Old Binley WMC closed down.
But local men and their families wanted a club in their area which was several miles from the Coventry city centre, so under an entirely different Management Committee, a new club was formed. This was called Coombe Social Club which opened its doors in 1933 and has been acting as a centre of the local community since then. There were many happy times in the old wooden hut but like other clubs Coombe embarked on various refurbishment programmes throughout the 70s and 80s. Today the club has a two tier site, with the games room and bar downstairs and concert room built on stilts upstairs. On the intermediate level is a function room.
The most recent addition, because of the Smoking Ban regulations, was the setting up of a ‘smokers den’, surrounded by a wooden fence, near the car park. The club now has around 900 members who are looked after by President Windsor Monks and Secretary William Sharp. The stewardship is in the capable hands of Paddy Connolly and his bar staff.
Visiting the club for the first time, it certainly comes across as a friendly, family oriented club with a lot of the usual club banter between members going on in all the rooms over a game of darts, snooker or just a pint or two. It’s easy to see the strong sense of history there with photos on the wall of the founder members and early football teams. Long-standing member Keith Hicks, who joined the club on his 18th birthday in 1962, remembers very well helping to lay out the football pitch for the club team on nearby common land in 1960. ‘They had a good team back then,’ he recalls but no pitch of their own. Later on they had a pitch at the back of the club after they lost the common land until that was sold. ‘It’s a good club,’ he says. ‘It’s always been a very busy club.’
But it’s also a small club with a big heart, as Mr Hicks tells us, as he is Chairman of the Central England branch of the Prostrate Cancer charity. Clubs in general have a strong tradition of solid charity work and Coombe is no exception. The committee helps out this charity by letting them have the function room for their bi-monthly meetings. ‘We’ve earned quite a bit of money through the club. They don’t charge us for the room. They help out in many ways. It’s brilliant.’
Apart from supporting good causes such as Prostrate Cancer, there are many examples of the club helping out members in hard times. During the Falklands War, 1982, Coombe Social member
Sergeant Eric Watson of the 45th Marine Commando was badly injured in action in the battle of San Carlos Bay. He suffered injuries to his legs and spent that summer in Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Eric’s father was ‘Gadge’ Watson, a member and official of Coombe for many years and very well known for his years as a trustee. Coombe members raised money for injured Eric so that on his return to Coventry, he was welcomed back to Coombe Social at a special social event in his honour. He was presented with a cheque for £325 by Councillor Tom McLatchie, a former Mayor of Coventry. The show to mark his return was given by the aptly named group ‘Calvary’ and was arranged by the Club President back then, Sam Shale, Secretary John Birtley and Entertainment Secretary Ken Davies who organised fund raising shows and raffles. This sort of activity shows the strong local community tradition of Coombe Social as well as their generosity.
The longest serving member in the club and a great source of information is Sandy Clark, who has many good memories of the club. He has been visiting the club since the 1940s and is also from a mining family. He has held many key posts as well as being involved with the football team which won a number of trophies when he was at the helm. The 75th anniversary concert was a sell-out, ticket-only event. Apart from a concert there were also a few houses of bingo and a raffle. Local CIU shire Branch officials John Reynolds (President) and Regan Blount (Secretary) were also in attendance.
In order to have another 75 good years, Coombe Social members need to turn out and use the facilities on a regular basis and also encourage others to join.
Ruth Cherrington, Sept. 2008