Intake Social Club, Craithie Road, Doncaster
The life of a Club Historian is a busy one. A grey Wednesday morning in early March found Ruth of Club Historians at Kings Cross station clutching a latte and laptop. She had heard a lot about the Intake Social Club and Shaun Whitaker, Concert Secretary there, invited her to take a look for herself.
Shaun knows quite a lot about the business and his experience gives him good insight into acts and their suitability for club audiences. He also runs discos and has a keen eye on how to pull in the members for really good nights out rather than nights in with the X Factor and cheap supermarket booze. There is live entertainment at the Intake every Saturday and Sunday night.
In January 2011, Shaun started up a 'save our clubs campaign' on Facebook which you will have read about on this site. It is using social media to bring attention to the plight of our clubs and it attracted several thousand supporters already, including MPs, entertainers and celebrities, who want to keep alive the club tradition and secure a future for these centres of community life. The campaign is not only about flagging up the great obstacles put in the way of clubs in the form of unfavourable and even unfair legislation, but is about encouraging club management committees to think about innovative ways to attract customers.
Shaun had arranged Ruth's afternoon at the club where she was introduced to long-time club members and club officials and shown around. The club opened in August 1931, a period of club expansion in industrial towns across the country. It is fairly compact and cosy with no dividing wall between the games room and the concert room. This could be considered a drawback in that the concert area is not a separate room but on the other hand means they don't have a big, separate room to heat and light. The club has subsections involved in horse racing, fishing, gardening and golf with two well established snooker and pool teams involved in the local leagues. All these are run by the members themselves.
There is a smoking area at the back with lots of potted plants. Additionally, there is one-screen bingo, cards and dominoes with a lovely cosy lounge. This is named after one of the older committee members Ruth was fortunate to meet, Jack Seymour Jnr., who has over 40 years service, and who proudly displays his CIU pin. The lounge is also named after his father, Jack Seymour Snr., who was one of the founder members.
The Intake is a relatively small club in size yet has over 1400 members on its book, with about 300 of them using the club regularly. The age range is from 18 to over 80. On a recent Sunday morning, over 30 people put their names down to become members and they are now listed on the notice board for other members to approve, in the traditional CIU manner. Many clubs would give their right arm to have that many new applications in a month let alone on one day!
What is the secret of their success? Members put it down to good and transparent management and hard work, plus a good community spirit amongst the members. It is a family friendly club. Whilst visiting the Intake, Ruth was shown was treated very well and learned a lot about the club and the local area.
The club can be found on Craithie Road, Doncaster DN2 5 EG.
Being only 5 minutes away from Doncaster racecourse is a bonus and on race days the club opens at 11 am.
The Club Secretary - Mr T G Forester.