Kevin Wardle, Sunderland
Club Reminiscences – Kevin WardleThe Sunderland Democratic Workmen’s Club
Kevin Wardle of Sunderland got in touch with Club Historians recently to share some very fond memories of The Sunderland Democratic Workmen’s Club.
‘As a young lad in the sixties (about ten) I was always with my dad in the grandly named Sunderland Democratic Workmen’s Club, a small but brilliantly named club, frequented by an equal split of shipyard men and coal miners. It was a well-run profitable club with a superb ethos for its members.
Everything from Xmas parties, Easter parades, gentlemen’s "smokers" (no strippers! just free beer, a pre-packed meal and cigarettes on the tables!)
However one funny story regarding committee mens’, let me say calculating abilities, commenced with the annual trip to Crimdon Dene, a seaside resort in North Yorkshire. The club would hire four or five council double decker buses, laden with kids, mums and dads each under the supervision of a committee man dressed in his best suit and waistcoat.
To keep the kids happy they decided to obtain from the local ice cream man a large aluminium tub of ice cream. I think the conversation went like this: "Do you think one will be enough or shall we get two?" "Better get two."
So having then found out that one tub supplied about 1000 cornets they were left with gallons of ice cream. Cue Saturday night, anyone coming into the club was presented with a cornet or wafer sandwich, even after everyone was accommodated the remainder was carried next door to the Conservative Club who were suitably chuffed to be able to offer their members said ice cream!
Sadly the demise of the shipyards and pits eventually saw off ‘the Demmy’ but happy memories remain of how the CIU affected peoples’ lives.’
Another nice memory of ‘the Demmy’:
‘My late father was a signwriter and in the foyer of ‘the Demmy’ was a plentiful "roll board" with all the members’ names and membership numbers on it. Every Sunday a ‘Demmy’ committee man would stand on guard while the weekly membership draw was made, guaranteeing a £1 win, which was rolled over if the relevant member was not in the club.
Unfortunately with the ‘Demmy’ membership consisting of older members, it was not uncommon for one of them to have passed away during the week. Cue the minutes silence for the poor departed George Watson, well known rag and bone man in Sunderland, followed by, yes the weekly draw and you know what’s going to happen?
The concert chairman promptly set the number machine away and shouted out the winning number. And yes, Sunday committee man scans the beautiful roll board and shouts across the room "the winner is George Watson! And he has two minutes to claim his prize!
The concert chairman now trying to gain order, in a room full of hysterical laughter shouts "if George does not produce his club cards he will not be paid and the £1 rolls over till next week! “
You couldn’t make it up!’
Many Thanks to Kevin for these lovely stories of the vibrant and funny side of club life!
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