Darren has been going to the New Houghton Working Men’s Club near Mansfield since he was a lad and has lots of fond memories of the place and its people. He can probably still taste his first pint that he had there with his dad and granddad.
“I bet my granddad’s turning in his grave with how the club is now, he was a committee man through and through a member of the CIU. He was a miner then a long distance lorry driver, then a bus driver. He used to do Santa Claus for all the kids up at the club and around our village. We used to wait for him to come home dressed as Santa. We were the last visit after he’d done his rounds at the club and around the village. He took club trips all over the place. My grandma was a cook at the pit down the road (Pleasley Colliery) and a housewife with 5 kids.”
Darren feels it is very sad that young people don’t seem to want to drink in clubs any more. ‘Devastating’ is the word he uses to describe the decline of clubs and he is one of many trying to do something positive to keep clubs going. He had only been on the management committee for three weeks when he contacted Club Historians in mid November 2009, and has found that there is a lot of work to do in a short space of time, if they are turn around the fortunes of New Houghton.
Darren’s grandparents used the club and feature on some of the old photos, enjoying their Christmas slap-up meal, which was always provided by the club for its senior citizens during better times. Most clubs did this, but only a few can afford to do so in this day and age which is a great loss.
Darren’s memories of the club, however, go back to way before he supped his first pint. As with millions of other children up and the down the country, their local social club was at the centre of their world. Let’s hear Darren speak for himself again…
“From being the age of 12 or 13, me and my mates would spend our time sitting outside the club thinking ‘wait till were 18 so we can go for a pint in there play darts and pool with our dads’, because the only time we were allowed in there was Christmas for the great pantomimes they used to put on. How I wish we could do that for our kids. Or getting excited a few days before our yearly outing to Skegness, being given our pop and crisps on the bus and eagerly waiting for our little envelope with our bit of spending money they used to give us. Sadly, all that has gone as well. One day we hope to bring these things back to our club with a bit of hard work and a little help from our village people, I know it’s possible after all it’s the hub of our community. Guy Fawkes Night was always good, sitting outside the club with our home-made Guy Fawkes, a pair of trousers your mum didn't know you had taken. Your mate would get the jumper, another mate get the Benny hat and an old football for his head… waiting for the folk to go in and out and not a soul that we didn't know so we were always safe… divvying all the cash up at the end of the night was great, then off to the shop for sweets and back to the club where the old timers would try to pinch your sweets. Memories!! “
“My grandad is standing, second from the left, my grandma is third from the left. Mr & Mrs Lack, Alan & Phoebe, Christmas dinner for the committee and their partners.”
More of the committee members, somewhere around 1959, 1960.
“Both grandparents have passed away but I bet my granddad is turning in his grave with how the club is now! He was a committee man through an through - a member of the CIU - he was a miner, then a long distant lorry driver, then a bus driver. He used to be Santa Claus for all the kids at the club and around our village. We used to wait for him to come home dressed as Santa because we were the last visit after he’d done his rounds at the club and around the village. He organised club trips all over the place. My grandma was a cook at the pit down the road (Pleasley Colliery) and a housewife for 5 kids. I really wish he was here to give me advice....”