NEW!!! NEW!!! NEW!!! Club Historians Book, Film, DVD Review Section

This new addition to Club Historians will include reviews of any club-related books, films, documentaries and DVDs plus TV programmes. 

Readers are very welcome to send in their contributions as there are probably lots of things out there that we won’t know about otherwise!  Any contributions will be fully attributed to the authors so please don’t be shy!

We would also like to see a few more people joining our blogspot xxx


Peter Nestlеr- Sheffield People (
Menschen in Sheffield) (1965, 40 mins)

This club was seeped with history and Nestler’s film saw it through the perspective of 60s gritty social realism. 

A more complete review will follow shortly…

Isabella Wiedersich- 40 Years Later  (40 Jahre Spater)

Isabella Wiedersich didn’t grow up with a tradition of local clubs and club going.  Far from it, in fact.  She was born in Munich and then moved to Berlin with her family.  There were other places for local social and community life but nothing like the working men’s club in Germany .

But Isabella became interested in clubs in the UK after watching a film by German film maker Peter Nestlеr based on the former
Dial House Club in Sheffield (which features on site).  Nestler’s film inspired her in many ways and she travelled to Sheffield in 2005 to film the Dial House Club 40 years later after Nestler. 

In spite of her relative lack of previous club experience, Isabella managed to capture here the essence of club life.  Although an ‘outsider’, she shows wonderful insights into how a club looks, feels and what the club members do on a typical night out.  And she manages to pass these on to the viewer in a very clear manner, letting the events and members speak for themselves.

It begins with the club accountant telling us about the sorry state of the club finances but how they hope to revive the club after going into liquidation and branching out into new areas.  He says that the club cannot remain a Victorian club, stuck in the past, but needs to appeal to modern audiences.  There was hope that the club would survive and the Dial House tradition live on perhaps for another 100 years, according to one member.  We watch members enjoying a concert with various acts performing.  It’s low key, informal, everyone mucking in and having a laugh.  It’s almost beautiful to watch but extremely poignant as you somehow know that time is running out for this club, as with many others we know and love. 

It turned out to be one of the final documentations of the life and times of the Dial House as it did close down, for good.  Isabella shot the provisional material in April 2005 and then went back with the producer in November the same year only to learn that the club had shut down in August.  That was only four months after she had visited them.  This made it more tragic for her as things seemingly were heading into the right direction.  She thought it would survive and still be there.  She told Ruth of her terrible sense of shock and loss when seeing the club closed down.  The people there had been so kind and helpful to her when making this film and she knew how much they loved their club.  Where did they go now for their evenings out?  What did they do with their spare time?

Isabella is currently planning to make another documentary, about another of our clubs.  Let’s wish her luck and let’s hope that the one she films next doesn’t suffer the same sad fate as the
Dial House.

Once this next film is made, readers will be the first to know.  Watch this space!

Henry Singer - Last Orders, BBC2 Documentary, Part of The White Stuff series.  March 2008

Another documentary about a club made by an ‘outsider’, this time an American film maker, Henry Singer.  Mixed reviews and mixed feelings about this one.  It received quite a bit of attention at the time which was good in some ways as we know that clubs and their efforts to keep things going are often overlooked or just plain ignored.  But Ruth at Club Historians was not at all sure about the main message of this documentary which seemed to veer off at the end into a discussion about white working class racism, which was the main underlying theme of the
White Series.  We wouldn’t for one minute wish to leave out discussions of racism and sexism in club life over their long history but these are to be found at every layer of society and in most social institutions.  I would rather they had kept the focus on why the club in question was trying to stay open in spite of debts and fewer members coming in to use the facilities. 

There were some good points made and some very poignant scenes but there was probably too much of an agenda set here and it was overly narrated.  I could comment on why they hired an American to film an ailing northern English club but sometimes the perspective of an outsider can be valuable (see the review of Isabella Wiedersich’s film of the Dial House Club, for example.)

The jury’s out here on this one so what did you think?
More to follow…




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