‘Working Men’s Clubs’ Documentary- Lewis Jowers
Why would a young person want to make a documentary about WMCs? Clubs are, after all, often viewed as of little interest to youth. Indeed this is one of the problems in terms of clubs having a future- they seem to be failing to attract young people.
But every year several students contact Club Historians keen to know more about the history and development of the club movement. They may be working on dissertations at undergraduate or postgraduate level. Some are interested because of their family members who were or still are club goers. Others have a sociological or historical interest in the subject.
Whatever the reason, we try to help them as best we can, providing information and also ways of doing research in this area.
Lewis Jowers, newly graduated from the University of Cleveland (College of Art and Design) in Hartlepool, was in touch earlier in the year (2013). Lewis, in his final year of a degree in Creative Film and Moving Image Production, was very keen to make a documentary about clubs as part of his degree. He wrote:
I am only 21 and you would think it’s not what a typical 21 year old would make a film about, but I did. It’s an area of great interest to me, going back to generations of family, the fathers passing the club habit onto their sons.
He was concerned, as we are at Club Historians, about their decline. Working for five years in the The No 1 Amalgamated Club in Middlesbrough, he has witnessed this for himself.
I started off as a glass collector and eventually became a barman. Over the years I have seen customer numbers declining.
He cites the usual reasons: the recession, the smoking ban, supermarket booze, and also the fall of the working class industries.
I came up with the idea of making a short documentary about the decline of WMCs. It seems that nobody had really documented it in the past, the way I wanted to document it.
The way he wanted to do this was from the inside, drawing upon his own personal experiences and contacts, similar to the way Club Historians seeks to collect and tell club stories.
He set up a small production team, interviewed different people on what they thought the reasons were for the decline of customer numbers. He wrote a script for a narrator and brought in an actor to read this as a voice over.
He asked Ruth here at Club Historians to do an interview over Skype during which she offered information and advice.
Overall this documentary has meant a great deal to me. Also working in a WMC you come to understand that they mean a great deal to people, it is a place to socialise, meet friends/colleagues. Meet new people, a place to go on your own if you need some time alone. It will be a huge shame if WMCs close down. They are part of the culture, they are a part of people’s lives.
Well said Lewis! We couldn’t agree with you more. And very well done for making this lovely documentary.
In this film, we get to meet real club people and characters, and to understand in a very visual way what is happening today. It also puts the No 1 Amalgamated Club in the spotlight so I hope it brings in a few more members for the club.
Lewis had his chance to shine when the documentary was shown on the big screen at the Vue Cinema, Hartlepool on June 10th, as part of a degree show. He and his friends and family enjoyed the evening and his documentary received well-deserved praise. Plus it got a First when marked!
The documentary is now available to view on YouTube –
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