The Bradpole
Social Club

The Bradpole Social Club

THE BRADPOLE SOCIAL CLUB 1886 – 2012 (and counting)

Tucked away behind Holy Trinity Church in Bradpole, a popular social club and night spot has just notched up 125 years of uninterrupted service to the community in 2011 and now, in 2012, goes on to Tucked away behind Holy Trinity Church in Bradpolecelebrate 40 years in its “new” clubhouse, completed in 1972.  Today, this club, Bradpole Social Club (BSC) still owned wholly by its members, is one of the oldest surviving clubs of its kind in England and whilst the membership is justifiably proud of this long history, neither they nor the Club live in the past. In fact it’s moving forward as a friendly modern family orientated venue, providing a convivial home from home for existing and new members and guests alike. 

Always run by a Committee of volunteers, BSC has survived through the Boer War, two World Wars and has seen the images of two Queens and four Kings hung on its walls. To give some further perspective, we list at the end here, some of the events that took place in the year BSC was founded. It might surprise some but the Members of the Committee have actually changed since 1886! Since the aims are the same however, today’s Membership would surely get on famously with those forward thinking people who decided Bradpole would benefit from a club all those years ago.   

The original meeting minutes in fact show a keen eye for the balance sheet from the Club’s inception and that’s still the case today. 126 years on and despite the current recession, BSC, whilst not cash rich, is better than solvent and faces the future with confidence.   

Purpose, values and comradeship and self-help were the original watchwords of our founding members, to which today’s membership would simply add our relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  (Collar and tie are certainly not needed, as they were in 1886, for instance!). 

West Dorset-20120320-00038Originally formed as Bradpole Liberal Working Men’s Club following William Gladstone’s (then Prime Minister) formation of the National Liberal Club in London in 1882, BSC was one of many such clubs established around the country in the years that followed.  Many working men identified with the Liberal Party in those days and the ideal that led to the formation of clubs was one of mutual self-help.   

      TIMELINE – The timeline was as follows:

August 1886

Inaugural  meeting of interested persons held at the home of Mr James O’Hagan, Middle Street, Bradpole.
Mr S C Chard told the meeting he was willing to let a house at St Andrew’s Well with one room upstairs and one down (bar and reading room respectively) for the use of the Club for sixpence (2Ĺ pence) a week.

September 1886

Bradpole Liberal Working Men’s Club officially in existence.  Mr H S Suttil (Pymore) elected President, Mr W G Forsey, Treasurer and Mr James O’Hagan Secretary.

November 1886

Proposed and accepted to allow boys aged 11 to 15 to use the reading room only.

July 1887

The members decided to erect a dedicated clubhouse, still in the St Andrew’s Well area.

December 1888

Members decided to build a new and probably bigger clubhouse at 276 St Andrew’s Road next to what became White’s Garage.  The land was owned by Mr W G Forsey who leased it back to the Club.


Club premises given over to American troops then in Dorset in preparation for the D-Day landings.

November 1955

The word “Liberal” dropped and Club known as simply Bradpole Working Men’s Club.

June 1971

Clubhouse demolished to allow road widening.  Part of the land still stands vacant on the north side of White’s Garage.  The Club had already put in hand a “new” clubhouse in Higher Street, Bradpole, fully opened in early 1972.  It was built in six months by Club members so the tradition of “mutual self-help” was alive and well.

November 1981

Extension to clubhouse added, providing extra space for a new bar and seating.

September 1986

Centenary celebrations held.

September 1995

Ladies welcomed to full membership under then President, Alan Nicholls and name shortened to Bradpole Social Club.


Further extension to skittle alley opened.


Clubhouse infrastructure updated with new toilets, rewiring and complete redecoration.

Today’s clubhouse and car park then, boasts a convivial bar, serving refreshments, beverages, crisps and other snacks and ample space for entertainment and games.  One of the principles is to keep prices below the norm and always better than “competitive”.   

The following “indoor sports” are catered for and well supported:
Skittles on our new and extended Canadian maple wood alley, enjoyed by club teams and other local teams 

Table skittles on three tables if required.  Teams from Bridport and Beaminster leagues play regularly

Darts on three boards, used extensively in winter and summer

A championship size pool table if required for those who like knocking balls about  BSC’s large wall mounted flat screen television is the centrepiece for important sports events and these are often held in conjunction with a tasty barbeque. 

The Friends of BSC (formed by members) runs a “50 Club” lottery, with a monthly draw and cash prizes up to £50. The surplus goes towards monthly live entertainment, providing members and guests with a chance to get down and boogie.  Groups such as the very popular One Night Stand, tribute bands and solo performers like, Heath Ashton, who was GMTV’s winner of the “Search for Elvis” competition, star on these very popular evenings.  Family discos are often booked for weddings, birthdays, engagements, etc and our Snail Racing event is an absolute riot of fun and excitement (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it). 

The Club is also proud that in line with the 19th century benevolence of its founders, it is still very active in supporting local charities.  In 2011 for instance, BSC raised £2,252 for Clic Sargent. 

Last but not least, “Prize Bingo” once a month on a Saturday evening with full house prizes being fresh joints of meat (beef, lamb, pork, etc) sourced from our local butcher.  This is a very popular evening and you need to get there early. 

So here we are, 126 years later, with a friendly, fun and forward looking club which continues to keep up with the times.  New members over 18 are always more than welcome.  The low annual subscriptions will be recouped after a few drinks from the bar (your favourite tipple won’t be found cheaper locally) and the facilities, atmosphere, games, etc make a night out in Bradpole something really special for families, groups of friends and individuals alike.  As we say, we offer much more than a pint or three!  

James GOFF
(with thanks to Ivan ANDREWS of Bradpole)

West Dorset-20120320-00037-1


The mind boggles to think 126 years ahead (i.e. to 2138!) but here’s what happened the year BSC was founded.
  • 49th year of Queen Victoria’s reign (her Jubilee was a year later) 

    Prime Ministers were Lord Salisbury (Robert Cecil) and William Ewart Gladstone 

    Bridport Football Club played its maiden game in Dorchester on 6th February losing 5 – 1 (nothing changes).  The team probably went by train? 

    10th March – 1st Crufts Dog Show 

    4th April – Gladstone introduces first Irish Home Rule Bill (thrown out 8th June precipitating the second general election that year) 

    1st September – Severn Railway Tunnel opens 

    9th September – Southport Lifeboat capsizes with only two survivors from the crew of 16

    Arsenal Football Club founded 

    Plymouth Argyle Football Club founded 

    The rules of field hockey are codified 

    Scotch Whiskey distiller William Grant and Sons founded 

    Thomas Hardy publishes the Mayor of Casterbridge 

    Robert Louis Stevenson publishes Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Kidnapped 

    George Mallory born.  In 1924 he died on Mount Everest and his body was found 75 years later in 1999 

Working men formed a Liberal Working Men’s Club in the village of Bradpole.  Probably safe to say nothing much else happened in Bradpole that year!  Certainly and not incidentally, a Liberal Club opened in Bridport also in 1886 but it closed many years ago. 

Ruth Cherrington of Club Historians, who is a noted authority on Working Men’s clubs (BBC One Show August 2011, BBC2 Timeshift Documentary on Drinking Rules, January 2012 ) believes that BSC could be the oldest surviving club of its kind in the country and she is researching this further as this is written.



©2008/14 - Club Historians

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