125 years of trials and tribulations at Conservative Club

Conservative Club feature''James Price in the snooker room''w112315g'Picture: Ceri Oakes
Conservative Club feature''James Price in the snooker room''w112315g'Picture: Ceri Oakes

It all started following that 1886 election victory when the new MP for Whitby presented the new group with a billiards board at 6 Bridge Street - formerley a draper’s shop.

This was to be the first location for the Conservative Club and it would be a long time yet before it moved to where we see it today standing at the top of Flowergate Cross.

Conservative Club feature''James Price playing snooker''w112315f'Picture: Ceri Oakes

Conservative Club feature''James Price playing snooker''w112315f'Picture: Ceri Oakes

According to “Whitby Conservative Club: A Potted History” by Tom Wood the first officials were listed as Mr E.W Chapman (president), MR W Nicholson (banker and secretary, Mr Clarkson (treasurer) and the first stewards were Mr and Mrs Christopher Gale.

It says that as well as the legalities what also went on in the club were games of cards and dominoes and members would be involved in politics when necessary to “criticise the way the national and local authorities were running things”.

Apart from a few changes in personnel things were steady away in Bridge Street until later that year when the owners of 6 Bridge Street decided they wanted their premises back so the move was made to number 3 Marine Parade.

Scandalous suggestions that the club serve alcohol were quickly dumped but with only income being from billiards and nothing stronger than a coffee being on the menu membership numbers started to drop and by 1902 they were down to 165.

Conservative Club feature''David Brown in the snooker room''w112315e'Picture: Ceri Oakes

Conservative Club feature''David Brown in the snooker room''w112315e'Picture: Ceri Oakes

The onset of the First World War did nothing to help and when the 50th anniversary came around in 1936 it would appear there was nothing to celebrate.

But by 1946 members were at 220 and the books showed an increase and the club carried on as it was until 1959.

The committee had learnt of the possibility of acquiring, from Harrison’s Garage, the “major portion” of Flowergate Cross.

According to the history books it didn’t go down well with everybody.

Conservative Club feature''Secretary Bill Edmond looking at an old photo of the conservative club''w112315d'Picture: Ceri Oakes

Conservative Club feature''Secretary Bill Edmond looking at an old photo of the conservative club''w112315d'Picture: Ceri Oakes

Mr S Robinson, who had been the secretary since 1953, resigned and while the club had been in decline (250 members) “it was thought by some that the new venture was suicide”.

It was, however, to be the making and saving of Whitby Conservative Club and paved the way for the club as we know it today which bears down upon Chubb Hill and Pannett Park.

The following year’s AGM revealed 80 new members had enrolled. Now there are over 400, thriving pool and snooker teams and regular games of quoits in the club’s gardens, darts and dominoes.

After years of deliberations and debates the club agreed to enroll Lady Associate Members from 1985 and since then there have been activities for children and charities. One locals will remember is when grandmother June Craven raised £126 by swimming 74 lengths of Whitby Indoor Swimming Pool in 75 minutes.

Conservative Club feature''The lounge bar''w112315c'Picture: Ceri Oakes

Conservative Club feature''The lounge bar''w112315c'Picture: Ceri Oakes

Current chairman Glenn Goodberry hopes the Conservative Club will be around for another 125 years.

He said: “The club is thriving because it has a strong, hardworking committee and loyal membership. It is a very smart club, people come in here, feel safe and we have very competetive prices.

“A lot of people don’t know we are here because it is tucked away and from Stakesby Road you just think it is a big house with a nice garden but when people come in they are amazed.

“I think it survives because of what it offers. I certainly hope it will be here in another 125 years - I won’t be here but my name will be on the board.”

On Saturday 18 June there is a party at the Club to celebrate the milestone.

Conservative Club feature''Don Swallwel enjoying quoits in the grounds''w112315cbPicture: Ceri Oakes

Conservative Club feature''Don Swallwel enjoying quoits in the grounds''w112315cbPicture: Ceri Oakes

Conservative Club feature''Chairman Glen Goodberry in the garden''w112315a'Picture: Ceri Oakes

Conservative Club feature''Chairman Glen Goodberry in the garden''w112315a'Picture: Ceri Oakes