In 2012 a group of Holbeck residents joined together to help give new life to a then struggling Holbeck Working Mens Club.
Back then the Club was under-used and suffering under the economic recession. The number of members was dwindling and there were even talks of closing the Club. However, a group of locals from the Holbeck Neighbourhood Plan discussing the future of Holbeck decided there was no point in planning for the future if they were going to let such an iconic establishment go without fighting for it. Changes were made, volunteer bar-staff were drafted, and support of the Club was encouraged with subsidisation of membership.
Established in 1877, Holbeck Working Men’s Club (HWMC) is a real part of our history here, which is why it feels so important that we hold on to it as a community. The history of the Club is entwined with the stories of so many people who have lived here and now there is new hope that HWMC can be rebuilt alongside all the new developments that are happening. The hope is that as new builds are emerging across Holbeck, the HWMC will remain a prominent place for the community and will keep up with the regeneration of the district.
Many locals share this hope that HWMC could become a place of real community, and recent refurbishments to the Club are working towards this. In July refurbishment was carried out downstairs, with new upholstery paid for by the government run Community First Fund. And now, most recently, the upstairs of the Club has also been given a new look.
As part of their community regeneration services, contractors Keepmoat, who are working on the new build opposite, seek to give something back to the communities they build in. For Holbeck, it was asked if this would be a refurbishment of the upstairs of the HWMC. My favourite part of this story is that, in exchange for the refurbishment, Keepmoat were given use of the Club’s kitchen facilities and were provided with tea, coffee and lunches for all the workers. I just think it’s a beautiful example of what community can look like in Holbeck and how the Club can be a place that seeks to serve the people there, whether for a few months, or many years.
And the work doesn’t stop there. Speaking to Ian Pickup, who is heavily involved with the running of the Club, his hope is that HWMC will become
“More of a community hub than a club”
With a computer room where local youth can do homework, a new kitchen with a serving hatch so that lunches could be served during the day, and the transformation of the smaller front room into a cosy coffee area, with talk of having an open fire if possible! These plans may be far off, but looking at where the Club has come from since it’s near close in 2012 it’s exciting to think that some of these things could be possible.
But for now, the Club will keep on running. The newly refurbished upstairs has already been put to good use: rehearsals for a local pantomime are in full swing, and the upcoming Santa’s Grotto begins on Saturday 13 December, where one of the downstairs rooms will be transformed into a Christmas winter wonderland.
To check out more of what’s going on at the Club you can go to their website at: http://holbeckwmc.moonfruit.com.