Century-old Blackburn club set to close
11:00pm Friday 7th February 2014 in News
A 102-YEAR-OLD working men’s club will close its doors for the final time at the end of the month.
Furthergate WMC, in Blackburn, will shut on Friday, February 28, with the committee citing a drop in member-ship as one of a numb-er of reasons.
The Cherry Street club, which has been on the current site since 1925, had its glory days in the 1970s and 80s, and used to attract star acts, including the original Searchers, The Ivy League, and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
The committee said a lack of membership, high rent and bills, and the change in drinking culture over the past 20 years were to blame.
Jimmy Dempsie, 71, a member for 37 years, said: “It will be an incredibly sad day when it goes because this has been a massive part of my life.
“I come here every day and it’s a huge shame that it’s going to be lost to us.
“There are a lot of people who love this club, but we just don’t have the same number as we used to do.”
Mr Dempsie, the club’s secretary, said it had been a weekly struggle for the past five years.
He said although there were 212 members on the books last year, most did not attend reg- ularly, and a typical Saturday night could see around 10 people at the bar.
He said: “We used to get a lot of custom from the dog race track where Tesco is now, but when that went, and the smoking ban was enforced, the club was in serious trouble and it was downhill from there. We want to sell off as much as we can, inc-luding the snooker and pool tables, to help pay the debts. The rest will be donated to charity.”
Eddie Haworth, 67, a member for 32 years, said: “Almost 150 people used to queue around the block on Christ-mas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and they were such big nights.
“The star nights were the best, and we used to have about 400 people here having a great time.
“All of that started to fade, and now none of that is left.
“There is still a core of members who come all of the time, but it’s not enough to keep it going.”