The original club was opened in 1899 at 25 Claverton Buildings, the site of a former butcher’s shop, by John Fuller, a Liberal MP for West Wiltshire from 1900 until 1911. In 1910 he was knighted and in 1911 resigned his seat in Parliament to become Governor of Victoria.
The old Lyncombe Hill turning, with St Marks and the Christian Science Church clearly visible.
The club appeared in the Bath Directories from 1900 until the early 1950's as “The Lyncombe and Widcombe Liberal Club” but then changed its name to “Widcombe Workmen’s Club” until its move to the new premises when it became “Widcombe Social Club”.
A view into Widcombe from the canal.
The new building at the bottom of Widcombe Hill opened in 1970 (see the press article below), on a site that had once had been fields that went north towards Bathwick. The Kennet & Avon Canal arrived at Bathwick in 1805 but it wasn’t until 1810 that it was extended to Widcombe and joined to the River Avon - the basin above the lock then became the site of commercial buildings including Samuel Rogers’ stone masons workshop (the yard was where the Travelodge is now), and a coal merchant’s yard. It became known as ‘Widcombe Wharf’.
From the Bath Weekly Chronicle of Thu 27 Aug 1970 (No. 10,860) p10
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REMEMBER - IT’S THE SOCIAL CLUB NOW!
by Sally Collings
THERE ARE still a few cloth caps in Widcombe, Bath.
But since the working class man has changed his image, so has his entertainment.
What used to be Widcombe Working Men’s Club, based in a terraced house in Claverton Street, will open tomorrow as a smart, purpose-built clubhouse at the foot of Widcombe Hill, with the new name of Widcombe Social Club.
About 80 years ago the working men of Widcombe wanted somewhere to laugh, play darts and skittles, and drink together.
So they formed themselves into a committee and became Widcombe Liberal Club, with affiliation to the Club and Institute Union in 1946.
Then the name was changed to Widcombe Working Men’s Club, and there was pride in the voices of those who called themselves working men.
Today, plenty of white-collar workers come along and, to keep up with the more refined image, the name has been changed.
Over the years the committee has collected the £25,000 to pay for the land, and has persuaded Bass-Charrington to lend another £25,000.
The money has come from the entertainments, social events, raffles and the 10 bob a year membership fee.
The ten shillings is a nominal sum, which legally enrolls members and entitles them to drink at and use the club every day of the week.
But with 400 members, it amounts to a lot of money.
And with so many, a converted house which held, at most, 150 people, was just not big enough. Even the billiards table had to go, to squeeze in a few more eager drinkers.
That was a few years ago. By the time the new £50,000 building was completed, the club was much too crowded for comfort, said Mr Don Stone, the committee chairman.
So the committee bought premises at the bottom of Widcombe Hill, overlooking the A4 and the canal pond, and decided what facilities a new club ought to have.
Things like two skittle alleys, store rooms, several lounges and a stage with its own dressing room.
The architects were F. W. Beresford-Smith and Partners of Bath. The building they designed contains a flat for a steward in anticipation of a full-time position being created.
There is a kitchen where full meals can be prepared. So proper restaurant facilities will be available.
The architects describe the club room as “having a contemporary colour scheme, somewhat rich in colour, mainly in red and gold. The ceiling is a deep purple, the end walls are a rich red and the side wall is lilac. The floor combines the use of colours on other surfaces and the curtains are golden in colour.”
Some of the club’s refinements include special lights in the skittle alleys and an open colonnade in the car park, so that the canal pond can be seen from the parked cars.
Luxury enough for any man, working or not.