DO not adjust your screen – the following news has been verified. One of Sheffield’s biggest working men’s clubs will this weekend be selling beer at just 86p a pint.
Wadsley Bridge WMC will celebrate 90 years since it moved into its current home – a former mansion house in Halifax Road – by knocking 90p off the price off every drink.
“A lot of our members remember when you could go out with a fiver, have a few drinks and still have change,” says secretary Phil Cooper. “Well, this weekend, they’ll be able to do that again.”
Good old days, indeed.
It’s 2pm on a Friday when your Diarist drops in to discuss the up coming celebrations, and the club – a huge maze of lounges, snugs, bars, games room, concert hall and formal areas which caters for more than 2,500 members – is already doing a roaring trade.
The snooker tables are all in use, the televised horse racing attracts a sizable crowd, and the jukebox plays Bon Jovi.
One fellow – clearly a man of taste – sits reading The Star.
And here perched on a bench is the club’s longest serving member, 94-year-old Joe Smedley.
The retired engineer signed up in 1934 when he was just 18. Back then, incidentally, regulars would have been horrified to pay 86p a jar. Historic accounts show in 1921 a pint cost just 6 old pence.
“I could tell you some tales from this place,” says Joe, of Blacksmith Lane, Grenoside. “The problem these days is remembering them. But it’s a lovely club, always safe and friendly.”
Indeed, widowed great-granddad Joe likes it so much for many years he spent seven nights a week there. His loyalty has been rewarded. These days all his drinks are on the house.
“This club has been built on people like Joe,” says Phil – himself a member for 16 years. “Good, hard-working people who like to socialise, who want to mix and meet friends from their neighbourhood.”
It was just such aims which the club was founded on.
It was the late 1910s when a group of men who, each having been kicked out of their homes for wash night, found themselves sitting on a wheelwright’s yard wall.
None were willing to pay local pub prices but none either were happy at sitting in the darkened streets.
Thus, they set up Wadsley Bridge WMC – a place where they could have a drink, hear lectures, play games, organise fishing trips and even save money.
For a brief time they met in an old hut until they raised the money to buy their current home in 1921.
It’s changed over the years, of course.
These day’s women are allowed in, smoking has to be done outside and Joe no longer plays pool – “he stopped two years ago,” says Phil.
But it’s still that same friendly place.
Members can help celebrate the anniversary at Saturday night’s party. Live music in the concert room.
- Sam Smith Sovereign Bitter 86p a pint. All other drinks reduced.