The Mudeford Club

161 Stanpit, Christchurch Dorset. BH23 3LY
Telephone 01202 482928

History of the club

31st March 1928 was the official opening by Capt. Harold Wiggins of Mudeford & District Mens Club

In less than eight months the members of the Mudeford and District Working Mens Club and Institute Ltd., have built and partially equipped their own premises, and a splendid and substantial one story building is shown as a result of their efforts. The history of the new club will be found in the address of the Rev. W. Wynne Hall given at the opening ceremony, which was performed by Capt. Harold Wiggins, and is printed below.

It should be stated, however, that the achievement, which reflects the greatest credit on all concerned, was made possible by the willing co-operation of all the members of the committee and a number of ladies and gentlemen in the district.

Regarding the committee, the Rev. W., Wynne Hall, in the threefold office of president, chairman and treasurer, has worked assiduously in the interests of the club, while Mr J. Langer has done more than perhaps most members realise in his capacity as secretary, and the greatest thanks are due to him for his efforts. He took over the secretaryship of the old club, which had its headquarters at the back of the Village Room, two years ago, and has worked so enthusiastically in its interest that it is not too much to say that the newly formed organisation owes a great deal to his work.

The whole of the painting and varnishing of the premises was undertaken by the members themselves, and a very “spick and span” job they have made of it, too, while Mr Gerald Scragg is deserving of the best thanks for installing the electric light, as does Mr. Hart for putting the second-hand full–sized billiard table into such excellent condition. Mr A. Edgell gave up his allotment as the site for the building.

The committee consists of the Rev. W. Wynne Hall, president, chairman and treasurer; Mr J. Langer, secretary; and Messrs. G. Rogers, T. Derham, W. Edgell, A. Edgell, George Scragg, Gerald Scragg, S. Bemister, A. Stride, A. Burton, R. Hart, C. May and W. Laidlaw. Mr. G. Clarke who was a member of the committee been appointed steward.

As already stated, several ladies and gentlemen in Mudeford have rendered much appreciated assistance towards the formation of the club, and amongst other things they subscribed a sum of £21 towards the furniture, the subscribers including Mrs. Wiggins, Sir Stuart Fraser, Vice Admiral Reeves, Mr. F. Ricardo J.P., and Mr. R.G. Wright. Mrs Wiggins also gave two arm chairs and 18 small chairs, a chest of drawers, and a beautiful round table for the use of the committee; while Coun. Major Saunders presented the club with nine billiard cues. Mrs. Wormold kindly gave several heads of animals which adorn the walls of the club, and a quantity of books, which it is hoped will form the nucleus of a club library, for there is a very fine reading room, as well as a billiards room, in which there is a small table as well as a full-sized one. These two main rooms are divided by the bar, which is a very compact affair. The committee room and a store room adjoin the reading room.

It is certainly highly creditable to the working men of the district that they have been able to raise so large a sun as £370 and build such beautiful club premises for their own use, and they are to be congratulated on the outcome of their efforts.

The opening ceremony took place on Saturday evening. The president (Rev. W. Wynne Hall) presided supported by Mrs. Wiggins, Capt. Harold Wiggins. Commdr. Eric Wiggins R.N., Mrs. Powell, Sir Stuart Fraser, Mrs Shrubb, Counc. Major Saunders, Mr. F. Ricardo, J.P. and Mr. R.G.Wright.

The Rev. Wynne Hall, before calling on Capt. Harold Wiggins to declare the club open, likened the club to a ship. “We are on dry land, but we are in a ship for all that,” continued Mr. Hall “and there are certain things connected with a ship in respect of its administration and equipment which call for deep consideration. We have been developing this club out of the old Fisherman’s Club at the back of the Village Room. That club has been in existence for something like 40 years, and there are some of you who can probable remember when the Village Room was built by a very honoured family living in Mudeford – the Maberley family (applause). They built the Village Room for the neighbourhood and later added an annexe for the benefit of the fishermen population. Mudeford always had its fishermen element. I mention this because this neighbourhood, like many others, has always been blessed with kind friends, and fortunately that is the case to-day also. Our little community is a very friendly place, and there are a number of people among us who are actuated in doing all they can for the benefit of their neighbours.

Proceeding, Mr. Wynne Hall gave an outline of the history of the new premises. He said that it was felt in the old club for some time that the quarters were too cramped and that an effort should be made for further development. A public meeting was called so that people might have an opportunity of expressing an opinion for or against the erection of a licensed club in this neighbourhood. “I have had experience of this type of thing,” remarked the speaker, “and the question of a licence for a club is a grave responsibility. I want this to be clearly understood. I am going to put certain aspects before you, but I must say that we wanted this club, and I say without hesitation that a club of this sort is useful and beneficial to the men of the neighbourhood, provided it is conducted on proper lines. (Applause) You cannot please all, but you can please everybody by exercising your best facilities in maintaining a properly conducted club. (Applause) I am aware that this is a subject on which there is a diversity of opinion. The drink question is one which looms very largely on the horizon of everyone who thinks deeply on what you may call the best interests of the community. I am fully conscious of that, I have had considerable experience of men, and I can only say this – that the best form of discipline that I know of is that brought out of man’s own conscience. If men develop and maintain a club with propriety, that is the best discipline that I know of, I have never believed in any tyrannical authority which is detrimental to our free rights as Englishmen”.

Proceeding, he said that the club was registered under the Societies Act of the Government the money that had been out into it as Loan stock, the idea being to pay not more than 5 percent on the money lent. The more people who were interested in it financially, the better it was for the club, although he was proud to say that some of the contributors were not thinking about the money but more about the club. (Applause.) He paid tribute to the builders, Messrs Harrison & Bagshot, who had done the work well.

The had already raised £370, but might want another £50, and anybody who would like to apply money as Loan stock for the benefit of the club would be welcome, but the committee did not want to saddle the building with any liability. They could not say how the club would go at present, but he had no doubt that the existing membership of 100 would be increased and the time might come when they would have to ballot very carefully for new members. We have got to remember that we do not want debts,” proceeded Mr. Hall. “That is the matter on which I am most determind. I detest debts. It is just as much a burden on an institution as it is on an individual. I think it is an accursed thing, and is not to be indulged in without the gravest consideration.

“I am bound to say these things because of my position. I have certain responsibilities resting on me which I hope you will kindly and sympathetically recognise. We are going to launch the ship, but it is always difficult to guarantee that, however well a ship is launched it well be successful on its first voyage. We have a crew and officers, and those officers are saddled with grave responsibility in administration. What good can the officers do if the crew do not obey them? This is the time to say these things, and not afterwards. I do sincerely hope that every member of the crew of this ship will be loyal and faithful to the officers and support them in all circumstances, and I make a special appeal on behalf of the steward.

“The drink question is a serious one. There are men who are quite reasonable people when they have not indulged in liquor, but when they have taken more freely than wisely they become cantankerous. Let it not be said that any member of this club will so far forget himself as to bring discredit on it.

“ldquo;I don’t mind any man having his glass of beer. I am an Englishman, born in a free country, and free I will remain until the end of my days. (Applause.) I don’t want any shackles to tie me down. On the other hand, I shall be ruthless in the suppression of disorder by any person who is deficient in self respect of his neighbours; and if any man has no respect for himself, he is not likely to have any for his neighbours.

In conclusion, the Rev. Wynne Hall expressed the hope that all sorts of men would join the club and that all would pull together to keep the honour of the club in the forefront and bring the ship safely to port. They had asked Major Wiggins to come and launch their ship, but his military duties prevented him. They remembered, however, that Mrs. Wiggins had more than one son, and as Captain Harold was at home they asked him to perform the ceremony. (Applause.) He added, amid further applause, that it was in their minds to ask Mrs. Wiggins herself, but they felt rather diffident about it owing to its being a men’s club.

Captain Harold Wiggins stated that he found himself in this happy position owing to the regrettable and unavoidable absence of his brother Arthur. His brother had asked him to state how sorry he was that he was not able to be present, and on his (the speaker’s) arrival at Sandhills that evening he was handed a telegram from his brother reading: “Please convey my best wishes for success of club. Regret unable to be present on this auspicious occasion.” (Applause.)

Proceeding, Captain Wiggins stated that the Chairman had told them the story of the club, how it was desired, and how, owing to the keenness of everybody, it was now in actual being. He had known most of the members all his life, some of them as personal friends, now they had their club it was up to them to keep the fruit of their labours going strongly. He had been seeing the boat race that day, and in going down the river on the steamer he saw a notice-board. “Wiggins and Company, cement works”. Unfortunately he could not claim any relationship, but in thinking of coming down to Mudeford that evening he was struck with the coincidence of seeing his name coupled with cement. (Laughter.) He could not help drawing a parallel and hoping that the friendship of the Wiggins family with Mudeford and its club would hold fast like cement. (Applause.)

In conclusion, Captain Wiggins said that rejoiced in the fact that the club was non-political. Politics, he remarked, led to arguments, and arguments were undesirable in any club. (Hear, hear.) He referred to the fact that on the arrival of King Amanullah in this country his brother, Major Wiggins, commanded the guard of honour of the King’s company of the Grenadier Guards at the Royal reception. The King’s company was sent up specially to London from Aldershot for the occasion, and it was a great honour for his brother to have been in command. (Applause.) He wished the club every success and prosperity.

Mr. J. Langer, in proposing a vote of thanks to Captain Wiggins, stated that the latter was carrying on the good work which Mrs. Wiggins had always performed since Mudeford claimed her. – The vote was seconded by Mr. A. Edgell and carried unanimously.

Mr. George Scragg proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. R.G.Wright and the other ladies and gentlemen who had contributed through him towards the furniture fund, and this was also heartily carried.

Mrs. Wiggins, in responding, said she was delighted to be present and with the club. “My only regret,” she continued, “is that I am not one of you, because I should like to be a member, but I hope that sometimes you will allow ladies to come here on some occasion to an entertainment, so that we too may enjoy the club. (Applause.)

Mrs. Wiggins added that she hoped a little later to arrange a whist drive or bridge tournament in order to raise a few pounds to assist the club in furnishing. “As my son has already said, we regard it as a great honour to be here tonight,” she concluded, “and our great pleasure is to do what we can for the benefit of Mudeford. I wish the club all possible success. You are extremely lucky in having Mr. Wynne Hall as your chairman, and I know what a marvellous worker he has been on your behalf, and will be in the future.” (Applause.)

A very enjoyable smoking concert was held following the opening ceremony.

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