The Early Day’s
The period around the 1920’s saw the establishment of several men’s social clubs in the Irlam district. To date the one that has proved to be the most successful is the Irlam Catholic Men’s Club.
The first annual statement of Accounts shows the date 11 March 1928. However, research by the late local historian, Cyril Wheaton, showed that there was a club house adjoining the old St Teresa’s school where members met. This was known as the De Trafford Club, presumably named for the family who were the benefactors of St Teresa’s church. This club had games facilities, but was not licensed. When they moved to the building behind the Railway Hotel, commonly referred to as the hut and later used by the school for the infant class, they became known as St Teresa’s Catholic Club. A liquor licenses was taken out in 1924/5.
On the 14th March 1927 the club moved again. This time it was to 625 (?) Liverpool Road to premises which had formerly been a cafe and is next door to the present site on the left hand side. A license was taken out under the name of Irlam Catholic Social Club, on 8th February 1928.
The rate book for 1928 shows that the club was paying rates for 621, 623 and 625 Liverpool Road, these first two were altered from dwelling houses to make one club house and in 1936 became the permanent base which was further expanded in 1963 after 617 and 619 Liverpool Road had been acquired. Extensive building and remodelling were carried out to create the club building we know and further adaptations have been made over the years to improve the facilities. The later purchase of the site of the Savoy cinema allowed for the creation of the car park.
The Officials named on the first balance sheet are as follows:
Chairman: W Brookes, Hon Treasurer: J McMannus, Hon Secretary: J McClean
(also involved in setting up the Labour Club in 1939 and later a County Alerman)
Trustees: W Brookes, J Hannan
Committee: F Donnelly, P Donnelly, J Gilligan, J Jones, P McGowan Jnr and J Walsh.
At some early stage the club obtained financial backing from Warrington brewers Cunningham’s and discussion of repayment of the debt of £300 is one of the first items mentioned in the earliest minutes, of meetings available, those of the general meeting of 31.12.1942 held in the smoke room. On 11.01.1943 it is recorded that the final £200 of the mortgage is to be paid to Mr Cunningham and a deputation from the committee went to thank him for his generosity in making the loan. The deeds were transferred to the trustees of the club, later that year and the chief rent was bought in 1944. The first Steward was Jack Porter who moved to the White Horse in 1933 and was replaced by James Walsh.
During the 1930’s Irlam saw an influx of Irish and Scots families seeking employment in the steelworks. Many of the men joined the club and became active members serving time on the committee. The Irish membership increased again after the 2nd World War and there was a move by some members to have the club designated as an Irish Club, but this motion was defeated by the members including many of the Irish lads.
Like the other clubs founded at the same time, providing help for members in need was an important feature. The minutes show that a sick benefit fund was established in January 1943, although no mention is made of this title again in the minutes available, those from the 1940’s regularly list payments from a Comforts Fund to those out of work for long periods. During the war there was a special Comforts/Forces Fund for members serving in the forces. In the minutes for the period 1958 – 1960 a Benevolent Fund is mentioned and the 1960 Annual Report of the Committee refers to its work.
From its early days the club make regular annual donations to St Teresa’s Parish Funds and later to St Joseph’s. In addition it has supported the missions and many Church based charities. More recently the best know of these would be the Money raised to send local sick people to Lourds. Over many years members and guests, have raised a large amount of money. Individual members and groups of members have made use of the club to raise money for local, national and international charities.
The Minutes show requests to the committee for funds for all manner of causes from the Organ Fund at St Michael’s – Hollins Green to the joint committee for soviet aid (22.02.43) to anti partition league of Ireland (26.03.48) and the Salford flood fund (02.12.46).
Cunningham’s of Warrington provided the beer for the club in the early days but shortly after the loan was repaid it was decided to obtain at least two barrels of Smiths beer per week in the future. This company’s name crops up again when the club was extended in the early 1960’s when they provided the load to fund the redevelopment. At times during and after the war beer was in short supply. It was noted on 22.11.43 that after a reduction in the supply of Guinness, a letter should be sent to the Ministry of Labour asking for intervention to restore supplies which provided food value to the many members involved in the heavy steel industry.