A surviving working men’s club in the Harborough district has got permission to sell off land it owns for new homes.
Without the sale, the club could shut in two years, says its president.
Kibworth Working Men’s Club is one of around 35 surviving in Leicestershire; at one time there were more than a hundred in the county.
The club in Fleckney Road got permission last week from Harborough District Council to sell off half its rear car park to allow the building of four starter homes.
“Really and truthfully we’re selling our assets to keep going” said club president Cyril Deacon.
“Traditional pubs and clubs are falling by the wayside, and it’s such a shame.
“But we’ve still got a healthy membership of about 300, and this land sale would keep us going for a few more years - and could even fund improvements.
“And if we don’t get this land sold, the club would last two years.”
Harborough District Council’s Planning Committee agreed last week to the erection of four, two storey terraced dwellings at the rear of Kibworth Working Men’s Club.
Leicester firm Hillcoat Architects has drawnup a plan for the new homes on behalf of the club, but the land has still to be sold to a builder, the Mail understands.
At the height of the Working Men’s Club movement, there were more than 4,000 all over the UK. Today there are around 1,800, a drop of more than 55 per cent.
Mick Challinor, secretary of the Leicestershire branch of the Club and Institute Union, the parent body of most working men’s clubs, said: “Years ago, when I first got involved, the club or the pub was one of the few places for a night out. Now there are so many alternatives, including clubs that stay open until six in the morning.
“Our members are literally dying off, and we’re not getting the youngsters coming through.”
“A club that made £17,000 or £18,000 10 years ago might now make half that.
“We’re in danger of losing a great movement founded in the early half of the 19th century and unique in the world.”