End of an era as Conservative Club closes its doors

A SOCIAL club became the latest victim of the difficult economic times when it closed its doors for the last time.

A number of clubs and organisations have had to find new meeting places after the Conservative Club, on Rochdale Road, Todmorden was forced to close.

"It just wasn't viable anymore. The club has become the latest victim of everything that's going on in the licensing trade, the heating costs have gone through the roof recently and the smoking ban has also had an impact. It's very sad but we had no alternative," explained Dave Tilley, club chairman.

"The membership has also fallen from between 200 and 300 members in the 1970s and 80s to less than 50 now.

"We've spoken to other social clubs in Todmorden and they've informally agreed to take our members until the end of the year so they have somewhere to go."

Mr Tilley said the club had become more of a community building with a number of organisations holding their meetings there.

The building, which is now up for sale, was built by the Fieldens as a ten pence tavern in the 1870s in an attempt to keep their workers out of the gin halls.

Mr Tilley paid tribute to John and Beryl Cannon for all their hard work in keeping the club running over the last few years. He also thanked the committee members, who have worked very hard.

Age Concern Todmorden have used the club free of charge for the last three years but Catherine Rosborough said now they were hoping to settle at Todmorden Working Men's Social Club on Halifax Road.

"We were at the fire station last week, which was very nice but it's a small room. So this week we're trying the social club.

"Of course we used the Conservative Club free of charge so we've not budgeted for room hire so that will be another consideration from now on."

The lunch club, which meets every Friday, has about 16 members and has food provided by Ferney Lee Old People's Home.

The Sarah Hitchon School of Dance has moved to St John Ambulance Hall on Victoria Road, the bridge club has moved to Todmorden Golf Club and the dominoes and quiz teams have moved to the social club, on Halifax Road.

The building was also used by the Ukrainian Church, the Polish Club and a number of local bands also held their practice sessions there.

"There were a couple of bands playing here too. If someone wanted to use the place we tried to accommodate them," added Mr Tilley.

The building has long played a role in the town's social life with dances being held in its ballroom. During the second world war the club sometimes hosted them twice a week.

The sale of the building is now in the hands of the Association of Conservative Clubs.