Tunbridge Wells Constitutional Club

Our History

dsgn_1724_pic2.png

A Brief History - 1886 to the present day

 

"The Club was founded in 1886 with the main objective of upholding the Constitution at which time it was perceived to be in danger of eroding. Lord Abergavenny was the first President and prominent among Vice - Presidents were Lord de’Lisle, Lord Torrington and Lord George Neville.

 

Little else is known from that time because in 1913 a fire broke out in the Art Gallery above the premises in Calverley Road and the records were destroyed. Apparently those present in the Club there continued their activities until ordered out by the Fire Brigade! After a period of temporary accommodation the Club re-opened on 1 April 1914 on the first and second floors of 32 Calverley Road. This was reported in the Courier and the Chairman, Mr E J Gubbins reminded those gathered in his welcome speech that the Club had prospered until 1906 when it fell on hard times. Money was raised to pay off debts and the membership flourished to around 500.

 

In these rebuilt premises there were various rooms for billiards, cards, reading, a lounge and a Committee area, together with quarters for the Steward. The billiard room was considered the finest in the South East with the Club taking part in Kent County tournaments. However it was above the Kosmos Kinema and players were requested to refrain from knocking on the floor with the end of their cues lest they disturb the film goers!

 

After the war ending in 1945, the Club played host to a series of snooker exhibitions for the benefit of charities. 1950 saw a visit from the legendary champion Joe Davis and other notables including Sydney Lee and Walter Lindburn.

 

With the 1950’s the condition of the premises became a priority, membership was declining and finances were tight. In 1960 the lease of these premises was sold and the proceeds were used to purchase “Rocklands” for the sum of £3,550. The move to our present premises was made on 10 August 1960 and the Club was officially re-opened by the Earl of Munster. After initial alterations were made and dry rot eradicated, further major alterations took place in 1975, 1981 and 1998 to the facilities we have at present.

 

Membership at the time of the move was just 192, but social events became an increasing feature and membership rose sharply to over 600. This was aided when ladies were admitted as members in 1980 and it is interesting to note that this development was initiated as early as 1937. Membership is now maintained at over 800.

 

It has been Club policy, except for brief periods, to have as President the local Member of Parliament and since 1914 these have been Colonel H H Spender Clay, Sir Adrian Baillie, Gerald Williams, Richard Hornby, Sir Patrick Mayhew QC (now Lord Mayhew of Twysden), and Archie Norman. Our current President is Greg Clark, MP.

 

 

Every Club has its stalwarts who have helped build the Club into what it is today. We record for posterity the names of those who have passed on: T Mann, P R Starmer, S F Dorey, Leslie Moon, Jack Salter, Bill Weller and Martyn Hepworth. "

 

Based on research by Ken Welfare