The Men's Social Club
There are very
early references to a Reading Room in Mulbarton - possibly one existed even
before the Wingfield Hall was built. This seems to have been the forerunner of a Public Library as well as a Social club - but membership was limited to men only!
Larking in the Reading Room Mulbarton, late 1800s(?)
village....we had a reading room; but the only paper I ever see'd was the E.D.P.
I used to get it myself from X and take it down as soon as the room opened. We
boys had fun and games there. One thing I remember was to pull a heel iron from
our boots, put it in the fire, and when we heard the gates we'd get it out and
throw it in the middle of the floor. Time and time again it would be picked up
and dropped with a yell. The caretaker lived next-door and she used to make
tea, coffee or cocoa at a penny a cup. Three of us would go regular like and
say - "Cup of tea please" - "Cup of coffee please" - "Cup of cocoa please".
She's get real mad and say "Can't you boys have the same?" "No ma'am," we'd
say, "We wants different". She'd be that mad her wig would slip up and down -
that's true it did, and didn't we boys laugh!
....We were poor
but we had love. We made our own amusements. We worked hard and had few
presents. We were content.
(Extract from 'Within Living Memory - a
collection of Norfolk Reminiscences' (written and compiled by members of the
Norfolk Federation of WIs, 1971) All anonymous)
Room Rules, duly amended by the Trustees of the Parish Hall on 3rd
Nov. 1919, are attached to the front of the Mulbarton Men's Club Minutes Book
Rule 3 -
Ordinary Members shall be men and youths of good character living in Mulbarton
or its immediate neighbourhood', over 14 years of age.
From 1921 they
are inviting past members to become Hon Members and 'if they choose to pay as
ordinary members the fee would be gladly accepted.'(!)
Rules 5 & 7
state that an AGM be held on the first Monday in October, and 'the business and
management of the Reading Room shall be under a Committee' of which the
Trustees of the Parish Hall are ex officio
Nov. 1919 'Officers to consist of Trustees as ex officio members. Messrs H
& W Lake, Joint Secretaries & Treasurer..... Mr. W Lake, Librarian.' They
retired from office on 1st Oct. 1928.
Rule 10 - The
Reading Room shall be used for Reading, Writing, and such lawful and orderly
Recreation and Instruction by Lectures and otherwise as the Trustees may
approve. But no person in a state of intoxication shall be permitted to enter
or remain in the room...all betting and gambling of any kind, all swearing and
bad language, all disorderly or improper conduct, and all loud talking to the
annoyance of others are strictly forbidden.'
conduct is often minuted:
1921, Oct. 3rd
'...no Bicycle lamp be brought into the room attached to a bicycle but that they
be taken off and stored in the fireplace or another suitable spot.'
Rule 12 - The
Reading Room shall be open from first Monday in October until the last Saturday
in March, from 7pm to 10pm...
Committee and Trustees reserved the right to close it occasionally for the use
of others, and eventually rules that it was to be free every Wednesday.
Room season ended with a Social for members.
Rule 15 - The
Committee shall decide what Newspapers shall be taken in, and what Books shall
1919, Nov. 3rd
- The followingpapers were decided upon for the Reading Room sessions: Daily
Mail, 1d per day; Mirror, 1d per day; Pictorial, 2d weekly; Chips 1½ d weekly;
John Bull, 2d weekly; Answers, 1½d weekly; Titbits 1½d weekly. Mr Funnell
offered to provide EDPress; Mr. Beare offered the Daily Herald. There were
variations over the years - in 1925 the Club 'decided on All Sports, Athletics
News, Pictorial & Topical Times, Pearsons Weekly, Daily Mail and Mirror. In
1931, it was decided to take only The Pictorial, and in 1936 the Evening News
and Everybody's Weekly were agreed.
the many social events:
(were held almost monthly.- for which the Club bought cards and at first
borrowed and then bought tables from Mr. Cunningham.
Dances - that on
Wed. 3rd Dec. 1919 ran from 7.30pm to midnight, cost 1/3d per person
(6p), refreshments not included. Mr. Funnell (baker) did the catering - and allowed
bicycles to park on his premises (opposite) for 2d each! Mrs. Cracknell (from
the shop that is now Butler House, at least 100 yards from the hall) lent her
piano for free. The Trustees agreed to have it tuned at their expense, and
later to buy one for the Hall.
show that dances were not to be held on Sundays or during Lent.
Socials were held,
especially to raise funds for the Reading Room funds - Mr. Bussey (Church
organist) was one of the leading lights in their success.
For its own
members and meetings, the Reading Room also owned a billiard table - and many
hours were spent discussing its care, repair and replacement, and a Billiard
table Committee was formed. But a minute of 1st Oct. 1928 records
'...delight to place on record the fact that the Club had won the Billiards
League shield and medals for the past season.'