Working men's clubs
are a type of private social club founded in the 19th century in industrial areas of the United Kingdom, particularly the North of England, the Midlands
The Midlands, or the English Midlands, is the traditional name for the area comprising central England that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Kingdom of Mercia. It borders Southern England, Northern England, East Anglia and Wales. Its largest city is Birmingham, and it was an important...
and many parts of the South Wales Valleys
The South Wales Valleys are a number of industrialised valleys in South Wales, stretching from eastern Carmarthenshire in the west to western Monmouthshire in the east and from the Heads of the Valleys in the north to the lower-lying, pastoral country of the Vale of Glamorgan and the coastal plain...
, to provide recreation and education for working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...
men and their families.
Despite the educational ambitions, most working men's clubs are recreational. Typically, clubs have a bar for the sale and consumption of alcohol, snooker
Snooker is a cue sport that is played on a green baize-covered table with pockets in each of the four corners and in the middle of each of the long side cushions. A regular table is . It is played using a cue and snooker balls: one white , 15 worth one point each, and six balls of different :...
, pool or bar billiards tables, and many provide food. They often provide entertainment such as bingo, raffle
A raffle is a competition in which people obtain numbered tickets, each ticket having the chance of winning a prize. At a set time, the winners are drawn from a container holding a copy of every number...
s, live music and comedy. They are also known for their charitable works.
In recent years, declining membership has seen many clubs close down and others struggle to remain open. Some groups try to raise the profile of clubs, pointing to their historical legacies and their community roles.
Membership and structure
A working men's club is a non-profit organisation run by members through a committee, usually elected annually. Each club has rules which tend to be vigorously enforced. The committee will discipline members (common punishments being a warning, or a ban for a period) for violations. Despite the name, women are allowed to be members in many clubs, and virtually all clubs allow entry to women. Non-members are not allowed entry unless signed in by a member.
While all members pay an annual fee, the primary income comes from alcohol. A club will retain paid staff, such as barmen, stewards, caretakers and cleaners.
Club and Institute Union
Most clubs affiliate to the Working Men's Club and Institute Union
The Working Men's Club and Institute Union is a voluntary association of private members' clubs in Great Britain & Northern Ireland, with about 3,000 associate clubs. One club in the Republic of Ireland, the City of Dublin Working Men's Club is also affiliated. Most social clubs are affiliated to...
(commonly known as the CIU or C&IU). The CIU is affiliated to the Committee of Registered Clubs Associations or CORCA
Corçà is a village in the province of Girona and autonomous community of Catalonia, Spain....
. A member of one affiliated club is entitled to use the facilities of other clubs. There are 2,200 affiliated working men's clubs in the UK.
The CIU has two purposes; to provide a national voice for clubs, and to provide discounted products and services for clubs.
Until 2004, the CIU ran a brewery in Dunston, Tyne and Wear
Dunston was originally an independent village on the south bank of the River Tyne. It has now been absorbed into the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead in the English county of Tyne and Wear...
. This produced ales and lagers under the Federation brand. The brewery and brands were sold to Scottish & Newcastle
Scottish & Newcastle plc was a "long alcoholic drinks" company with positions in 15 countries, including UK, France and Russia. It was headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. In the last 20 years, S&N expanded significantly from its home base to become an international business with beer...
for £16.2M , although CIU clubs still receive discounted beer. These discounts are passed to members.
Impact of July 2007 smoking ban
In December 2007 a poll by the British Institute of Innkeeping
and the Federation of Licensed Victuallers' Associations
found that overall revenue was 7.3% down as more men opted to drink at home where they could also smoke.