Working Men’s Clubs

  • Subject: Oral History

Mick and Ian talk about the local working men’s clubs on Manor Road and The Victory Club, recalling the distinctive aroma of the boxing clubs and the 202nd anniversary of the Victory Club celebrated in 2023.

In this audio you can hear Mick and Ian.

This audio is 4 minutes and 11 seconds long.

 

Audio Transcript:

Mick: We used to have the boxing club in Manor Road, underneath the working men’s club, there was a boxing club there. Also you had another boxing club, the Victory Club, which was in the Victory, that’s the working man’s club. The Manor Road was a working men’s club as well, so you had boxing, two good boxing clubs there.

Alistair (Interview): And if you were to walk into that boxing club, what kind of sights and sounds would you be getting?

Mick: As soon as you walked in, you would get a smell because, you know, where the training’s going on. The noise, the loudness. Because the trainers are shouting. It’s just going into a gym, you know, very tight gym in a small, small area. 

Alistair: And so, what was your role with that? 

Mick: I was on the ABA committee and, and with Manor Road, I was a competition secretary, so we used to match up the boys to fight. If they were a novice, you try to get somebody who was a novice or had a couple of fights. If they had about three fights and this boy was a novice, you try to match him up, so they weren’t with an intermediate or a senior. You just match them up and that’s how you do it. Then you might have a show to go to that could be at the Greyhound or the Queen’s in Upper Norwood or you could go to some of the ones up in London.  

Alistair: So you put on boxing matches in The Greyhound pub, did you say? 

Mick: No, no. The Greyhound, there used to be a pub in Croydon called The Greyhound which was opposite the Fairfield Halls. Which is now Nestlé Building, it used to be the Nestlé building underneath. Then used to be the Greyhound, so they used to put shows on there. And plus also you used to have shows at the Fairfield Halls as well.

 

Ian: Now it was a house, it was the first house on this block built. It used to go all the way back. The church used to be part of it, it used to be stables where the church was, so it used to go all the way back. Then at some point that was sold, I don’t know when that was, but the person who owned it gave it up to the veterans coming back from, I think it was the First World War. I think then it became slightly a legion or I don’t know if the Legion existed as such, a branch sort of like that. And then it was in 1902, no 1922. I think it was. We just celebrated 102 years because of Covid.  No, 1921, it became the Victory Club, first existed with the Legion, I think was still attached. Then about 20 years ago, we came away from the Legion and joined the CIU. So we became a CIU club and the Victory Club, but still had the Legion here. That’s since disbanded because people were not, you know, finding volunteers to run the committee and whatever. But we still do poppies here.

Ian: We’re trying to engage more with, with local community bits and pieces because if people are willing to sort of join community led schemes, they’re probably, you know, likely to come in and have a quiet drink, you know.  They’re more, how can I put it, likely to get involved because we like people that like to get involved with the club because we have a committee and they’re volunteers. So we’re always looking for people that are willing to come on the committee and help out. You know, we’d like to do more, you know, for the community and other bits and pieces and our members. But it’s getting people that are willing to do it.

South Norwood High Street Stories is funded by Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme delivered by Croydon Council. For more information visit www.croydon.gov.uk/southnorwood

Image Credit: Croydon Council

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