Electric Bolt

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by Derek Blount

Electric Bolt

Wolverhampton Council's Electricity Department had a social club in Temple Street above the Palais de Dance.  They had taken over the premises from the Star Aluminium social club.  It was known as the Wolverhampton Electricity Club. In 1946 the club bought their present premises in St. Mark's Road, off Chapel Ash.  They bought them from the Wolverhampton Tennis and Squash Club who moved to their current premises in Newbridge Crescent.  The total cost was £4,700 and what could not be met from the club's funds had to be raised by a whip round amongst members. What they got for their money was not the extensive buildings they now have.They got the present lounge, a very cozy room with beams in the ceiling and a large brick fireplace - and a floor that was so rotten the members had to take it up and replace it, which they did with their own labour.  They also got a small bar room, two squash courts and, outside, two tennis courts facing on to Clifton Street.  For a while the old club premises in Temple Street were kept on until the work on the lounge floor could be completed.

The Club in St. Mark's Road

The club's premises in St. Mark's Road  

   
Original Club Room Present Bar
The original room in the Club The present bar. The snooker room is beyond the far doors.
Since then the club, now the Wolverhampton Electricity Sports and Social Club,  gradually extended the buildings to provide new facilities.  There was a large new bar with a snooker room, for two tables, at the far end of it.  The small bar was extended and a table tennis room provided. The two squash courts were knocked together and a floor put across half way up.  This way the bottom part could be used as a billiards room and the upper floor provided a large concert room and bar, named the Moreton Room after one of the club's early stalwarts.  The most recent addition is a bungalow for the Steward. 

The Club from Clifton Street

The club from Clifton Street. This is where the two tennis courts used to be. The roof of the new bungalow can just be seen to the left.  

Fred Elliott

Mr. Fred Elliott. (A detail from a large photo now in the club bar)

When the MEB came into existence they asked for the deeds of the property.  All of the other MEB clubs, in other parts of the Board's area, were on MEB premises and the MEB assumed that the Wolverhampton Club was their's too.  They were very quickly disabused of this notion.  Fred Elliott, who had been the last Manager of the Wolverhampton Electricity Department and was now a District Manager, had opposed nationalisation, was no friend of the MEB's policies and was a regular at the club.He and Mr. Thorpe, the Chief Accountant and also a club regular, made their objections known to the MEB and were able to prove that the club was an independent body and that the deeds of the property were therefore in the name of the club: it belonged to its members not the MEB.  
The club was always a members' club.  MEB employees paid 2d. per week membership to which the MEB added another 2d.  The employee's 2d per week was collected out of wages and paid by MEB to the club.  But after the skirmish over the deeds the club did establish a class of members which allowed non-MEB employees to join the club.  In due course the MEB was taken over by Norweb and then by GPU UK, who stopped paying their subsidy and stopped collecting employees' subscriptions.  At that point the Club made a thoroughgoing revision of its rule book which, amongst other things, simplified the membership structure and, in effect, further weakened the link with the electricity industry. Mr. Thorpe

Mr. Thorpe
(A detail from a large photo now in the club bar)

Wrought Iron Gates

These wrought iron gates were specially commissioned by the Club and are based on the Club's lightning bolt symbol. They were designed by Vince McHugh, the First Engineer (Planning) at the MEB.

From 1946 onwards the club's expanding premises provided a very wide variety of activities for its members.  Apart from the concerts put on in the Moreton Room there were all sorts of other activities organized by different sections, including fishing, football, snooker, darts, dominoes, table tennis, dancing, photography.  The Wolverhampton Radio club has always met on the premises. 

There was always a pensioners' Christmas Party at which ex-employees of the Wolverhampton Electricity Department and the Wolverhampton district of the MEB were entertained to Christmas dinner;  a children's Christmas party; and dances.

Now the club, still a private members' club, but with a membership which comes from a much wider base than the electricity industry, is still adding to its facilities and will soon have refurbished kitchens, serving hot meals at lunch times and early evenings.  Sporting teams, such as those for snooker, table tennis and football, continue to thrive.  

Visitors can come and look round the club and its facilities and would be very welcome to apply for membership.  New members will be able to join existing members  in taking a quiet drink in a friendly social atmosphere and using the club's other facilities.

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