VILLAGE ( WORKING MEN'S ) CLUB
The movement of Workingmen's Club and Institute Union was established in 1862 as a viable approach to social reform.
In Yalding our Working Men's Club held its inuagural evening on the 19th of March 1877. Local headmaster William Galpin was elected secretary and treasurer, for the club that was located in a converted abattoir at the rear of Leesden House in the High Street, a previous butchers shop.
At an 1888 meeting the membership was defined as:- Ordinary or Associate members.
`Ordinary members shall be those who receive wages for manual labour, such as farm labourers, tradesmen's assistants, grooms, artisans, and others, whom the committee shall decide to be included in this definition. Apprentices and assistants may be elected ordinary members.
Associates shall be tradesmen, farmers, professional men, and others, whom the committee shall decide to be included in this definition.'
Competitions with other clubs has always been a major part of its activities, when in 1888 Messrs Cooper and F King won prizes in bagatelle and draughts at Maidstone, whilst in 1895 the local team lost by one point to Horsemonden in a whist contest. In this later event, service for Yalding was undertaken by Messrs, A Cheeseman, C E Richardson, W Richardson (junior and senior), G Hepworth, E Richardson, G Mercer, H Raindbird, E Jones and W Smith. Of course a return match was planned hoping to reverse the previous record.
This establishment entered 1898 after a memorable year in which thanks to the generosity of Mr Charles Fletcher of Kenward, (who like his father before him takes the warmest interest in the Club welfare,) announced that he had been able to mark the year of Her Majesty's Jubilee by purchasing the Club premises, in order to convey them to the trustees of the Club as a Jubilee Gift.
At the half-yearly well attended meeting, held on Tuesday 1st February 1898, Dr Pout, who was the club Honary Treasurer, presented Mr Fletcher with an illuminated address in recognition of the warm interest he had always taken in the concerns of the Club. It meant therefore that the Club was the property of its members, and the rent of £7.10s out of an expenditure of £39 for 1897 would be a considerable saving. Other expenses were £6.14s to the caretaker, £4.15s for a newspaper account, £3.14s for fuel, £3.14s for lamp oil, glass and cotton, £3.4s on refreshments, with eight other sundry items.
To quote, ` properly used such an institution must be an influence for good in village life, and wisely managed can become and continue to be a thriving concern, commanding and deserving the support of honorary as well as of ordinary members.'
This has been the case and the club remained reasonably static in nature and function until 1975, when a large extension was built incorporating a dance area and stage. In 1980 a further room was added to house two snooker tables and equipment together with a cooling room for the beers. A further alteration was for a lounge and TV area.