Crookes Social Club turns 100Posted by: Katerina Vyurkova
Maurice Champeau, Crookes Social Club's General Manager
… To celebrate they’re having a big old festival with descendants of the club’s original members invited to attend as VIPs
Crookes Social Club is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this summer with a weekend-long music festival and family fun day, from 9 – 11 August.
As part of the event, the club is inviting descendants of the club’s original members to attend as VIP guests, after discovering centuries-old record books of the club’s first investors.
Maurice Champeau, General Manager of the club, said: “I never expected to find these books. I just didn’t think they existed and for me that was a real eye opener.
“What has surprised me is how much money and how many members of the local community invested in the opening of this place. We have literally hundreds of people who have all put in a pound or two.
“There’s a chap that invested £30 in 1919, which is about the equivalent of 20 grand now. That was his own cash that he put into the building and the opening of this place, and it’s people like that who made it all happen in the first place.”
The search had been on for the club’s very first member, Horrace Bottom, who lived in Crookes in 1920, however it was discovered Mr. Bottom died in the war with no children, and they are now searching for the descendants of George Jackson, another investor of the club.
Maurice added: “People think it’s quite strange when you ring them up completely out of the blue, asking for a great great great grandfather, I don’t even know how many generations’ great.
“So that’s the first thing we did. Another thing I’ve done a lot of is searching for newspaper archives. I’ve been able to identify all the people in some of the photos. I’ve spent hours on it, doing Internet searches for everybody.”
Thanks to Maurice’s searches, an incredible roster of ‘turns’ at the club’s comedy nights has been revealed, including people like Jo Brand, Phill Jupitus and Kevin Day. “These are the people who came to perform as part of the comedy club that used to run here, which stopped in 1997 or 1998,” says Maurice. “I’ve contacted all of these people to see if they can remember coming, if they have any memories or anecdotes. Got nothing back, but we’ve still got five weeks so we’ve still got time.”
Def Leppard, who are as Maurice put it, ‘one of the biggest exports Sheffield has ever had,’ also had their first paid performance in the club and will contribute to the event by sending signed merchandise.
The event itself will include an outdoor beach for children that will take up at least half of the car park, as children of the club have historically been taken to the beach once a year, an idea that was left behind due to costs and health and safety risks.
There will also be live music from local bands, ice cream vans, a punch and Judy show, petting zoo and bowling contest in support of Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity.
Maurice added: “The archives are very fragile and irreplaceable, and what really frustrates me is that a lot of these were thrown away, because there should be books like these for every five years, but there are only two books. It could be because of historically questionable financial mismanagement. It’s helpful for people if there are no records, because there’s nothing to prove anything with.
“It’s quite sad, because it would be lovely to have such information open to people to look at. I’d love to be able to see what entertainment they had in the first six months and decades later, and to see how entertainment ideas have changed.”
“But to have it all in the beautiful handwriting that it is in, the perfect calligraphy, the full details of when their money came in and when their money was paid back, it’s gold. I feel very lucky and privileged to have found something that a hundred years ago somebody took a pen out and started writing all of these. The most important thing is that the first, most precious one, is still there.”
The tickets cost £5 for non-members and is free for members. More information about the event can be found on the club’s Facebook page.