Welfare Hall

The Welfare 2012

In the centre of the colliery village stood the Welfare Hall, the Club (Miners Institute), Tennis Courts and bowling green. These facilities were also at the centre of the lives of the mining community for many years, with the miners working at Thoresby contributing toward their upkeep. The tennis courts made way for car parking, the Miners Institute was demolished in 1996, and now we have seen the Welfare Hall raised to the ground along with many memories of a well-loved building.

MT Tait NCB Area Admin Officer Opening Bowling Green after New Turf Laying 1950’s

One of my earliest memories is standing on a ledge outside the building, holding on to the window sill to see the ladies in their long dresses dancing with their partners under the large glitter ball going around in the centre of the room, I thought it was magical. Later on, it was the focal point for the forces to let their hair down to the Glenn Miller sound of the local dance band. The men who were on leave joined with other service men stationed in the area, a great time for the young girls in the village. During this time the hall was busy every night, the Boys and Girls Brigade, Ambulance Brigade, Athletics’ Club, Badminton, Band Practice, Saturday night dance and the Youth Club on Sunday Night.

I couldn’t wait to join the Girl’s Brigade; we spent many hours marching round the room trying to keep in step practising ready for the Remembrance Day Parade. I learned to play the bugle, as did my brother, my eldest brother played the big drum and my sister walked in front swinging the mace. In the room upstairs, there were cupboards where rows of smelly, rubber, khaki coloured macs were kept. The girls had to wear these on the Remembrance Day Parade. Every Monday we did exercises, learned to swing clubs, climb ropes, and jump over the horse and, formed human pyramids. I was tiny and often finished on the top.

When you became a teenager, you could join the Youth Club. The hall would be packed with teenagers playing table tennis, darts, cards, draughts or learning to dance with Mrs Bradshaw. Mrs Bradshaw taught a generation of teenagers both modern and old-time dance, even the teenage boys learned to do the waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, barn dance, tango, and many more dances. In 1952, over 200 teenagers attended a Youth Club Christmas Party, and we only drank orange juice!

Edwinstowe Youth Club (a)

Edwinstowe Youth Club 1940 (b)

Youth Club

The Youth Rendezvous, (or Youth Club) was held in the Welfare Hall for many years, on Sunday evenings  these two photographs above (a & b), taken at a Youth Club party held around 1949/50. The top table shows, left to right: Mr. F. Felstead, Mr. & Mrs. C Hughes, Mr. Knowles, Mrs. Clark, (cookery teacher)  Joyce Parnell, Mr. J Barber, Mrs. Knowles, Mr. Hammond, Mr. C. Carver, Mr. L Raynor. Mrs. Rigby, was the proprietor of the Forest House Café, (now Forest Lodge), is at the back holding the tea pot. Albert Redfern, and John Evans are in the foreground.

In the 1950s, we all learned to doe-se-doe, Square dancing was all the rage. During the 1950’s, dances were arranged with the country’s leading dance bands. The Ted Heath Band known as Britain’s greatest post war band who toured America, with Dickie Valentine, Lita Rosa and Dennis Lotus, also the Johnnie Dankworth Seven with Cleo Lane. Buses came from Worksop, Retford and Nottingham and were parked along Fourth Avenue. There was standing room only in the hall, the big band sound was heard all over the village (no one complained in those days).


St. Mary’s Church Square Dance at Welfare Caller Jim Lees 1950’s

Old Folks Party 1946

Kathleen Beardsley, Shirley Evans, Barbara Hawksley.

In August 1952, a Women’s Welfare Day was held with over 400 miner’s wives from all over the area attending, quite an event at the time, most wives never went out without their husbands. In 1953, 15 brass bands played 6hrs nonstop in a North-East Midlands Band Contest. (again, no one complained)

The Blue Rambles Band played at a Grand Football Dance held in 1952, guests included Freddie Trueman, Johnnie Morris, Leicester City and England, Bert Morley, Derby County and England, along with 5 other England players, all introduced by Alan Revill our local sporting hero.

Edwinstowe Conservative Dance n.d.

During the sixties Mods and Rockers arrived. There would often be scuffles outside the dance hall on a Saturday night with gangs from other villages, but the local ‘Bobbie’ with reinforcements, was always on duty to sort them out.

How many young couples met in Edwinstowe Welfare?

St. John’s Ambulance Dinner Dance n.d

I remember one summer evening in the 1950s, as a teenager sitting with my friends on the grass by the tennis courts watching a tennis match waiting my turn to play tennis. Four tennis courts were in use at the time, the Bowls Club busy with a game on every green, with many spectators sat around the ground. The windows were open in the welfare hall and the sound of the band practicing rang out across Fourth Avenue. This was the village community with young and old enjoying a summer evening together.

Now houses are to be built on the site that holds so many happy memories to so many people.

Shirley Moore (Evans)

Memories of the Welfare Hall by Kath Howard (nee) Beardsley.

It was with great sadness that I heard of the proposed demolition of the Old Welfare Hall. Lots of memories were stirred by the news. For so many years this building had become the rock in the centre of Edwinstowe, and now the last icon of an era is to go into oblivion. What will be left, only memories!

My early years growing up in the village were always entwined in that building, as it must be for many others of my generation. I lived opposite the front door, so saw everything that took place in my time, at 82, Fourth Ave

My earliest memories were of the second world war times. Then the building was the hub of every activity held for the war effort. It came to life for everyone. We all came together to help in the Red Cross, the St. John’s Ambulance, W. R. V. S., to distributing the Evacuees, parcels to the troops and much more. It gave the British and American troops somewhere to unwind and have fun before the call to fight. For some of them, it was possibly the last happy memories they would have had. The war ended and the Hall continued to be the centre for older people to enjoy and younger ones in the new Youth Club, for many years.

Donated – Mick Hallam- taken in Edwinstowe Welfare 1940s

St. Mary’s School Prize Giving 1958

Next came the 50’s, the era of the big dance bands. All the best bands played in the Welfare Hall, then exciting times for us teenagers. Love flourished for many, and hearts broken for others, but we loved it all. This time the Youth Club grew and flourished and kept us off the streets until we grew up.

Edwinstowe County Council School at the Welfare Hall

Wives Buffet Dance

Many of us grew up, moved away and married, so all we have left are those very happy memories, brought to life every time we came back to visit. Sadly, it will be gone.

José Boucher/Green 

My first recollection of the Welfare Hall was when I was a child standing on a stool in my Aunts (Mrs. Ivy Smith) kitchen watching the workmen building the hall (c.1931). Next, was watching a film show put on in the hall for the children on a Saturday morning, but I had to be taken out because I was so upset on seeing a snake in the film, ‘The Speckled Band’. I have never liked snakes since.

Then came the Girls Brigade, with P.T. club swinging, marching and pyramids under the tuition of Albert Wagstaff the caretaker. When he went into the Army, Fred Scully took over. We had a band and Mr. Jones was the band master – I had a bugle.

During the war, the Girls Training Corps was formed, we met every week learning Morse Code and map reading. Then came the Saturday night dance, dancing to Cyril Coupe and his band was the highlight of the week, and still remains a pleasure to recall – happy days.

Acknowledgement to the Chad for the use of photographs

The Welfare Hall Demolition

Demolition pictures are displayed with the kind permission of Richard Clarke

Welfare Hall and King Edwin’s

Reading your article about the Welfare Hall brought back lots of memories about my Junior 1 year in the classroom there, which was probably around 1963.  It felt very special to be in this classroom, away from the rest of the school, especially as our teacher was Mrs Bradbury.  The desks seemed very old-fashioned (even in those days) and the teacher’s desk was higher than the rest.  There were no windows to see out of but, around the edge of the room, were benches, which we used as nature tables.  It was here we experimented growing mustard and cress.  I felt very upset to fail with that; I had to ‘over-water’ mine – I just knew this was going to be bad news. One day, a friend and I were sent on an errand to the main school, returning a large box of staples.  Walking past the tennis courts, somehow the box was dropped and there were staples everywhere.  We were terrified at the thought of having to show the badly repacked box to the head, Mr Kingston.  Another memory was of a classmate ‘splitting his head open’ on the railings.  I was horrified by these words used to describe his injury and quizzed lots of people who had seen it to try to find out what the injury looked like, whether he would ever recover (from his head split in two!), and could not understand why everyone was blasé about it.  In the Infants I had caught the school bus home to the other side of the village but now my eldest brother came to meet me on his way home from the main school.  One winter’s day I waited and waited for him, and eventually walked to the school to wait for him there.  I must have cut a dejected figure, and someone must have passed the news on to my brother as he appeared at the door to tell me he was in big trouble.  He had been washing paint brushes after an art lesson and a couple of them had disappeared down the plughole and he had to try and get them out.  Mr Kingston again!  To add to my misery my socks had ‘gone to sleep’ in the toes of my wellies, so I was feeling very miserable.  At some point during the year we must have moved back to the main school because I also remember having Mrs Bradbury as my teacher in one of the classrooms there. Judith Staley