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1915: Opening of new Social Club premises in Cuckfield

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

Mid Sussex Times – Tuesday December 14 1915


The intimation in THE MID SUSSEX TIMES that the new club premises in Ockenden Lane would be opened last Wednesday afternoon, and that cards of invitation could be had on application, resulted in a keen demand for them, and on casting our eye around the large hall in which the company assembled we noticed that it was thoroughly representative of the town, and very friendly.

The warmth emitted from the glowing fires in the different rooms appeared to have warmed the hearts of all present, and consequently an atmosphere of goodwill was created which cannot fail to have beneficial results. Here and there some lovely flowers and plants from Cuckfield Park were set out to advantage by Mr Willie, the head gardener at the Park and the attractive way in which the billiard and the reading rooms were furnished made a most agreeable impression.

The Old workhouse - site of the Social Club in 1915

Mr and Mrs Preston had the pleasure of welcoming:-

Mr. A Beeching JP, Mr R Anscombe, Miss Payne, Mr S Knight, Mr J. Denman, Mr S Caffyn, Mr A Bates, Mr E. E. Napper, Mr B J Burtenshaw, (members of the Urban Council), the Reverend C. W. G and Mrs Wilson, the reverend J H Layton, the reverend S Maddock and Mrs Maddock, Mr B. Y Bevan, Mrs and Mrs Bevan, Mrs and Miss Cooper, Mrs Montague Turner, Miss Olive Turner, Miss Maberly, Mrs A. J. Bridge, (Burgess Hill), and Mrs Wrightson, Mr William Stevens, JP., and Mrs Stevens, Miss Hucket, Mrs Mertens, Mr, Mrs and Miss Moore, Mr and Mrs Lampson, Mrs Donkin, Misses A. Beeching, Mr R Anscombe, Mrs H Bates, Miss Knight, Mr and Mrs Herrington, Mr and Mrs TEP Attewell, Mrs Symons, Miss Richards, Miss Rotton, Mr Mrs A. Anscombe, Mr and Mrs Arthur Anscombe, Mr W E Mitchell, Mr Mrs Hounsell, Mr and Mrs Rapley, Mr. Carter, Mr D Harris, Mr and Mrs Webber, Mr and Mrs Burt, Mrs Denman, Mr. T Lewin, Miss Tester, Mr F.J. Butcher, Mr and Mrs Ede, Mr Murrell, Mr Mrs H Caffyn, Mrs Hobbs, Mr Gubbins, Mr Blackburn, Mr and Mrs H Stevens, Mr L Askew, Mr GT bunting, Miss Knowles, and a number of others with whose names we are unfamiliar.

Sir Harry Preston c1920

Mr RA Bevan, JP, wrote regretting his inability to be present owing to an attack of bronchitis. Over the tea cups there was much pleasant chatting and the memories went back a long, long way for the purpose of recalling the different uses to which the Club building had been put.

At one time it housed the rate supported poor; County Courts were held there; when alterations were made to the Church Schools the scholars met under its roof, the old Volunteers used it for drill purposes and also as a Club, and the musical society concerts were held there. Mr Beeching had recollections of a grand ball being given in the large hall by the late Major Warden Sergison. He was a boy at the time, and to have a view he climbed up a ladder outside and looked through a window. Then some unsympathetic individual came along and withdrew the ladder from his feet and left him clinging to the window! Mr Beeching has not forgotten the sensation when he dropped to the ground!

During the afternoon instrumental selections were played by a small orchestra, and Mr Stanton Rees played some delightfully violin solos. The grand piano which Mr Preston had placed on the hall stage will come in very useful on the occasion of entertainments.

After tea (the catering was placed in the hands of Mr Bunting), many of the men went into the billiard room and there watched a keen match between Mr R Anscombe and Mr Harry Caffyn. Shortly after six o'clock the company dispersed and the general feeling on leaving was that Mr Preston had provided the town with club premises which would be a decided acquisition and benefit to it - club premises which would tend to promote physical rejuvenation and moral health.

Last Monday evening a meeting was held at the Club for the purpose of putting it on a provisional working footing until the boys come home. Something like 50 persons were present, and Mr Preston occupied the chair. It was agreed that membership should start from 17 years of age, but should there be youths below that age anxious to join, it was resolved to allow them to do so provided they had the support of senior members.

The annual subscription was fixed at 5s, payable half yearly, in advance. Mr Preston mentioned that it was his intention, until the war was over, and the Cuckfield men with the Colours returned, to be responsible for the rent, the wages of which the caretakers and all other expenses connected with the upkeep of the premises, and he would pay over the members’ subscription money and a profit derived from the sale of light refreshments to the Cuckfield Branch of the Hove War Hospital Supply Depot. (Applause). The charge for billiards was put at 6d per 100 and 2d for 50. It was thought that when there were a number of members anxious to play the higher figure would be readily forthcoming and that when things were slack the lower figure would ‘keep the balls rolling’.

The club will be opened next Monday. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, it will be open from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM and from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM and on all other weekday evenings from 6:00 o'clock until 10. On Boxing Day, the hours of opening will be 10 to 1, 3 to 5 and 6 to 10.

At the end of business, the meeting was regarded as a most successful one and it was evident from the remarks made that Mr Preston’s great kindness was heartily appreciated.



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