What do you remember of the “workies”?

A sign on the door of the old Alberta Club, on the corner of Park Road, and Albert Road, Jarrow.
A sign on the door of the old Alberta Club, on the corner of Park Road, and Albert Road, Jarrow.

South Shields film-maker Gary Wilkinson is working on a new project which is to focus on the history of clubs here on South Tyneside.

And he is seeking the help of readers whose stories he is keen to use in the making of the film.

As Gary explains: “One of the first workingmen’s clubs to be set up in Britain was founded in Queen Street, South Shields in 1850.

“It was called the Working Men’s Club and Institution, and the subs were fixed at one penny per week!

“One hundred and sixty five years later, workingmen’s club are struggling to survive for a whole variety of reasons, and many place their decline at the door of the smoking ban of 2007.

“But is that the only reason?”

Gary considers whether their downturn may also be linked to the disappearance of the monolithic industries: coal, iron, steel and shipbuilding, as many clubs owe their origins to these industries?

“The clubs were originally seen as a home from home for many men, with a degree of comfort away from their over-crowded homes.

“Yet they became centres of learning where libraries and many other pursuits flourished.”

After the Second World War, more women began to frequent clubs which led to the advent of comfortable lounges, and yet they were still male dominated – as the photo of the sign on the door of the old Alberta Club, on the corner of Park Road, and Albert Road, Jarrow demonstrates.

“I would really appreciate the help of readers with the making of my new film, Home From Home.

“ What stories do you have of the clubs? The leek clubs they held and the entertainment you enjoyed during a night out?

“Are you someone that loved the clubs and rues their demise?”

Please get in touch with Gary Wilkinson and tell him your story at gwfilmmaker@yahoo.co.uk

l Meanwhile, here’s a date for your diary.

The South Tyneside branch of the Northumberland & Durham Family History Society is to hold it next meeting on Wednesday, November 18.

The meeting, which starts at 1.30pm, is being held at St Hilda’s Church Visitor Centre, Market Place, South Shields.

The guest speaker is Linda King, who will be talking about “North-East customs and superstitions”.

It should be fascinating, so get there if you can.

l In the meantime, in the light of Olive Pinkney’s fascinating articles about corner shops in Tyne Dock, I’m hoping to hear from you for your views on the corner shops you used to visit. Where were they at and what did they sell? Tell me which was your favourite.