Rishton Legion Club

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Entrance to Legion.

One of the last clubs in Rishton to open its doors, not being opened until November 11th 1920. It was first known as the Rishton Club and Institute Limited.

Numbers 2 to 8 Walmsley Street were purchased and demolished for the club to be built. The club itself using the number 2 as its own address.

When first opened the club was called the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers (Rishton Branch), the object being to provide the means of social intercourse, mutual helpfulness, and recreation for ex â€" service members.

From then until the present local branch of the British Legion was formed, the club, on its welfare side, dealt with pensions, assistance for the needy dependents of ex â€" servicemen, and administered the benevolent side of the United Services Fund.

The success of the club can attributed in its early days to A. E. Troop, Esq., J.P., whose interest and generosity made the club possible, and also to the men of the 1st World War who voted that their share of the United Services Canteen Fund be used for this purpose, and to others too various to mention who worked so hard at the clubs inception.

Beer Token
The Rishton Legion club beer token, given at AGMs and other meeting for members to obtain a free pint.

Plans were submitted on the 6th January 1938 for proposed alterations to the British Legion on Walmsley Street. The plans were approved by the Rishton Urban district Council.

In January 1946, it was reported that Mr. Joe Brocklehurst, known as "Joe Brock" to his friends, was celebrating 25 years as the club secretary. The only secretary the club had known, as Mr. Brockhurst had taken on the position at the clubs infusion in 1920. Mr. Brocklehurst not only held a full time job, but also managed to combine this with his secretarial duties, no mean feat, and was a good testimonial to his all round efficiency and popularity. Unfortunately at the time Mr. Brocklehurst was in poor health and could no longer maintain the drive which he would have liked to have maintained.

During the 2nd World War the club paid out 5/- a month (25 pence) and an extra 10/- (50 pence) at July and Christmas. Theses came from the Comfort fund which the club was running for its War members. The club was wound in September 1945, with each member receiving £6 each. Because of the difficult found with contacting members the "comforts" were not always paid and in some cases arrears up to £16 were paid out.

The club was very fortunate during the War, only having 2 fatalists to members, 1 of these was still unclear as the soldier had been missing for two years, and there was still hope of him turning up.

British Legion Club in May 2001.

The club during the mid 50s had a membership of approximately 550.

The club made news on the 6th January 1973, when it opened its doors to women for the first time in its history.

The club was saved after facing closure due to "crippling" £85,000 debts on Thursday 16th November 2006.

Bosses at the Club in Walmsley Street said they were keen to relaunch the venue and shake off its "old fashioned" image.

The building was been sold on a lease-back agreement freeing up vital funds to re-invest. Vice-president David Woodhead, 50, said the club had been struggling for the past six years with falling attendances, and he said that poor management and competition from off-licences and supermarkets had hit the club hard.

He said: "It is vital that places like this thrive. So many people are going out of Rishton in the evening because there isn't that spark here anymore. We need to make Rishton a place that people come to, not go away from."

He said the club's new 13-strong committee was hoping to reach out to a younger audience by hosting youth discos, charity nights and special interest events.

As debts mounted the venue fell into disrepair, Mr Woodhead said. "We were looking at the books and just couldn't believe how much money we were losing. Because we had money problems the club has become neglected but that is something that is going to change."

The debts at the club were cleared thanks to a refinancing plan that had been approved.

Mr Woodhead added: "Repairs and refurbishments are to begin as soon as possible. There are problems with the roof and the interior needs modernising but I am confident for the future. We are now making plans that we didn't dare before and it is exciting."

He said the committee were keen to involve the community in the venue and are open to idea for how it could be used.

On Wednesday, the 1st July 2009, it was reported that the club had closed its doors for the final time after a emergency committee meeting of about 5 people, which included the invitation of the property owner, Ashley Cook. The club had been struggling for a couple of years financially before this, with part of the resolution being that the building was sold to help funds. The committee decided that evening to close the club, and handed the keys back to Mr. Ashley Cook.1

It wasn't quite all doom and gloom though, as on the 18th June 2010, this website was informed that after several months of negotiations, new tenants were to take over the running of the club on the 31st July 2010, rebranding the club, and naming it the Rishton Sports and Social Club.

The Rishton Sports & Social Club was re-opened before Christmas 2010, by the new Tenants Mr Trevor Sims and Partner Judith Haworth.


1 Ashley Cook

Rishton on Record 1951 by various Authors.

A Hyndburn Chronology by Paul Lanham.

Council Minutes.

The Rishtonian Newspaper, January 1946, Volume 1, number 13.