Sort file:- Canterbury, July, 2020.

Page Updated:- Friday, 31 July, 2020.


Earliest 1867-

Working Men's Club

Latest 1867+

Castle Street



Evidently never sold alcoholic beverage, and so went out of business.


From the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald. 20 July 1867. Price 1d.

As will be seen elsewhere, there is every probability that the Canterbury Working Men's Club will be broken up. The reasons for the failure are not far to seek. The good-intentioned people who set out to improve and “elevate” that much be-spoiled creature “the working man,” mistook, in the first place, the nature of their patient, and in the next, they tried to “elevate” him on a narrow sectarian plank, whereon his seat was not to his taste. Hence, though nearly 400 men have, at one time or another, tried the Club, but 60 or 70, and they by no means representing the working class as a body, remain. At the outset the Committee made a fatal blunder, to our thinking, in one of their unchangeable fundamental rules, which enacts that "no intoxicating liquors, betting or gambling, profane or improper language, be allowed in the Club.” The ludicrous juxtaposition which places the working man's pint of beer in the same category as gambling and swearing would form a good text for a homily on the blunders which the best, intentioned people so constantly commit in their estimate of every-day life. The fact is that the Managers of the Club set out by deliberately insulting the working man. By their fundamental rule they insinuate that he is not to be trusted with a simple pint of beer. Such a declaration had on the face of it the downfall of the Club. It is not to be supposed that the working man of the lower classes is blessed with more self-denial than the working man of the middle or upper classes. The vast majority of the latter find what the teetotallers like to label “intoxicating liquors” necessary or at least enjoyable in moderation, as a means of restoring what hard work takes out of them. How many frequenters would the West End Clubs have if the members were denied anything stronger than tea? How utterly short-sighted then to suppose that the lower class of working men are different to other working men. As a purely teetotal club the Canterbury Working Man's Club has proved a failure; yet we believe there is room for it to flourish on a basis of something like common sense principles. There has been, to use a slang phrase, a “priggishness” about the management of the Club quite sufficient to prevent its answering the end of those who started it. Take a single instance. There is a book in the Club, in which the men enter any little suggestion or request they may have to make. A few of them suggested a tea-party, followed by a little music and dancing. The Committee granted the tea-party and music but refused the dancing. Let us imagine for a moment the working man's Whitsun holiday— the Canterbury Rural Fete — without the dancing on the green, and we can realise how completely in this particular instance the Committee took the plums out of the pudding. The Committee most remember that the British artisan will not be patronised, that he does not care to be lectured, that he hates being made “good” on the plan of either one set of philanthropists or another, that if he is to take to rational amusements, be wants simply the opportunity offered him which he most follow up in his own fashion and that he has a strong idea that he knows how to “elevate” himself as well as his betters. Working men as a role care little for those who go so mach out of their way to pat them on the back. The intelligence of the British workman is quite sufficient to enable him to use the means of improvement if they are simply placed within his reach, and he has the wish to improve. To our mind the chief object of a working man's club should be to give the working man the comforts of the public house without its vices.




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