Final preparations are being made to stage a fun-filled gala at Soothill Working Men’s Club next week to celebrate the club reaching its centenary.
There will be lots of games, stalls and attractions – along with the established children’s play centre – for young families during the day and other entertainment including a barbecue for slightly older members in the evening,
Club president Chris Hobson said he and other members of the committee were working hard to make the centenary a date to remember and hoped that members would heartily join in.
The club was initially formed in 1913 at a house at the junction of Gregory Street and Soothill Lane but within six years it had grown so much that the members were able to snap up a much bigger property – known as The Woodlands – which is where it still operates.
In doing so the club established firm links both with families involved in the town’s brewing business and also one which provided entertainment.
For at one time or another members of both the Wooler and Sykes families have also lived at The Woodlands and, in turn, enabled Batley to produce millions of gallons of beer.
The Wooler family who operated a corn mill in Rouse Mill Lane from the mid 1600s were the ones who established the Greenhill Brewery in Grange Road in the 1830s and in the mid 1860s they were joined by the Sykes family – who went on to add their names to many local streets and roads.
By the 1890s, however, the Woolers were facing bankcruptcy while the Sykes family had taken over both the Batley brewery and another in Batley Carr before selling the lot to Ind Coop.
The families had lived at The Woodlands and nearby Follingworth House at different periods but Mr A J Riley who was managing director of a large engineering works in the town and one time owner of The Woodlands was a big supporter of a new style of entertainment – talking cinemas.
Mr Riley went on to build one of Batley’s purpose built cinemas – The Plaza in Well Lane.
The cinema was noted for the fact that it had very few steps in any part of the building because Mrs Riley, wife of the owner, had difficult in coping with steps.
Additions have been made to the Soothill Club over the years and it still attracts many people because of its wide provision of snooker, billiard and pool tables, and other games equipment and also as a place where bingo and quizzes can be enjoyed during the week and musical evenings at weekends.