People’s Party raises funds as new era beckons for historic Milnsbridge club

More than 200 people turned out to give their support to a campaign to re-open a historic former socialist club

Celebrating the first public event at the former Socialist Club, now named the Red and Green Club, Milnsbridge are supporters of the joint venture (left to right) Brenda Elson, Hester Dunlop, John Goodwin, Paul Salveson and Beverley Addy.

More than 200 people turned out to give their support to a campaign to re-open a historic former socialist club.

The former Milnsbridge Socialist Club – said to be Britain’s oldest – closed in June.

But within weeks a campaign had been launched to take it over.

An alliance between local Labour and Green Party activists has seen the club re-born as the Red and Green Club.

Work is now underway to raise £100,000 to buy and restore the building.

On Monday, a People’s Party was held to raise funds – and awareness – for the campaign.

There were 10 stalls run by various political and community groups, entertainment provided by local musicians and a book sale upstairs.

There was also food and drink with a real ale bar supplied by Golcar Brewery.

The club is being run by the Milnsbridge Co-operative Society and chairman Clr Paul Salveson hailed the People’s Party a big success.

“It was everything we hoped it would be and more,” said Clr Salveson, a Labour councillor for Golcar.

“People were very supportive of what we want to do and about £500 was raised towards the running costs of the club.”

The committee hopes to raise the £100,000 by the end of the year but has yet to agree a purchase price with the owners.

The club currently opens for meetings and private functions and Clr Salveson wants the whole community to make use of the venue.

“Milnsbridge has gone through some hard times in recent years and we want the club to lead the regeneration of the community,” he said.

“We want people to come into Milnsbridge because there are good things happening.”

The club dates back to 1892 and played host to some notable political figures including suffragette leader Christabel Pankhurst and the first Labour Chancellor Viscount Philip Snowden.

The campaign has also been backed by a group of youngsters, who gave up part of their school holiday to help.

They picked up paintbrushes to brighten up the tired former socialist club.

The 16 and 17-year-olds spent three days sprucing up the building.

They were volunteers with the National Citizen Service, which encourages teenagers to take on projects to build skills for their work and life.

The group, which included students from Huddersfield and beyond, worked on refurbishing the venue.

Volunteer Billie Gibson, 16, said: “It was quite tiring and there were a few things that we had to tidy up first like some old paint.

“We then painted the snooker room, hallway, the bar area and the door which we did in red and green.

“It was more work than we expected but we worked really well together as a team and really enjoyed ourselves.”

Billie, who attends Heckmondwike Grammar School, said that she found out about the scheme in a school assembly.

The group, including students from Huddersfield New College, then went away and took part in some team-building activities before deciding what local project to work on.

Billie said that she would recommend the scheme to others.

She said: “It will look really good on my CV that I’ve done this.

“It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people and build up skills that will be useful in the future.”

 
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