Barton Street Working Men's Club

A brief history of the Club, formerly the Gloucester Labour Club and Institute

By Paul Evans

A 'special meeting' was held at the Vauxhall Hotel, Gloucester in December 1912. The meeting 'having heard the principal and benefits to be derived from the establishment of a labour club and institute……….decide[d] to take the initiative in the establishment of the same in Gloucester'. Copies of the proposal were sent to over 40 labour groups. By February 1913, the numbers of groups 'replying as agreeable represented 1500 members'.

Efforts were then concentrated on raising the funds necessary for the establishment of the club and in September 1913, enquiries were begun to select suitable premises. The Midland Hotel and Ribston Hall were first suggested, along with a building in Southgate Street. By February 1914, the committee had decided to purchase Highfield House at 115 Barton Street. The house would be 'regarded as the birthplace of a higher moral, social and intellectual status amongst the labour movement of Gloucester'.
On completion of necessary building and furnishing work, the club was opened in September 1914 with around 500 members. It was a meeting place for the Gloucester labour unions. By the end of 1917 the majority of unions in Gloucester were affiliated. The minutes are held at Gloucestershire Archives (reference number D9008) and paint a detailed picture of the day to day running of the club in the years that followed.

In 1972, the club's name was changed from Gloucester Labour Club and Institute to The Gloucester Working Men's Club and Institute to distinguish it from the Labour Party.

In 1982 the club purchased 109-111 Barton Street. The existing buildings on this site and the old club buildings were demolished and the site used for a new, larger club building, which was opened in November 1983.

In the 1990s, the club began to experience financial difficulties and in 1995 debts amounted to over £11,000.  The club closed on 20 May 2001.

Do you have any memories of the club?  If you do, please add a comment below.

This page was added by Paul Evans on 02/11/2013.