Not Just Beer and Bingo!

Summer 2014

Not Just Beer and Bingo! A Social History of Working Men's Clubs

by Ruth Cherrington

Untold stories from an unexplored world

Anybody interested in how communities form, evolve and create social spaces should be fascinated by Not Just Beer and Bingo!

Ruth Cherrington was inspired to write this book when she realised that nobody else was recording or telling the story of working men’s clubs. An odd thing for institutions that, at their peak, had millions of members. Most people’s exposure to working men’s clubs will be the parodic version in Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights.

The book starts off personally, recounting the author’s club-centred childhood. Her parents met in the Canley Social in Coventry, where the birthdays, Easters and Christmases of her youth were celebrated.

It then examines the roles that the clubs played in different parts of the country and their gradual decline.

It’s through these stories that Cherrington engages with some of the biggest shifts of the last fifty years: the collapse of heavy industry and the rapidly changing job market; changing family structures and gender roles; the rise of television, gym-going and leisure time.

A few clubs survive today, most in poor health. Have clubs had their day? Or can they re-invest themselves?

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