The founder of Bishops Stortfords Working Mens Club was Rev Richard Alliot, Headmaster of the town's non-conformist grammar school (now Bishops Stortford College).
The Working Mens Club began after the Reverend convened a public meeting held at the Bishops Stortford Corn Exchange on the 4th of December 1873, supported by two members from the Club and Institution Union, 90 men had joined the club by the meeting's end.
Most Working Mens clubs, even though they were teetotal, started in public houses. It was soon conceded, even by the Church, that a pint of beer would not hinder the men's mental and moral stimulation for which the clubs were intended.
Bishops Stortfords club wasn't established in any of the town's many public houses, but in a small private property behind the Corn Exchange that had previously been used as a wine shop.
That property was number 6 Market Place, owned then by a Mr Heath and today by Nockolds Solicitors.
Seeing the house now, it's hard to believe so many members could have crammed themselves inside it, despite the owner opening up the old wine cellar to accommodate them all.
Needless to say, the club quickly grew beyond the premises and moved to a much larger Georgian house in South Street.
Women and commercial travelers were welcomed at the club from the start, and a coffee room was opened for their use.
Members also had access to a large library and reading room, academic studies, billiard tables and 'refreshment'.
The club did, in fact, surpass all expectations, so much so that even the new premises was becoming overcrowded.
The problem of finding additional space for recreational needs was solved in 1878 with the purchase of the old Agricultural Hall in Kilburn, London.
Dismantled and brought to Bishops Stortford, it was then re-built on land behind the club.
During the next fifty years, both club and hall endured much social change but their aspirations contributed a great deal of good for the benefit of the town and the wider community.
During the 1930's commercial interest in the freehold of both the Working Mens Club and the Great Hall led to discussions on a possible sale.
By 1936 purchase of a new site for the club was firmly on the agenda.
The availability of a derelict plot of land next to Holy Trinity church, costing only 500 pounds, somewhat hastened the decision and an offer of 8,500 pounds for the freehold of the existing club and hall was accepted in December 1936.
It was a controversial decision that would lead to much protest however, a deposit of 50 pounds was paid for the site and by April 1937 plans for a new club, costing 5,500 pounds, were produced.
Built within a year, it was ceremonially opened by C.W. Randall on 23 November 1938.
This is the site where the Bishops Stortford Social Club resides today.
Membership continued to increase post World War II and a decision was eventually made to expand the premises with the addition of a 3 bedroomed flat being built on the first floor and a garage and committee room being built at the rear of the property during the 1970's.
This also allowed for a bigger cellar, bar and storage space as well as more room formembers, a bigger library and room for a table tennis table!
The Club continued to thrive but it was not until the 1980's that women were afforded associate membership. Even then women were not allowed access to the snooker room or have any voting rights during members' votes or at the club AGM.
Eventually, in 1995, women were allowed to become full members (with access to the snooker room) and they have proved to be complicit in the promotion of the Club as a welcoming and friendly place to be and enjoy oneself in.
In 2010, following a great deal of discussion, the members decided to change the name to the Bishops Storford Social Club in an effort to be seen as a more inclusive and modern establishment.
In part this was done as an effort to escape the genrally held image of a 'Workingmens Club', as these were percieved as old fashioned and seedy places.
In addition to this the Club underwent a considerable refurbishment program to further enhance the facilities with the addition of a Function Room, a professional grade kitchen, new carpets, furniture and fittings.
Good quality food is available on a daily basis with the Sunday roast dinner proving very popular.
The Social Club has always boasted about the wide variety of lagers, real ales, cask beers and wine prices that are available at the bar and that the pricing of all of these beverages are very competetive in the local area.
Despite the opening of other establishments offering some cheaper drinks, we maintain that we are still in that position.
This has been enhanced in recent times by the achievement of accreditation status from the Cask Marque organisation for the quality of our real ales and accreditation from Guinness for the quality of the pint that we pour here.
Thanks for this are largely due to the high skill level and ongoing training that all of our bar managers and staff have achieved and the prudent stewardship of the Club by the Social Club Committee.
Live entertainment features on a regular basis which is well attended and appreciated by the members.
Families are encouraged to use the club and facilities for such are available.
A well appointed and sunny patio is very popular during the summer and outdoor functions including music festivals.
The spacious, modern lounge is fully air conditioned with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
There are a wide range of facilities and activities in the Club which include, live music, music festivals, karaoke, juke-box, gaming machines, darts, snooker, pool, crib, raffles, prize draws, the biggest Grand Christmas draw in the area, bingo, poker, and members outings.
For the sport lover we have SKY and TNT Sports with a large screen projector for the big games and six other large screen televisions placed all around the walls of the main lounge.