Sunniside Local History Society



Sunniside Club The Beginning Circa 1859.

Pringle Appleby (1831-91), came from Meldon, to start a Market Garden, on one and a quarter acres of land, near where Sunniside Social Club now stands. The land was known as Appleby Gardens. He built a two roomed stone cottage, known for a time as Rose Cottage, close to the road. After the Appleby’s left, the cottage became derelict and eventually local men cleaned it up to meet there regularly and enjoy a pint of beer supplied in a barrel by a local Brewery. They found it a cheaper pint than buying at local Pubs. The venue became well known and the number of men using it increased dramatically. (This practice was now common across the UK, eventually the Brewers who noted that their Pubs trade was falling, refused to serve the likes of Rose Cottage whom they viewed as the opposition. This was the start of working men forming their own Breweries ie The Northern Clubs Federation)

Sunniside Club was actually formed in 1914. The founder members who took over the aforementioned Rose Cottage, decided to give their venue the title 'Club'. In 1915 the Club became affiliated to the Club and Institute Union (CIU).

Eventually Ernie Robinson, the Club Steward, moved with his wife Mary to Rose Cottage, then on to Rose Villa, in Hollywell Lane, built purposely as the Steward's house. Ernie and Mary served the Club for over 14 years. They were followed in that position by Alan and Jean Cleghorn, Carol and Alan Gowland and currently Pauline Orwin.


In 1918 the new Club (pictured above with Steward Jack Creitch c1924) was small but with improved facilities. The Club struggled financially during the years of the First World War and throughout the depression of the 1920s. By the end of the Second World War the building was in a deplorable state, the roof leaking, floors rotten, and the Club in a lot of debt. After the Second World War members returning from military service and other members set to work to repair the Club. The Club's trading position improved and Rose Cottage was demolished in the late 1950s to allow the Club to expand.


Sunniside Club today first named ‘Sunniside Working Mens Club’ it was changed to ‘Sunniside Social Club’ to reflect the current trend in recognizing both male & female members. Sunniside Club has always been at the heart of our village, a popular venue for weddings, christening’s, Sunniside History Society, Whickham Bridge Club, Leek Shows and many other personal events. It was thanks to predominantly coal miners, that the Club became so successful. Miners from the surrounding area frequented the Club, among them Byermoor, Marley Hill, and Watergate Collieries.

Many changes have taken place over the years and the Club has played a very important part in the social life of the village for generations of people. In 1980 the main area of the Club was extended to its present size, the last extension being the Games Room which was completed in 1985. The Club interior is beautifully decorated and furnished. It is very comfortable and boasts many amenities. In a significant change to the rules, in the early part of 2013 the Committee voted quite rightly, to accept women as full members with equal status to male members.

On Tuesday 3 March 1992 at 7.30 pm, a group of enthusiasts met at Sunniside Workingmen's Social Club to discuss the possibility of forming a local history society. It was resolved by all present that the Sunniside and District Local History Society be formed. Over the years the interest shown has exceeded all of our expectations and to date we have in excess of 170 members, many of whom now live outside the area but still attend meetings on the first Tuesday of every month, even in the worst winter weather. Their unstinting enthusiasm has never waned.

There is no doubt whatsoever that our success is largely due to our excellent venue Sunniside Social Club. The Committee of Management has given us their support over the last 22 years and we have rewarded that support by ensuring that all members of our Society are Club members with equal status.


In the 1940's and 1950's the village was in every sense a close community. The picture above demonstrates how active the people were and it is a fact that everyone on the photograph were devoted members of Sunniside Club.



This photograph depicts Sunniside Club Committee members, members of the Federation Brewery Board of Management and a member of the CIU.

In 1968 Victor Dillon was elected to serve on the Board of Management of the Federation Brewery. He became Chairman in 1974 and held that position until his death in 1984. In the 1970's Bill Liddle was also elected to serve on the Federation Board of Management. He served until the Federation Brewery closure in 2004.


It brings back memories when we come across a photograph of a Committee who are sadly long gone. Generation after generation of members have produced individuals who were dedicated to our wonderful Club and prepared to serve on the Management Committee.

Pictured above a Committee of c1970's"

Left to Right: Derek Best, John Lowdon, Joe Letch, Tom (Toshy) Bell, Ted Vickery, Bill Liddle (Secretary), Victor Dillon (Chairman), Fred Newman (Treasurer), Thomas Heron, Raymond Cranney, Harold Atkinson, Arnold Reid, Bill Taaylor.


Pictured above are members of the current Club Management Committee, all volunteers, all elected by Club members. Like so many Committee members in the past they are dedicated to making the Club a continuous success.

Left to Right Standing: Ronnie Maddison, David Warnaby, Ronnie Kane, John Spoors, Alan Andrews, Louis Goodheart, Mark Drummond, John Tench, Peter Wilkinson, Arthur Simpson,

Seated Left to Right: Secretary: Jim Eager, Chairman: Doug Skeen, Treasurer: Tom Priestley.

Shortly after this article was compiled Mr Eager left the Committee and was replaced as Secretary by Mr Goodheart.

2015 proved to be a disastrous year for the Club, sadly sollowing a long illness Chairman Douglas Skeen died. He was succeeeded by Peter Wilkinson who in a short period of time also passed away. Peter was replaced as Chairman by John Spoors. Following an election result Mark Drummond became the new Chairman.


Following his death, Secretary Bill Liddle's outstanding service was acknowledged by the Committee in the form of an engraved plate (pictured above) placed above the Bar entrance.


Over the years many club members who have served on the Management Committee have received awards from the CIU recognising that service. Above is a full list citing names and dates of service.This is mounted in the passageway, a tribute to the efforts of these stalwarts. Below are the certificates awarded to members who served on the Club Management Committee in excess of Forty Years.


It is with GREAT PRIDE that the CLUB CENTENARY will be recognised next year 2015 and we pay tribute to Club members past and present who helped achieve this memorable event. The Club is unique in the village compared with other establishments, in that is owned by the members and not by Brewers or private landlords. It deserves the well earned loyalty of members and public alike.


The centenary of an institution as vital to the community as Sunniside Club, is a celebration well worth commemorating. A place that has brought happiness in times of joy, a refuge in times of sorrow or just a place to have a jar with your marra's is indeed something to raise a glass to.

I wonder how well they celebrated the ending of two World Wars, or the winning of many FA Cups, or the weddings and christenings of so many local people? How many nights did people wind their way home singing the praises of the turn or bemoaning how rubbish they were?

And what about the arguments about who the worst goalie in the League was or why you didn't play that double six sooner or how on earth can you drink all that fizzy lager? And how many went there on the day they were made redundant or to wet the bairns head or to slake the dust after a tough day in fore shift?

And how many times did people have funeral teas as they said a last long goodbye to a loved one? And how many got drunk as they were given the key of the door and were they arguing about whether it was given at 21 or 18? And did you get to the AGM just to get a few pint checks thrust in your hand?

A hundred years of memories, a hundred years of a shared history, a hundred years of being the bedrock of a great community. And a hundred years of service by the great army of volunteers and workers who have kept the club alive and well through good times and bad.

A time to celebrate? You bet! And a time to wish this great club all the very best for the next 100 years. I'll drink to that!

Dave Anderson . Proud to be both the local MP and a Life member of Sunniside Club.