Montrose club lived up to splinter group origins

A popular form of entertainment in the Angus burghs up until the 1960s was social clubs where people met and danced to live bands in some of the local halls.

Saturday, 9th October 2021, 7:00am
Montrose club lived up to splinter group origins
The Union Social Club was not for workers at the Union Mill as the writer had always believed. The building served as a flax mill, maltings and was used to billet US soldiers during WWI.

One of the clubs in Montrose was the Union Social and Recreation Club. I had always assumed that this club had originally been for the staff of the Union Mill, the large building at the foot of Union Street which had served as a flax mill and maltings during its lifetime.

In fact, the Union Club was the result of a breakaway from the Melville Church (now the Town Hall) Club back in 1929/30. It had an annual subscription of 2/6 (12.5p) and a weekly sub of 3d (just over 1p).

It had a membership of approximately 100 and the first meeting, on October 2 1929, was a whist and dance. For that particular meeting the members were also treated to a sausage roll, two cakes and a heart-shaped shortie.

The music was provided by two ladies who were paid 3/6 (17.5p), while the hall rental cost 7/6 (37.5p). That first meeting didn’t finish until 1.30am, which was apparently not unusual for a special event. Prospective members’ names, with proposer and seconder, were put to the committee. If you were not considered to be a fit and proper person you were sent ‘a curt little note’ advising that your application had been refused. If you missed 10 evenings, other than through illness, your membership was terminated.

When war broke out in September 1939 the committee decided that the meetings should be suspended until a more favourable time. With everyone starved of entertainment that proved to be June 16, 1940.

The Union was well known as a ‘dancing club’, but fancy dress nights were also very popular. On one games night it was agreed to hold a sack race and a member offered to obtain the sacks. Unfortunately, he got them from a stick merchant and ‘the race took the form of a hilarious dance’ as bits of stick left in the sacks proved painful to stockinged feet.

Despite the War and splinters, probably the most serious problem for the committee was when members felt that two cakes with their cuppie wasn’t enough and it was agreed to provide three cakes, still for just three old pence. Never underestimate people power.

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