The Churchill Citizens' Club
The Churchill Citizens' Club is how local people remember number 1073 Warwick Road, but the building began life as an architect designed house of 1887. Around the beginning of the last war, private householders gave way to a private school, then in 1943 it became a club for women workers. By 1950 it was known as the Churchill Citizens' Club, and built up an honourable and well loved position in the life of Acocks Green under city council ownership. However, the new century has brought decline and controversy, but now hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel.
We are indebted to the work of Julia Larden of Acocks Green Focus Group for most of the information about the building. Many people ask about the Club, and we would welcome any memories of former members.
The Knoll dates from 1887, and was designed in a mixture of styles, including Arts and Crafts elements. It was built for the Neweys, a family of solicitors whose practice was on Colmore Row. The daughter of Edwin C. Newey, the founder, was married to an architect, George Jenkins, and comparison with his house in Hampton-in-Arden has persuaded conservationists that he was indeed the architect of the Knoll. Incidentally, these Neweys were related to the famous fastener manufacturers, according to David Harrison, great grandson of George Jenkins.
Edwin Newey died around 1906, and by 1912 the Knoll was in the hands of James Frederick Lowther. This family continued to own the house until March 1953, when they sold it "free from all incumbrances" to the city for £3,000. One Henry Martin was in residence in 1930, and Vernon Harry Saunders in 1935. In 1940, J.F. Hudson was running the Warwick Modern School from there, but in 1943 number 1073 became the Churchill Munitions Workers' Club. It was in fact for female workers. Miss H.G. Ball was the warden in 1945. By 1950 the name local people remember was in use: the Churchill Citizens' Club, and the warden was Mr A. Beaumont Jones.
In 1973 the directory shows that the St John Ambulance Brigade was there in the form of the HQ of the Acocks Green Nursing Division.
The Club closed in 2001. By then there had been a long decline in the fabric of the building, sad given the fine Victorian elements it possessed. In 2004 the city declared the building surplus to requirements, and put it up for sale. A local campaign ensued, spearheaded by the Acocks Green Focus Group. The city's conservationists began to take an interest, and the building was finally locally listed Grade A in 2006. Some local organisations, notably the Stockfield Community Association, had expressed an interest, but despite bitter debate and local pressure the building was sold.
However, it was bought by a local estate agent, Karen Vaughan, and things began to look up, despite a break-in in 2007, and the loss by theft of some of the stained glass. Proposals to remodel the interior and build flats at the back of the site at Netherfield Gardens generated some opposition, but also support from the Focus Group. Interestingly, in September 2008 an arts collective, the Something Foundation, held a two-day event at 1073: see http://chantalpowell.wordpress.com/2008/09/
Rod Chapman was a member of the 'Guards' Wargames Club from 1983-2000, although he recalls the club starting a couple of years before that. It met between 6.30 and 10.30 in the evening on Thursdays, and very occasionally on a Sunday. The club later moved to Sheldon. He remembers the snooker room, social meetings and card games, and even indoor golf on one occasion! He recalls coffee/tea, cakes and biscuits being served between 8.40 and 9.00 in the kitchen, until around 1986.