The Paignton Club
Lounge Bar, Resturant and Members Club
Open to the Public
The Paignton Club – A Brief History
- 31st December 1881, Mr Plumbridge Jarman wrote to fifty six gentlemen of the town proposing “to form a club in Paignton, of a non-political character, for the purpose of affording a meeting place with the usual club accommodation, upon such a scale as the pecuniary prospects of the undertaking fairly warrant”. The letter suggested renting two or more rooms in a suitable position and envisaged an annual subscription of two or three guineas.
- 13th January 1882 thirty replies had been received and a meeting was called at the Esplanade Hotel (now the Inn on the Green). The Vicar of Paignton, Rev. F.W. Poland took the chair and a provisional Committee of five gentlemen was formed.
- February 1883 – First AGM held, following which the search for new premises began and local architect Mr G.L. Bridgeman was approached who also designed Oldway Mansion for the Singer family.
- February 1884 – At second AGM members entered into a contract to purchase a plot of land adjoining the southern green together with the existing cottage and gardens for the erection of a Club House, where it remains today. The plans were drawn up by Mr Bridgeman and a quote of £1,350 from Messrs. C. & R. E. Drew to build the Club House was accepted.
- February 1885 – First AGM in the new Club House.
- 1887 – Celebration held to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (see photo)
- 1913 – Electric lighting installed
- 1914 – Upon declaration of war, the opening hours were reduced due to staff shortages as some had been called up for service. Subscriptions of all members on active service were suspended and the Club was opened to medical officers of the American Hospital at Oldway.
- 1920’s – The Club was at a low ebb and extensive repairs to the fabric of the building were required. As a result, it was decided to sell the cottage.
- 1929 – At the AGM the admission of lady members was raised and referred to a special general meeting. At this meeting the admission of ladies as Associate Members was carried unanimously and the Committee was instructed to formulate new rules and adapt the Club accordingly. Within a short time there were 53 Lady Associates.
- 1934 – At the AGM plans were prepared and approved for the erection of three lock-up shops on the Club’s property opposite Sands Road to supplement the Club’s income. These shops are still owned today fulfilling their original intended function.
- 1939 – As a consequence of the black-out conditions due to the outbreak of war, Committee meetings were held at 12 noon as members could not attend evening meetings. It was during 1939 that the Club’s foreshore was sold to the council to enable the scheme to connect the Esplanade to the Harbour to be completed.
- 1940 – A strip of lawn was cultivated for vegetables and the rear car park was occupied by the military as a gun site. Shortages of liquor continued and strict rationing was in force.
- 1945 – Hostilities ceased and membership increased but drinks were still scarce. A ration of gin was reduced to two small glasses per day but three on non-whiskey days.
- 1951 – The Local authority designated the Club as a building of special architectural of historic interest.
- 1958 saw the use of the bar by Lady Associate Members, after 5pm whether accompanied or not!
- 1960’s – Great efforts were made to improve the facilities of the Club to attract new members. Rooms were switched around and a new bar was constructed. A party was held on 28th May 1965 to formally open the new bar.
- 1970’s – Complete renovation of the building was carried out after consultation with the Department of the Environment.
- 1980’s/90’s – Viewed as a golden period in the history of the Club, when membership flourished and a wide range of social events were held.
- 2000’s – As part of a major renovation, the basement flat was converted to a function room, toilets, kitchen and office. This formed part of the Committee plan to create a vital additional revenue stream for the Club via external functions and weddings. The Committee also approved a historic change to membership categories that enabled Lady Members to finally become full equal members instead of Associate Members, a move that was long overdue.
- 2016 – Today the Paignton Club is more than a magnificent building. It has evolved and diversified but maintains the traditions of a Private Club upon which it was founded, making it unique in the South West. Its seafront location, charm and character make it a fabulous venue for external events and a wonderful Members Club where people can meet and enjoy the company of like-minded friends over a drink, a meal or at a social function.
This summary was largely compiled from a book entitled “Paignton Club, The First Hundred Years” by W.F. Loates, a much valued member. The book contains many interesting anecdotes and affords the reader a snapshot of life from Victorian Times to modern day. If you would like to learn more about the history of The Paignton Club, or would like to enquire about membership please contact us. Limited copies of W.F Loates book are available from the Club on a loan basis.