Clubland: How the Working Men’s Club Shaped Britain (Paperback)
  • Clubland: How the Working Men’s Club Shaped Britain (Paperback)
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Clubland: How the Working Men’s Club Shaped Britain (Paperback)

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£10.99
Paperback 320 Pages
Published: 08/06/2023
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The untold story of a British institution

‘Brilliant.’ Alan Johnson

‘Compelling.’ David Kynaston

‘The beer drinkers’ Bill Bryson.’ Times Literary Supplement

Ferment Magazine’s Best Beer Book of the Year

Pete Brown is a convivial guide on this journey through the intoxicating history of the working men’s clubs. From the movement’s founding by teetotaller social reformer the Reverend Henry Solly to the booze-soaked mid-century heyday, when more than 7 million Brits were members, this warm-hearted and entertaining book reveals how and why the clubs became the cornerstone of Britain’s social life – offering much more than cheap Federation Bitter and chicken in a basket.

Often dismissed as relics of a bygone age – bastions of bigotry and racism – Brown reminds us that long before the days of Phoenix Nights, 3,000-seat venues routinely played host to stars like Shirley Bassey, Louis Armstrong, and the Bee Gees, offering entertainment for all the family, and close to home at that. Britain’s best-known comedians made reputations through a thick miasma of smoke, from Sunniside to Skegness. For a young man growing up in the pit town of Barnsley this was a radiant wonderland that transformed those who entered.

Brown explores the clubs’ role in defining masculinity, community and class identity for generations of men in Britain’s industrial towns. They were, at their best, a vehicle for social mobility and self-improvement, run as cooperatives for working people by working people: an informal, community-owned pre-cursor to the Welfare State.

As the movement approaches its 160th anniversary, this exuberant book brings to life the thrills and the spills of a cultural phenomenon that might still be rescued from irrelevance.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008457570
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 200 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 19 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

‘Pete Brown is a brilliant master of ceremonies as he brings the history of these fine institutions to life and demonstrates their importance in working class communities across the country.’ Alan Johnson, author of This Boy ‘A compelling mixture of social history, vivid reportage and candid autobiography, Clubland makes a crucial contribution to our understanding of Britain in the last century and a half.’ David Kynaston, author of Austerity Britain ‘This is not a romantic book, lost in misty memories. It is a deeply political one. Warm, witty, Brown writes this study with humour, but also rage.’ The Observer ‘Droll, warm, bittersweet.’ Times Literary Supplement ‘A diverting journey through an important chapter of British social history. A portrait of the working man at play, at the bar, at the committee table at the club at the end of his street and yet… within touching distance of Tom Jones.’ Mark Radcliffe ‘Pete Brown writes poetically and with great authority on a slice of culture that has been ignored or derided for many years. He illuminates these arts centres, debating halls and palaces of carefree delight with love and care.’ Ian McMillan, author of Neither Nowt Nor Summat 'An important history and a heartfelt tribute to the friendship, organisation, humour and community to be found in these remarkable institutions.’ Ian Clayton, author of It's The Beer Talking: Adventures in Public Houses ‘Leave any flat-capped clichés at the door: Brown offers an earnest exploration of this crucially formative area of British social history.’ John Warland, author of Liquid History 'Completely original and brilliantly entertaining … a masterful blend of pub-fire anecdote, rigorously researched social history and insightful commentary; ultimately, a political book.’Ferment Magazine, Beer Book of the Year 2022

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Dave at Hastings

“Fun and nostalgic history of Working Men's Clubs”

I found Clubland to be an extremely entertaining read, at times it's hilarious and at times touching and the author is obviously writing with a genuine passion for the subject. My initial impression of the book... More

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