CAMRA Sheffield & District Club of The Year 2022 is Stocksbridge Rugby Club. Luci Loxley, Bar Manager said: ‘this has come as a total surprise. Thanks to all the staff involved. We are very pleased.’
Previous winners in 2017, this busy social club is open weekday evenings and all day at weekends, offering two or three real ales: Bradfield Blonde as a regular plus one Bradfield guest and another guest from a local brewery.
The rugby club was originally formed in 1962 as a section of Stocksbridge Steel Works Social Services. Sixty years later, it has sports teams in local leagues, two teams in the pool league, and a very successful table tennis team.
The building originally opened in 1866 as Horner House Primitive West End Chapel. The Primitive Methodist church was an 1807 secession from the Wesleyan Methodists. It was particularly successful in evangelising agricultural and industrial communities at open meetings.
The 2nd December 1865 foundation stone celebrations for the chapel and schoolroom, part of the Sheffield Second circuit, are described by John Wenn in an 1866 Primitive Methodist magazine. The stone was laid by GH Benson Esq. and the ceremony was followed by a “plentiful tea” in the nearby Co-operative society store. Speakers included Revs C Lace, R Bryant and John Wenn and Messrs GH Benson, F Hill, R Holden and John Manterfield. In 1932, the name changed to the West End Methodist Church. The building was extended in 1889 and the frontage was remodelled in 1959. This as, ‘it was felt that the ever-increasing flow of traffic ….. constituted a real danger to our scholars as they came straight down the Church steps into the main road.’
Almost half a century ago, in 1974, the chapel closed and was left to rot. It was acquired by the rugby club in 1983. The building was gutted and the inside completely rebuilt. The original first floor which sloped from front to back was replaced. All the work was completed by members of the club. The new social centre reopened in 1985 using the old downstairs schoolroom. Three years later, in 1988, came the official opening when the upstairs function room came into use. This room has it’s own bar and is often used for private events: everything from barn dances to childrens parties.
The war memorial, originally fixed to the east wall was removed to the Wesleyan chapel at Old Haywoods, Deepcar. That is now closed, the memorial relocating to nearby Christ Church. It commemorates members of the congregation, ten men and one woman, who lost their lives in WW1.
The original 1865 Deed of Transfer signed by the Trustees with the vendor, Samuel Fox, states that: ‘No building erected upon the said plot of land shall be used as a beer house or public house …. without the consent in writing of the said Samuel Fox or his heirs or assigns.’ We assume that this consent has occurred.
Our presentation will be on Friday 3rd.June at 17:00, to coincide with their Jubilee Beer Festival. We hope to see you there. Bus 57 from Sheffield or Bus SL1/SL1a from Middlewood tram terminus will get you there.
Reference: Stocksbridge Primitive Methodist – West End Methodist Church 1866-1966. Centenary Handbook. pages 8, 19