After the end of world war one the men who had fought and survived and their friends and relatives formed the Crich Branch of The Comrades of the the Great War. With money collected from public subscription and funds raised by Whist Drives, dances and other functions, in 1921 they eventually had enough funds to open the Comrades Club.
Recorded in the Comrades of the Great War Crich Branch meeting minutes it was decided to hold a prize draw at the start of 1921 to raise funds. Prize money made up of 2 x £1.00 prizes, 4 x 10 shillings (50p in today's money), 8 x 5 shillings (25p) and 20 x 2 shillings and sixpence (12 and 1/2p), a total of £8-10 shillings (£8-50p).
In preparation for the opening in 1921 the Club was registered on 6th June under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, the cost of membership was set at 5 shillings per annum (25p) and the membership numbered 118. See information about the original applicants here.
On 20th June an order for six tables was placed with Smith Brothers of Crich, tables to be stained and varnished, 3 foot 6 inches x 2 foot 3 inches at a cost of 32 shillings and sixpence each (£1-62 1/2p).
On 18th July the new billiard table was delivered to Whatstandwell train station and the Club Secretary arranged with Mr R Bowmer to transport it to the Club. For the table lighting two gas fittings and two green and white lightshades had to be fitted, with the gas pipe being 8 feet from the floor and the lights to be 100 candle power brightness.
On 12th August the billiard table had been erected and positioned and the erection of the bar was completed and fully equipped.
The official opening in 1921 took place on the
17th September at 6-00pm carried out by
Mr and Mrs Maurice Deacon of
Chase Cliffe House, Whatstandwell.
The address was given by General Geoffrey Meinertzhagen Jackson of the Clay Cross Works. The Comrades Club ladies Committee decorated the room and arranged for a daughter of one of the members to present Mrs Deacon with a bouquet and Mr Deacon with the key. All members were invited to bring one guest and the Ladies Committee was invited free of charge. Other invited guests included J. B. Marsden Smedley and John Smedley of Lea Mills, Reverend Douglas Wood, Vicar of Holloway, Charles Lester and Son, Major Hurt, Captain Johnson, F. N. Smith, Samuel Bower, Joseph Smith Snr. Charles Else Snr. Mr Higgleston, Vicar W. McDonald, Mr Lynam and Dr Rankin.
The opening ceremony was followed by a game of billiards between Mr Leslie Wright, Managing Director Butterley Ironworks Company and Mr Joseph Payne the Club Chairman, there is no record of who won the game. This was followed by a concert and dance at Crich Junior School organised by Mr J. Barker and Mr R. Newman with all in attendance receiving their first drink free.
Not only is 2021 the Clubs centenary year but the Royal British Legion also started life 100 years ago. A Unity Conference was held on 14th May 1921 in London to discuss the formation of the British Legion. Four main associations; The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers (1916), The British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers, The Comrades of the Great War (1917) and Officers Association (1920), the amalgamation of these four organisations on 15th May 1921 formed the nucleus of the British Legion as we know it today. Comrades of the Great War Crich Branch were represented at the meeting by Mr M Jackson.
Crich Comrades did not join the British Legion until September 1929. After a public meeting of ex-servicemen, their families and friends it was agreed to inaugurate a local branch, to be known as Crich and District Branch of the British Legion, the committee to be the Comrades Club Committee.
Article from The Derbyshire Times November 20th 1920
Comrades of the Great War Crich Branch
A Whist Tournament promoted by the Comrades of the Great War Crich Branch, took place on Saturday, Mr H Dyson acted as MC and Mrs George Haynes presented the prizes to the following:- 1st Messrs Charles Perry and Sam Hollingsworth; 2nd Miss E Moore and Mr Whitely.
A presentation was made by Mrs Payne on behalf of the Ladies Committee of 18 Windsor chairs towards the furnishing of the newly erected Comrades Club room at Crich. Mr J Payne, the commandant of the Comrades of the Great War Crich Branch accepted the gift with grateful thanks.