In the latter part of the 1890's a Jewish Social and Literary Club was formed in Field's Buildings Wilson St & Albert Mews corner, the first of its kind. There were very little 'Literary' activities about it. It was principally a Social Club with its Bar and billiards. It had a good membership of old and young, and remained popular and prosperous for a few years. Its social atmosphere was good and one could spend a pleasant evening there. Refreshments, smokes and drinks were served at moderate charges. The older members took a keen interest in this enterprise and their presence added prestige. They were regular visitors. Many of their evenings were spent here.
The outstanding figure and principal organiser was Ralph Goldseller, brother-in-law to Moses Bernstein, who took a great interest in the Club. He would be in his forties, a debonair figure, good looking, distinguished, smart and well dressed. An ideal Victorian immaculate in his frock coat or tail-coat, striped trousers and silk Top Hat. A remarkable good mixer and a very popular person with both Jew and Gentile. He would visit the Empire Music Hall, mix with the artistes, and after the performance bring them along to the Club, where they were entertained right royally, and they in their turn entertained us, so there was plenty of fun and frivolity.
It was in this Club where I was presented with a silver sovereign case prior to my departure for South Africa in 1901 but alas! there were few sovereigns in circulation after the Boer War, and it was never used. It now lays dormant in a drawer, a useless article, but a precious emblem and reminder of pleasant days passed and gone!
This Club in the course of time closed down. Subsequently another was opened on a smaller scale above Jackson's Hat Shop in Linthorpe Road -adjoining Taylor's Drug Stores. This building with others nearby was bomb damaged in the Second World War and demolished. It succeeded for a year or two; fell flat and was finally closed down.
Years after, another Club was opened for both ladies and gentlemen at 49 & 51 Grange Rd West on an elaborate scale. The premises were purchased and fittedout. There were rooms for Billiards, Cards, a Lecture Room, Lounge Room, and a Bar. Refreshments were served.
This went well to start off with, but like the others diminished. Partly through insufficient patronage and partly through bad management it deteriorated and, with a last gasp, flopped and had to be closed. The several guarantors lost heavily and had to foot the bill. The premises were disposed of to Mr W Hyman, who opened it out as a wholesale smallware and haberdashery warehouse, and as this it carries on, oblivious of the fate of its predecessor! This was the last of the Clubs.