Members left shocked by club’s sudden closure
08:59 15 November 2012
Seaton Town Social Club calls time after 70 years - blaming changes in people’s drinking habits
The sudden closure of the long-established Seaton Town Social Club has left members shocked and saddened.
The decision to shut it came at short notice, with officials blaming the urgent need to avoid plunging into debt.
But some of the up to 300 members say they should have been given time to work on a rescue plan.
The first many of them knew of the club’s imminent demise was an announcement at a farewell function the night before – which was greeted with tears from many of those present.
A notice also went up in the window of its base at Winstons, in Harbour Road.
It read: “It is with regret the committee announce the club will close at the end of business on Sunday 4th November, 2012.
“An explanatory letter and a final financial statement will be sent to all members.
“The committee would like to thank out member for their support over the years.”
Some three to four part time jobs have been lost with the closure of the club, which has operated in the town for some 70 years.
This week president John Vanderwolfe said the committee had no choice but to pull the plug as quickly as it did.
He told The Herald: “The decision was made that we could not carry on because we were running out of money. By closing when we did we ensured we had enough to pay off everyone we owed but going on further would have put us into debt.”
Mr Vanderwolfe said the club had become a victim of the recession, cheap supermarket booze and the new stay at home culture.
He said its decline began some years ago when the Harbour Road holiday camp closed, seriously reducing its revenue from visitors and forcing it to sell its purpose-built HQ in Harbour Road.
He said their eventual move to the Winstons building , after a stay in the town centre, had been a gamble.
“But we decided to have a go and give it our best shot,” he said. “The committee worked very hard but the club did not get the support it needed. The whole licensing trade is in trouble and people’s social habits have changed.
“We used to put on entertainment and Saturdays were ok but the rest of the time there just weren’t enough people to pay the wages.
“Maybe we could have kept it going until Christmas but it was decided to end it now and at least walk away with all the bills paid.”
Linda Pritchard was amongst the members left stunned and upset by the sudden decision to close.
She said the club’s demise represented the loss of another piece of Seaton’s history.
She said: “For it to close so suddenly was a terrible shock to the members and staff. The announcement came from John Vanderwolfe on Saturday night and with so very little time for members to react to the situation. There were a number of tears shed as there was nothing members could do to save the club.
“It was only last week that a Christmas Day lunch was discussed and planned. Now Christmas has been ruined, and there is nowhere else to go in Seaton on a Saturday night for live music and club price drinks.
“It is a real shame the club could not have remained open over the Christmas and New Year period which would have given members time to resolve any problems and save the club from extinction.”