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Entertaining Preston since 1958

red rose of lancashire


As Britain slowly returned to normality after World War II a weekends entertainment in social clubs was housey housey or bingo and a night of ballroom dancing with the occasional singalong

In the mid-1950s entertainers began to appear in social clubs for the first time due to the demiseof the music halls and television gained popularity, vocalists, comedians, magicians, and ventriloquists began to appear alongside the ballroom dancing.

This transitional period was not without its problems however, clubs did not create a position to book the entertainment the bookings were made by the Secretary at some clubs, the treasurer at others or it could be a chairman or a member of the committee at other clubs. Sometimes it was more than one person who booked the act's and occasionally this resulted in double bookings. Contacting these people was often difficult as very few people have home telephones in the mid-Fifties it was difficult to attract new artists to the area as communication between clubs was non-existent and artist could go down well at one club and yet another club in the vicinity would be totally unaware.

In early 1958 a gentleman called Tom Slater a committee man from Fishwick ramblers club in Preston had the foresight to see the benefits to both the clubs and artist of forming an association of entertainment for social clubs in the Preston area.

Tom Initially called a meeting with three other committee men from three other clubs from this first meeting the basis of forming an entertainment federation was formulated. The next step was to invite all the social clubs in the Preston area to an inaugural meeting of the Preston and district concert secretaries Federation at the Meadow Street Labour club Preston.

A large number of clubs attended this meeting whilst not every club gave notice of their intention is to join there was sufficient number of clubs who declared their interest in joining, The Federation
was founded in June 1958.

The federation had an an immediate effect on clubland entertainment attracting new artists into the area via their monthly showcases that were held midweek at one of the clubs situated in central Preston.

In 1968 the monthly meetings and showcases were changed to Sunday afternoons for a number of reasons by this time the majority of social clubs relaxed the "men only" Sunday lunchtime rule. People became more mobile as car ownership increased and it gives the opportunity to the clubs outside central Preston to host the showcases.

Over 40 years later this is still the case with the showcases still as popular. Artistes often remark that it is a great pleasure to see a full club and see so many concert secretaries. Clubs are eager to host the showcases as they always bring in extra revenue over the bar.

The federation is as strong today as it has always been due in no small part to the dedication of the officials throughout the years, the support of the concert secretaries and the loyalty of the member clubs. 12 present-day member clubs or founder members and a further 11 clubs have been members for over 30 years each.

In 2008 the Federation celebrated its 50th anniversary, to mark the occasion special concerts and fundraising events were held in many member clubs and over £16,000 was raised for local charities, in addition an anniversary book was published charting the history of the federation over the first 50 years with a mention of the many characters and personalities that have made the Federation and Preston clubland what it is today. There is also a mention of the many artistes (both famous and not so famous) who have appeared on the stages of the Preston clubs over those years. There are also features on the member clubs.

There is still a small quantity of books available and if anyone wants to purchase a copy, for £3 including postage contact John Sissons on 01772 338157.

The federation welcomes new members and any social clubs considering membership should contact the secretary Peter Molloy on 01995 602845 who will be pleased to give further details.


A brief history of the federation by John Sissons