Walthamstow Trades Hall & Institute is a members’ club, which has stood in its current location for 100 years.
There are two bars and a meeting room and it holds regular events, all of which are open to the public. Membership too, is open to all adults for an annual fee.
In 1919 a group of local Trade Union members met and decided that the then ‘rural town’ of Walthamstow needed a place where working men could meet (at that time the idea of a ‘social club’ was not even considered). Members were recruited from the various unions in existence at the time and set about raising funds.
In 1920 the Club acquired the freehold of a large house with adjoining land at 17 Hoe Street, flanked by Browns road to the south and Tower Hamlets Road to the north. Two small cottages purchased at the same time provided steward’s quarters.
Once membership took off a Management Committee was elected and in 1920 the club joined the Working Men’s club and Institute Union, changing its name to Walthamstow Trades Hall and Institute the same year.
The Grand opening of the club was on Saturday September 11th, 1920. Entertainment was provided by brass bands and the entrance fee, including programme, was 6d (roughly 2½p). The mayor and prospective parliamentary candidate Val McEntee were among the local dignitaries who attended.
The club survived the General Strike of 1926, high unemployment in the 1930s and the war, which sadly took the lives of many of the members. During the 50s with finances in disarray the club struggled and it was decided to admit non-union working men as members from 1959.
At the Annual General Meeting in 1960 it was resolved to ‘negotiate with some appropriate authority with a view to abolishing the present premises and in its place, build, construct or cause to be erected a suitable Club building which will give a service to the future members in particular and be a credit to the Borough of Walthamstow generally.’
Thirteen years later in December 1973 the new club was officially opened and in these modern premises the club thrived. By the 1980s there was a long waiting list to join and the club’s financial footing was very strong. A souvenir brochure produced for the Club’s 80th Anniversary in 2000 was optimistic about the future but very realistic about the challenges faced by pubs and clubs in the new century.
The Trades continues to face these challenges and miraculously has survived to see its centenary year. With the continuing support of members, their guests and all those who use our club we will survive another twenty years.