By David Abbott (Ex-Boys Club Member Brame Road)
I have volunteered to come forward with information regarding the original Boys’ Club founded by Tom Towers which has of course evolved into this present Hinckley Club 4 Young People. Also in view of my indebtedness as a youth to the Boys’ Club Movement have forwarded a £1000 cheque to help present club finances, mainly in the hope that others may well follow suit, particularly local businesses and perhaps some former members.
The original club was formed in the late 1950s and was located in Brame Road: situated way back from where the road is today and immediate to conifers that bordered land which was the possession of the Atkins family of hosiery manufactures. The somewhat palatial family home later became The Steering Wheel Hotel. Indeed at the time Brame Road was something of a wide cinder track though there were some houses and much of the upper part was a field extending down beyond the top of King Richard Road.
The actual club was a large wooden hut consisting of two large rooms: the first on entry containing a more or less full size snooker table and the other something of a members lounge with arm chairs, television and piano. And at the time the main sport was gymnastics which took place every Wednesday evening in the Hall of Middlefield Junior School. Indeed I used to attend this from the age of eight. Also members would look forward to an annual camp which took place at Barmouth in North Wales. Both gymnastics and the annual camp at Barmouth became part of a tradition which played a central part in life at the new club built in Stoke Road. As regards the gymnastics we entertained crowds for some years at summer fetes with our somewhat military styled performances which even included somersaulting the box both width and lengthways.
This new all brick building club was built partly by the help of members, a number being accomplished tradesman. In any case it was in place at the beginning of the 1960s, opened by ace former distinguished fighter pilots Douglas Bader and Johnnie Johnson. Indeed photos of this momentous event had featured in this paper at the time and have also reappeared more recently in the nostalgia section. Also recorded in this paper in the early 1960s was the fund raising visit of Frankie Vaughan, famous singing celebrity star who had performed as the principle act at The Sunday Night at the London Palladium. He came to The George Ballroom to host a fashion show for women. Indeed he was very much a promoter of the Boys’ Club movement as he felt that at one time in his life-reckon it was in Liverpool- he could well have gone off the rails had it not been for his local club. Frankie later became president of The National Boys Club, doing all he could to promote the clubs in general.
The Stoke Road Club had a large hall which was used primarily for gymnastics, table tennis and 3 or 4-a-side football. Another large room was basically for members to relax and socialize and there was a quiet room where committee meetings were held though members could go there for a bit of peace and quiet: in theory at least. Changing rooms, showers and a somewhat large canteen complemented the larger areas. The vast field outside enabled us to play football, initially in the South Leicestershire league and later in Nuneaton Leagues. In any case there were plenty of inter -sport competitions between the various Boys’ Clubs in Leicestershire: Blaby and Eyres Monsell in particular come to mind. Cross-country running was very much promoted.
The Club’s success spanned well over 50 years, which included allowing Girls to join in the 1970’s, but like any building; wear and tear, escalating costs, new legislation and compliance inevitably resulted in its sustainability becoming a very real concern. During the 2000’s the Club’s Management Committee in collaborative working with Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council, Young Leicestershire (then known as ‘Leicestershire Clubs For Young People’) and MyPlace (Big Lottery) worked on a project to rejuvenate a fun, safe and modern place for Young People to come to; and GreenTowers Hinckley Club For Young People was born. In November 2008 the project was awarded 6.7 million to build a world-class facility on Richmond Park off Tudor Road, just a stone’s throw away from the old Boys Club. The name ‘GreenTowers’ was a respectful acknowledgement of Tom Towers the founder of the original Club and the current Chair Reg Green of Hinckley Club For Young People, Reg commented
“I first met Tom Towers in 1953 when I joined the Club situated in Brame Road. Later I continued my affiliation at the Stoke Road Club as a Member, though after the Club had had several fulltime leaders Mr John Reekie, Chairman, who was also Managing Director of Sketchley Cleaners, came to me with the suggestion that the Senior Members take over the running of the Club on a Voluntary basis. These Members consisted of my brother Rhett Green, Steve Hopewell, Peter Basford, Robert Broughton, and Ron Scotton. Together we ran the Club for some months, which proved to be challenging, so the Chairman asked that one of the Senior Members should take over the Leadership. They chose me and as such I continued to run the Stoke Road Club until its closure in 2010. Since then I have been a Senior Leader and Chairman at our new location on Richmond Park ie the Hinckley Club For Young People”.
The new Club, GreenTowers Hinckley Club For Young People opened it’s doors to the Community in October 2010, achieving a number of very steep milestones; in the first 3 months it had achieved its first 1000 Young Members and by the end of 2019 this will have risen to 6500. Around 700 Young People regularly frequent the facilities and activities on offer during the week, offerings include; Sports, Wall Climbing, Fitness, Music, Arts and Crafts, BMX, Skating, Gaming (Pool, Snooker, Table Tennis). The Club also has a thriving Youth Hub where the Young People can eat/drink and socialise. The Youth Club operates every Monday to Friday 6-9pm (for 8 to 19 year olds, on a Thursday for ages up to School Year 9 only) and on Saturday afternoons 12-3pm, a session open to families. The Youth Club is operated by Responsible Leaders and a team of dedicated Volunteers, who are amazing. The building has been designed to reflect the need of the Community and during the day it is open to Businesses, Clubs, Associations, Schools and the General Public offering classes such as; Dance, Fitness, Martial Arts, Sports; and for Functions, Conferences, Weddings, Parties, Wakes.
For enquires and donations the operations team at GreenTowers Hinckley Club For Young People can be contacted on 01455 230468 firstname.lastname@example.org visit www.greentowers.co.u