The Highbury Club.
In June 1909 the estate of Mrs Elizabeth Evans, ex-landlady of the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery and landowner of large parts of the town was sold off at auction at the Market Hall, Abertillery.
Land at Brynteg, owned by Mrs Elizabeth Evans, advertised as a freehold site and ready for building was situated (as seen in the image from 1896 prior to the Foundry Bridge being built) on the junction of Gladstone Street and Alma Street. The land in question had a frontage of 58′ feet by 118′ feet, was purchased for £525., by Mr Harry R. Campion a Dental Surgeon of Abertillery. That is equivalent to £60,122,52p in today’s money.
Mr Harry R. Campion.
Mr Harry R. Campion, born 1883. Mr Campion was a dental surgeon and lived at Alma Street, Abertillery with his mother Mrs Elizabeth Campion, born 1862 at Birmingham, England and his younger sister Miss Ruby Campion, born 1888 at Staffordshire, England.
In July 1909 Mr Campion instructed Mr N. Gasenius Lewis, Architect living at Oak Street, Abertillery to plan for the construction of his houses and advertise for builders (as seen above) to construct the detached house and adjoining houses.
By November 1910 the houses had been constructed and Mrs Campion, Mr Campion’s mother advertised in the South Wales Gazette for two of them to let.
Mr Harry Campion Moving from the Highbury House.
Mr Harry R. Campion as mentioned was a dentist by trade and opened a dental practice at his premises “Highbury House”, Abertillery, though in 1919 rumours were spreading that he was selling the Highbury House and leaving Abertillery, he must have been well liked and respected in the area as in many newspapers at this time he paid for half page advertisements (as seen left) stating is intention to stay in Abertillery, that the rumours were unfounded and he was just moving next door.
In 1920 Mr Campion moved from the detached Highbury House and set up his practice next door at 1 Gladstone Street. He began his dental practice at the new address on Monday 6th September 1920.
The Highbury House Sale.
In August 1920 the Highbury House went up for sale and was sold by private treaty. The Highbury House was purchased by the Lymes Social Club, it was later a part of the Lymes and locally known as the “Top Lymes”. All particulars addressed to Mr Tom Adams the Secretary of the Lymes Workmen’s Club & Institute.
The Feeding Centres 1921.
At the start of 1921 the Highbury House was taken by the Abertillery Educational Authority and used by the Abertillery and District Relief Committee to be used as a Feeding Centre and Main Food Depot. It was used as such to feed the children of the unemployed men of Abertillery during the strikes and lock-outs that occurred at this time.
During the Strike of 1921 feeding centres were opened at the following places and supervised by the names in brackets – The United Methodist Church at Cwmtillery (Mr G. Gardner); The Blaenau Gwent Primitive Methodists Church (Mr W. Sawtell); The Bethany Baptist Church, Six Bells (Mr G. Ace) and The Commercial Road Baptist Chapel at Llanhilleth (Mr W. Daniels): The work of feeding the children was performed by voluntary workers under the supervision of Mr Hector Williams, Chief Supervisor.
Two meals per day were provided at the feeding centres, dinner and tea, though on a Saturday and Sunday breakfast and dinner was served. During the industrial dispute over 5,000 children were fed each day. After the dispute 700 children were given meals on a daily basis and throughout 1921 the Education Committee under Mr Arthur Llewellyn, Secretary of the Abertillery Education Authority had distributed over 1 millon meals.
In December 1921 it was reported in the South Wales Gazette that the Food Distribution Centre was removed from the Highbury House. The tenancy of which was given up to the old Council Chamber.
The Highbury Club Official Opening.
On Saturday 28th January 1922 the Highbury Working Mens Club (an annex to the Lymes Social Club – also known as the Lymes Working Mens Branch Club, Highbury House) was formally declared open. The club Chairman was Mr William Potter, club Steward was Mr W. Williams. The Secretary for the both clubs was Mr Tom Adams.
Mr William Potter, Chairman of the club presided over the opening, supported by the following – Mr George Davies of Blackwood, Secretary of the Monmouthshire branch of the Club Union; Mr George Groves, a representative of the Gwent Club Brewery; Mr J. J. Chick of Pentwynmawr; Dr T. B. Smith; Alderman Levi Harris; Councillor W. T. Williams; Mr Thomas H. Mytton; Mr George Daggar (Miners Agent); Mr Tom Adams (Secretary) and others: Mr William Potter stated he had wished the club was in a better financial state, they had just gone through a bad financial period but hoped that it would now pick up as the Lymes Club had paid a lot of money to purchase the Highbury House.
Mr W. Williams.
In 1922 Mr W. Williams was the Club Steward. Mr Williams lived at 5 Glandwr Street, Abertillery.
In November 1922 a new club steward was wanted at the Highbury Club and the wages were advertised as being £4. 10s. 0d. per week.
In November 1923 the Abertillery Town Football Club who had been registered at the Highbury Club with the Friendly Society had folded and had their membership with the society cancelled.
The Abertillery Social Club and Institute “Highbury”.
In March 1924 it was known as the Abertillery Social Club and Institute “Highbury” and put out tenders for catering at a supper for 600 members. It was reported that there were over 900 members registered at the Lymes and The Highbury Club.
In February 1925 the Lymes Glee Party held an annual general meeting at the Highbury Club.
The Abertillery One-Way Traffic System.
In 1927, after a series of minor traffic accidents and close-shaves close to the corner of the Highbury Club on the junction of Alma and Gladstone Streets, there were calls for the roads layout at Abertillery to be made a one-way system. It was suggested that all traffic from the north be diverted down Oak Street and past the Bush Hotel, through town. All traffic travelling from the south heading north must go through town, over the Foundry Bridge and up Gladstone Street, cutting out Station Hill and that bad junction. The idea never materialised and was forgotten.
The Labour Party Headquarters.
In May 1929 the Highbury Club was the headquarters of the Labour Party. Mr Leornard Tredwin of 3 Strathview, Newbridge was the Agent for Mr George Daggar and had his office at the Highbury Club.
In November 1931 a new club steward was again advertised for at a wage of £3. 10s. 0d. with a £50.00. bond.
The Concert Room.
In December 1933 the Abertillery Council approved plans to add a concert room to the Highbury Club, Abertillery.
In November 1934 the Highbury Club and the Lymes Club consisted of the following committee members – Mr Tom Adams (Secretary); Mr Tom Brickell (Clerk & Chairman); Mr Joseph Howells (Vice Chairman); Mr Richard Price (Treasurer); Mr Joseph Payne (Lymes Club Steward); Mr Albert Dean (Highbury Club Steward); Mr William Brickell; Mr Tom Greenow; Mr Henry Dean; Mr Mr Rees Davies; Mr Daniel Edmunds; Mr William Lewis; Mr Charlie Brooks; Mr Albert Urch; Mr Simon Llewellyn; Mr Thomas Grindle:
Fruit Machines Case.
In November 1934 the committee of the Abertillery Social Club and Institute Ltd, the Lymes & Highbury Club were summoned to court for having fruit machines in their premises and the use of unlawful gambling over a period of seven months. The defendants stated the profits were devoted to charitable purposes. The court stated that “the fruit machines, 3 spinning wheels with pictures of various fruits printed were made illegal in 1930, these machines were brought in from America and were affecting the morals of the country”. Even though they were made illegal in 1930 they were still used openly and the defence told of them being used at the last hospital fete, the bench adjourned, came back and stated the case against the institute was to be dismissed.
The New Foundry Bridge.
In 1936 the Highbury Club was mentioned in council meetings in connection with the new Foundry Bridge, they wanted to erect a new bridge at the bottom of Gladstone Street by the side of the Highbury Club which would span the valley, over the Iron Foundry and into town at the point where Peacocks Store is today, the plan was dropped. It was stated that in order to span the valley from Gladstone Street to Church Street the gradient of the Gladstone Street hill would be that shallow that it would mean that the Highbury Club and the houses opposite on Gladstone Street hill would have to be demolished as they would be under the level of the road on the approach to the proposed new bridge.
In December 1937 the proposal was to demolish the Highbury Club and widen the access between Gladstone Street and the existing Foundry Bridge, taking away the sharp corner. This idea was also dropped.
The Liberal Snooker Club House.
The Highbury Club was later used as the after-match home venue for the Liberal Snooker Club team. As the Liberal Club didn’t have facilities to cater for food or a license to supply alcohol the after-match refreshments were catered for at the Highbury Club.
The Official Closure of the Highbury Club.
On 21st June 2001 the Highbury Club (Abertillery Social Club and Institute) was officially wound-up and it was closed as a Social Club, a short while later the building was purchased and reopened as a pub and renamed the Dolls House.
The Dolls House.
The Dolls House is still open and is seen as a leading venue for Rock Music and Bands in the area.
(More information to come).
Notes of Interest – The Brynteg Hotel.
In October 1899 Mrs Elizabeth Evans of the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery applied for a provisional full license for the proposed new Brynteg Hotel (this may have been the proposed premises later built as the Highbury House/Highbury Club) Mrs Elizabeth Evans owned the land that Mr Harry Campion later purchased and constructed the Highbury House in 1910.
The Sunday Empire News Sportsmans Quiz.
On Thursday 20th January 1955 The Sunday Empire News Sportsmans Quiz was held at the Highbury Club, Abertillery. The panel consisted of the former Heavyweight Champion Mr Jack Petersen. The Glamorgan Cricketer Mr Haydn Davies. The Welsh Soccer International and Cardiff player Mr George Edwards and Mr Ken Jones the Welsh Rugby wing and Olympic Sprinter. Mr W. E. N. Davies was the question master and Mr C. N. Cole Welsh editor of the newspaper presided on the night.