Harrogate residents have put in place enterprising and inspiring plans to develop their traditional working men’s club into a diverse and inclusive community asset bringing local people together.
A five-minute walk from Harrogate town centre, High Harrogate Working Men’s Club has been a regular haunt for locals since 1889. A member of the CIU and registered as a Co-operative Society since 2019, the club has been a focal point for the community evolving from having a singular role of providing an affordable social space to being an asset for the benefit of the community.
Securing a loan from Co-operative & Community Finance has meant the club can proceed with its ambitious plans to fully restore and renovate the space on the ground floor and the exterior of the building’s frontage. Working with a local developer the club will convert and extend the first and second floors into accommodation to form 6 new apartments.
Currently undergoing the process of migrating into a Community Benefit Society (CBS) to better represent the broader offers the business provides to the local community, the club intends rejuvenate facilities for the use of local clubs such as Judo, Pilates, Meditation and other indoor sporting activities. The modernised function room will also enable bookings for events, parties and live music creating revenue for the club as well as providing an accessible hub for the community.
Creating a new website and utilising social media pages to create a strong online presence, the newly named ‘High Harrogate Bar and Lounge’ will display the business’s revamped facilities, events and social role within the community not only to attract new customers but to further embed the club into the heart of the community.
Plans for the renovation are proving popular with locals and at the last AGM around 80 members attended unanimously expressing their support for the proposals. Kevin Lloyd-Evans, Lending and Relationship Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance said: “We are delighted to be lending again to a Working Men’s Club. Being able to respond to access to finance challenges is paramount to our work. We support membership organisations which are democratically controlled and collectively owned. This is a brilliant start as we now look to support other Working Men’s Clubs across the country.”