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Working men's clubs are a type of private social club founded in the 19th century in industrial areas of Great Britainmarker, particularly the North of England, to provide recreation and education for working class men and their families. There are 3,000 working men's clubs in the UK.

Purpose

Despite the educational ambitions, most working men's clubs are recreational. Typically, clubs have a bar for the sale and consumption of alcohol, snooker or pool tables, and many provide food. They often provide entertainment such as bingo, raffles, live music and comedy. They are also known for their charitable works.In recent years, declining membership has seen many clubs close down and others struggle to remain open. Some groups try to raise the profile of clubs, pointing to their historical legacies (www.club historians.co.uk)and their community roles.

Membership and structure

A working men's club is a non-profit organisation run by members through a committee, usually elected annually. Each club has rules which tend to be vigorously enforced. The committee will discipline members (common punishments being a warning, or a ban for a period) for violations. Despite the name, women are allowed to be members in many clubs, and virtually all clubs allow entry to women. Non-members are not allowed entry unless signed in by a member.

While all members pay an annual fee, the primary income comes from alcohol. A club will retain paid staff, such as barmen, stewards, caretakers and cleaners.

Club and Institute Union

Most clubs affiliate to the Working Men's Club and Institute Union (commonly known as the CIU or C&IU). The CIU is affiliated to the Committee of Registered Clubs Associations or CORCA. A member of one affiliated club is entitled to use the facilities of other clubs.

The CIU has two purposes; to provide a national voice for clubs, and to provide discounted products and services for clubs.

Brewery

Until 2004, the CIU ran a brewery in Dunston, Tyne and Wearmarker. This produced ales and lagers under the Federation brand. The brewery and brands were sold to Scottish & Newcastle for £16.2M , although CIU clubs still receive discounted beer. These discounts are passed to members.

Impact of July 2007 smoking ban

In December 2007 a poll by the British Institute of Innkeeping and the Federation of Licensed Victuallers' Associations found that overall revenue was 7.3% down as more men opted to drink at home where they could also smoke.

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