Anecdote Index





.....RRecollections of the..Lyons..Club....... ...

(30) by Ron Smith

Long before I became an employee of Joe Lyons I was familiar with the club at Sudbury near Greenford, I lived only a short distance away, our house backed onto the Piccadilly line.

The mother of my pal Brian Hawkins worked as a cook in the Pavilion Restaurant kitchen and we were able to get in the club when she was working. I knew several other ways of gaining entry but when using these we would have to stay hidden and confine our activities to the 'dell' the area with a small stream running through it where we could watch Kingfishers, between the main entrance and the farm fields, stretching right across to the Whitton Avenue. Grain was grown on the farm fields, for what purpose I don't know and the crop would be kept in a stack, no combine or fancy bailers. One year we helped take down a stack and were warned to watch out for rats which would, "go for your throat if cornered" no truth in it but it added to the excitement.

The Manager of the club lived in a house just inside the main entrance, he drove an Austin 7, quite something to have a car then. Remember the pleasant walk from the gate down to the Pavilion? Past the many tennis courts, the war memorials and the two wooden rest refuges spaced along the way, it was quite a distance.

After the war there were some big do's held by the three services, perhaps for employees returning from active service and celebrating the end of hostilities. They held dances and buffets with cakes that made our eyes pop. We wheedled our way in by calling them 'aunty' and 'uncle' and were rewarded with wedges of cake and squash to the point of feeling a little bilious, eyes bigger than our bellies as mum would say.

The annual sports day was eagerly looked forward to, we would go to the fair with pennies we had saved, 5/- (25p) was a princely sum, sixty pennies a weighty load in your short trousers pocket, which lasted all afternoon and well into the evening . There were displays and demo's by the services, scouts, guides etc., bands, dances indoor and al fresco, swimming events, athletics and best of all the beauty contest. They turned out at least one nationally recognised athlete and a film star, Joan Rice, trust me to remember her. Wasn't she a teashop girl? London Transport made an entrance directly into the grounds from Sudbury Hill tube station and I remember it being used for such occasions.

Every year we would go to the carol singing in the dance hall and saw many good plays performed by The Lyons Players.

We learnt to play snooker in the club house which was at the top near the Greenford Road and some naughty rugby songs from the players as they celebrated or drowned their sorrows, depending on the score line of the match, with jugs not glasses of ale. The barman and snooker hall keeper was called Dan, a dour Scot who was well on his way to achieving a life long ambition of never having smiled. There was also a table tennis hut with two tables.

Down on the rifle range, there were three ranges, 50, 100 and 200 yard, the 'sarg' taught us how to fire .22 rifles, how to hold our breath just before squeezing the trigger and more. It stood us in good stead, Brian got his marksman's badge in the RAF, I missed it by a gnats.

Then there was the swimming pool, not big but I was able to swim a width under water which I couldn't do at the larger Vale Farm baths. Brian became quite an accomplished diver, I didn't, I had the handicap of wool swimming trunks, any attempt at diving left me searching the pool for them.

My favourite way of finishing the day was with a glass of Stones Ginger Beer with a cornet Pola Maid floated on top. Memories of those times drift in and out but all of them good. Happy days.

© Ron Smith 2005