End of era as Leamington Royal Naval Association branch closes its club building
Members of the Leamington branch of the Royal Naval Association will continue to hold meetings and keep going despite moving out of the premises they have used for decades.
The branch had a nomadic existence until the 1960s when it moved into Oddfellows Hall in Clarence Terrace before it bought the lease for the Adelaide Road premises from Warwick District Council in 1969.
More recently, the building was being used by 45 community groups and clubs.
But due to a dwindling membership - which has declined from 60 full members five years ago to just 22 - and the cost of maintaining the building the branch made the decision last year to hand its current ten-year lease back with the last activity taking place at the club last week.
The branch’s vice president Alwyn Jones, 86, said: “It’s very sad, we have been at the building for almost 50 years and had some great times there.
“The council has been very kind to us but we also did a lot of work to maintain the building ourselves.
Mr Jones, a former acting petty officer on the hunting submarine HMS Tally-Ho who served in the Royal Navy between 1950 and 1957, said the number of association members is dwindling nationally.
Mr Jones said: “We don’t get many new members these days. Not many people leave the service and younger men and women don’t want to join the association when they do.”
Last Thursday a bell from HMS Leamington, which was given to the branch several years ago and displayed at the club building, was presented to Warwick District Council chairman Cllr Alan Boad to be displayed at Leamington Art Gallery & Museum.
Crests for the Royal Marines and the Royal Naval Association, which were displayed alongside the branch’s honours board, have been returned to the association’s headquarters in Portsmouth.
And the rest of the memorabilia displayed at the club has been sold off at auction with the proceeds going to club members until the last one dies after which any remaining funds will go to the association’s headquarters.
Monthly branch meetings will now be held at Racing Club Warwick where the honours board will be displayed.
Lyn McDonnell, who managed the club for the last five years, said: “We’d like to thank Warwick District Council for all of its help over the years.”