A Norwich sports and social club with more than 150 years of history is set to close its presence in the city center.
The premises of the Norwich Church of England Young Men’s Society (CEYMS) at Brigg Street, which offers facilities for table tennis, snooker, squash and a newly renovated gym, have been closed since March 2020.
Members received a letter from the directors in October 2020 indicating that a decision had been made to close the club permanently.
A meeting with trustees and members will be held Monday at Brigg Street offices to explain the decision.
The CEYMS Hilltop sports ground in Swardeston, where cricket and football are played, will continue to operate normally.
David Clarke, 75, whose son, father and grandfather have been members since the 1890s, said he felt the trustees had not done enough to promote membership.
He said improvements could be made – including giving the company a website and email address, and taking subscription funds by card.
Mr Clarke, owner of the City Bookshop at Davey Place, said: “There is no possibility of direct debit or standing order. Who carries £ 50 cash or a checkbook these days? is dying.
“This Monday meeting is an opportunity to discuss whether there is an alternative to revitalize the club. It has quite a history.”
Another leader of the action group, Mike Kett, 77, said: “At one time it was a lot more popular than these days, but those of us who have long memberships date, about 50 years and older, believe it is a facility that needs to be maintained.
“The decision came out of the blue and the Members Action Group believes the trustees have made sporadic efforts to keep it open.
“We believe the club could continue for a while, even if it loses money if more effort is put into increasing membership.”
President Peter Thomas said he was very upset with the closure that will be explained to members at Monday’s meeting, but added that the directors’ decision was unanimous.
The history of CEYMS in Brigg Street
The social and sports club moved to the premises of Brigg Street in the 1950s after it was rebuilt alongside Debenhams following Baedeker’s raids during WWII.
Norwich CEYMS played a formative role in the history of Norwich City FC after several members decided to form the club at Newmarket Road before he turned pro.
Former Norwich City players such as Kevin Bond, Barry Buttler, Joe Royal and Justin Fashanu all used the Brigg Street club in their heyday.
But the number of members has declined in recent years.
The premises have two stores facing the street, with the trustees considering renting them out as an office investment rather than continuing its current role as a sports and social club.
CEYMS has a long history of providing Norfolk League teams with five table tennis teams in the Norwich and District Leagues, as well as squash, snooker and billiards.
Football and cricket continue to be played in Swardeston.