A history of the rooms at Walkley Community Centre
Built in a subdued Art Nouveau style the buildings main hall is named after John Ruskin who founded his museum on Bole Hill Road in the 19th Century. The sprung floor and small stage provide a perfect venue for dances and dramatics. A plaque on the wall commemorates the donation of the building by Walter Appleyard J.P to mark the defeat of Germany in WW1.
Under the stage is a large storage area full of trestle tables and chairs and in the past it was used to house scenery and props for performances. The chairs you see in the hall were purchased in 1909 when the Reform Club opened, and have continued to be used for almost 100 years.
Small meeting Room/Cloak room
This room was originally used as a card room and a meeting place for the Ladies Liberal League. Currently this room is used for storage, changing room, or for small meetings.
The four snooker tables and the beautiful fittings for scoring are all original as is the furniture. A photo taken at the time of the clubs opening shows that very little has changed, the only discernible difference being the changed table lights. The large memorial window was purchased through subscription to commemorate those members of the club, who died during the First World War. This window has recently been renovated as part of the Walkley History Project. The door would have led to a balcony where the gentlemen would have watched the bowls matches taking place below.
Off the upstairs hall and with a window into the snooker hall is a small office. This has original art nouveau cupboards and is currently used as the snooker club office. Originally it was used as a “temperance refreshment buffet” selling non-alcoholic beverages and food. When the centre was the Reform Club there were two men permanently employed as stewards to ensure the tables were maintained to a high standard as well as ensuring members didn’t gamble or break any other of the reform clubs rules. Originally the charge to play was 6d, with 2d returned if the chalk was handed in at the end of the game.
Off the upstairs hallway is a room which we currently use as an office and which was originally used as a ladies cloakroom. This room has various pictures on the wall of Councillor and Mrs Appleyard, Councillor Reeves Charlesworth, the vice president of the Reform Club, and a roll of honour of those who died in the first World War.
Upstairs meeting room
Originally known as the large recreational room we renamed this room the Appleyard Room after the founder and president of the club. One of the windows contains stained glass where photos of Councillor and Mrs Appleyard once were housed. This window was paid for by subscription to commemorate the President's year as Lord Mayor. We hope to restore this is the near future. This room was used for a number of purposes. It was a reading room (although minutes of the committee dated 1921 note that people kept walking off with the newspapers and periodicals requiring stern notices that if this continued they would cease to be provided!). It was also a place for meetings as well as vegetable shows and cards. A beautifully proportioned room, it is currently used for by a Japanese Children's Group, guitar practise as well as various meetings.
To get to the carpark you go through what was originally the lounge of the caretakers house. The house has since then only be used for storage. At the back of the building you will see the memorial window with the holes where the balcony was clearly visible beneath. The two small windows below lead to two small offices used to store playgroup equipment and originally changing rooms for actors performing on the stage.
If you would like a tour of the building please do get in touch.