WHOLLY TRINITY: Chairman Dave Smith, secretary Ian Titterington and bar manager Sean Martin
It’s such a traditional concept – a social club offering up classic league games of pool, skittles and darts, alongside bingo, entertainment and snacks.
And it’s possibly something very few people under the age of 40 has experienced – I well remember sitting in a swirl of cigarette smoke, chowing down on a pickled egg in a bag of salt and vinegar crisps at Briantspuddle Social Club in the early 80s.
These days though, the smoke is gone at Dorchester’s Trinity Club, an enormous building with a multitude of bright, airy spaces hiding in plain sight in the town centre. Not only do you not choke on fumes, the committee is even installing eco-friendly air purifiers, which will have the dual effect of killing 99.9 per cent of viruses and creating a cleaner atmosphere.
The enormous ballroom
The building was first used as a club in the 19th century and became The Comrades’ Club in the 1920s. It became the Trinity Club in 1967.
A little over two years ago the volunteer committee, led by chairman Dave Smith, decided to plough £100,000 into a complete revamp, and thank heaven they did, as prices have now risen so much they’d face a heck of a hike if they did it now. And the timing meant they were ready to reveal their revamp as soon as the pandemic restrictions were lifted.
Dave said: “Back in 2010, ten of us got together to form a committee at a time when the club was losing £1,500 a week. We have since revamped everywhere in the club.
“We are trying to install the best facilities we can afford, so people can come here and enjoy themselves.”
All together, they’ve splashed £250,000 on refurbing every nook and cranny of the place, to bring it in to line with modern tastes and be able to offer a comfortable place for members and guests. An enormous ballroom allows the club to host weddings and parties, and there’s another bar next door. It’s a cavernous space, which is fitted with coloured LED lighting for the stage area. All the lights are now LEDS, and the committee is considering other ways to go green, such as installing solar panels.
The new air purifiers don’t even need batteries.
The club has about 800 members, most of whom play in the well-attended league nights for darts, pool and skittles.
They pay just £5 a year to join, while guests pay £1 for the evening. A core section of the membership enjoy cash prize bingo three times a week, on a Wednesday afternoon and on Saturday and Sunday evenings. There are usually 70 people there on a Sunday night, eyes down.
Skittles is a major deal for the club – it has three alleys and hosts 14 teams. There are six darts teams, four pool teams and, should anyone be short of something to do there’s also a snooker table and games machines.
Former chairman Eric Sharman and secretary Harold Swain MBE
The busiest night is a Friday, when it’s Thrift Club time and there’s a meat raffle, with 14 prizes of joints, breakfast boxes and more supplied by Colin Clark in Grimstone.
Dave said: “We also stage live music events and a Christmas party on the last Saturday before Christmas Day. The last Christmas party we had, the main act cancelled and we got a Robbie Williams tribute who turned out to be fantastic. He had everyone on their feet dancing all night. So we’ve booked him again this year, when he will be appearing with a Peter Kay tribute act.”
On Wednesday, March 30, the club will host a charity bingo to raise money for Dorchester Foodbank and Dorchester Food Share.
Dave said: “The club will fund the bingo prizes and there will be a raffle with prizes from local businesses, such as a meal at the Junction and a meal at The Gamekeeper.”
The Trinity Club is licensed to hold weddings, parties and events. Call 01305 262671, or email dorchtrinityclub@
gmail.com or see dorchestertrinityclub.co.uk