100 years of history at town’s ‘best kept secret’

Abbey Club,on Abbey Hill,Kenilworth.' 'MHLC-11-02-14 Abbey club Feb24
Abbey Club,on Abbey Hill,Kenilworth.' 'MHLC-11-02-14 Abbey club Feb24

Kenilworth’s best kept secret is hoping to get itself noticed in its 100th year as members look to a new name and big dreams for the future.

The Kenilworth Abbey Club first opened in 1914 and its 200 members are now pulling out all the stops to celebrate its centenary year.

As well as proudly showing off everything the social club has to offer in the town, members are looking back at how little - and how much - has changed since the building first opened as the Conservative Club ten decades ago.

Mick Ives, committee member and long standing user of the club in Abbey Hill, said a range of events would be held over the next 11 months to celebrate the milestone and pull in new interest to let residents know what is available on their doorsteps.

“A lot of people don’t know we are in Kenilworth,” he said.

“We joke that we are the town’s best kept secret, but we want to get more people involved and to come and use the facilities as we go into our 100th year.

“We want to encourage residents to come along and we have had a lot of younger people come and sign up recently, which is great for our future.”

He said as they are not exactly sure which month the club was opened in, events will continue for the whole year with an open evening on Wednesday when the building - which has not changed since it was first opened - can be explored.

Mr Ives, who joined up in 1976, said he has seen huge changes over that time, including the change to allow women and rebranding of the club over the past decade.

But that the building which overlooks the whole of Abbey Fields, and its exterior has remained untouched, offering a unique look back into Kenilworth’s past.

As well as offering a social hangout, the club has two snooker teams in the Leamington and District league.

Back in 2004, the rules banning women from joining were lifted for the first time in the club’s then 90-year history.

Previously, women were only permitted to serve behind the bar and a ladies’ toilet was installed for the change after members voted two to one in favour of ditching the tradition.

And last year, committee members changed the name of the venue to move away from its now redundant political associations and make itself more accessible..

The then chairman Richard Fonge said the change was “relevant to the times we live in” and that the refurbishment would make for a new period in the club’s history.

Visit the club to find out about becoming a member.