Swanmore Social Club
PAXTON HALL (photo right 1908-1909)
(40 St. Michael’s Ave – formerly Church Street)
One of the kindly endeavours of Mrs Sophia Anna Mackenzie Fowler Paxton necessarily came to light was the Paxton Club for men and boys, which she founded in memory of her husband, the late Henry Arthur Paxton, and which was a flourishing institution at Swanmore. She was always interested in those people whose work attracted little public interest. During the 30 years of her residence in the town Mrs. Paxton was the means of helping hundreds of local people in their times of trouble. The extent of her charitable work was known to few. She preferred to remain behind the scenes, and would not associate herself with any public body. For 15 years she personally mended every blanket used at the Royal I.W. County Hospital, and saved that institution many pounds. She was a hard working member of the Hospital Sewing Circle, and during the World War she formed a similar circle of about 20 women and girls who met once a week to make clothing for the soldiers at the front.
On 19th January 1929 the local press reported that on the occasion of the annual supper on Wednesday, a pleasant evening was spent by about 40 members of the Paxton Club. The president (Mrs. Paxton) occupied the chair, supported by Mr. F. E. Blagg (vice-president), the Revs. A. C. Durham and H. E. L. Ellison, Mr. G. H. French, and Messrs. W. Guy (secretary) and H. Morey (treasurer).
Mr. J. E. Brading served a first-rate menu. After the loyal toast Mr. Blagg submitted that of “The Vicar of Swanmore,” which was received with musical honours. The Vicar, in reply, congratulated the club on the splendid work it was doing, and hoped it would continue for many years. Mr. Ellison proposed “The club”. He said they could not think of the club without their thoughts flying to the gracious lady who was its president. He hoped she would be spared to them for many years. Their club should teach them the spirit of comradeship both among the members and in their homes, and they should jealously guard its good name. Mr. Blagg suitably acknowledge the toast. “The visitors” was given by Mr. Blagg, and replied to by Mr. French. There was community singing and individual items by Messrs. H. Morey, G. Chellell, Guy, and W. Nobbs. Mr. G. H. SAVILL expressed – the company’s thanks for a very enjoyable evening. The proceedings terminated with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and the National Anthem.
In January 1967 it was said to be a “Depressing Relic,” once a flourishing social club, now a dilapidated tin hut. Such is the rise and fall of Paxton Social Club, the building that is on the conscience of many once connected with it.
In April 1968 the building had long since ceased to be a club and the Ryde and East Wight Trades Council drew the attention of the Borough Council to the state of the Paxton Club, Swanmore, that had been long unoccupied, which they felt was in a dangerous condition.
In May 1970 the guest speaker at the annual Ryde and District Snooker and Cribbage League dinner and dance at the Ponda-Rosa on Friday, was Mr. Alf Bushell, former secretary. Mr. Bushell recalled the keen matches played at the Paxton Club, the only “dry” house in the league, but now, sadly, was almost in ruins.
In 1974 It had been empty and disused for several years because no organisation seeking to use it could fulfil the terms of the trusteeship, the Paxton Hall was being restored by the Friday Club, a social and sports club. The last use of the hall was as a billiards and snooker club. When the hall was given by the widowed Mrs Paxton a trust was established to administer it, and until recently Alderman H. E. Morey, B.E.M., was the sole remaining trustee, and now he had appointed four new trustees from the membership of the Friday Club. It will be permanent headquarters for the Friday Club, who hope to re-open the hall within the next few weeks.
It wasn’t till 2009 (photo left), that the old Paxton Club Hall was purchased by a developer and plans submitted in May that year for it to be demolished, and for 2 x 2 storey block of flats to be erected on the site.
Sources: I.W. Times and RSHG Archive
Images: Ann Barrett and Roy Brinton Collection