Back in the late 1950s and 1960s when Shoreham Beach was far less populated, there was a group of close friends who loved to party, and spent many happy hours in the Tudor Public House, (now the Waterside Inn) enjoying their regular darts sessions in the beautiful wooden panelled back room. When the pub was to be refurbished (not to the groups liking), Derek Stirling and John Metcalf, whilst on holiday with their families in Spain, set upon the dream of starting their own social club.
Once back in England, they set about making their dream come true, and began by getting Toni Stirling and her friend Patsy Clarke (now Jennings) to deliver letters to all the houses on the beach, to see who would be interested in helping fund the venture.
When the funding was in place, and everyone was anxious to contribute to the building, John Metcalfe’s position as Housing Officer helped obtain three possible locations for the club. Eventually the Old Fort and a site off Weald Dyke were rejected, and the Silver Sands was the approved site. It was then favoured to erect a wooden building in memory of the many wooden bungalows, which had been demolished because of the invasion threat during the war. This was to have a flat roof to facilitate a second floor, thus enabling the ground floor to be used for billiard tables, skittle alley etc. for the members as and when enough profit was made.
Many people helped with the construction and the foundations were dug with the help of Derek Stirling, Denis Stirling, John Metcalf, Phil Branston, Reg head, Dick Steele Robinson and countless more, in difficult conditions, with cold and rain. The wives and families were roped in to paint and paper and polish the beautiful dance floor, and gradually the interior was complete, with cosy alcoves and a welcoming ambiance. Finally and joyously the club opened in May 28th 1966.
As the club flourished, an extension was built and a boat park with a slipway for the use of members. At first a flat was rented for the steward and his wife, but in the fullness of time, a flat was purchased, and then finally a house was acquired immediately opposite the club building. Also the freehold to the land was purchased.
Sadly John Metcalf died relatively early on in the clubs history, and ironically he actually passed away when working on the boat park, but he did see his dream become a reality.
There was always a Committee member on duty in those days, and there was always a function on a Saturday night, and many theme evenings, such as Beer Keller, Scottish Dancing and the unforgettable shows performed by the members under the guidance of Bob Langley, which raised a considerable amount of money for charity, as did Andrew Lamb and Ray Minter in the Bath Tub races.
The club has endured for many years, and seen much joy and tragedy amongst its members, it survived the hurricane unscathed, and has always enjoyed a good reputation in the locality, and it is proof that if a community all pulls together, anything is possible.
I can truthfully say that we all enjoyed the hard work in Building the club, and have everything to thank John and Derek for.