Leabrooks Miners Welfare was established in the 1920s although much of the original building was extended and altered over the years. It was situated on Greenhill Lane and as well as the building itself it had a football pitch and a fine bowling green.
The first mention of the Welfare in a newspaper is from the Ripley & Heanor News, published on 14 January 1927, when an article was printed regarding a man who was charged with breaking and entering into the building. Proof that the Welfare had become well established by the late 1920’s can be seen from an article published in the Nottingham Journal of 3 April 1928 titled “Whist Shield” which reported that the Leabrooks Miners Welfare had secured the winner’s trophy in a Whist competition. The list of teams that took part in the competition numbered over 70.
PHOTO: Leabrooks Club photographed in 2008
From the earliest days of its establishment the Welfare had an active Bowls team and Football Club, each playing extensively in local leagues, but above all it was known for its Dances, mainly held at a weekend. The Welfare was once the heart of a thriving mining community and had an entertainment lounge with a dance floor and stage. It was a very popular venue, particularly from the 1940’s through into the 1970’s. Many advertisements appear in local newspapers, of which the following are just a very small example:
Ripley & Heanor News 15 September 1944 –“Topical Film Show in connection with Adult Classes, of special interest to miners and their wives…”
Derby Daily Telegraph 25 May 1949 – “Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire weight-lifting teams photographed before their challenge match at Leabrooks Miners Welfare…” Sadly the photograph is not reproducible.
Ripley & Heanor News 16 December 1949 – “Leabrooks Miners Welfare – Olde Tyme Dance, Saturday December 24th”.
Ripley & Heanor News 6 October 1950 – “The first meeting of a class on the ‘Geography of Europe’ met on Tuesday Evening at Leabrooks Miners Welfare. The class is organised by the Miners Welfare Adult Education Joint Committee [Notts and Derbys]…”
Ripley & Heanor News 15 January 1954 – “Leabrooks Miners Welfare – Modern Dancing Every Wednesday – Dennis Atkinson & His Band”
The majority of advertisements relate to the Olde Tyme and Modern Dance evenings, which were hugely popular through to the late 1970’s.
Such was the popularity of the Welfare, with its large membership, that after the Second World War a memorial plaque was erected inside the Welfare commemorating the members who had lost their lives during the conflict [the memorial is now located inside the Church of St. James, Riddings].
PHOTO: Leabrooks Miners Welfare War Memorial Plaque
In the 1980’s and 1990’s with the demise of the coal industry and the changing habits of a younger population, the Welfare saw a steady decline in trade.
In later years the building was leased by a charity called the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation and the name was changed from the Leabrooks Miners Welfare to the Leabrooks Club. Despite the efforts of its members it closed in January 2008. The football pitch and bowling green deteriorated and after some years lying empty the building itself was demolished to make way for a new housing development.