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End of an era for social club
A closed social club in South Oxford will be turned into flats under new plans.
Former South Oxford Social Club member Terence Butler bought the Gordon Street club, which closed in 2010 as its membership dropped.
Its planned redevelopment marks the end of 72 years of history for the club, which began life as the South Oxford Civil Defence Club in 1940.
Planning agent Alan Allinson said the venue could not be run as a going concern because of competition from other pubs and cheap supermarket booze.
A planning application has been submitted to Oxford City Council for one two-bedroom flat and two one-bedroom flats.
Mr Allinson said: “The membership dwindled and it wasn’t economically viable.
Gradually it dwindled because people don’t drink and drive, so getting there is more difficult. It had its heyday probably 30 or 40 years ago.”
The former chapel had about 100 members when it closed but its “shabby” interior was in need of major work.
He said: “There have been a number of clubs on the Abingdon Road that have closed because there isn’t the demand. It is the economy as much as anything.
“Cheap booze from supermarkets is obviously going to have an impact.
“There is competition. The pubs adjust their prices to put others out of business.
“It is dog-eat-dog in the licensed trade at the moment.”
City council leader and Hinksey Park ward councillor Bob Price said: “The club was very popular for many years but I don’t think it is a huge loss for the area.”
The community centre in Lake Street and pubs such as the Crooked Pot and Folly Bridge Inn served residents well, he said. But Mr Price said of the flats plan: “It is an area where there is no car parking at all. It could be jammed.”
Clubs that used to be the hub of Oxford communities have bitten the dust in recent years as drinkers’ habits change.
Last month we reported that plans to sell the closed Lord Nuffield Club in Cowley as a conference centre had fallen through. And permission was given last year to knock down the Wolvercote Social Public House, used by the British Legion, in Ulfgar Road.