It was on the 15th June 1922 that the first seed was sown. Supported by the Rotary Club, Chichester Boys Club was founded and the site in Little London was purchased by the Rotary Club in 1923 at a cost of £350.00 and 10 Shillings. The Rotary Club recognised the importance of giving boys a start in life that might otherwise be denied them. Its main aim then was to keep boys off the streets and to engage them into positive pastimes.
On the 4th July 1922, eight Rotarians volunteered to carry sandwich board posters round the City to advertise the first “Our Boys Day” fete on 13th July 1922.
In November 1925, Life Membership was introduced for Boys who had given exceptional service to the Club during their membership. Club Badges were also introduced. In 1930, a House System was introduced and ran successfully until 1962 when it was abolished by the new Club Leader. In 1937 the first major building alteration was carried out by adding a changing room with showers at a cost of £99.00. In March 1939, Club Colours were introduced. Then came the War and September 1939 saw the building being temporarily used as an Evacueed Distribution Centre. A War Memorial Tablet to the 45 Old Boys who lost their lives in the War was unveiled on the 9th January 1956 and is in the Games Hall.
In 2014 West Sussex County Council (WSCC) cut the grants to Chichester Boys Club which amounted to £40,000 per year. These monies paid for qualified youth workers (three evenings a week), maintenance of the building, caretaking, cleaning and secretarial support. The Boys Club was not the only youth facility to be cut and in that year over 60 out of the 65 local authority youth centres in the county were closed. The Chichester Boys Club is not owned by WSCC so it could not be closed but it meant that from then on it had to become self-supporting. With an ageing building, rising fuel costs and the cost of qualified youth workers, serious decisions had to be made. As a result, the youth club could only run on one evening per week and with voluntary youth workers. Ways had to be found to generate income to pay for the running costs of the building. During this period the two other major youth facilities in the city closed (Fernleigh & the Chichester Youth Wing). Which meant that the Chichester Boys’ Club was the only generic youth club remaining. At this time more and more community groups were looking for accommodation, not only to meet but also to store their equipment. Slowly the number of these groups using the CBC has risen to 12 with many more enquiries.
Many thousands of children have benefitted from the facilities and activities Chichester Boys’ Club. We aim to develop the skills of young people, adults and vulnerable members of the community, in a safe and caring environment with the emphasis on fun. The long term aim of the Boys Club is to increase the number of evenings the facility is open for youth work, increase the number of young people attending each evening and to become a hub for local groups and the community. Throughout the years, The Boys Club has always been fortunate in having had such a stable staff of voluntary helpers in many and varied walks of life, a sentiment that rings particularly true to the present day.
I joined the Club in 1956. I was 14. When you joined the club you were allocated into one of four houses. Monthly inter house competitions were based on points. These were won at darts, billiards and table tennis. Additional points were give for attendance and borrowing books. Before we were allowed into the Club, we had to line up in the alley. Due to its popularity only the first 150 boys were let in. Mr. Basil Shippam once a year, opened his garden for a large fete, to raise funds for the Boys’ Club. House Captains were invited, in summer, to Mr. Shippam’s Beach House at Brackelsham, where he provided paste sandwiches with the new varieties of paste, made at his factory in Chichester. Mr. Shippam allowed us to invite girls to a Dance in the big hall. It was successful and allowed us to buy a trampoline. My Mother worked tirelessly running the tuck shop and organising food for the Boxing Nights, feeding over 100 boxers, trainers and supporters.
I joined the Boys’ Club at the age of 14. I left at 17 to join the Royal Navy. After the Navy, I returned home, got married and had a couple of children. Then, I came back to the Boys’ Club and was a Boxing Coach. Later as well as coaching boxing I joined the general staff. I can say, “I’ve spent a lot of time at the Boys’ Club”. AND, BELIEVE ME, this is the best place to be ! JACK HOOD. age 87.