Royal British Legion in Willaston

The Willaston in Wirral branch of the Royal British Legion was founded in 1935 and started in one room of the Nag's Head pub

The first Executive Committee meeting took place on 21st October that year.

The subscriptions were set at:

  • Members 2/6d (12.5p)
  • Honorary members 10/6 (52.5p)
  • Vice presidents 1 guinea (£1.05)

Following the Second World War, there was a decision to start a ‘Building Fund’ and a ‘Welcome Home Fund’. The aim was to develop a clubhouse, which would both be a permanent HQ for the branch and a social club.

A suitable piece of land was identified, and fundraising in the village took place. The land was purchased in 1947 for £726 by the British Legion HQ on behalf of the Wirral branch, from Margaret Symonds who lived in Flint. A copy of the conveyancing document is available here:

A Nissan hut was bought from Saltney and erected on the site by a team of local members, known affectionately as the ‘Ditch Diggers’. In December 1948, the opening ceremony took place. This was performed by the Hon Philip Lever, later Rt Hon Viscount Leverhulme, Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire who became the President of the branch.

On 11th December 1948, the ‘Willaston in Wirral (British Legion) Services Club’ had registered as a company under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act. The original registration document and rules can be seen here. This organisation largely had responsibility for running the building, leaving the Legion branch to do Remembrance (‘Poppy’) day appeals and to run its own benevolent fund.

By 1951, the organisation had 200 members.

On 12th November 1960, the branch celebrated its Silver Jubilee with a ‘This is Your Life’ presentation of branch history by Mr H Pugh, then club Chairman to Brigadier Philip Toosey, then Branch President who was the Commanding Officer of the British POWs at a certain bridge over the River Kwai. For more about the life of Brigadier Toosey, click here.

In 1983, transfer of ownership of the buildings went from the branch to the HQ.

At a lunch to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of VE Day, held at the club on Sunday 7th May 1995, the menu served at a Victory Dinner for Field Marshall Montgomery was reproduced. This was possible as another past President was Tom Bigland, who was Montgomery’s personal Liaison Officer with General Omar Bradley, commanding the American Armies from D-Day to VE-Day. More information about Tom Bigland is available here:

By 1998, the club had developed a popular bowling green, snooker rooms and regular community activities including a bingo, quiz and bridge nights. It also put on popular monthly events, celebrating dates such as Valentine’s Day, Mothering Sunday, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year. A survey of the grounds and building can be seen here:

However, over the following years, membership and income decreased and the decision was made to close the building in 2017. The services club was deregistered on 28th August 2018.

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