The Comrades Club on Adelaide Street in central Blackpool
This looks to be a sad end to an historic building, as a serious fire swept through The Comrades Club on Adelaide Street on 13 July 2017.
Fire at the Comrades Club in Blackpool – photo: Blackpool Gazette
For many years it was open as part of the Heritage Open Days tours, the last time that you could go inside as part of this national event was in September 2014.
The Grammar School
The Grammar School, Adelaide Street, headmaster T. Banksey – This advert is from 1909
Described as a ‘boarding and say school for boys’ with a ‘special department for very young boys’ – what we would no doubt today call a nursery, and ‘special attention to backward and delicate boys’.
Local historian Ann Lightbown researched some of the early private schools in Blackpool and provided this information for a Blackpool Gazette article in 2014.
In the 19th and early 20th century, there were many private boys’ schools in Blackpool, as well as schools and academies for young ladies. Some lasted for only a few years, others changed their names or were amalgamated and many changed premises.
Children from all over Lancashire and further afield were sent to such schools, so a lot were boarding schools.
Thomas Sankey came to Blackpool about 1887 and took over the privately-owned boys’ Collegiate School at the north western corner of Coronation Street and Adelaide Street.
The school was then owned by the educationalist Ebenezer Leigh, who had run a previously-established school there since the 1870s.
In 1893 Thomas Sankey moved his school further up Adelaide Street to Frogmore, the more easterly of a pair of large semi-detached houses with grounds at the rear and soon advertised that he was changing the name of his school to Blackpool Grammar School.
The right hand house, Rougemont, was a private school for young ladies, but by 1900 that establishment had moved to Reads Avenue, allowing Sankey to expand into the vacated premises.
When Sankey died in 1910, the eldest of his seven children, a curate at Pendlebury, took over the running of the school temporarily until the summer holidays of that year. The school was not advertised after that.
Comrades of the Great War Clubs
In 1917 the ‘Comrades of the Great War Clubs’ were formed by 17th Earl of Derby, George Edward Villiers Stanley, also known as Lord Stanley. Lord Stanley’s father, the 16th Earl of Derby, was the MP for North Lancashire from 1865 to 1885 (of which Blackpool was then part) and he became Blackpool’s first MP. The building of Stanley Park in Blackpool provided employment for returning soldiers and is named after him, being opened in 1926 by his son.
‘Comrades of the Great War Clubs’ were a non-political association aimed at representing the rights of ex-service men and women who had served or been discharged from service during World War One. There were originally four different ex-service associations and these were amalgamated in 1921 to form the British Legion.
Blackpool Comrades Club
The Blackpool branch of the Comrades of the Great War Club was formed on the 10th October 1917. Until 1919, the club met at 16, Central Road with monthly meetings held at the Free Library on Queens Street.
Blackpool Comrades Club, photo: Juliette Gregson
The minutes of the committee meeting on 30th September 1919 discuss the building on Adelaide Street, with the lower part of the premises to be made into a lounge, bar and billiard room.
The building on Adelaide Street was opened as the Comrades of the Great War Club on the 24th January, 1920, by the 17th Earl of Derby.
The first president of the Comrades Club was Major Leonard Greenham Star Malloy. Born in Ireland and educated as a Medical Doctor at Trinity College, Dublin, he was commissioned in 1901 as a Lieutenant in the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917. He became MP for Blackpool in 1922, eventually having practices in Harley Street and Monte Carlo. The Times Obituary in 1937 describes Major Malloy as “one of the best known doctors in the north of England.”
1914-19 War Memorial
This memorial was erected by the members of the Blackpool branch of the comrades of the Great War in memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice – 1914-1919
Blackpool Comrades FC 1921-22
The End of Blackpool Comrades Club
Blackpool Comrades Club went into administration in January 2014 and the Club tried to find a new investor to take the building and maintain it’s local importance.
However, that wasn’t to be and in the early hours of 13 July 2017 a serious fire swept through the building, burning for several hours and leaving it structurally unsafe.
Blackpool Comrades Club, burnt out after a fire, photo: Kate Kates
Find out More
At the time of writing this article, the Comrades Club website was still online and available to view as an archive (and is the source of the historic information about the Comrades Club).
You can view it online here
Comrades Club – photo from Google maps