Benton’s ‘Sons of Rest’ – now known as Benton’s Senior Citizens Club – is one of Bloxwich’s oldest and friendliest clubs for retired men and, in recent years, women! It has its own purpose-built club house, and a busy programme of activities.
The Benton’s Sons of Rest club house and its leafy location (pix as credited. Stuart Williams, Google Earth)
Benton’s has been tucked away quietly in Bealey’s Lane, Bloxwich, for more than seventy years. It is one of the village’s best kept and most cherished ‘secrets’, located in a secluded corner on the edge of the King George V Playing Fields.
Opened in 1938 by benefactor Mr. W.E. Benton, the charming brick-built club house was designed, then as now, to offer local men a place to come together in fellowship and to enjoy social events and activities in their retirement. Today, they even let women through the doors twice a week and on special occasions!
Formal opening of the club house. Left to right: Mayoress Mrs. E. P. Drabble, Sir William Talbot, son and daughter of Mr. W. E. Benton, Mrs and Mr. W. E. Benton, Alderman Dr. E. P. Drabble, Mayor of Walsall. (E.J. Homeshaw)
Mr. Benton, a Bloxwich man who was also a professor of mining at the University of Birmingham, laid the club house foundation stone on 14 August 1937, but for decades after no-one knew who had the silver trowel with which the historic deed had been done. In recent years that trowel has come home thanks to its donation by a distant relative of Mr. Benton’s daughter, and it is one of the club’s prized possessions, with great sentimental value.
Club Chairman Cyril Hall proudly shows off the ceremonial trowel – inscription inset (pix: Stuart Williams)
Benton’s Senior Citizens’ Club is proud to say that it always offers a friendly welcome and has never closed for want of members, having around sixty at the moment, though there are a few vacancies if anyone would like to join. Today there is also a women’s section, ‘The Daughters of Rest’, with a further membership of over thirty, and they meet on Wednesdays, running their own programme.
Sons and daughters of rest at the annual Mixed Pairs Bowls Competition (pic: Stuart Williams)
Both sections come together on special occasions, including the annual Mixed Pairs Bowls Competition, when all members are invited to attend and join in the fun and refreshments.
Club Secretary Ray Grainger aims to pot a red in the Billiards Room (pic: Stuart Williams)
Of particular interest to members and prospective members are the large Billiards Room with two full-size tables (a modern extension to the building), and the Bowling Green at the rear which, though not quite large enough for official Crown Green bowling events, is still very popular. A verandah was added to the rear of the club house in 1962, thanks to the generosity of the Directors of the late lamented Bloxwich Lock & Stamping Company Ltd, and was opened by the Mayor of Walsall, Councillor H.F. Truman, on 7 June of that year. The club house also has its own kitchen and toilets for ladies and gentlemen.
The 1962 verandah and later Billiards Room extension, seen from the Bowling Green (picture: Stuart Williams)
The Bowls Section of the Bloxwich Townswomen’s Guild, twelve in number, also attend the club on Thursdays to use the green in the bowling season (March – September).During the year, there are indoor activities such as snooker, billiards, cribbage, dominoes and darts. Tournaments take place for all these activities and the Committee organises an annual presentation of prizes with a dinner as well as an annual dinner and cabaret.
The spacious main club room (pic: Stuart Williams)
The club is open to members 10am – 4pm Monday – Friday throughout the year, apart from Christmas Day. Every Thursday evening there is also Solo Whist, which takes place from 7.30pm. Both men and women as well as non-members are allowed to play whist.
Membership costs just £4 and is open to all persons over the age of 55 who are unable to work, otherwise members must be aged 65 or over.
If you are interested in joining the club, or would like further details, please contact the Chairman, Cyril Hall – telephone 01922 403593 or the Secretary, Ray Grainger – telephone 01922 635776. The club house telephone number is 01922 405595.