The Royal British Legion

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Penistone RBL Club
British Legion poppyRBL clubs in this country were originally intended for service (armed forces) and ex-service people, although these days the membership is mostly non-service. The Penistone RBL social club has always been a warm, comfortable and friendly place with a variety of company, entertainment and drinks. It used to be very difficult to join (unless service or ex-service) with a long waiting list but this has eased off in recent times as the rules have been relaxed to encourage more members. Even so, members must be proposed by a member and scrutinised by the committee to filter out any undesirable characters.

The Legion is mostly a haven for older people, who prefer a sedate atmosphere and good beers at the right price. The hairy old gag is that the British Legion is 'like a glimpse into the future'. You might have read 'sedate' here but entertainment in the lounge area can be as loud as any disco. Mind you, that makes sense really; young people enjoy loud music while old people are more hard of hearing. The ones in the middle might prefer it to be turned down.

The lounge room is comfortably furnished with soft bench seating around the walls and nicely padded seats scattered around the round tables. There is a raised part in a corner which forms a stage, with a good old-fashioned upright piano against the wall. Next to that is a door which leads into the kitchen. An air conditioning system comes in useful on hot days or when the club is particularly full. Patio doors lead into a beer garden at the front (not shown in the picture below), which is likely to be extended in 2012.

Monday Bingo nights were introduced in Sept 2004 and have proved to be popular ever since. On Saturday nights there is always a singer booked for the Lounge. On alternate Sundays, the ever-popular quiz nights draw in a good audience for a few weeks each year. The quiz sections include 'Family Fortunes', general knowledge and music as the quizmasters do battle with a rather unpredictable PA system. A new addition in September 2011 was a version of 'Play Your Cards Right'. On Thursdays the lounge is open to non-members for the popular Market Day coffee mornings. The annual Harvest Festival is also an event that should not be missed (see below) and the RBL Club is a very accommodating place for New Year's Eve.

The games room is usually the busiest and with most atmosphere, when it isn't Market Day. It also has soft bench seating around the walls, some tall round tables in the middle and a few ordinary tables at one end. It also has two proper snooker tables which are kept to a high standard and games of snooker are often entertaining to watch. There is often a lively atmosphere if there is a big football match or other major sport on the large-screen HD televisions. A pair of 'One-armed Bandits' in the corner take the money silently but loudly pay it out. Thursday nights are devoted to the Hoyland & District Quiz League (HDQL).

Maureen and Robert Taylor had a very successful stewardship of the club for something like eighteen years but they retired in 2008. The bar was then handed over to Steve and Helen Nursey, the former landlord and landlady of the Old Crown. The club was refurbished in 2001 and again a few years later, with false ceilings, general improvements and the air conditioning system.

A patio beer garden was built in 2008 at the front of the building and has proved to be popular in the warmer months. Another very popular improvement in 2008 was the introduction of 'real ale' guest beer, which changes from week to week. It was improved further to a choice of two real ales each week and in 2011 became a member of CAMRA. A new website came on-line at the back end of 2011 to keep visitors up to date with the latest entertainment and club events. Another innovation for 2011 is a free wireless connection for members. The posters say to 'follow the cloud to log on.' It can't be the beer.

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Penistone RBL Club History
The original local British Legion was in the old 'Blue Ball' pub in Thurlstone, near the z-bend of the main road. It is long gone now and the building became a dwelling or possibly flats. It might be remembered for the word 'Skyliner' above the door in recent times. According to the 'Penistone and Stocksbridge Express' of 1935, the club moved to Penistone and opened in the old White Bear Inn 5th June 1926. It was entered by a door in the ginnel by the old cloth hall building but that doorway has now been bricked up. That side is now part of Clark's Chemists. Penistone RBL Club moved to its current purpose-built building in 1976. (Also see the Cloth Hall page).

Harvest Festivals
The RBL club has a Charity Harvest Festival every year after Penistone Show. The prize exhibits of fruit, vegetables and flowers from the Show are auctioned off, with shirts, hats, gadgets, etc. Local businesses also usually donate mystery prizes, such as a tankful of petrol or a meal for two, etc. The charity varies from year to year. The following views are from 2007 but are very typical of each auction.

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New Standard
An official standard is used by the RBL for ceremonial events. The old standard was replaced within the rules and traditions of the Royal British Legion. The new RBL Standard was dedicated at a well-supported special ceremony in Penistone Church, Sunday 20th September 2009. My thanks to Joe Pinguey, who was kind enough to send these pictures. Joe was the official photographer.

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90th Anniversary - 2011
To commemorate the ninetieth anniversary of the British Legion movement, a series of special events took place in 2011. Four dances were held, entertainment evenings, historic talks and a special celebration evening were all arranged and well supported. The final act of commemoration took place Sunday 2nd October, with a parade and service at Penistone Church. These are some pictures of the parade. They can also be found on Myalbum but you need to register with an email address and password to view the full-sized versions.

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The National RBL Organisation
RBL LogoThe Royal British Legion is a UK charity with a very proud tradition and is highly regarded for its work with the services. It was founded in 1921 to provide support to the serving and ex-Service community and families. It was granted the "Royal" prefix 29 May 1971 to mark its fiftieth anniversary. The RBL was a merger of four organisations: the "Comrades of the Great War", the "National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers", the "National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers" and the "Officers' Association".

There are Royal British Legion social clubs in towns and cities throughout the country and it has 380,000 members in 2009. The organisation raises money for convalescent homes and other support for servicemen but particularly raises funds from the annual 'poppy appeal'. The paper poppies are sold in many shops and by volunteer sellers in the street. Other forms are also made, with some very large plastic ones and some affixed to small wooden crosses, for placing on graves.

It is a very British thing to wear a red paper poppy around October/November each year to commemorate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of our country in wars old and new. Most public figures and TV people in the UK make a point of wearing the poppy. The Queen always wears a specially made poppy for the cenotaph ceremony.

There is an annual British tradition to give two minutes silent contemplation or prayer in remembrance of those who died in the defence of our country. This happens throughout the country, even in shopping malls and on the more serious radio stations. It is 11am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the moment when the armistice of the Great War was signed. RBL clubs organise annual remembrance ceremonies throughout the country; in towns, cities and many villages on the Sunday nearest to 11th November.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning. We will remember them." This is read out at every ceremony and the people join in and repeat at the end - "We will remember them"

Commonwealth War Graves
At this time (October 2010) efforts are being made to renovate five Commonwealth War Graves in Penistone cemetery and bring them up to an acceptable standard. It is hoped that wreaths will be laid on these graves on Remembrance Day. See pictures on the cemetery page.

H4HContact and Links

Penistone Royal British Legion
St Mary's Street 
South Yorkshire
S36 6DT

Office Telephone: 76 6911
Bar/Door Telephone: 76 2188

Please also visit the Remembrance Day page on this website. 'Poppy Hero' volunteers are sought each year to help the work of the organisation and to sell poppies in the week or two before Remembrance Day. Anyone interested in helping can speak to club officials at the RBL club, Bridge St.

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