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Bournemouth lunch club is getting ready to celebrate its 75th Anniversary

By Sam Pither [email protected]

Published: September 18, 2023 | Updated: 17th September 2023

The Square Club, a Bournemouth-based lunch club which has been running since 1948, is getting ready to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

The group is planning to mark the occasion with a lunch at Bournemouth’s Marsham Court Hotel, complete with light entertainment and a look back on the club’s history.

During the Second World War, a number of different foods were rationed, with limits placed on the sale of food such as butter, sugar, flour and meat.

Following the war, these restrictions were gradually lifted, starting with flour in 1948 and finishing with sugar and butter in 1953.

In the period of rationing and with food in short supply, businessmen stopped going home for lunch or packing one.

However, with restaurants not affected by rationing, what was the Bournemouth Plummers Store decided to open a Businessman’s club, where men who could afford it would meet for lunch every day.

When food and service at this first club started to decline, a number of members decided to break away and form a new one, with 16 founding members meeting for the first time on 1st December 1948 – although 10 decided to maintain their membership at the original in case this new one failed.

To become a member of this, as yet unnamed, club, you had to meet two requirements: 1) Be the principal of a business, and 2) the business had to be within one mile of the Square – and so the ‘Square Club’ was born.

At first, the club met every day for lunch at Smith’s, however as food restrictions decreased the membership decreased with them and the club moved to a new home for the next 18 years.

Over the years this movement continued until it finally settled on the Marsham Court Hotel in 2006, where it remains today.

It was around this time that membership, which had peaked at 150 members, had dropped to around 40. In 2006, what had remained a businessman’s club (with an emphasis on ‘man’) was to change, admitting its first lady members.

Nine years later, Katie Young would become the first lady to take office as chair of the Square Club, with the following three years seeing massive growth in membership taking it to 120, consisting of a range of local businesses, professions, ages and ethnicities.

The club with come together to celebrate this history on 28th September at the Marsham Court Hotel, more information can be found here.

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