St James's Club History
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The Union Club
The Union Club was the forerunner of our Club. Established on April 6th 1825, the inaugural meeting at the Star Inn raised what was then the immense sum of £6000. It started life in Norfolk Street before moving to the corner of Mosley Street and Nicholas Street on the opposite corner to the Manchester Royal Institution which became the Manchester City Art Gallery. The Club prospered and absorbed the Constitutional and Brazennose Clubs. John Grimshaw was one of the original subscribers. Interestingly, he is the great great grandfather of one of our past Presidents Peter Wainwright. If you look in the Bridgewater room you will find an original copy of the prospectus on display.
The Clarendon Club
The Clarendon Club was founded in 1868. It was on Mosley Street overlooking St Peter’s Square at the corner of Mosley Street and Dickinson Street. The Club was originally the Duke of Bridgewater’s town house. The Clarendon appeared from the ashes of the Bridgewater Club which had been formed in 1857. The Bridgewater was a direct descendent of the Albion Club established in 1837. You will see a letter displayed in the Club in which the Treasurer of the Albion wrote informing a candidate of his election and that the half years subscription of £2.12.6 was due with the entrance fee of £28.17.6, large sums in their day. Our Club now occupies the same site as the Albion Club.
The St James’s Club
In 1961 it was agreed that the Clarendon Club should merge with the Union Club. From January 1st 1962 the amalgamated Club was called the St James’s Club, the name it has today. The choice of name was certainly a matter for animated debate which was settled by naming the Club and the new building to be built to accommodate it in honour of St James’s Church which at one time occupied the site. The freehold of that site in Charlotte Street was duly purchased and the new building called St James’s House was topped out in 1966. We retained the freehold and took a sublease of the Club premises at a peppercorn rent. We had the top seven floors of the fourteen storey development, and the interior was designed by Sir Hugh Casson.
In 1997 it was decided to sell our interest in the Charlotte Street premises and subsequently we looked for an alternative. We were fortunate in being able to acquire the freehold of 43-45 Spring Gardens. This fine stone faced building, with splendid views down King Street from the windows of the Club, was originally built as the Manchester headquarters of Martins Bank. We moved into the new Club premises in 45 Spring Gardens on February 12th 2001. Its interiors were transformed to a high standard, with well-appointed clubrooms for the members.
A major refurbishment has been carried out recently and this has provided new decorations and soft furnishings, and improved facilities.
While much has changed since our formation in the core principles on which the Club was built remain the same.
Our founders believed that a matter so important as business is best discussed before amenable company with a fine wine and a good meal; in an unhurried environment where considered decisions can be made along with winning partnerships based on mutual trust and friendship.
St. James's legacy can be traced back to the early 19th century, when there was a growing demand for venues in the city where professionals could discuss business, network and socialise away from the from the stymying conformity of the office.
In answer to this demand our founders formed The Union Club: the very earliest incarnation of St James's in 1825.