History of The Albert Club
The Albert Club was established in 1874 as a gentlemen’s club. A group of businessmen, who lived locally in the imposing new housing development called Albert Park and the even grander mansions on Palatine and Barlow Moor roads, put money in to build the clubhouse and lay out an impressive crown bowling green.
In front of the club was an imposing drive where the horse drawn carriages would take the members right to the front door. In the club, they would enjoy the entirely male atmosphere and play cards and billiards, ringing bells when their whisky needed to be replenished by the waiting staff.
It is interesting that, on the list of 1903 shareholders for the ‘Albert Bowling Club Company’ are the names Silkenstadt and Bagshawe. In that same year, Josephine Silkenstadt donated the treasured local park, Marie Louise Gardens, to the people of Manchester in memory of her daughter Marie Louise Bagshawe who had tragically died shortly after her marriage.
At that time, the area of West Didsbury was one of the most multi-cultural in Manchester. Jewish textile merchants from all over Europe had moved into the grand houses of Palatine Road, Spath Rd and Mersey Rd, West Didsbury. Also, many middle eastern businessmen, both Jewish and Arab lived in the area. This cultural mix is reflected in the fact there are now two synagogues in Old Lansdowne Rd. However, to the shame of the Albert Club, it was not only women who were barred, but also Jews.
In the early 1900s tennis became popular amongst young people and the club laid out some grass courts on their land at the back. The young tennis players, however, were considered far too risqué to be allowed inside the club. They had to buy drinks through a hatch and hold their social events in the public hall on Burton Rd.
In 1915 the club created a croquet lawn between the tennis courts and the town hall stables. (now Raleigh Close) . The members also, at this time, made their contribution to the war effort. The Chorlton Workhouse, later Withington Hospital, had been made into a huge emergency hospital for war casualties, using tents and marquees between the buildings. The club set up a fund to keep the patients supplied with cigarettes and tobacco throughout the First World War.