DCSIMG

TIME CALLED ON PIT CLUB

ONE Doncaster's biggest private members clubs is set to shut to be replaced by another new housing development in Armthorpe.

The 800-member Markham Main Sports and Social Club is expected to close next year - severing one of the few remaining links with the village's former colliery.

But owner Jim Copeland has pledged 200,000 of any cash the housing plan brings in will be donated to a community sports group. Mr Copeland has promised that amount will go to Armthorpe Welfare sports teams if he gets the go-ahead for the redevelopment of the Church Street site.

He bought the premises almost 10 years but says he is no longer making money on the enterprise and ill-health has accelerated his plans for retirement.

The club opened in the 1960s as the Miners' Welfare Club but despite having 800 members currently it is not the thriving place it used to be when the colliery was still working.

He has just submitted a planning application for the demolition of the club to be followed by the erection of 38 apartments and four shop units in four blocks on the site of about one acre.

"I am not making money on the place because people's drinking habits have changed over the years and I'm ready for retiring," said the 56-year-old.

"I've had about five people interested in buying the place but none of them wants it as a going concern - they all want to demolish it and build houses or flats on the site.

Mr Copeland reckons the club needs a new roof and a 250,000 upgrade and that would not guarantee it becoming a viable business.

But he is keen to stress he is not out to make a killing for himself if the planning application is successful.

"I would have a big mortgage to pay off and I am offering the first 200,000 of the proceeds would go to Armthorpe Welfare to improve their facilities."

The sports ground is next to the club and the soccer team, Armthorpe Welfare FC, has hopes of promotion to the Unibond League which would mean their facilities would need to be substantially improved.

"I want to give something to the village because I've lived here a long time and my grandchildren play at the Welfare. I have made this offer in writing to the club's solicitors and CISWO (Coal Industry Social and Welfare Organisation, who have an interest in the ground) to prove it is not an empty promise," said Mr Copeland.

The sports ground is home to football, cricket and bowls teams.

The staff of seven at the social club have been informed of the plans and will be made redundant if it closes, although the premises will be open until at least next year.

"I don't know if we'll get the go ahead but I think there's plenty of demand for affordable housing in Armthorpe, a lot of people have moved here recently."

The chairman of Armthorpe Parish Council, John Armstrong, said the matter would be discussed at the next meeting but the final decision rested with Doncaster Council.

"I feel very sad at the prospect of losing the club because it has been a social gathering place for the village but at the same time I realise the world moves on and this will bring good quality homes to Armthorpe.

"I would like to say that Jim Copeland is one of life's gentlemen and does a lot of things for this village in a quiet way. This offer of giving 200,000 is purely in character and I feel rather touched by it."

 
 
 

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