The History of 39 Youth Club
We were founded in 1958 by Mr. and Mrs. Skinner, who ran the initial club in an old building which they rebuilt, along with an annexe on the side, which is where we operate today. It is said that the club was named the 39 Club because the ages of those using it ranged from 3 to 90. Other stories say it was started in a house numbered no. 39, possibly in Den Avenue!
Mr. and Mrs. Ken Chapman later took the club over from the Skinners and ran it for many years. We had great success back then, with 60-70 young people coming every night! In 1967 the club was first registered as a Charity with the charity commissioners (Reg Number 305344) with the objective to:
Promote the mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing of young people resident in and around Bognor Regis.
It’s as true today as it was then!
At some point, when regulations and funding changed, WSCC, who own the building, decided to install a Neighbourhood Youth Centre there. County supplied and funded the youth workers and the 39 Club management committee ran the building and the youth work for WSCC.
Over those many years young people met, made friends and married, and today we have young people whose parents used the club when they were younger, and probably some with grandparents or great grandparents as well who were involved!
A time of change…
Sadly in 2010 the government changed their policies and reduced funding for general youth work and only supplied funding for target groups, the result of which was that across West Sussex over 30 youth centres were closed down and the charities that ran them removed from the premises.
The good news at this time was that they were told that if they put a business plan together with other local groups, they could have the use of the building for a very low rent and thus continue their work. We joined forces with the Hotham Park Heritage Trust who are over the wall from the youth centre, and together we worked on a plan and presented it to WSCC… but the rules kept changing.
Eventually we were told that we could not have the building at all. As West Sussex moved various different groups of people into the main building, we set about trying to get use of the small annexe mentioned earlier.
After six years, during which time we hadn’t been able to run any youth activities at all but did still exist, we finally signed a lease with the WSCC to use and manage The Annexe Building on 11th August 2016.
The new youth club was started in February 2017, and we’re looking forward to the future!
This is the best recounting that we have currently, mostly given to us by Brian Ansell, current acting chair of the 39 Club. Expect further details about our history to appear here later as we gather it.
If you have information that provides a different story, please share it with us as our old records were destroyed when we were moved out of the main building in 2012.