SICKENED officials have had to call time on a Dewsbury Moor community club.
The Hollins Moorend Club has closed its doors for the last time after serving the area around it for nearly 120 years.
Membership had dwindled from the club's heyday and secretary David Butterworth says the final nail in the coffin was the smoking ban of 2007 – 'as if a boa constrictor had the club in its grasp'.
Mr Butterworth has written to the Prime Minister, asking for a rethink on the ban.
"There is a very real sense of bereavement," he said. "Many members still can't believe the club has gone."
As removal teams shifted fixtures and fittings, president Dorothy Maguire said: "The closure of this club leaves a big hole and sad hearts."
And one of the longest-serving members Tony Murphy said: "The younger generation doesn't appreciate club life as we used to."
Owned by the members, the club building at the top of Keats Drive is now for sale with a price tag of around 350,000. And nearby Westborough WMC has lent support – welcoming Hollins members and a popular Over 50s group.
Founded in 1892, the club was originally known as Moorend WMC. But after Dorothy Maguire became the first woman president in 1994, a change in direction got under way and the name was altered to The Hollins.
The club shifted away from the traditional WMC image and its fortunes flourished, with new social activities and the renovation of a function room.
This followed a bleak period in the 1980s when land had to be sold to head off bankruptcy.
But the rot set in with the smoking ban, along with rising beer prices and cheap drink in supermarkets. Membership fell to around 160 and of those only about 30 were actively involved.
Tony, a member for 43 years, said: "In recent years the club has survived due to the sheer hard graft of the committee and members."
Dorothy said: "It is more than sad when a once-thriving club closes its doors. It was a place for fun, companionship and concern when someone needed a shoulder to lean on."
David Butterworth said: "It is a sad end after trying so hard. But it's a sign of the times.
"The government must realise the impact the smoking ban has had on clubs and pubs. They could have given people a choice with no smoking rooms instead of a total ban."