On 21st November 1927 the Town Council of Stirling granted a Building warrant for the construction of a “Boys Club” on the site of the old Butter and Poultry Market at the corner of St. John Street and Jail Wynd.
Almost two years later the building, as it now stands, was completed and the opening reported in the Stirling Journal & Advertiser of October 24 1929. As can be seen in the reproduced extract from the paper (below) the Club was aimed at attracting local boys who were neither members of the Boys Brigade nor The Scouts.
The facility was designed by Eric S. Bell, the Stirling Architect and artist, who contributed a great deal through his work to the visual appearance of the ‘Top of the: Town’ as it exists today. The Boys Club is Listed as a Building of Local Architectural and Historic interest – Category C(S).
Bell’s construction comprised the vertical extension of the original external masonry walls of the old Butter and Poultry market and, from the watercolour shading shown on the original Warrant drawings, these walls were reduced to a height equivalent to the top of the arch accessing the stage. It is probable that much of the original masonry from the Market was reused in the construction, but the new Motto Panels engraved into the lintols together with new crowstep gables and Scottish detailing are particular to Eric Bell’s style. The gable and rear walls are harled and the tower roof is slated. The original hall roof would probably have been slated also, however, recent repair work has replaced the slates with a modern concrete type of tile.
The interior of the Club is as austere as the exterior is decorative, owing much to a military style of architecture which predominated between the Wars in the area of youth training and fitness and can be seen throughout Britain in small bore rifle clubs and officer training clubs attached to schools. Evidence of this military influence can be seen in the roof structure of the main hall which is based on bridge engineering construction, and this extends to the treatment of the main stair which comprises steel supported cast concrete and painted brickwork. The finish is only softened to plaster in the two upper floors which originally served as a flat for the ‘Club Captain’.
Examination of the 1927 drawing indicates a cinema projection room over the changing rooms to the North East of the hall and this is confirmed in a later 1985 survey drawing. This feature has since been removed and no evidence remains on site for its existence.
A three-storey ‘house’ forms the dominant feature of the group, the upper two floors of which originally formed the Caretaker’s accommodation over the green room or office. The primary entrance and access stair is by way of the house and leads down to the Boys’ Club room and kitchen off a small hallway. The kitchen has been modernised recently. The hall gives access to a sizeable stage area and the games hall, which in turn access the main changing and toilet facilities at the north east stair to Jail Wynd.
The public facade external walls are generally of coursed random stone with opening surrounds and details in a combination of natural and cast elements highlighted with unique inscriptions. The rear external walls are of ‘harled’ brickwork. The lower windows to St John Street are protected at pavement level with decorative ironwork. Windows are traditional timber sash and case with 8, 12 or 15 panes and doors have recessed fielded panels. Rainwater goods to the house are in cast iron and to the Hall, are in plastic.
Originally, the roofs of the whole complex would have been finished in slate, however, 70’s repairs have resulted in the main hall being re-clad in modem concrete tiles. At the north east of the hall there is an area of felted flat roof over the shower rooms.
The Boys Club was founded by Major Frederick Maurice Crum for boys who were not members of either the Scouts or the Boys’ Brigade. However, both of these groups helped to organise activities for members of the Club.
Stirling Journal & Advertiser : October 24, 1929:
The Boys’ Club, of which a great deal was said nearly a year ago, has now come into being, the clubrooms are completed, and the caretaker installed. The building, which stands in the crest of the Club displayed above the doorway. The crest is in the form of a St Andrew’s Cross with a shield background and the year 1929 engraved below. The interior of the building is very simple, the large hall which can be used as a gymnasium has a raised platform at one end, fitted with a sliding partition, and probably concerts will be given by the members of the Club to the public in due-course. For recreation, the boys need never tire, billiards, bagatelle, ping-pong, and draughts are among the pastimes. Once the Club has settled down, however, the bigger and healthier things will be tackled, football, cricket, boxing and gymnastic teams will be formed to compete against the other older organisations in the district. The Club is intended, of course, for boys who at present are not members of the Boys’ Brigade and Scouts. The membership at present shows a total of 22, a very good beginning and the boys who display signs of leadership now will secure posts in which they should make it their duty to give their best work. Boys who are wishing to join should apply to Mr Reid, 7 Murray Place.