Tom Pratt | The Cadbury Club; Community meltdown

Tom Pratt looks back at the Cadbury Club as a hub for community activity; in this case Professional Wrestling

2020 has been a strange year full of tragedy and disappointment- for me, however, the fire which recently burnt down the Cadbury Club in Bournville was an especially upsetting moment. I only really knew the building from going to watch wrestling shows in the function suite, but it was clear that so many people had had memorable times there: from watching boxing, to attending a wedding reception, from parties to simply having a drink in the bar, the Cadbury Club served the communities of Bournville, Birmingham, and beyond. And now, due to a faulty plug, it’s nothing but ashes.

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I recently put together a Twitter thread detailing the wrestling shows I’d seen at Cadbury, put on by Kamikaze Pro, in which I talked about some of the great matches and moments I’d seen (some more infamous than others!), as well as providing the world with evidence I will never be one of the great photographers of our age. Going to the Cadbury Club was a special experience: the audience was always lively, and the space of the function room allowed performers the freedom to fight virtually anywhere in the room… and sometimes outside the Club altogether! Combined with the beers served, and sometimes food, it made for a great afternoon out. I also have fond memories of visits before and after the show to the nearby British Oak. I am sure lots of people have similar stories about time spent at the Cadbury Club.
But, now, what does the future hold? I hope that the Cadbury Club is somehow resurrected- certainly, the organisation across the road, which named the club in the first place, could help out in this respect, and it would be a wonderful gesture in line with the original pioneering spirit of the Cadbury Family, who literally built the Bournville community. To lose the Cadbury Club altogether would be to lose a bit of Birmingham’s history.

In most situations like this though, once a community space isgone, it’s gone for good. Over decades, places like the Cadbury Club have been taken over, demolished and replaced with housing. Obviously, there is a housing crisis, but replacing community buildings must be given serious consideration, because removing these buildings can be like removing the heart of the community. Once they’re gone,where do people go for meetings? For celebrations? For commemorations? Where can they socialise? At a time when we’re being encouraged to live in bubbles, the closure of community centres and buildings keeps those bubbles ever smaller, and it’s a real shame because, more than ever, we need solidarity, we need unity, we need community- just like the Cadbury Club provided for the residents of Bournville.

Shaz here. To add to what Tom said; the Cadbury Club has held some of my favourite moments as a fan of Professional Wrestling. Along with my friends in the featured image, Kamikaze Pro has a strong, tight knit community including wrestlers, fans and those working other roles on the show. Tom and I interviewed quite a few Wrestlers here from across the world; from New Zealand to Croatia, from Sweden

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Strong subcultures thrive in community centres like the Cadbury Club. When hubs like this are lost, the community suffers. Let’s hope that the Cadbury Club can be resurrected.

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