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Community - The 630 Club
Ray Wilkinson and Jonn Whyte
Now founder member Andy Bystra tells the story of how the 630 Club came about. The 630 Club had it's origins in the mid eighties when the late Ray Wilkinson, Tony Hinds and myself used to 'drop in' to the Bull & at around 6.30 every Saturday night for a couple of pints and a natter. We mostly met for an hour; just while our ladies got ready to go out with us for the evening, and usually had the pub to ourselves. It wasn't too long however before word got around, and a few other village lads joined us. I'm not sure who first coined the phrase '6.30' Club, but it quickly became somewhat 'formalised' by being mentioned in The Chronicle. This came to the attention of 5 or 6 chaps (known as the 'Brooksiders') who'd moved into a small, recently built development (Nash's Farm), and overnight 'membership' doubled. It was perhaps inevitable that this should result in the Club being put on a somewhat more formal footing. In those days, we would start at 6.30 with a short meeting to discuss Club matters and proposed and planned outings/events etc. From the outset it was agreed formality would be minimal. However, it was felt that the club's general aims should be to provide a venue whereby newcomers and visitors to Aston Abbotts would be welcomed and introduced to other villagers. Furthermore, members were encouraged be prepared to assist in village matters. These aims are strongly in evidence today. At some stage, it was agreed that members should wear bow ties when attending and this was indeed the practice for several years. Initially there was considerable rivalry as to who could find the most outlandish tie until Tim Peacocke had club bow ties designed made for every member. A few 'diehards' still wear these every Saturday in the forlorn hope that the custom may return; and there are others who wear theirs at member's funerals etc. One Saturday, when it was the practice for all members wear their club 'ties', several 'Young Farmers', who'd been drinking in the 'back bar', decided to take the 'micky', and came in wearing huge bow ties they'd made out of toilet paper; a joke much appreciated by all. Far more poignant however, was the Saturday after Princess Di's death when every member, unprompted, attended wearing a black bow tie. As membership increased further there were a certain amount of 'growing pains' resulting in discussions as to whether 'subs' should be collected, fines levied for not wearing a bow tie and many other issues which seemed so important at the time. During this period, members gave their time very freely to ensure the club would be a success and one member Andy Stefancyzk, very generously had pint glasses made, each being inscribed with individual's names, though few if any remain. Although in the mid nineties membership was still only around 15, many outings, fund raising events, parties, St Georges Nights, Christmas parties etc. were organised. Perhaps the event most remembered was the decision to stage our version of The Full Monty which we called The 'Bull' Monty. Sunday rehearsals were tremendous fun under the guidance of a delightful young lady called June. She tried desperately to get those who had 'volunteered' to do the two 'strip' scenes to dance properly, but it was hard work. Just before the 'big night' a stage was built in the back room of the Bull & Butcher, lighting, sound and curtains set up and all was ready. However, just before the show several concerns were expressed by our 'performers'. For the first time they admitted to extreme stage fright. This was in part due to the realisation that tickets had been somewhat 'over sold' and the bulk of the audience were women and secondly, the realisation the total content we had to offer people who’d paid good money for tickets, was just two four minute dance routines. Anyway, when our 'stars' eventually plucked up courage to walk through the audience to their improvised dressing room in the toilets, they were greeted by a room full of screaming women, and their courage returned. It turned out to be an evening of great fun as can be gauged by the video link on this site. Insurmountable tragedy seemed to strike when The Bull & Butcher was closed in readiness to be turned into apartments. Fortunately however, we were soon made very welcome at the other village pub, The Royal Oak where we've been happily meeting ever since. Nonetheless, the loss of the large 'back room' at the 'Bull' which had enabled so many quite large scale events to take place was gone for ever, and the the 'dynamic' of the Club also changed for ever. Gone also was the more formal side and the organised events. However, membership has, and is steadily growing and at the time of writing (2011) we have rather more than thirty five regular members. The original concept of giving a warm welcome to all new comers and visitors to Aston Abbotts is still strongly upheld. There is also a great willingness amongst members to be actively involved in assisting wherever they can with village events. In fact there are very few activities in the village in which at least one 630 member is not involved, whether it be cutting the churchyard grass or helping with the village fete, organising Pimms burger stalls, coconut shies and anything else needing to be done. Long may it continue. Andy Bystra
Ray Wilkinson
Tony Hinds
The 630 Club Oh good!! Six thirty on the clock! It's Saturday, so, 'on the dot', us thirsty lads forsake our spouses, as lemming like we leave our houses, to wend our way to the social hub. Where else? but down to village pub. All mustered, happy, pint in hand gregarious, noisy, happy band. Jokes and plans and deals and such; remember friends still missed so much. Then all too soon, last pint must sup, and 'weave' off home, - our hours up!!
Andy Bystra
Although the 630 Club is a shadow of its former self because there is no longer a pub in Aston Abbotts, a few people are keeping the spirit alive as mentioned above. Should the Royal Oak ever open its doors again you can be sure that many former members will be glad to resurrect the club
The closure of Aston Abbotts’ only pub, The Royal Oak, in 2021 rendered the 630 Club homeless. Some members still meet most Saturdays in the front bar of the Rose and Crown in Wingrave, usually at 6pm, for an hour. Anyone is welcome. Please email Andy (link at bottom of the page) if you want to know if anybody is likely to be there on a particular Saturday.