The Oxford Working Men's Club celebrates a long and colourful past since it was founded in 1887.
The Club was originally formed by local citizens concerned that hotels were charging too much for the working man. Both membership and the building have grown along with the township and today forms an integral part of the community.
A Queens charter was granted in 1888, one of the earliest to be granted to a Club in NZ. The charter enables the Club to sell intoxicating liquor to it's members for consumption on or off the premises with no member gaining any financial reward from this phase of the activities and all profits are used for the provision of amenities for the members. Permission to add the words "Mutual School of Arts" was granted by the Registrar of Friendly Societies in March 1935.
The Original building that operated as "the club" was referred to as "Mitchell's Temperance Hotel and occupied and operated from the present site for 12 years in rooms rented from Mr Mitchell. After the club purchased and reorganised the building, Mr Mitchell acted as manager. It is claimed there have been four buildings on the site over the years but it is unclear what became of them, although there is documentation stating that the current weatherboard structure was demolished by fire in October 1931.
In the days when railway was in operation the club was the hub of a busy thoroughfare, as the station was within walking distance. For about one month during the flu epidemic of 1918, the club building was used as a temporary hospital. In these early years the club was a male orientated community and women were not allowed on the premises. If it was necessary for woman to "call" she was required to wait in the cloakroom to be attended to, a practice I am sure the "modern woman" would not tolerate!
The Club has always been well supported and in December 1901 boasted a membership of 119. Numbers have fluctuated over the years, however, with a drop during the war years, a rise when the drinking age was lowered and a major boost when woman were able to become full members in 1982.
The introduction of the Bistro and changes in the Drinking Laws saw the establishment become the family orientated social centre that it is today.