MEMBERS of a historic Keighley club have voted to open their doors to women for the first time.

And the Applegarth Club, which is in Banks Lane, Riddlesden, says it now intends to adopt a much more community-based focus.

It is offering rooms within its venue free of charge to local organisations wanting to make use of the spaces for events.

New vice-president of the club, Steve Pullen, said the vote to enable women to become members was easily carried at the club’s annual general meeting.

“It was a vote among members who came to the AGM, and it was one of the most overwhelming votes I’ve seen,” he added. “Over 96 per cent were in favour.

“Of course women have come to the club before for private, personal events hosted in our building. But now they can be members as well, and we’ve already had over 35 women join since the vote.

“We’d like other women to know the club is open to them.”

Mr Pullen, who was a Keighley East ward councillor until he stepped down earlier this month, has been a member of the club for 35 years.

It is also known as Riddlesden & Morton United Services Club and its founders bought their large property back in 1945, for £2,500.

Mr Pullen said the club first opened its doors in September, 1946.

“Back then a pint of Taylor’s Best White cost a shilling,” he added. “It was set up as a private members club which was mainly for ex-servicemen.

“At our latest AGM we elected a new nine-person committee which I’ve joined now that I’ve finished being a councillor.

“We’ve relaxed the rules so people can come into the club have a look round and a game of snooker, maybe have a tour of our building and admire the views.

“We have a bar downstairs and two big rooms upstairs. The upstairs rooms are meeting rooms, but we are offering them for free to any local community group that is interested.

“We’re also open to charity events and will be having an elephant racing evening at the club in aid of Manorlands on June 16, and a gin festival.

“There are over 200 club members, though not all of them come regularly.

“The more people who join up, the more benefits and activities we’ll be able to put on for people.”

Membership costs £15 a year. The Applegarth Club is open from 5pm till late weekdays and from noon until late on Saturdays.

People interested in finding out more can visit the organisation’s page on Facebook, or drop in at the club during opening hours.