In last weeks Sittingbourne News you asked if we had memories of the old Town hall, this building played a very important part in the development of Judo in Sittingbourne and the South East England. My parents Margret and Knobby Clarke formed the Young Judo Club in 1957, which is now one of the oldest if not the oldest club in the South East outside London. (Editor I have attached a history of the Club for your information). The first venue (Dojo) for the YJC was a small hall in Milton Regis opposite the Conservative club; this has since become a house. When the hall was sold we moved to the basement of the Town I believe this was about 1959 and we moved about 10 years to Brenchley house where we stayed till 1978 when my mother purchased the old Methodist church in East Street where we are now based.
The Young Judo Club became the hub of Judo in the area not only did we use the Town Hall but several other venues in the town but the main Dojo was always the Town Hall another reason for being such an important was the fact that my father was the first person to run competitions on a regular basis in the South East and for children as well something considered rather daring in those days. Children in those days were not expected to do Judo and back in the 1950’s Children were only allowed to have two grades 1 red and 2 red tabs.
Things I remember of those competitions were how small the Hall was compared with todays Sports Halls and loose Tea being made in big muslin bags, being poured from large Teapots.
Can people remember the dances being held at the Town Hall sometimes a group sometimes just a record player, no alcohol just soft drinks, nearly always a punch up? Me at 16 having to run like the clappers because I had to be in by 10.30pm or get a wallop.
I have fond memories of the Town Hall mainly because of how much effort my parents put into Judo and the young people of town. It is only when you get older do you realize what they did for you and how much they loved you and how much you loved them.