Jonathan Freeman is the General Manager of The Constitutional Club, based at 5 Stanley Road. He is a jovial raconteur and Teddington Together spent an easy time in his company, talking all things ‘Con Club’ from its distinguished history to its celebrated members and multifaceted use.
How long have you been trading in Teddington?
The Constitutional Club has been in Teddington for over a hundred years. Lord Hillingdon bequeathed land to the people of Teddington and Hampton Wick in memory of his brother, Charles.T. Mills, who was killed in battle in France in 1915. I have run the club since January 2012 when I was recommended for the job by one of my friends. Before that I ran other successful ventures, notably an excellent sandwich shop.
What was your vision when you launched?
The Con Club was originally provided as a place for the community. 100 years on and we still serve the community. We are run by a Chairperson, a Secretary/,Treasurer and a committee of good people who are all steering the club to serve it's members and the local community. Historically 2 of our members have received the Victoria Cross. The story of Norman Cyril Jackson is particularly noteworthy! You can read more about that heroic story here: https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/sergeant-norman-jackson-vc
What makes the business stand out?
The greatest thing about the Con Club is that it can be whatever it needs to be for whoever needs it. We have small social groups such as the Women's Institute and local charities and dance groups who hire the space for their meetings and practice time. A group of adults with learning difficulties also use the hall on a weekly basis.
We have curry nights, Quiz nights and Disco nights. There is also live jazz and a Steely Dan Tribute Band once a month.
We host band rehearsals for a brass band, a swing band and local bands also rehearse in the basement of the house we own in front of the club.
We have Northern Soul nights once a month and charity gigs for national and local causes. Roan records have organised a concert to support victims of the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria on the 29th March. We have 2 snooker tables and 3 dartboards. We host dart matches and have our own darts team. The public can hire the space for private parties at reasonable rates. And of course our bar is very reasonably priced.
We are very excited about our new chef, Jaqueline, who started very recently. We are looking to provide excellent food to our regular members and are launching Sunday lunches shortly. We are hoping our new food menus will attract local businesses to use our facilities.
For anyone interested in joining the Club, the cost is a very reasonable £25 a year. Members receive a discount on drinks from the bar and some event nights. Their guests can attend the members only bar by signing in and paying a nominal £1. Non-members are able to attend all the event nights at the club and new members are always welcome.
What do you love about Teddington?
My wife and I love Teddington. Not that long ago Teddington was a bit rougher around the edges. It has been gentrified somewhat with it recently being voted one of the best places to live in the UK!
Teddington has nice pubs, you can get a good meal and you never feel in danger here.
Besides your own shop what is your favourite shop in Teddington and why?
My wife loves Shambles on the High Street. I’m partial to the Chateaubriand at The Railway (Victoria Road) on a Thursday night which is excellent value. We also like The Loft on Broad Street for gifts.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Quizzing! I participate in and also write questions for quiz nights. I go to a regular night at the Royal Oak pub in Isleworth. Sean, the quiz organiser there also writes some of the questions for ‘The Chase’.
Where in the world would you like to visit if time and money was no object?
I love all sport and especially football, so my ideal trip would be to Buenos Aires, to La Bomboniere stadium to watch the Superclásico, the football match in Argentina between rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate. TT have discovered the next match is being held on 7th May 2023!).
In no more than three words describe yourself
Cheerful, funny, kind.
What do you see in the future for your business?
We are going to go from strength to strength. We are looking forward to the catering side of the business taking off and also doing more filming in our unique space. We look forward to continuing to be an accessible, affordable, community space for all.