A POPULAR Swansea church-based social club is to close, allegedly because it serves alcohol.
The bell is set to toll on St Joseph's Club in Convent Street, Greenhill, for the final time at the end of this month following a decision taken by the trustees of the Diocese of Menevia.
The club, in the grounds of the Cathedral Church of St Joseph, has been operating since 1921 and has enjoyed an drink licence for more than half a century.
The church was built by Swansea's Irish community in the 19th century and in later years became an important base for local sports teams and members of the wider community.
Numbers have declined but the club, which is open six evenings a week, still has around 100 members aged between 50 and 80.
Chairman of the club, Liz Hole, said: "It seems a great shame. A lot of the people who go to the club are old, are members of the church and do not go anywhere else. It's not just ladies, but gentlemen as well.
"We are all getting old, and the numbers are falling, but at the same time we have nowhere else to go. A lot of our members have been left depressed by this."
Mrs Hole said a possible legal challenge to the closure had been dropped after seeking expert advice.
She said: "I have been to our solicitor and although we could fight the decision as we have been here for so long, there is a huge risk involved because if we lost any court case the costs would be huge."
Colin Watts, 76, whose Irish grandfather helped build the church, claimed: "I would like to register my dismay and disgust at the decision by the trustees of the diocese to close St Joseph's Club on the grounds that they don't want licensed premises within the cathedral grounds.
"The trustees never even met or consulted these loyal members of the parish who were informed of the decision by solicitor's letter.
"The reason they gave was they do not want alcohol on church grounds, but there has been a drinks licence for more than 50 years."
Mr Watts added that many of the people who helped maintain the church or joined groups associated with it were regular users of the club.
"Among the membership are members of the Cathedral Choir, the Mother's Union, who clean the cathedral, the men who trim the hedges and grass and the St Vincent de Paul Society which helps the poor in the parish," he said.
No one was available from the Diocese of Menevia to comment as the Post went to press.