A SOCIAL club which has remained a favourite drinking spot for hundreds of former rail workers is closing next month.
The Railway Veterans Institute in Prince Albert Street at Crewe, which opened in 1917, has been sold off by owner Bombardier.
The building was owned by the British Railways Property Board and leased to Adtranz at Crewe Works. It was then brought by Bombardier, which now runs the works, in 2001.
Now it is being sold off because of falling membership numbers, high leasing costs and proposed redundancies at the Works.
Bombardier spokeswoman Heidi Lee said: 'A decision was made to close the club on March 25 in conjunction with the club secretary.
'We have agreed with the Dutton Institute next door to transfer our regular members' memberships to their club which we will pay for as well as give them an extra snooker table.
'The closure is due to the high costs of leasing the building and looming job cuts in Crewe. It doesn't make sense to pay for something which has been under-used.'
Borough councillor Chris Thorley, a former railway worker, has backed previous campaigns to keep the club open.
He said: 'I am very concerned about the Vets and the current situation.
'It has been a very big part of the railway community and many railway veterans have enjoyed themselves in there over the years.
'This situation is very much the result of privatisation of British Rail plus the club being sold to a private owner.
Crewe historian Howard Curran added: 'These type of buildings were sold off to anyone who wanted to buy them when British Rail was privatised.
'People who brought them were under the impression that the land is ready for development but in most cases it is not.'