This film is part of Free

Ace of Clubs

A celebration of the club that refuses to die a new ICI Synthonia Club building rises from the rubble of a World War Two bomb.

Cinemagazine 1957 8 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


A bomb hit the Synthonia Club in the early hours of the 7th July 1943 the theatre was in ruins. But as the Club Manager recalls in a rich Northern brogue, the bar luckily survived. This stirring film celebrates the 35 year history of a recreational club, known to ICI workers as the Ace of Clubs. A punchy collage of sports, including the Synners Football Club in action, introduces the resilient Billingham spirit as a new club building rises from the rubble of World War Two.

The short documentaries made by Billingham Film Unit reflect the rich communal sporting and recreational culture encouraged at ICI, centred on the Synthonia Club. The English striker and football manager Brian Clough worked as a junior clerk at ICI Casebournes cement works and joined the Billingham Synners FC, playing in the amateur Northern League during 1953. It has been said jokily that the international running track was handily located so that errant apprentices could run off a few pints of Camerons after a visit to the Synthonia. In 1961 a Times correspondent described the club as the largest public house in Britain.