FEATURES » St Peter's Club - a community rock since 1959

St Peter's Club - a community rock since 1959

 


The St.Peter’s club has recently celebrated its Golden Jubilee.

Let’s retrace its compelling story from the late 50s to now.

The flow of Italian immigrants to London in the 50s and beginning of the 60s was so
significant that the Italian community started to feel the need to find a
gathering point where they could share their experiences of being foreigners in
a big city in their own language as most of immigrants had little command of
the English language and could therefore only converse with other Italian
speakers.

In 1959 the priest of the Italian Church, reverend G De Filippi came up with the idea of
creating a youth club where Italian immigrants could gather once a week to discuss
their religion and to socialise.

The committee for the Italian Catholic youth club was so created as a Catholic youth club
rather than an Italian youth club as the president was an Englishman of
Catholic religion, Charles Smith.

The members of this first committee didn’t last long due to them having other, more
pressing, commitments.

On 16th July1960 a new committee was elected with Vittorio Heissl as its president and the
attic of St. Peter’s Church became the headquarters of the club.

On 8th December 1960 the club was officially opened as “Casa di San Vincenzo
Pallotti”, named after the founder of the Pallottini’s order.

One of the first activities of the club was the spiritual retreat to the medieval Church
of  Aylesford, in Kent, and the annual pilgrimage to that same Church.

By the 1970s, there were a growing number of teenagers who were London- born sons and
daughters of Italian immigrants who had arrived in the 1950s and 1960s. The
club began to reflect the growing integration of both Italian and English
cultures. The club organised sporting activities for young people and the
“Olimpiadi della gioventù italiana” (O.G.I.) was created forming football,
netball and rugby teams. The youngsters attending the youth club could also
benefit from camping trips, theatre productions, band rehearsals and gigs
organised by members.

In order to raise funds, the club hosted charity dinners and lunches and other events such
as pool competitions, quiz nights and table tennis competitions. St. Peter’s
club also sponsored marathons to raise funds for disabled people and some
charitable organisations like Oxfam.

In the 70s the club began hosting Italian lessons for the anglicised Italian youths which
were sponsored by the Italian Government.  English courses were also available and help was
provided to people looking for jobs which included assistance with completing
application and official forms.

The club produced  its own magazine “L’incontro” which
provided information on the club’s activities.

On 26th June 1976 the St. Peter’s social club was inaugurated and the parish granted
the club use of the attic on the other wing of the Church

By the 1980s and 1990s the club had evolved yet again.  Further rooms were opened, the club had
expanded and so had the Anglo-Italian community.

Nowadays the youth club is opened on Fridays from 4pm to 8pm for children from 2/3 months to
8 years.

On Sunday mornings the club is open from 10.30am to 2pm for children from 8 months to 11
years old. During this time children can play “calcio Balilla” and other games,
supervised by their parents and a group of volunteers. These clubs provide an
opportunity for children to play whilst their parents mingle while having a
coffee.

The youth club is also involved every year in the annual Procession. The most popular
events are the firework night, the quiz night and the Carnevale.

During this year, St Peter’s club will be heavily involved in activities relating to the
celebration of 150 years of St. Peter’s Church.

We thank Victor Heissl and Michele Morena for their collaboration on recalling the
history and landmark events of St Peter’s club. 

Giulia Lombardo

»Back to: FEATURES