Birkenhead social club and former home of Everest mountaineer Andrew “Sandy” Irvine to be sold at auction
A BIRKENHEAD social club that was once home to Everest mountaineer Andrew “Sandy” Irvine will be sold at auction next month.
Before becoming a Co-op workers’ club and latterly the ESWA Sports and Social Club, 54-56 Park Road South was the family home of Irvine, who joined George Mallory in an ill-fated attempt to climb the world’s highest peak.
The club closed on October 28 due to rising costs and it will be auctioned by Smith and Sons on December 5, with a guide price of £350,000-£375,000.
Potential bidders are told the club, which backs onto Birkenhead Park, has “great potential to refurbish for residential or commercial use”.
Treasurer Bob Nunn said he was “brokenhearted” but could no longer afford to run it and there had been no interest from historical groups dedicated to Irvine’s memory. “I’ve been funding the club for years myself and I just can’t afford to fund it any more.
“We just weren’t getting the business that we needed to keep it open – the costs were killing us.
“People for some reason didn’t seem to come in. We heard of other places closing and thought it might help us but it didn’t.”
Mr Nunn, a member for 30 years, said the club had run into trouble because members tended to attend seasonally. He said it had debts of £325,000 but the building was expected to fetch up to £500,000.
Any money left over after paying the remainder of a mortgage, brewery bills and other costs will be divided between members.
Mr Nunn said: “We have 220 members, which sounds great but the snooker players only came in between August and March, the bowlers between April and August and so on. With the darts, it was once a week.
“We didn’t have floating members who would come in all the time.”
Irvine and Mallory, who went to school in West Kirby, were last sighted on June 8, 1924, only a few hundred yards from the summit of Everest.
Arguments have raged over whether they died before reaching the summit or were descending from it.
In 1999, an expedition discovered Mallory’s well-preserved body at 26,760ft, but Irvine remains lost.
Local councillor George Davies said: “It’s a great loss to the community and it really is a shame that it’s closed. I just hope someone will come and purchase it and retain what’s there at the moment.”
Chris Johnson, auctioneer at Smith and Sons said: “It’s great to have a lot included in our next auction that holds a good deal of local historical significance and we are anticipating this to generate a lot of interest.”