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Case Study – Finding the owners of a Working Mens Club 60 years on.

Case Study – Finding the owners of a Working Mens Club 60 years on.

Finding people has been one of the core services of our business for over 21 years. We have just completed a very interesting enquiry which entailed finding 30 individuals (or their beneficiary’s), all of whom remained shareholders in a Leeds working men’s club when it closed in the late 1990’s.


The instruction was that the individuals were due a share of the proceeds of the building sale, which had recently been sold to the occupier who had rented the building since the club’s closure in approximately 1996. We were provided with a copy of a 1997 annual return, which provided the names and the last known addresses of all the shareholders.


It soon became apparent that the 1997 list was very out of date as many of the addresses listed for the shareholders had in fact been demolished in the 1950 and early 1960’s. At least with this knowledge we could assume that if those particular individuals had been at least 18 years old when they were given the shares that they would be at least 75 years old and we could dispense with much younger name matches. Given that the club was formed is 1895, shareholders could in theory be 122 years old!

Investigations progressed using the various specialist databases to which Tremark subscribe. We examined both historical electoral roll and land registry data, and followed this with a visit into Leeds, spending several hours trawling through records in the history and local studies library. Once all the suspected individuals had been identified and any potential dates of birth had been obtained, we began the long process of working through the list to ascertain whether or not the individuals were still alive.

It transpired that the oldest subject was born in the 1890’s and the youngest was born in the 1950’s. Approximately half of the subjects had since passed away and in those cases we were required to undertake detailed searches of the Births, Deaths and Marriages database in an attempt to identify, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and in a few cases grandchildren.

We worked through each case individually, using our extensive resources to ascertain telephone numbers for either the subject, members of their family or even current or old neighbours.

One gentleman we found who is now in his late sixty’s and living in Cumbria, initially denied having any connection with Leeds whatsoever. After being questioned further he eventually explained that for a very short time during the 1970’s he had lived in the Harehills area of Leeds and had worked at St James Hospital. Neither of these is particularly close to the working men’s club in question.

“It was quite common to get paid in beer, but as I didn’t drink I think they just gave me some shares instead”

Upon asking whether he could recollect any connection to the working men’s club in Leeds the gentleman immediately opened up. It transpired that during the 1970’s the gentleman had been a body builder who visited various working men clubs in the north of England performing in Mr Universe type muscle man competitions. He said that he often got asked to ‘oil up’ and strut a few poses in clubs in return for payment. He recalled that he had indeed performed at the working men club in question and that his remuneration on this occasion had been in the form of shares, saying “It was quite common to get paid in beer, but as I didn’t drink I think they just gave me some shares instead”. The gentleman went on to explain that over the past 40 years he had moved around the country and he was very surprised that we had managed to track him down.

Remarkably the gentleman went on to say that the only piece of furniture that had remained with him over all that time was a sideboard left to him by his mother and that it was ‘worth a few quid’. He then described how that sideboard and most of its contents were very old indeed but within its contents was the original share certificate showing that he was the owner of 5 shares! (he was in fact the owner of 10 according to the information we had been provided).


The case was made extremely difficult due to the unkempt records of the working men’s club, and the fact that most of the addresses supplied to us were over 60 years out of date. However, using a mixture desktop and physical investigations we were successful in identifying and tracing 21 out of the 30 shareholders or their beneficiaries. In many cases we were able to supply the client with copies of the deceased wills, with the client confirming that one will actually made reference to the shares.

Tremark undertake various people tracing activities. For more details please see our pages on ‘Absconder Tracing’ and ‘Beneficiary Tracing’. Please contact our team via our contact page or by emailing us for a quote. In many cases we can provide the service on a no trace, no fee basis.


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About The Author

Mark Hodgson is the Managing Director of Tremark Associates, one of the UK’s leading providers of investigative services. Mark formed Tremark aged just 25 in 1995 and has over 30 years experience in private investigations and commercial debt recovery industries. He is a leading figure and a campaigner for regulation of the Industry and past President of the Association of British Investigators, a member of the World Association of Detectives, The Chartered Institute of Credit Management, The Institute of Paralegals and an associate member of R3 -The Association of Business Recovery Professionals. Mark splits his time between the Leeds and London Offices. He is a dad of two, a keen runner, cyclist and a Leeds United season ticket holder.