cowley club

cowley club docs

Get Involved


The club is run entirely by people like you! Everyone gives their time for free and works together without bosses.

If you would like to help in the cafe or bar, talk to someone who is working and they’ll show you where to put your name down for your first shift on the rota. Once you’ve worked at the Cowley before you can come in and put your name down yourself. (To work in the bar you must be a member of the 12 London Road Social Club.)

To download our Volunteer Information click here: (pdf booklet to print out) or (word doc)

If you help out in the club you can join the Cowley Crew email list by sending an email to cowleyclub AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk with a short note saying who you are.

If you just want the monthly events and updates email go here.

Once you have been helping out for about three months you can apply at a general meeting to become a member of the Cowley Club Co-operative. This co-op owns the building and makes all major decisions about the Cowley. By becoming a member you have an equal say in the running of the whole project. This co-op has about 200 members and is different from the bar (12LRSC) co-op which has over 3000 members.

Cowley Collectives

Come along to a general meeting (first Monday of the month at 6.30pm) or check the calendar to find out about collective meetings.


Learn from the finest vegan cooks in Brighton! Start by helping to prepare and serve, then create simple delicious meals or help behind the counter taking orders and selling books. You can also help with ordering food and the finances.

Cafe volunteer meetings are every 2nd Weds at 4.30pm


Learn how to pull a decent pint! We also need people helping with changing barrels, cleaning the beer lines and the cellar, and doing the finances. There are occasional training days arranged for people volunteering in the bar.


Help educate the masses! You can help with finding new titles, ordering books, organising author talks and writing book reviews. Check the calendar for meetings or email cowleybooks (@) to get involved.


Keeping the place spotless! The average cleaning shift takes around two hours, longer if you want to be extra thorough, and is usually done in the morning before the club opens. A rota is displayed in the cafe/bar area. If you want to help put your name and contact details next to the rota. Occasionally there are more in depth cleaning binges, known to enthusiasts as “deep cleaning”.


Stop the club falling to pieces! If you want to help out with repairs leave your name and contact details with the maintenance messages in the Volunteers Folder (ask for it at the counter). Occasional work days are announced in advance but there are always odd jobs to do.

Finance & Fundraising

Making ends meet! From advertising our loanstock to bookkeeping to applying for grants, we always need people to help manage and make us more money! Come along to a general meeting to find out how you can help.


If I can’t dance it’s not my revolution! Put on your favourite bands, learn how to set up the PA and do the sound, ‘street team’ for gigs – flyer and poster or organise film showings, pub quizzes, games nights, talks, etc. – whatever your ideas – bring them along. Cowleyents AT


The card filers of the apocalypse! See the Library page for the next meeting and info on how to help out.


Distributing flyers for the Cowley, taking out the rubbish, sorting out the leaflets, making window displays, doing the recycling, repairing computers, putting up exhibitions… there’s always a lot to do… just ask what needs doing!



Where does the money come from? How do we make decisions? What is a co-operative? Why the ‘Cowley’ club?

The Cowley Club is a members-run co-operative. As a co-operative, assets and control are placed into all members’ hands, the idea being that those using the centre share the benefits, responsibilities and work that comes with running it. Money was raised via a conventional mortgage, loans from co-operative organisations, and loanstock (loans made by individuals on a five-year basis). The building purchase was completed in February 2002, then the lengthy renovation began. Much of the property was in disrepair and volunteers put in endless hours, learning skills as we went along.

How is it run?
Volunteers have organised themselves into groups to take on various aspects of running the centre. There are collectives for the cafe, bookshop, kids club, cleaning, finances, maintenance and entertainments. There are monthly general meetings for overall co-ordinating, and a management committee of 10 members for day to day dealings. The work is organised to promote co-operation and self-organisation amongst equals. All members are encouraged to get involved. Please note that the bar is a separate organisation; the 12 London Road Social Club.

About the 12 London Road Social Club
The 12 London Road Social Club (12LRSC) is a separate organisation from the Cowley Club. It’s a private members club which runs the bar on the premises in the evenings, so if you want to come for a drink, or attend events in the evening, this is what you need to join. It too is a co-operative owned and controlled by its members and it depends upon volunteers from the membership to run the bar and organise entertainments. The social club leases the cafe area in the evenings and events include: live music, open mike nights, films, talks, dj’s, and the occasional table-football tournament. Members who want to put something on can leave a message in the voluneers folder behind the bar or come to a meeting. Meeting dates for the entertainments group are openly displayed. The bar is open most Sunday afternoons when sometimes members cook fund-raising dinners for causes in which they are involved. These dinners are advertised in advance.

Why a private members club?

Well it’s a lot easier to get a certificate to supply alcohol in a private members club than it is to get a licence to supply alcohol to the public. If you want to buy a building to open a public bar, you will generally have to buy premises which have already been used for the purpose. These are likely to be very expensive and anyway, we wanted a place that would be more than just a bar. The private members option was simpler and more realistic.

About the Cowley Club
If you want to come to the bar, you need to join the 12 London Road Social Club (see above). If you want to be fully involved in running things, you can also join the Cowley Club, which is the organisation that owns the building. To do so you must have been involved in the running of the social centre for three months. Members of political parties are not invited to join the Cowley Club because the values of the co-operative are based (in the spirit of Harry Cowley) on self-responsibility, self-help, equity, solidarity and grass-roots control outside the influence of political parties and similar coercive hierarchical groupings. This restriction does not apply to members of trade unions or to become a member of the bar.

Who was Harry Cowley?

Brightonian Harry Cowley was involved in grassroots social activism from the 1920s until his death in the 1970s. He helped organise the unemployed, moved homeless families into squatted buildings after both world wars, was a key figure in confronting fascism 1930s Brighton. He also campaigned for cheap food, mobilised pensioners, was involved in running social events and social centres and generally organising whatever was needed to provide practical aid for the poor and disadvantaged of the town. His actions were based in local neighbourhoods and outside political parties. We have named the club after Harry to uphold this tradition of grassroots organising and class solidarity.

What is Radical Routes?

The Cowley Club is a member of Radical Routes, a network stretching from Inverness to Cornwall of collectively owned houses, workers co-ops, social centres and land projects. It supports radical co-operatives – those opposed to capitalist systems of hierarchy, exploitation, and money as power. It supports co-operatives which are opposed to the destruction of the environment, committed to a positive ecological outlook, and which support grassroots resistance to injustice.

support and loans


Friends of the Cowley Club
The Cowley cash flow fluctuates each month. To help the club sustain itself and cover ever increasing expenses you can become a friend of the Cowley and help by setting up a standing order. Every little helps.

You can download one of our standing order forms here or pick up a copy from the club or use the details below:

The Cowley Club Ltd
Account no 60362080
Sort Code 72-00-05
Alliance and Leicester Business Banking

Please email us (cowleyclub (@) when you have set it up so we can acknowledge your donation. Or pick up a form at the club.


As a registered Industrial and Provident Society, the Cowley Club Co-operative is able to advertise and issue loan stock to the public. Individuals and organisations can invest directly in the club, and we can offer interest on their loans. Investors can choose their rate of interest between 0%-2%. Loan stock certificates are issued to the investors and interest is added at the end of each year in the form of further loan stock, and is payable in full at the end of a five year period.

So, why not invest in this grass-roots project, rather than keep your money in the bank where it is turn invested in any number of environmentally damaging and ethically unsound projects? We won’t turn away any amount over £100, so please, if you would like to support the club, fill out a loan stock application form available in the Cowley Club, or email cowleyclub (@) to ask for one to be sent to you. You can also download it here.

Wish List

There’s always things we need, if you’ve got them and can spare them please bring them in:


◦Kitchen utensils, large pans, knives, tupperware, a food processor…