Aberdeen men-only club ditches discussion on allowing women members


160-year old club described as “disgraceful” and “antiquated”

AN exclusive men-only social club in the granite city has postponed a discussion on allowing women members for at least three years because the debate had caused “ungentlemanly discussions”.

The Aberdeen Press and Journal reported that the Royal Northern and University Club (RNUC) has placed a moratorium on discussions about the admission of women members to the exclusive club, with a decision not being reached for a minimum of three years.

A committee had previously been set up internally to discuss the prospect of allowing women to become members, but disagreements led to the discussions being stopped.

“After 160 years, things change slowly.” Mel Keenan

Reaction to the decision has been angry, but Mel Keenan, owner of Keenan Recycling and vice-chairman of RNUC, explained the decision: “This discussion became quite animated and led to, perhaps you might say, ungentlemanly discussions at times, so what we’ve tried to look at is can we have some formula that we can agree so as to discuss this calmly.

“There is a very special ambiance and atmosphere at the club and it would be a brave chairman indeed to say that ‘in my time we will over turn that tradition and brand’.”

He went on: “After 160 years, things change slowly.”

Opponents of the club’s policy of gender segregation have not been as understanding of the RNUC’s ‘tradition’, with Angela Taylor, the deputy leader of the Labour group at Aberdeen City Council and education convenor, describing the club as “quite disgraceful”.

The RNUC, founded in 1854 has a membership of around 700, mainly serving Aberdeen’s businessmen. Women are allowed to enter the building as long as they’re accompanied by a member, and are allowed to enter the bar, but are not allowed to be alone and are not granted the same privileges as men.

The RNUC is not the only men-only club in Scotland.

The RNUC is not the only men-only club in Scotland, with some of the most exclusive golf clubs in the country still refusing to permit women members. Muirfield, in East Lothian, and the Royal Troon both continue a ban on women members.

Muirfield hosted the Scottish Open in 2013 and faced intense criticism for its policy of men-only members, and Royal Troon has been selected to host the Open in 2016.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews voted overwhelmingly last year to allow women members, and both Muirfield and Royal Troon having signalled that they will review their policies of excluding women from membership, with the approach of the Open at the Royal Troon putting this club under particular scrutiny.

The Royal Troon and Muirfield both declined to comment when contacted by CommonSpace.