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The Rushden Echo, 9th December 1898, transcribed by Jim Hollis
The Proposed Young Men’s Institute

A meeting of those interested in the proposal to start a young men’s institute for Rushden was held on Tuesday night at the Coffee Tavern when there were about 30 present. Mr. E. Claridge was voted to the chair and was supported by the Rev. M. E. Parkin, Messrs. J. Claridge, G. Denton, H. Knight, J. Wykes Ashdowne, Roberson, J. Sargent, H. F. Roberson, T. T. Clark, T. C. Clark, Adnitt, W. H. Darnell, A. Sargent, A. Ashby, G. Bayes, G. Ellis, and others.

Mr. Ellis undertook to act as secretary pro tem.

The Chairman said there was a very great need for something of the sort proposed

If It Could Be Carried Through.

They were met to discuss the matter and he hoped all would ventilate their opinions so that they might arrive at some useful and proper conclusion. (Cheers.)

Letters were read from Mr. A. G. C. Vann, Mr. S. Hirons, and Mr. C. Cross (Editor of the Rushden Echo) apologising for their inability to accept an invitation to attend and speaking warmly in favour of the proposal.

Mr. Ellis said the Rector (the Rev. W. R. Morse) had also intimated that he would be unable to attend that meeting owing to a previous engagement, but he hoped a scheme would be formulated and added that it would have his heartiest support. Proceeding to speak on the question before the meeting, Mr. Ellis said he and Mr. Keel had convened the meeting by postcard and if anyone interested had not received an invitation they would perhaps accept his apology. He was

The Author of The First Letter

which appeared in the local papers on the subject, and of a second letter. When he came to Rushden 3 years ago he found there was nothing for young men to do in the evening, and in his experience in the town as a teacher of a senior class it had been borne upon him that it was very necessary to make some provision for the lads on week-nights. A good deal of the usefulness of the Sunday teaching was lost if there were no practical means of dealing with the youths after working hours on week-days. There were scores of young men walking about the streets in the evening with nowhere to go to and an institute would be a great boon to them. That meeting was not called in antagonism to the existing clubs, for the members of the clubs were as good as other men, but, as a Sunday school teacher he should be sorry to see his lads joining the clubs, and he believed the fathers of the lads would rather they went to some place

Without The Temptations

they would be subjected to if they became club members. The reason he had brought forward the scheme was because he believed an institute was needed in Rushden where young men could find recreation, amusement, and profitable entertainment. He knew it would be difficult to formulate a practical scheme, and it would need to be non-political and unsectarian, but he believed if the hard-headed business men of the town would pull in one direction it would be accomplished. (Cheers.)

The Rev. M. E. Parkin thought all would be agreed as to the necessity for such an institute as was suggested, but they had to consider the best practical means of providing it. It was thought by some who had spoken to him that there were suitable rooms at the Coffee Tavern – not as many as they would like, and not, perhaps, as many as it was possible to provide – to form an institute to meet the requirements of 300 young men, taking it for granted that not more than 100 would be present at any one time. The idea that

The Coffee Tavern Directors

should provide the accommodation was worth consideration on the ground of economy, for there was no doubt it would mean a very considerable outlay if they were to have an institute of the kind desirable. He strongly deprecated going into some small place for he had seen the bad effect of the nakedness, poverty, and smallness of rooms of one such institute. If the Directors of the Coffee Tavern could arrange for the whole of the rooms to be used for one Institute he thought it would be a good thing both on account of the saving of expense and the fact that there were at the Coffee Tavern ample facilities for providing refreshments.

The Chairman said that would meet the case if it could be carried out but he had been under the impression that there was not sufficient accommodation at the Coffee Tavern.

Mr. J. Claridge said he was at one with the object of the meeting for he thought an institute was really required. He would be pleased to do all he could to further the scheme, for they all knew it was desirable, considering the number of young people there were in the place with

Nowhere To Go To.

To some extent the Coffee Tavern Directors opened their doors to these, but it was impossible to take in all they would like to. With regard to the suggestion made by Mr. Parkin it was quite new to him, and looking at it momentarily he did not see that it was possible or workable with their present limited accommodation. They had not so much room as they really required at the present time, and he did not see how it was possible to extend their borders. They had been trying to provide more room, but the price for the adjoining property was so high that they could not entertain it, and even if they did the premises were so inadequate and so unsuitable that they would have to come down, and this would involve tremendous expense, and he did not see that it was possible for the Coffee Tavern to make provision in this direction. He should be only too pleased if they could. He would like to see sufficient interest in the scheme that they could raise sufficient money to build a place for this particular purpose, and if it could be arranged that it could be near the coffee Tavern it would be better.

But There Were Difficulties

not only in the way of raising money – that of managing and controlling it properly. If an institution of this kind was not well managed and under good control it was his opinion that they had better be without it than with it. It meant a tremendous sacrifice on the part of some to conduct the affairs of the institute so that it might be a credit to those who managed it and those who used it. (Cheers.) Did Mr. Ellis know of an institute of that character in the locality?

Mr. Ellis said the nearest was at Finedon, where there was one at the Star-hall with a large membership. There they had billiard rooms, reading rooms, &c., and were progressing first rate.

Mr. Claridge pointed out that the hall was erected by Miss Mackworth Dolben, and the erection of buildings was

The Chief Difficulty.

The Rev. M. E. Parkin said that if they were going to spend money in building a place some distance away it would be better for some money to be put into the Coffee Tavern for the purpose of purchasing these adjoining buildings.

Mr. George Denton said he agreed with Mr. John Claridge in the remarks he had made. He thought they ought to consider the responsibility which would attach to anyone who formulated a scheme. He quite agreed that an institute would serve a very useful purpose and was wanted in the place, but unless they were going to do it thoroughly they had better leave it alone, because it was calculated to do more harm than good. He took it that what they had in their minds was something conducted on the lines of the Polytechnic in London. (Applause.) They would at once see what

A Tremendous Amount of Work

was necessary to carry on an institution of this sort; to keep it together and make it answer the purpose for which it was originated. At the Polytechnic the educational part was always kept to the front; it provided recreation and enabled young men to meet together for social purposes when they came to London for business purposes, but at Rushden they were talking of bringing in the youths and boys and these would want handling very carefully. If they made the thing rigid and stiff they would drive them away; on the other hand, if they gave them a free hand, it would get so wild and unruly that it would be a disgrace. Rushden could not tolerate a thing being done indifferently. If they were going to raise the capital with shares the holders could not expect to get

A Return For Their Money.

Failing this, there must be some benevolent persons who were disposed to put their hands in their pockets to provide accommodation for them. It might be said that they should have men amongst them who ought to be prepared, seeing the wealth which had accumulated in the town. This might be right but Rushden was a new place and there were outlets in all directions and the men who were disposed to take an interest had their hands full. Then he would remind them that subscriptions were not going to maintain it, and therefore they would have to look further than the usual subscriptions. He believed they all saw the necessity of an institute and were prepared to do all they could to further it provided they thought it was

Calculated To Fulfil Its Purpose.

He thought it was impracticable to do anything in connection with the Coffee Tavern. They had to face the question and provide premises if the proposal was to be carried out satisfactorily.

The Chairman asked if they were not going to do something for the young women. They wanted as much looking after as the young men.

Mr. Ellis said if they looked after the young men, the young men would look after the young women. (Laughter.)

Mr. Ashdowne said he had spoken to Mr. Claridge and others of a scheme to include both young men and girls for recreation and study in the evening.

The Chairman asked whether it would be advisable to form a company.

Mr. Ellis said it had occurred to him that the Coffee Tavern Directors might increase their capital and purchase the adjoining premises.

An opinion was expressed by several present that

The Price Asked

for the premises was too high.

The Rev. M. E. Parkin said it had been suggested that there was a site in Church-lane where an institute might be erected, with lockup shops underneath. Those shops would pay the interest on the capital.

Mr. J. Claridge: That is a big scheme.

Mr. Denton: And an expensive one.

Mr. Ashdowne said if baths were contemplated it had been suggested to him that a site in Midland-road would be suitable.

Mr. J. Sargent said he was much in sympathy with the object, but he thought there were great difficulties in the way. He didn’t know where the money was to come from unless a company were started. It seemed to him that that scheme was the most practicable.

Mr. H. Knight felt greatly interested in the subject. The Directors of the Coffee Tavern, he remembered, spent a lot of money in trying to make the necessary provision for young men years ago, but

The Premises Were Not Suitable.

He suggested that the owner of the adjoining property be approached to see whether he would reduce the price. If he would, then perhaps the Coffee Tavern Directors might entertain the matter. He thought the institute should be closely connected with the Coffee Tavern, because they had the necessary plant. He believed the Directors had the matter at heart, if only they could provide the necessary accommodation. (Cheers.)

Mr. J. Claridge moved that such an institute was desirable and that a small committee be appointed to make inquiries and report to a future meeting.

The Rev. M. E. Parkin seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.

The following gentlemen were appointed members of the committee: The Revs. W. R. Morse and M. E. Parkin, and Messrs. E. Claridge, J. Claridge, G. Ellis, G. Denton, J. Wykes Ashdowne, S. Hirons, and J. Sargent.

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