Newtown Workman’s Institute

Contributed by Charlotte Broun

In 1899 the Newtown Workmen’s Institute was inaugurated. The Institute started out in rooms in St. Georges Hall and grew quickly necessitating new premises.

The following was taken from a newspaper cutting of the Inaugural Ceremony.

Two or three weeks ago a public meeting was held in Newtown for the purpose of starting a Workmen’s institute. The movement was taken up with enthusiasm and the president (Alderman John Salmon) and the other officers appointed at once set to work to make a beginning. It was found impossible to hire a thoroughly suitable building; but the committee, rather than, wait, determined on making temporary arrangements. They availed themselves of the offer of Mr. Von Hagen of a large front room at St. George’s hall, rent free for six months, and leased three smaller rooms in the building for the same period, which were placed at their disposal at a nominal rental. These have all been comfortably furnished and fitted up – the larger one as a billiard-room, the smaller ones as reading-room, smoking-room, etc. Although the the arrangements are convenient, and the accomodation as good as circumstances permit, they are of course, nothing like they will be when a special building has been obtained. The inaugural ceremony took place last evening on a large vacant piece of land adjoining the hall, when several hundred people were present. A raised platform had been erected at one end, and the Japanese lanterns hung around both platforms and ground gave the place a novel and pleasing appearance. The Mayor of Newtown (Alderman C. Ibbotson) occupied the chair, and was supported by the president and officers of the society, whilst the performances of the Newtown Band (under Conductor Mellor) added a deal to the pleasure of the occasion. Apologies were received for the absence of Alderman W. Bigg and Mr. E W. Molesworth, Ms.P. Several donations of furniture, etc., have already been received, Mr. H. Macready giving a number of pictures and books.

The Mayor said it gave aim very great pleasure to preside on so interesting an occasion. He was sure the institute would be successful, as during the two or three weeks it had been in existence they had already a membership of 170. He thought that was a remarkably good beginning, and as no doubt each member would bring others, they might anticipate that in a short time they would have far more members than the present rooms would accommodate. As soon as they got 800, they could claim a donation of £100 from Mr. G. B. Edwards, who, he was sure, would be pleased to keep his promise. He trusted that in five or six months time the institute would have a building of its own, and he was sure that it would prove a great boon to the working men of the district. He had much pleasure in declaring the institute open. (Applause.) Alderman Salmon explained the object of the institute. Its aims were the social, moral, and intellectual advancement of its members. Newtown was the centre of a large and populous district, and the working men had shown a desire for social intercourse and innocent recreation, and wished to meet in a building to which they felt they had the right of entry. The liberal responses in various ways made by residents of the district showed that they regarded the objects as most laudable. The subscription had been fixed at half a crown, a quarter, which every member must pay before admission; and if, through being out of work or other cause, he could not continue the payment, he could withdraw and rejoin at any future time. No intoxicants of any kind would be allowed on the premises nor would any form of gambling be permitted. There would be every facility for playing at billiards, cards, draughts, etc., all of which would be free, except billiards, the charge for which would be 3d for 50 up – a very moderate demand; and there would also be a reading-room well supplied with the daily and weekly papers and magazines; and in time he hoped there would be a good library. In connection with the latter, the president said many books had been already given or promised; and he appealed to friends of the institute to donate useful books for which they had no further use. The Institute would be open every day except Sunday from 2 o’clock in the afternoon till half past 10 at night. He added that the membership had increased so rapidly that additional accommodation would soon be absolutely necessary; and said the committee would lose no time in either erecting an entirely new building or leasing one suitable for the purpose. An interesting programme of instrumental and vocal songs was then gone through, and a very pleasant evening was spent by the large audience.


Cover Image of the Souvenir Invitation Images of the Cover and Contents of the official Invitation to the Album Presentation in 1909 Image of the Souvenir Invitation Contents

The following Images are of the photographs contained in the Album presented to Alderman J. Salmon, Esq. J.P. in 1909 on his retirement from the position of President. Click on the image to view the full size photo. Click on your browser’s ‘back’ button to return.


Presentation to Ald. J. Salmon, Esq., J.P. J. Salmon. Ex-President First Management Committee J. Muir - First Hon. Secretary F. Flanagan, Late Hon. Secretary
W. N. Bull, Vice-President, 1908 W. J. Little, Vice-President, 1908 J. Nugent, Committee, 1908 J. Langley, Committee, 1908 'O. W. Collier, Committee, 1908
T. A. Hutchins, Committee, 1908 A. Da Silva, Committee, 1908 W. Lane, Committee, 1908 A. Thornton, Committee, 1908 W. Gordon, Committee, 1908
W. R. Smith, Committee, 1908 J. Solomon, Committee, 1908 G. Foster, President, 1909 P. E. Osborne, Vice-President, 1909 A. F. Desborough, Vice-President, 1909
H. Van Dam, Vice-President, 1909 J. Harris, Hon. Secretary, 1909 C. Muir, Hon. Treasurer, 1909 G. Crocker, Hon. Asst. Secretary, 1909 G. F. Crozier, Trustee.
G. Eaton, Trustee. Newtown Workmen's Institute A Snooker game in progress Group Photo