KirkbyMalham.info

KirkbyMalham.info

Home & News SearchWhat's new ForumLinksAmazon shop
 
 


About Social Bookmarking

Close this window Search
Home and News

 


Reading Rooms in Malhamdale:
and their roll in Adult Education and
the Temperance Movement

The rising literacy rate due to the increasing standards of children's education during the 19th century gave rise to a demand for further education after leaving school for work at an early age, and also for those adults who had seen little or no schooling. This additional education was available principally for men and in rural areas was mainly provided under the auspices of the reading room or literary institute, which by the end of the 19th century could be found in most villages in the Dales.
This Adult education movement had started with the setting up of Mechanics' Institutes at the very end of the 18th Century, a movement initiated by Settle born George Birkbeck External Website logo and John Anderson, professors at the University of Glasgow. The movement started with Institutes being set up in the larger towns and cities, and within three years there were nearly 100 institutions. As might be expected, the Settle Mechanics' Institute,External Website logo one of the first to be set up in a small market town, opened in 1831, but by 1851 they were to be found in almost every town of any size.
Mechanics' Institutes were formed to provide adult education, particularly in technical subjects, to working men, and often funded by local industrialists on the grounds that they would ultimately benefit from having more knowledgeable and skilled employees. The Mechanics' Institutes were used as 'libraries' for the adult working class, and provided them with an alternative pastime to gambling and drinking in pubs.
Literary institutes and Reading Rooms were set up on similar lines in smaller places, their numbers blossoming throughout the 19th century to feed the desire for education and leisure. This was a national phenomena and by the latter part of the century, even sparsely populated rural areas had created reading rooms, often their only public building, which were often run on similar lines to a Mechanics' Institute, offering lectures and classes as well as reading material and leisure activities.

However there may have been other motives for their existence too, and it has been suggested that Reading Rooms were imposed upon the working classes by the upper classes, mainly the church and local landowners. It is not clear how much, if any, demand for Reading Rooms came from the grass roots or whether it really was just something thought desirable by the middle class employers, reflecting their attitudes to philanthropy, recreation and self-help and confirming the class divide. It was certainly the middle classes who took the lead in the case of setting up and managing the Malhamdale Reading Rooms. The Presidents of all three reading rooms set up by 1873 were: Walter Morrison of Malham Tarn House; George Serjeantson of Hanlith Hall and William Alcock of Newfield Hall, and the Rev TC Henley was a member of all three committees, definitely a meeting of the "Great and the Good" of Malhamdale. However the enthusiastic uptake by the working men of Malhamdale doesn't seemed to have been tainted by any thoughts that interests the middle classes were being served in educating and keeping them out of public houses.

Airton Green and the Reading Room
The "Tin Tabernacle", Airton's New Mutual Reading Room (1903 - )
©The McKenzie Collection

The growth of Reading Rooms and Mechanic's Institutes, during the the 19th and early 20th centuries, took place against the background of a vigorous Temperance movement spreading throughout the country. Non-conformists and Temperance movements particularly valued the opportunity for sober education provided by Reading rooms, which provided a place for working men to socialise without the temptations of the local inn. This too was likely to be a major factor in the involvement of the church, in the form of the local vicar, and local employers in establishing them.

Though set up when the Malhamdale Temperance movement was at its height, the local reading rooms continued to function well into the 20th century, providing cheap alternative entertainment to the public houses, long after the Temperance movement had died away. The first function of a reading room was to provide enlightenment for those who couldn't read. Newspapers and magazines were expensive and probably well out of date by the time they were seen by many, so the local reading room would provide current copies for everybody to share, or to have read aloud to them. Cards, dominoes, draughts and similar games provided entertainment and for users in Malham and Kirkby Malham, a nearby pub was available if you really wanted to nip out and avoid the beer ban. Public libraries, cheaper, more readily available newspapers and better education, eventually replaced the main function of the reading rooms, as better transport evolved enabling people and goods to move more easily.

There was no national initiative for the creation of Reading Rooms and although vicar had been heavily involved in setting up the Malhamdale Reading Rooms, it is not clear whether this was in any part a church initiative or simply that of him and his middle class patrons. The local non-conformists however beyond supporting the teetotal ethos of the Reading Room, also took a very active part in local adult education and several Adult Sunday Schools External Website logo run by the non-conformists in the Dale, provided help for the illiterate members of the local population as well as religious teaching. Adult schools External Website logo started to appear in the late 1790s, mainly associated with the non-conformist churches, with an aim of giving all people direct access to the Bible. The Wesleyan Methodists were very active in Malhamdale, and the Wesleyan Sunday Schools were not only providing the expected religious education, but teaching the 3Rs - Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic, too.
The Methodists held classes at Scosthrop chapel and when the new Airton Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built in 1896 it included a very large school room and classes there were well attended. Even Bell Busk had a small Wesleyan Sunday School, built before 1853, for the workers at the mill.

In the early 20th century Airton Adult School was held at the Quaker Meeting House on Sunday afternoons. Not much is known about it, but it was running by 1913 and had separate sessions for men and women.

The linked article "Adult schools and the making of adult education" by Mark K Smith, 2004 provides more information on the subject, available on the inf ed website. External Website logo

The Adult Schools were a Sunday event and on other days of the week the various Reading Rooms provided a source of recreation, education and entertainment, though mainly for the men, as an alternative to visiting the public house.

Airton Reading Room
The derelict Airton Reading Room late 20thC.


Kirkby Malham Reading Room

Kirkby Malham was the first Malhamdale village to have its own reading room and it was started in November 1871, housed in the row of 3 cottages which used to occupy the south side of the churchyard, running west from the lyche gate. The middle cottage, which used to be an inn, belonged to the Serjeantson estate and was granted rent free for use as a reading room and meeting place.
It proved very popular and before the end of the first quarter had enrolled 50 members, quickly spawning other Reading Rooms in Airton and Malham.

Sketch showing Kirkby Malham reading room
Sketch showing the row of cottages which housed the Reading Room (1871-1897)

The upper room of the cottage was used two evenings per week in winter as a night school, with Arthur Waterfall as the principal teacher. The reading room provided newspapers and books to read, plus a variety of games (in 1876 they had a special subscription for a bagatelle board, a similar game to bar billiards, not the fairground game)

The Reading Room was only open in winter and donations and receipts for the first season (11th Nov 1871-11th May 1872) were £25 3d 2d, re-opening for a second season on 1st Oct 1872 with a balance of £2 13s 11d.

In 1897 the new Church Hall was opened and the library and reading room were moved there, the original cottage that housed it was demolished with the rest of the row in 1911, forming an extension to the churchyard.

By 1918, the last time the Annual Parish Reports and Accounts were printed, only accounts for the Kirkby Malham Reading Room and Kirkby Malham Library were being published in the Parish Accounts, both still looking very robust. The other Reading Room at Scosthrop had ceased to exist by then and there was possibly no longer any church involvement at Malham.

The Kirkby Malham reading room was open October 1st to March 31st from 6-9pm weekdays and 10pm on Saturdays, subscriptions being 5s per year ; 1s per quarter for working men in 1913, by 1928 it was  open until 9.30pm and fees remained at 2s summer and 3s for winter - nearly 60 years and no increase!

Members of the Kirkby Malham and Scosthrop Reading Rooms also had use of the quite substantial Kirkby Malham Library. This was originally incorporated with the Reading Room, but in 1875 the library was put on an independent footing with it's own finances, and separate Library accounts were published in the Kirkby Malham Parish Reports & Accounts. Under the trusteeship of Walter Morrison and the Rev TC Henley and with  the aid of monetary and book donations and library/educational grants, the library had grown to a substantial 1300 volumes by 1902. It is not certain where the library was housed, but most likely it moved with the Reading Room to the new church hall.

Below you can see the accounts for the first and third years, and the Reading Room Rules, which applied to all Reading Rooms at Kirkby, Airton and Malham where the Vicar/Church was involved:

KIRKBY MALHAM READING ROOM.
 
President: Mr. G. J. Sergeantson.
Committee: Mr. Gelderd, Mr. Knowles, Mr Parkinson, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Banks, Mr Lund, Mr. Peacock, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Waterfall, Mr. Edmondson, Mr. Holden (chairman),
Rev. T. C. Henley (secretary and treasurer).
Balance Sheet for first Season, from Nov. 11th, 1871, to May 11th, 1872.
Receipts.
£
s.
d.
Payments.
£
s.
d.
DONATIONS:-         Furniture
8
17
6
     Miss Chaloner
5
0
0
  Games
1
2
0
     Rev. T. C. Henley
1
0
0
  Newspapers
4
1
6
     Mr. W. Morrison MP
1
0
0
  Magazines and Stationery
1
3
6
     Mr. B. H. Brooksbank
1
0
0
  Fire and lights
2
19
6
     Mr. Wade
1
0
0
  Books & slates for night school
14
7
     Messrs. Dewhurst
2
0
0
  Rates 
4
4
     Mr. E. Brooksbank
1
0
0
  Repairs and sundries
14
10
     Mr. W. N. Alcock
1
10
0
  Bookbinding
14
0
     A Friend (per Mr. Knowles)
1
0
0
  Balance in hand, 11 May 1872
2
13
11
     Mr. and Mrs. Jordan
10
0
         
     Mr. Knowles
5
0
         
     Mr. Holden
5
0
         
     Mr. Parkinson
10
0
         
Members' Subscriptions
5
18
0
         
Sale of papers
1
2
0
         
Sale of magazines and books
7
4
         
Readings
10
0
         
Receipts at Night School
1
5
10
         
 
£25
3
2
   
£25
3
2
Audited and found correct. - ARTHUR WATERFALL.


KIRKBY MALHAM READING ROOM.
 
President: Mr. G. J. Sergeantson.
Committee: Mr. R. Parkinson, chairman; Mr. Banks, Mr. W. Knowles, Mr. Peacock, Mr. Lund, Mr. Christopher Knowles, Mr. Atkinson, Mr. Wm. Procter, Mr. John Harper, and Mr. Anderson; Mr. Waterfall, librarian; Rev. T. C. Henley, secretary and treasurer. 
Balance Sheet for third Season, from Oct. 1st, 1873, to March 31st, 1874.
Receipts.
£
s.
d.
Payments.
£
s.
d.
Balance brought forward
4
0
10
  Newspapers
4
5
10
DONATIONS:- 
  Magazines
6
9
     Mr. J. Fred. Harrison
2
2
0
  Books
1
2
11
     Mr. G. J. Serjeantson
1
0
0
  Printing rules
1
9
     Mr. W. N. Alcock
1
0
0
  Fire and lights
2
15
7
     Mr. R. Parkinson
10
0
  Cleaning
2
2
6
     Rev. T. C. Henley
10
0
  Soap, &c., for cleaning
3
10
     Mrs. Constantine
2
0
  Carriage of books
7
Members'subscriptions
4
6
0
  Rates and taxes
4
11
Papers and magazines sold
1
14
3
  Expenses of concert
2
1
2
Proceeds of concert
4
0
6
  Balance in hand
5
19
8
 
£19
5
7
   
£19
5
7
Audited and found correct. - ARTHUR WATERFALL.
 
RULES OF THE READING ROOMS.
1.--The Subscription is 1s. a quarter for working men, and 5s. a year for honorary members, payable in advance. Members of one Reading Room have free admission at the other rooms. Boys under the age of 15 are inadmissible. Ladies are admitted as honorary members.

2.-The Reading Rooms are opened at six o'clock, and closed at nine, every weekday evening during the season, except Saturday, when the hour for closing is ten.

3.-Members may take home books on application to the Librarian; but no book or paper is to be removed from the rooms, nor any introduced, without the sanction of the committee or secretary. All books taken out must be returned in a fortnight; or a fine paid of 1d. per week.

4.-No card playing is allowed; and no gambling. Smoking is permitted.
The losing player, in all games, must retire, if anyone else in the room desires to play.

5.-The committee meet quarterly. Three, of whom one must be the chairman or secretary, form a quorum. At each room a member of the committee is in attendance every night to see that the rules are observed. The annual General Meetings of members take place in November.

Malham Reading Room

Such was the success of the reading room at Kirkby Malham that in 1873 further reading rooms were opened in Malham and Airton. It is not clear where the Malham Reading Room was housed originally, but the old school building was soon pressed into use as a suitable venue, and in his Parish Letter dated May 1874 the Rev T C Henley states that the old school at Malham "will probably be turned to the purposes of Reading-room next winter". For some reason this wasn't the final site for the institution, although it would seem eminently suitable despite not being "central", as writing in the 1903 Parish Report the Rev D R Hall says:

"A Reading-room, in a central position in the village, has been opened also at Malham during the year, through the kindness of Mr Morrison, who allowed one of his cottages to be renovated and fitted out for the purpose"


The old school used as Malham Reading Room 1875-1903

The first season's accounts are shown below, and annual accounts for Malham continued to be published in the Annual KM Parish Report until the season 1st Apr 1907 - 31st Mar 1908. However it is known that didn't cease to run then, as the 1913 Craven Household Almanack states that the Malham Reading Room is :

Open every weekday from 6am to 9.30pm (Saturdays 10.00pm). Subscription 5s per year; 1s per quarter for working men

and it is still being mentioned in the 1932 Almanack. Perhaps the vicar and church ceased to be involved in its management in 1908, and so no longer included the accounts in the Parish Report.

 

MALHAM READING ROOM.
 
President: Mr. W. Morrison.
Committee: Mr. Rd. Hargreaves, chairman; Mr. Ingram, vice-chairman and librarian; Rev; T. C. Henley, Mr. O. Coates, Mr. M. Armstrong, Mr. John Caton, Mr. John Walker, Mr. C. Langstroth, Mr. J. Yeoman, Mr. John Greenwood, Mr. J. Dawson, and Mr. R. Brown. Secretary and treasurer, Mr. Hargreaves.
Balance Sheet for first Season, from Oct. 1st, 1873, to March 31st, 1874.
Receipts.
£
s.
d.
Payments.
£
s.
d.
DONATIONS:-
  Furniture
18
3
     Mr. W. Morrison
1
1
0
  Games
13
9
     Rev. T. C. Henley
1
0
0
  Stationery
1
10
     Mr. J. W. Tottie
1
0
0
  Papers
3
8
8
     Mr. R. Hargreaves
10
0
  Magazines
6
0
     Mr. John Hartley
10
0
  Rent, including fire and light 
5
4
0
     Mr. H. Hartley
10
0
  Carriage of books
2
     Mr. Ingram, to balance
4
0
   
Members' subscriptions
4
9
0
   
Sale of papers
1
4
2
   
Magazines sold
3
2
   
Fines
1
4
   
 
£10
12
8
   
£10
12
8
Examined and found correct . M. INGRAM. - April 7th, 1874.

Airton & Scosthrop Reading Rooms

The original Airton Reading Room (1873-1904) opened in October 1873 after the success of the one at Kirkby Malham and was housed in a room rented for £1 per season, but it is not known where this actually was in the village.

Like the Kirkby Malham reading room, the original Airton Reading Room was open from October 1st to March 31st, from 6-9 pm weekdays and 10pm on Saturdays, subscriptions being 5s per year; 1s per quarter for working men and operated under the same rules as Kirkby Malham and Malham Reading Rooms.

The last KM Parish Accounts containing accounts for Airton Reading Room were for the season 1st Oct 1903- 31st Mar 1904, and with the new season starting 1st Oct 1904, the Parish Accounts then show a new Scosthrop Reading Room (1904-1913), with basically the same committee as the old Airton one.  The accounts for the Scosthrop Reading Room continued to be published in the Annual Parish Report until the season 1st Oct 1912 - 31st Mar 1913, it is fairly safe to assume that it ceased to run that year, the reason being the opening of the Airton New Mutual Reading Room which was open all year round.

In 1904 the Rev DR Hall writes:

"There are four reading rooms, which are useful places, where the men may go to see the daily newspapers, and spend the hours of the long evenings in winter in conversation, reading, games etc."

This information suggests the date for the opening of the Airton New Mutual Reading Room was about 1903/4. It was housed in the "tin tabernacle" style, corrugated iron cabin erected specially for the purpose, on a site between Manor House and the Parish Poor Cottages. These cheap, flat packed, corrugated iron buildings were often used in the 19th century for newly established churches and missions, and you could buy quite a substantial church for £250 in 1892, although even if this was new it would not be too expensive, where the cost of the new building came from isn't known. This Reading Room was open all year and was independent of the Church, whose efforts in the Airton area continued in the form of the Scosthrop Reading Room.
In 1913 the subscriptions for ordinary members was 5s per year and 10s for honorary members and it was managed by a committee with F Rowley as secretary. It isn’t known precisely when it closed, but this reading room was still in operation in 1932, though only in the winter months. The Mutual Reading Room building was finally demolished in 2000 after falling derelict.


AIRTON READING ROOM.
 
President: Mr. W. N. Alcock.
Committee: Rev. T. C. Henley, chairman; Mr. Richardson, secretary and treasurer; Mr. Bell, librarian; Mr. Ed. Taylor, Mr. A. Taylor, Mr. S. Clark, Mr. G. Parker, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Denby, Mr. Martin, Mr. Waterhouse, and Mr. S. Carr.   
 
Balance Sheet for first Season, from Oct. 1st, 1873, to March 31st, 1874.
 
Receipts.
£
s.
d.
Payments.
£
s.
d.
DONATIONS:-
  Furniture
4
17
5
     Capt. Alcock
5
0
0
  Games
13
6
     Rev. T. C. Henley
1
0
0
  Stationery
1
8
     Mr. E. Taylor
1
0
0
  Carpenter's and smith's work
     Mr. J. W. Tottie
1
0
0
  in fitting up room
12
5
     Mr. A. Taylor
1
0
0
  Papers
2
12
11
Members' subscriptions
3
2
0
  Rent  
15
0
Sale of papers
14
5
  Fire and lights (coals being
Fines   :
1
2
  given by Mr. Alcock)
8
8
 
  Cleaning
1
6
0
 
  Balance in Treasurer's hands
1
10
0
 
£12
17
7
   
£12
17
7
Examined and found correct. J. C. MOUNT, Auditor. - May 8th, 1874.
 
 

Sources:-
Kirkby Malham Parish Reports & Accounts, 1871-1895, 1898-1918.
The Craven Household Almanack, 1913, 1928, 1932.
Kelly's Directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1932.

Bibliography:-
Reading Rooms and Literary Institutes of the Yorkshire Dales by C Partrick in Archaeology and Historic Landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales YAS, 2004

Malham, Mallam, Malum, Maulm, Mawm, Malam, Mallum, Moor, Moore, More, Kirkby, Kirby, Mallamdale, Mallumdale, Malhamdale, Malham-Dale, Kirkby-in-Malham-Dale, Kirkby-Malham-Dale, Kirby-in-Malham-Dale, Kirby-Malham-Dale, Hanlith, Hanlyth, Scosthrop, Scosthorpe, Skosthrop, Airton, Ayrton, Airtown, Calton, Carlton, Craven, Yorkshire, Otterburn, Otter Burn, Bellbusk, Bell Busk, Conistone, Family, Genealogy, Geneology, Buildings, People, Maps, Census, Scawthorpe, Scothorpe, Return to Previous Page
Cold, Coniston Cold, Bordley, Bordly, Boardly, Boardley, Winterburn, Winter Burn, History, Local, ancestors, ancestry, Scorthorp, Wills, Tax, Eshton, Asheton


KirkbyMalham.info is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. External links are generally indicated by the External Website logo symbol.

 

 

Top of page


 
                                                                      web traffic=