EARLY HISTORY OF THE CENTRE
“A Fundraising Dinner held at the Heybridge Country Club in the early 1970s to establish the future of the Ingatestone Working Men’s Club as a new Community Association. From left to right are: Geoff Bown, who became the first Treasurer of the Community Association, Liz Bown, Mr Ted Tench with Mrs Ann Hill receiving her raffle prize of a watering can. Apparently other raffle prizes included a mister for plants or ironing (not everybody had a steam iron in those days), a plastic clog with crocus bulbs for indoor culture and an envelope containing a token. Raffle tickets cost 5p." Photograph supplied by Liz Bown.
The Ingatestone & Fryerning Working Men's Club was started in 1862 by the Reverend L. Parkin, the members meeting in a small room opening out into the Ingatestone Churchyard. There the Club held its meetings for two years, when the number of members increased to 108 it was found necessary to take other premises in the High Street -there the Club remained from 1865 to December 5 1888 when removal took place to a new Building, built by subscription on ground given by Mr Herbert Philips of Sutton Oaks, Macclesfield.
The Following extract from The Essex Chronicle gives an account of the opening ceremony:
THE ESSEX CHRONICLE - FRIDAY 7th DEC. 1888
OPENING OF THE INGATESTONE WORKING MEN'S CLUB.
The new buildings of the Ingatestone and Fryeming Working Men's Club were opened on Wednesday afternoon under most favourable auspices. The establishment of the club dates from 1862, when a room was hired near the churchyard, and lectures and entertainments were also held in a large apartment at the Spread Eagle Hotel. The chief promoter was Mr Newberry. In the course of three years the accommodation became inadequate, and the club was removed to the premises now belonging to Mr G. Percy Smith and adjoining his shop but these in turn became too small, and it was decide to see if some scheme for new buildings could not be carried out. A committee was formed, consisting of the Rev, Chas Earle (Chairman), the Very Rev. Canon Last, the Rev. J.W. Houchin, and Messrs. H.O. Langton, H. Philips, F.J. Coverdale, T. Hodson, C.A.V. Conybeare, M.P., G. Conybeare, C. Gray, C. Winstanley, A.C. Barker, R. Bardfield, F. Gearon, G. Percy Smith, H.J. Gardner, J.J. Smith, W. Clift, and J. Upson, with Mr H. Magnus as hon. Treasurer and Mr A.C. Marriage as hon. secretary. Mr H. Philips very kindly promised to give a suitable site on the south side of the street and to convey it free of cost, and the committee determined on erecting a clubhouse worthy of the times, and made an appeal for £1,000 which would enable them to put up a building which should include a hall for entertainments and public meetings, a library, reading-rooms for men and boys, and apartments for a care taker. The response was very gratifying, and the committee accepted the tender of Mr John Cross to erect new buildings from plans designed by Mr George Sherrin, the cost to be £860 to which of course would have to be added the expenses of furnishings etc.
The first list of subscriptions amounting to £600 included Mrs Conybeare £50; Mr Philips £50; Mr C.J. Heywood £50; Mrs Langton £50; Mr C.A.V. Conybeare M.P. £25; Mr Grant Conybeare £25; Mr H. Langton £25; Mr A.H. Heywood £20; Lord Petre £10 10s.; the Rev. C. Earle £10 10s.; Mr W.J. Beadel, M.P. £10; Mrs Davies £10; Dr Henry £10; Mr Manus £10; Mr Sherrin £ 5s.; Mrs DuCane £5; Mrs Hampson £5; Sir E. Watkins £5 Mrs T. Ashton £5; Mr James Heywood £5; Mr Coverdale £5 and Mr Albert Marriage £5. Then there was the surplus voted by the committee of the Jubilee Fund, £7 7s l1d., and the large item of "£166 17s 4d, the proceeds of fetes, exhibitions, sports, &c.". A later list showed additional receipts amounting to £180 including £120 18s 10d., the proceeds of fetes and bazaars in 1888, and subscriptions of £10 10s from Mr Parry £10 10s from Mr Malcolm, and £7 7s. from Col. Wood. On opening day the receipts had been raised to £887 10s 8d., which left a balance of £1 10 to meet the total expenses. Such a state of things was highly satisfactory. The buildings themselves need very little description. They are distinctly an ornament to the town, and are fitted up in style with a view to comfort. The hall is 50 feet by 25 feet, is supplied with a stage, rendering it suitable for entertainments of all kinds, and has two small rooms opening out at the side; the library is 15 foot square, and there is also a kitchen in which refreshments will be prepared.
The opening ceremony was held in the hall: There was a large company assembled, including the Rev. C. and Mrs Earle, the Rev. Canon Last, Mrs Langton and Miss Langton, Mr Grant Conybeare, Mr and Mrs Heywood, Mr and Mrs Magnus, Mrs and the Misses Wood, Miss Petre, Miss Colley, the Rev. R.H. Pope, Miss DuCane, Mr H. Coverdale, Miss Newberry, Miss Barrow, the Misses Read, the Rev. J.W. Mrs and the Misses Houchin, the Misses Smith, Mr H.J. Gardner and Miss Gardner, Miss Parkin, Mrs Mack, Miss Mack, Mr and Mrs Josiah Smith, Mr P. Green, Mr A. Hicks, Mrs Blyth, Mr and Mrs H. Raven, Mrs Cumbers, the Misses Sherrin, Mr G. Percy Smith, Mr Evans, Mrs Stuart, the Misses Greenfield, the Misses Stuart, Mr J.B. Martin, Mr W. Clift, and Mrs Gearon and others. The Rector presided and was supported on the platform by most of the members of the committee.
THE CHAIRMAN said he had received several letters from gentlemen who were unable to be present. One of these was from Mr Herbert Philips who had presented them with the site, conveyed free of cost, and had also given a donation of £50, [Applause.] Mr Philips regretted that he was detained in Manchester. Another gentleman who regretted that he was unable to be with them was Lord Petre and the third was Mr J.W. Beadel, the member for the division. Mr Beadel that he was very sorry not to be able to be present, but he should be happy to send a cheque for £5 toward furnishing or supplying the library. [Applause.] Mr Beadel, it would be remembered, had already given £10. Col. Wood also regretted that he was unable to be present, and Mr Albert C. Marriage, who, as hon. Secretary had worked very hard in the movement, was attending the funeral of an old friend at Chelmsford. Mr Earle went on to say there were some other persons they would have liked to have seen present but these latter had always been opposed to the proposal, considering that the building were not wanted. He hoped, however, that the club would do a great deal of good, and then these gentlemen might accord their support. [Hear, Hear,] In conclusion Mr Earle said his friend, Canon Last, had promised to deliver the introductory address. The Canon was beloved by everyone there, and no one better could have been chosen for the purpose. [Hear, hear,]
CANON LAST, after regretting the absence of Lord Petre, and pointing out the important relations which had so long existed between the Petre family and Ingatestone, said he had been looking up the history of the club and had been struck by the support which had been given to it from the first by the ladies. Women had always done their part in Christianity and in reforming humanity. [Hear, hear.] They must congratulate themselves in having a building in which a great deal of good might be done. He hoped mothers would always remember the words of Solomon in his Proverbs when he said, "Instruct your son, and he will refresh you, and he will delight your soul." [Applause] After some further remarks on the importance of education, the Canon concluded by declaring the building open. [Applause]
The first verse of the National Anthem was then sung, Miss Barlow presiding at the piano lent by Lord Petre.
THE REV. J.W. HOUCHFN said he felt it an honour to stand on a platform occupied, not only by their Rector, but also by their friend Canon Last, who, he supposed was one of the oldest men in the neighbourhood and who had been engaged in Christian service longer than any of those present. Speaking of the new building, Mr Houchin said three things were necessary for its success -a good bank, a good architect and a good builder. They certainly had a good bank in a generous public, of which he need only mention the families of Langton and Conybeare as representative of the rest. [Hear, hear.] After complimenting the architect and builder on the way in which they had performed their duties. Mr Houchin said he hoped the rooms would be used not only for recreation and entertainment but also for improvement. They spoke about having completed their work. He thought they had finished only one part. He hoped that one day they would provide facilities for gymnastic exercises on the premises, and what a splendid thing it would be if Mr Philips would still further add to his honour among them by granting a piece of ground at the back for a swimming baths and technical schools. [Hear, hear and Applause]
MR GRANT CONYBEARE remarked on the work that had been done for the club by Mr G.Percy Smith. Mr Smith had been secretary for 16 years, and his father had held the same office before him for a long period. He was very sorry that from want of time had felt compelled to resign the secretaryship but felt sure that Mr Smith would be willing to render every assistance to Mr Patrick Green who had taken up the duties.
MR SMITH said that although he had resigned the secretaryship, he should always he glad to do what he could for the club. [Applause]
MR MAGNUS then made a short financial statement. He said that out of the total sum of £887 10s 8d. received, only £25 had come from outside the district. They would notice that no less that £340 had come from two families -£240 had been collected by Miss Langton and her friends, and £100 from the Conybeare family. [Applause] A very handsome stove had been donated by Lady Kortright. As for the expenditure, the committee had paid Mr Cross £750 on account, and they had paid £26 10s for chairs, towards which Mr Smith had contributed £5 They still owed Mr Cross £109as there had been additional work to the extent of £26 or £27. They had also to pay £27 for gas fittings, Mr Gardner had generously given all the labour. Mr Cross had given two very pretty fire grates as his present to the club and he had really done more than this, for his contract was a very reasonable one. Lady Kortright had further sent £5 to Miss Langton for providing tea and coffee cups &c. There were a few other small accounts to be settled, so that the amount still required was å£109.
Mr Gardner having made a few remarks MR GRANT CONYBEARE proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, which was carried by acclaim.
In the course of the proceedings, Mr SHERRIN (the architect) and Mr CROSS (the builder) both acknowledged the compliments paid to them.
A sale of works was afterwards held to assist in clearing off the deficit. The ladies presiding at the stall were Mrs Avenell, the Misses Wood, Miss Hoskins, Miss Read and Miss Avenell. Refreshments were also provided for the same object by Mrs Josiah Smith and Miss Green.
A more enthusiastic gathering has seldom if ever been witnessed in Ingatestone, than that which took place in the Hall on Wednesday evening. The large room presented a gay appearance, and was filled by a large and influential company, among whom were the Rev Charles and Mrs Earle, the Rev, J.W. Houchin and Miss Houchin, the Rev. R.H. Pope, Col. Wood and family, Mr Phillips, Mrs Langton, Mr and Mrs Grant Conybeare, Miss Petre, Miss Stewart, Mrs DuCane, Mr and Mrs Parry, Mr and Mrs E.M. Field, Mr and Mrs Magnus, Miss Parkin, Mr and Mrs Mack, Mr and Mrs A.C. Marriage, Mr David and Mr Christie &c. The sale of works was continued and was well patronised. A good business also was done at the refreshment stall. The feature of the evening was a "Toy Symphony" which was admirably rendered, under the conductorship Mrs DuCane, by the following ladies:. Miss Barrow, Mrs Magnus, the Misses Wood, Miss Colley, the Misses Sherrin, the Misses Ducane and Miss and Master Houchin. Pianoforte solos were given by Miss Barrow, the Misses Houchin, Mrs Field, Mrs Grant Conybeare, and the Misses DuCane. Miss M. Parry gave a guitar selection. Songs were contributed by Mr Grant Conybeare, Mrs Mack, Miss Colley, Miss Martin, Mr P. Green, Mr T.P. Watkins, and Mr Crook and a recitation by Miss A. Green. The proceedings concluded with a capital display of fireworks under the superintendence of Mr C. Gray, winding up with an illumination of the building with coloured lights and roman candles.
Yesterday (Thursday) a social evening, in connection with the opening of the new club, took place in the concert hall. There was a large attendance .The sale of works was continued and refreshments were supplied in the room. Mr H. Byford's band played selections at intervals and vocal and instrumental music was given by several ladies and gentlemen.