|Wellingborough News, 18th February 1882, transcribed by Kay Collins
Opening of a Coffee House and Public Hall at Rushden
Yesterday (Thursday) the new Coffee-tavern and hall were formally opened, the event being celebrated by an imposing public demonstration. The rapid growth of the village, and the strong temperance sentiment which prevails amongst all classes, have pointed for a long time to the necessity of public accommodation similar to that which has now been provided, but certainly none but the most sanguine could have anticipated such a bold and comprehensive scheme as that which was inaugurated a few months since, and now successfully completed. Happily, however, Rushden possesses public spirit enough to ignore, in a matter of this kind, the boundary lines of party and of creed, and to unite in a common enterprise for the good of the community. A company was accordingly formed, and requisite capital having been subscribed to justify the commencement of operations, the foundation stone of the new buildings was laid in May last. The Company was fortunate in securing the services of Mr. G. Denton as the hon. secretary, and the following gentlemen as directors:Rev. Canon Barker (chairman), and Messrs. C. Bayes, Cave, sen., P. Cave (treasurer), W. Claridge, sen., John Claridge, E. Claridge, W. Foskett, W. Packwood, J. H. Ruddle, J. Sargent, H. Skinner, T. Willmot, and W. Wilkins. The new premises are situate in High-street, in about the centre of the village, and have a very substantial appearance.
The buildings include a tavern and public hall, which are connected both on the ground and first floors. The tavern contains on the ground floor a large public bar, a reading room, kitchen, caretaker's room, and china closet. On the first floor there are two large rooms for billiards and other games, also suitable for public dinners or clubs, and a ladies' room with lavatories and other conveniences. On the top floor there are six bedrooms, which, together with stables, yard, and carriage entrance, are intended to accommodate commercial travellers. Every room has been fitted up to suit its especial purpose, the bar being provided with counter of zinc top, moulded with pitchpine panelled front, and fluted pilaster, cut and moulded brackets, with a back cupboard and serving window, having cut and moulded side facings, and surmounted with a dental cornice and moulded pediment, supported by shaped trusses with fluted panels between. There are seats in all the windows, and the bar is boarded on the walls to a height of about, four feet with matched boarding, finished with special moulded capping and topped unsunk blocks at the architraves. The kitchen contains a large dresser, a hung deal and fixed stone table, lead lined sink, and plate rack, with hard and soft water laid on, situated in recesses so arranged as to carry off steam. The hall is 76 feet by 30 feet, with four entrances, fitted up at one end with a platform and orchestra or gallery capable of holding over one hundred people, and approached from either the hall or the tavern, surmounted by ornamental balustrade with turned and moulded pitchpine handrail and newels. The walls of the hall have a boarded dado and capping similar to the tavern bar, and the ceiling is also boarded in narrow widths, springing with splayed sides from a moulded plaster cornice running all round the walls, and all the woodwork, except the kitchen, is stained and varnished. The two principal facades are a modern application of the Queen Anne style, executed in red-pressed bricks, relieved with red and white plasters and Bath stone sills, and dental cornice, white brick frieze and neckmold up to the first floor, the cornice being continued over panelled pediments at entrances, and mitred round the pilasters, which are finished with carved Bath stone, caps and trusses. Above the cornice the front is relieved by quoins, projecting windows, panels and aprons formed in brickwork, and surmounted at the eave by a deep cement cone, which is broken and returned by gables carried up into the roof, and finished in useful as well as ornamental verge tiles and finials. The whole of the buildings are warmed by heating apparatus supplied by Mr. Marriott, of Higham Ferrers, and ventilation provided for by moveable gratings connected to cavities in the walls, and by outlets at the ceiling. The works have been carried out by Mr. Daniel Ireson, of Northampton, Mr. W. Moore, joiner, of Rushden, and Mr. Spencer, plumber, Rushden, under the direction and to the designs of the architect, Mr. Abraham Wakefield, Yorkshire, at a cost of about £2,000.
The opening ceremony was prefaced by a procession through the principal streets of the village. The procession was headed by the Temperance Band, under the direction of Mr. Skinner, and included the Rev. Canon Barker and the resident ministers, with several of the neighbouring clergy; the directors and shareholders of the company; and a numerous body of the public. The National School Band, conducted by Mr. G. Bacon, brought up the rear. Upon returning to the hall, the chair was taken by the Rev. Canon Barker, who was supported by Lord Burghley, M.P., Mr. Sartoris, Mr. C. Praed, Mr. Willan Jackson, Mr. James Heygate, Mr. Charles Pollard, the Revs. R. B. Hall, F. W. Willis, E. Templeman, &c. The well-known hymn, "0 God our help in ages past" having been sung, and prayer offered by Mr. Hull, the chairman read letters of apology for non-attendance from the Hon. C. R. Spencer, M.P., and Mr. Stopford Sackville, the former of whom was prevented from attending by his Parliamentary duties, and the latter by an important engagement at a distance. The Chairman then gave an excellent opening address, which was followed by a short speech from Lord Burghley, expressive of his interest in the movement, and brief but cordial addresses by Mr. Jackson and Mr. Heygate. Mr. Charles Pollard was then called upon, and delivered a loudly cheered address, in which he referred with satisfaction, not only to the material growth of Rushden, but to the evidence they had that day that it was also advancing in the path of moral progress. Canon Barker then formally declared the premises open.
At the conclusion of the formal ceremony, and during the remainder of the afternoon, the premises were inspected by the public, and subsequently tea was provided in the large hall. In the interval the bands played a selection of music in the yard adjoining the Coffee-house, and it is scarcely needful to add that their excellent performances were listened to with evident pleasure. The room was speedily filled and so large was the company that three sittings were found necessary. Probably in all about 700 took tea, but so well were the arrangements carried out that there was an ample supply of provisions, and general satisfaction was expressed.
After tea a meeting was held in the large hall, which was densely crowded. The chair was occupied by the Rev. Canon Barker, whose geniality and humour contributed largely to the success of the meeting. Rev. E. Templeman, of Higham, was the first speaker, and expressed the interest he felt as a neighbour in the proceedings of the day. Mr. Councillor Beckwood, of Leeds, then gave an able address, in which he entered at some length into the economics of the temperance movement. As a practical evidence of his interest in the new enterprise at Rushden he promised to present to the Coffee House Company a small library of books as the nucleus of a free Library. Rev. J. Jordan, of Woolwich, next addressed the meeting, in a highly practical address, inculcating unity and forbearance among the shareholders. If these qualities were exhibited he had no doubt of the success of the undertaking. A short address followed by the chairman, and two brief speeches by Mr. Hart, the architect, and Mr. G. Denton, the hon secretary, terminated proceedings.