Who donated the land and building to the people of Gotherington.
1904: Gotherington’s Reading Room was built with financial help from Mrs Elizabeth Malleson of Dixton Manor. About 50 reading rooms were built in Gloucestershire and reflected the increase in levels of literacy amongst the population.
November 1905: Bishop’s Cleeve Parish Magazine:
The new Reading Room at Gotherington was formally opened on Friday evening, October 20th. It was hoped that Mar. Reginald Poole would have been able to come from Oxford to preside on the occasion. In his ‘unavoidable absence’ his place was taken by the Rector.
Miss Malleson gave a lucid and interesting account of the Reading Room from its commencement, 20 years ago, to the present time, pointing out amongst other things how it had outlived all other institutions of a like kind in neighbouring villages and was still full of vigour. She awarded a deserved tribute of praise to the Committee who all along had looked after the interests of the Reading Room and worked so assiduously to make it a success.
The new buildings testify to the vigour of the Club. They stand by themselves on a piece of land acquired specially for the purpose. They consist of a large Room capable of being made into two Rooms by folding doors with a fire place in each room. When so divided one part is used for recreation and the other part for reading. There is a good Library and also a Washhouse with boiler and a lavatory. The building is of brick with tiled roof and has been well carried out by Messrs. Collins and Godfrey of Tewkesbury. When lighted up at night it presents a most comfortable and cosy appearance.
The greater part of the cost of the land and buildings has been met by generous gifts from Mrs Malleson and her family. The total cost was between £300 and £400 and there remains to be raised towards that cost the sum of about £80.
We congratulate the Gotherington people on possessing so useful an institution, so well housed.’
Soon after it opened the Reading Room was used to accommodate school children. Navvies working on the construction of the railway at the eastern end of the village brought their families with them. The children needed an education but there was just not enough physical space at the village school. Using the Reading Room for a few months provided a solution to this problem.
1939: ‘Gotherington’ which had been carved into a stone plaque at the front of the building was covered over for the duration of the war; part of the war effort to conceal the identity of the village in case an invasion did become reality.
7th June 1950: The Gloucestershire Echo
Report on the Village Hall Fund. Sub-headings: Local effort, site problem, original plan, social needs.
Local effort: ‘Started in 1945 the fund stands at the moment at over £1,000’
Site problem: ‘The position is,’ says the Rector of the united benefices, the Rev. C.D. Walker, ‘that as soon as we can obtain a site we shall begin to build’..... ‘but at the moment we are confronted with the problem that no farmer wants to part with any of his land’.
Original plan: ‘The original idea behind the scheme was to acquire three acres of ground, where it would be possible to enlarge the amenities of the hall by the provision of a car park and other facilities’.
‘We have already bought £300 worth of furniture with which to furnish the hall’.
1956: Excerpt from ‘Gotherington, a Gloucestershire Village’
‘The village also boasts a Reading Room of twenty-nine feet by fourteen feet built in 1904, which now serves as the village hall. It is hoped to build a new village hall in the near future.’
1957/8: A history of Gotherington compiled by local W.I. members:
‘The Men’s Club with a membership of about fifty was the chief meeting ground outside the public houses. After the endowment of the Reading Room by Mr. And Mrs Malleson of Dixton Manor the club met regularly and was open six nights a week for playing dominoes and darts, reading and smoking. It was run by a committee of eight, one of whom was on duty each night. It flourished for many years, but membership gradually dwindled to nothing.’
‘In 1945 a fund was opened to extend the Reading Room and Village Hall under the chairmanship of the Rector, Rev. Walker; within the next nine years more than £1,300 was raised by fetes, bazaars, whist drives, and so forth. Unfortunately, disagreements arose as to the best way to spend the money and it is still (1957) unspent’.
1961 – 62: Extension to the Reading Room built and then opened in Autumn 1962.
17th Dec. 1963: Negotiation to purchase land from Bob Cook of Moat Farm began. Conveyance completed 20th July 1964.
1964: The Gloucestershire Echo
‘A well-attended annual meeting of the Gotherington Village Hall Fund and Management Committee passed an enthusiastic vote of thanks to the chairman for his success in obtaining the promise of a grant of at least £1,250 from the Ministry of Education. Together with money already collected in the village, this would provide an extension more than doubling the present capacity of the hall and for improvements including reflooring. It was hoped that work would be completed by the autumn. The treasurer reported a satisfactory balance of £85 2s 7d in the management fund. Officers were elected as follows: Chairman, Mr. H. Collins; treasurer, Miss H. Bishop; secretary, Mrs E. Evans. Committee: Mrs Maslin, Mr. Moore, Mr. Pullen, Mr. Rhodes, Mr. Sollis and Mr. South.’
1918 onwards: Up to this point all the Reading Rooms were a ‘men only’ domain. After this date the rooms became social clubs to which all adults were welcome. In Gotherington the Reading Room remained open solely for the use of men for years. Newspapers and maps were provided for men and boys ie.school leavers to read. Boys in Gotherington were allowed access from the age of 15 but later this was lowered to include those who were 14.
Eventually the Reading Room was open to women during the day; men and boys during the evenings. In those Reading Rooms consisting of two rooms games, such as bagatelle, chess, rings, and draughts, were provided in one room whilst library books were available in the other room. Alcoholic drink was forbidden.
The average number of members in Gotherington was thirty. A small subscription was expected from the working class whilst local gentry were asked to give more. A committee was set up to manage the premises and in Gotherington this consisted of ‘all shades of opinion and age groups’. It was self-perpetuating. Reg Pitman was appointed at just 17 years of age. Use of the building was confined to the winter and spring months between October and May.
The renamed Village Hall was lodged with the Charities Commission in the early 1960s.
18th January 1965: Proposed lease of portion of playing field to Gotherington Boys Club for their new base. Playing field nears completion.
4th October 1965: Tennis court in use
23rd October 1965: First football game to be played
1966: Plans passed by Glos. Association of Boys Clubs for the building of a venue on the playing field. Richard Carter, a local resident, was appointed as builder.
Late 1960s/early 70s - Village hall used for a variety of purposes: outreach centre for local doctors to give immunisation to children/baby clinic, Tufty Club, church services (I think at a time when Woolstone Church was deemed unsafe to worship in), as well as by clubs and societies which are still going today: Brownies, WI ….
Content kindly provided by Caroline Mellor