Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Church Institute



When I took this picture this year I was struck by how much was visible from Creed Street. On closer inspection it became obvious that the wall had been lowered by three or four feet. In my childhood and youth the building was always surrounded by a high wall.

The Church Institute was built in 1908. Downstairs it had some large meeting rooms and offices' upstairs a stage and auditorium. The stage was used for amateur dramatics (the St George's Players), concerts, the annual Gilbert & Sullivan production by the Grammar School and various other functions like flower shows. It was one of four stages in the town - the others being the top club, the Works Canteen and The Science and Art Institute. The Works Canteen was by far the largest auditorium and was used whenever a large audience would be expected, such as the Remembrance Day concert, which in the 1950s was always well attended. The Science and Art Institute hall was used for dances and exhibitions. All, with the exception of the Works Canteen, could only be reached by stairs - wheelchair accessibility had not entered anyone's mind in those days.

I was packed off to Sunday School in the 40s and 50s so I was a regular user of the Church Institute. Later I appeared in the Grammar School orchestra in Harold Nutt's annual G&S productions and the downstairs rooms were used as an examination hall for GCE.

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