Old Reading Room

Building Status: Unknown

The building which is now the vets’ surgery was leased by J.H. Newson to a lady who ran a tea room, popular with railway passengers. It was about this time that the first daily newspapers appeared in the village, made possible by the new railway. The enterprising occupant of the tea room had copies of newspapers available for customers to sit and read while enjoying a drink, hence the building became known colloquially as “the reading room”. After this period it became a tailors, a clockmakers and from 1914-16 a recruitment and training hall for soldiers during the lst World War. It then became O.C. Jewers’ office and remained so until 1973.

An entry in the vestry minutes of March 1888 refers to the late Reading Room.

Picture No.2 is the earliest, showing a single chimney pot and a porch, both absent from the modern photo; in the street photos the chimney has three pots.

From the Bury & Norwich Press, 29th January 1878 {Thanks to Mo Dow for unearthing this}

ON TUESDAY LAST, the 22nd inst., the new Village Club and Refreshment Rooms were opened. They are situated close to the Railway Station, very central and convenient for the villagers, and easily accessible for travellers taking or leaving the train at Elmswell Station. The purpose of the building is to afford a place for self-improvement, social intercourse, and harmless recreation, wants much felt but as yet seldom supplied in country villages. With this is combined a department for refreshments for such as need them, at a moderate charge, and thoroughly good of the sort, without interfering with the malt spirit traffic of the public house. The building at Elmswell is the result of a combined effort and a well-matured design of a Committee composed of all classes without religious or political distinction, and as such it seems to promise good prospect of success. Sir Edward Kerrison, President of the Village Club Association of Suffolk, has lately published an admirable pamphlet upon the subject, which gives a title to the Association. To that we beg to refer our readers for a fuller explanation of the principles and objects which lie at the foundation of these novel but highly commendable institutions. On Monday evening, 21st January, there was a “business meeting” held at the new rooms at Elmswell, under the presidency of the Rector. Lord John Hervey favoured the occasion with his presence, and as Secretary of the Village Club Association of Suffolk, he commended this effort to the attention and support of the villagers. A very hearty and harmonious spirit pervaded the meeting, and after expressing that a debt of gratitude was due to Miss E. Dowdney [?], of Elmswell, for supplying the means for building the Club-room, and to Messrs. Cocks and Newson for placing so convenient a plot of land at the disposal of the committee, subject of course in one case to payment of interest, and in the other of rent, the Rector invited members to join the Club. About 27 men of all classes responded at once to the appeal, eleven of whom became honorary members on payment of 10s. subscription, Lord John Hervey being among the number. Ordinary members pay 1s. per quarter, and 6d. admission fee. The rules of the Club were read, slightly amended, and passed; Officers and Committee were elected, and thus this new undertaking was successfully launched. On Tuesday the proposed formal opening at 3.30 was, owing to the unfavourable weather and consequent disappointment of several visitors, merged into a large tea-meeting in the rooms, which was consummated by speeches from the Rev. W.H.C.Luke, President of the Club, and the Rev. W.T. Image, Vicar of Wickham Market, explaining the nature and object of the new Institute, and commending it to the support of the parishioners. A very successful and largely supported concert at the Schoolroom in the evening, brought the festivities to a close. Subjoined is the programme of the proceedings. Where all was so well rendered, it is almost invidious to particularise, but the instrumental performances of the family of Mrs. Nunn, her own singing, that of Mr. Bonner, and Dr. Short, and the violin solos of Miss Kate Nunn, were especially appreciated. The pieces marked with an asterisk were encored, and after the concert was concluded most of performers were entertained at the Rectory.

[Concert programme not reproduced here]



Old Reading Room

3. Early days, when it was Hitchcocks

Old Reading Room

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Old Reading Room

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