BUILDING – Public Reading Room for Redcar and Coatham
Accreditation the Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 03/11/1871.
PUBLIC READING ROOM FOR
REDCAR AND COATHAM.
A short time ago a letter was published in our columns calling attention to the need which exists of a Public Reading Room for Redcar and Coatham, which unitedly contain between three and four inhabitants, with excellent schools for the education of the young, but without any place of public resort for young men on winter evenings where they can assemble for amusement or instruction. Notwithstanding the large increase in our resident population, which has doubled itself during the last twenty years, and the many improvements which have been effected during this time, including the following handsome buildings, viz., the Church at Coatham, the Convalescent Home, the Grammar School, the New National Schools at Coatham, the Zetland Schools at Redcar, the Congregational Chapel, the New Wesleyan Chapel, besides a host of villas, dwelling houses, lodging houses; improvements in drainage, water, lighting, promenading, cricketing, &c., &c., yet the place has positively retrograded in this particular, for nearly a quarter of a century ago Redcar, had its Mutual Improvement Society, Reading Room, Museum, associated with which were lectures on chemistry, electricity, botany, geology. Whence then this decadence intellectual life in our midst? Why do we take so much pains to train young and yet neglect the means of continuing their education or afford them any means of instruction or place, of amusement during the long and dreary nights of winter? It cannot be said that the place is poor than it was twenty years ago, on the contrary it is richer, for everywhere around us – as we have pointed out above – are the material evidences of prosperity, and from the proximity of Redcar and Coatham to the rich mining wealth of Cleveland the fact is forced on us that a much greater measure of outward prosperity, of commercial progress, and of general activity is apparent in the present generation than in that immediately preceding it: but, again, the question arises with what result? Have we to confess that with all our material progress, that the gratification of the sensors is so absorbing as to engross all our attention and that moral and intellectual progress are absolutely forgotten all ignored? Surely the subject only needs ventilating to lead to some reform and two steps in a right direction. If the wealthier part of our community have every means of recreation and amusement within their reach and need nothing on their own account, yet their attention may fairly be called to the fact that for the large number of our residents the only places of night resort are the taproom and bar of the public house. Can it be right that there should be no newsroom, and that the library connected with the former Mutual Improvement Society and Elocution Class should be shut up from public access merely for want of a room? Let it be thoroughly understood that this library – since the closing of the classroom at the Central Hall – has been literally out of reach, and has been stowed away until some building can be secured for the public use! Some working men -who feel the need of a reading room – have suggested that the Old Wesleyan Chapel should be utilised and have proposed memorializing the Earl of Zetland on the subject, but there should also be local effort and determination on the part of those chiefly interested to set their shoulders to the wheel, and we are sure that his Lordship would meet in a liberal spirit any attempt to establish on and ensuring basis. They Library or Mechanics Institution, but it should be shown that those who desire the help of others should be willing – to the extent of their ability – to help themselves. We of one such gentleman who, in the event of any such undertaking being floated, has offered to subscribe £20 towards a permanent institution, and no doubt others would follow his a example; but it will be necessary that a permanent building should be secured, and that the undertaking should be on an abiding basis, so that the possibility of failure may be averted. One word more, Marske-by-the-Sea, Upleatham, Skelton, and Brotton, all have their public reading rooms. Why, of all places in the district, should Redcar and Coatham – with all their appliances for the material benefit of the people – these the last, through the largest population in the district, without library, reading room, or Mechanics’ Institution, all without any local effort where the of the name to establish such an institution saw greatly desired, so frequently asked for, and so imperative the needed for the classes, especially interested in such an undertaking?