Tredegar Workmen's Institute

Scope and Content

Minutes 1924-1964; financial records 1939-1968; wages book 1929-1941; register of hall bookings 1929-1952; Secretary's correspondence 1940-1960; Library report book 1954; report on heating costs 1962; material relating to Tredegar Dramatic Society 1957-1960.

Administrative / Biographical History

Tredegar Workmen's Hall had its earliest origins in reading rooms which were set up in the locality during the mid 19th century. The earliest known library established in the town was one dating from around 1849. In 1854 a meeting was held to consider setting up a reading room and library and the resolution was passed. The project appears to have been carried through but by 1862 was reported to be in severe difficulty through lack of support. In 1869 a library and reading room opened at the house of Mr T. Price at Old Bank. It was maintained by member subscriptions and was possibly a continuation of the 1854 establishment.

In about 1860 plans were made for the construction of a building which could be used for 'entertainment, instruction and for the propagation of temperance'. The idea of an institution which would encourage temperance amongst the local community was a welcome one to many, especially the major employers who were seeing employee work hours lost due to hangovers and injuries from fights, and housewives who saw the family income being eaten up by their husband and sons' drinking and betting activities. Building was started in 1860. Temperance Hall, as it was called was opened in 1861. There was some trouble at the opening ceremony - temperance was not a popular idea with all members of the community - notably the licensed victuallers! However, it was soon seen that a social centre for the community was much needed and a concert held the following week was well supported. The hall was leased to the Trustees of the Temperance Hall Society for 34 years. the hall consisted of a large hall, library, games room and meeting rooms. A billiards room was constructed at a later date. The Hall soon became popular as an educational and entertainment centre and in 1877 a series of lectures on a variety of subjects was started. In 1869 the Town Library was transferred from Bank House, together with the Reading Room to Temperance Hall. It was known as 'The Library and Literary Institute' and was supported by a halfpenny a week contribution from the wages of the miners.

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Geographical Names