Huddersfield Chronicle (17/Oct/1891) – The Carlile Institute at Meltham

The following is a report of the opening of the Carlile Institute in Meltham in October 1891.

For further information about the Institute, see

The text has been OCR’d from the article and may contain occasional errors — please leave a comment if you spot any and they will be corrected. The formatting has been changed slightly to improve readability.



Yesterday the public institutions of Meltham were increased by one which promises to be not the least in its sphere of usefulness to the inhabitants of that thriving locality. The Carlile Institute, erected by Mr. J.W. Carlile, furnishes a library, reading-room, concert hall, &c., each one of which, should add materially to the attractions of the neighbourhood. The selection of books made by Mr. Carlile are all excellent. Attached to the catalogue of the library is the following address:—

To the Workpeople at Meltham Mills.

My Dear Friends.

It is nearly 40 years since you and I first made each others’ acquaintance. During that time we have seen many changes, but I feel sure that I am right in saying that one thing has never changed, and that is the cordial relationship that has always existed between us.

No one can visit your beautiful valley, so full of busy industry, without being impressed by the many memorials of the Brook family, the churches and schools, the public grounds, the neat cottages, and Convalescent Home, all proving the deep interest which they have felt in you, and now that I have ceased to be their partner, I have built you an institute in order that you may keep my “memory green,” and I have bestowed my own name upon it, so that in years to come your children may give a kindly thought to him who ever held your best interests very near to his heart.

Having been always fond of books, I desire to foster among you the same taste; you will find in the institute a carefully selected reference library, and comfortable rooms, where you may have a quiet retreat when the bustle of the day is over, and become familiar with the thoughts and fancies of many a master mind.

I earnestly trust this library, the selection of which has given me great interest, may be well kept up and extensively used. In adding books to it, I particularly wish the trustees not to permit any additions which are at variance with the principles which have guided me in my original selection.

A newsroom is provided for conversation, to be supplied with papers, magazines, and various games, but cards and gambling of any description is strictly prohibited throughout the whole building.

I hope that the hall will often be filled with an amused and edified audience, listening to recitals, lectures or concerts, but I particularly wish the institute to be kept free from local or party politics, that all subjects introduced may be strictly moral and intellectual, not opposed to the teachings of the Bible, nor of a sectarian character.

The adjoining classrooms, although under the same trust, have been built in the first place for the use of the members of the Meltham Mechanics’ Institute, of which I was for many years president. My trustees have power to lease it to them yearly, as long as they are satisfied that their work is thoroughly efficient. The Mechanics’ Institute will be governed by its own bye-laws.

With an earnest hope that God’s blessing may accompany this effort to add to your happiness and well-being.

Believe me my, dear friends, Yours sincerely,

October, 1891.
James W. Carlile.

The proceedings yesterday were in two parts — luncheon at the institute, and a public meeting and entertainment in the evening at the Dining Hall, Meltham Mills.


The building is erected in the Elizabethan, or revived classic style of architecture, with portico of the Doric order, richly moulded windows and string courses, and ornamental gables towards the main street, and side fronts more simply treated but in harmony with the principal elevation. All the wall facings and dressings are of Crosland Moor stone, the walls being lined with brick, with a cavity between outer and inner portions, to exclude damp. The roofs are of high pitch, covered with green Cumberland slates, and crested with red ridge tiles. Entering from the portico through a lobby formed by moulded oak screen and folding doors, there is a spacious entrance-hall, paved with marble mosaic, wide stone staircase, flanked by handsome hammered iron balustrade and moulded dark oak dado, the ceiling over staircase being panelled and moulded with plaster rib3 and enriched cornice. On the ground floor, to the right of entrance hall, are the reading-room and library, together measuring 42ft. by 21½ft. The reading-room has a dado of panelled dark oak and ceiling richly decorated with moulded plaster rib3 and cornice. Massive oak tables, specially designed, like all the fittings, in harmony with the style of the building, comfortable arm chairs, and pictures round the walls, complete the furnishing of this beautiful room. The library is entered through a broad archway, and is fitted up with oak bookcases and shelves, well stocked with valuable books. Beyond the entrance hall is a large news or magazine room, 27½ft. by 17½ft., where also quiet games may be played. This room is finished with pitch pine dado, and plaster cornice and frieze of simpler design than in the reading room. The walls are hung with large maps. On the first floor, entered through moulded oak folding doors, is the lecture hall, 42ft. by 21½ft. and 20ft. high, with a handsome pitch pine roof of arched shape, panelled with moulded ribs and cornice, and supported by massive curved principals, which spring from carved stone corbels. The dado round this room is of beautifully figured pitch pine, panelled, moulded, and polished. The hall is well lighted by large end and side windows filled with “rippled” glass which subdues the light, and has a pleasing effect; also, at night by three handsome ga3 corona of hammered iron. Its good acoustic properties make it admirably adapted for concerts and recitals, as well as for lectures. Under four of the roof corbels are hung excellent portraits of present and former partners of Meltham Mills, also that of the founder of the institute. Adjoining the lecture hall is a large classroom 20½ft. by 17½ft., fitted with dado and cornice like the newsroom under it. The detached building in the rear of the institute contains two large classrooms, specially adapted for technical education purposes, each measuring 27ft. by 18ft. The upper one has a lofty open timber roof, and both are fitted with pitch-pine dados and hot air stoves. Ample lavatory and cloak-room accommodation is provided. A spacious smoking-room will shortly be provided in the buildings, in course of erection, near the institute, for the purpose of affording by means of their rent roll, an endowment income for the support of the institute. A principal feature in the decoration of the lecture hall, staircase, and rooms, are the wise mottoes and homely proverbs which, in varying colours and styles of letters, are painted on the friezes below the ceilings throughout the buildings. These mottoes have been selected with great care and judgment by the founder, and should prove a lasting source of interest and instruction to those who may frequent the building. Much care and attention have been bestowed upon the details of heating and ventilation, in order to provide an ample supply of warm fresh air without draughts or the use of complicated appliances likely to get out of order. The institute is heated by hot water radiators and pipes. The floors generally are of pitch pine, the ground floors being laid with small wood blocks, laid to an ornamental pattern, and set in damp-proof composition. The doors and wood fittings throughout are made of specially selected oak or pitch pine; in the principal rooms and entrances they are elaborated, moulded, and polished, and the locks, hinges, &c., are all of a specially good character. The buildings, inclusive of fittings, decorations, and furniture, have been designed by the architect, Mr. J. S. Alder, of Palmerston Buildings, Old Broad Street, London, E.C. The work generally has been carried out in accordance with one of the founder’s favourite mottoes, ” Do everything well,” by the following contractors:— Masons’ work, Messrs. J. Moorhouse and Sons, Meltham; carpenters and joiners’ work, furniture and fittings, Mr. Henry Holland, Huddersfield ; slating and plastering, Mr. W. E. Jowitt, Huddersfield; plumbing and glazing, Mr. G. Garton, Huddersfield ; painting, &c., Messrs. W. and P. Holdroyd, Huddersfield; heating, Messrs. T. A. Heaps and Co.. Huddersfield; hammered ironwork and gas fittings, Messrs. Singer and Sons, Frome, Somerset; marble mosaic floor, Mr. J. F. Ebner, London.


At half-past one luncheon was served in the lecture hall of the building. The caterers were Messrs. Hesketh and Birkinshaw, and they provided an excellent repast. The centre of the room was filled with beautiful foliage plants, lent by Mr. T. Julius Hirst. Grace before meat was said by the Rev. J.S.E. Spencer, and after meat by the Rev. G. Coulton. About 60 guests were present, including Mr. W.W. Carlile (in the chair), Miss Brook (Healey House), the Bishop of Wakefield, Mrs. Carlile, Lord Addington, Mrs. Gregg, the Rev. C. Jerdein, Stoke Goldington, Bucks, Mrs. E.H. Carlile, Mr. Gregg, Temple Grafton, Stratford-on-Avon, Mrs. C.J. Brook, Mr. E.H. Carlile, Mr. S. Fisher, Mrs. Fisher, Mr. G.G. Fisher, the Rev. James Brook, Mr. Lewis Brook, Miss Carlile, the Rev. G. Coolton, Mrs. Coulton, Miss Tindall, the Rev. J.S.E. Spencer, Mr. W. Wrigley, Mrs. Wrigley, Mr. H. A. Hirst, Mrs. Hirst, Mr. W. Brooke, Colonel McRae, Mrs. McRae, Mr. Tippits, solicitor, London, legal adviser to Mr. Carlile, Mr. Lawford, the Rev. Henry Davies, Dr. Haigh, Mr. J. Battye, Colonel Freeman, Mr. James Haigh, Mr. Alder (architect, London), Messrs. Kilburn, Pass, W. Tunstell, J.B. Hirst, J.H. Preston, R. Turton, and J. Manchester, committee; Mr. Henry Holland and Mr. J. Butterworth, contractors; Mr. D. Cairns and Mr. G. Moorhouse, on behalf of the Mechanics’ Institution.

The loyal toasts were given from the chair, and duly honoured.

Mr. Gregg submitted the toast of the “Clergy and Ministers of all Denominations,” expressing his belief that the Church was stronger in the sympathies of the people to-day than ever before. When aided by such noble institutions as that in which they had met, and which they would like to see planted all over the land, they could look forward with hopefulness to a higher culture in the community, and an increased growth in humanity.

The Bishop of Wakefield responded, remarking that his opinion of a Bishop’s duty was that he ought to be delighted to take part in such proceedings as those of that day. Everything that had the welfare of the people in view was of interest to a Bishop. They were deeply thankful for she generous liberality of Mr. Carlile. Such an institution as that was a great boon to a parish and neighbourhood, and he sincerely trusted that it would prove of great benefit to Meltham. (Applause.)

The Rev. H. Davies also responded.

Mr. Lewis Brook proposed “The Army, Navy, and Reserve Forces,” forces which, he thought, needed no justification at any time or place. The efficiency of these forces had made the commercial supremacy of Great Britain possible, and, therefore, the connection between the toast and that institution was not so remote as might at first be imagined. (Hear, hear.)

Colonel McRae responded to the toast.

The Rev. C. Jerdein, in submitting the toast of the “Lords and Commons,” said he believed the House of Lords had a longer life before it than some politicians imagined. The House of Commons did good work at times, and sometimes used up the beat men.

Lord Addington pointed out that a seat in the Legislature was the ambition of men in all walks of life. He had the ambition when at school, and now he could say that he had been nine years in the House of Commons and nine months in the House of Lords. There was a close connection between the two Houses. The House of Lords was not out of sympathy with either the wants or the wishes of the people. It was a House composed of the first men in diplomacy, law, military matters, trade, and commerce. There were continually passing from the House of Commons to the House of Lords the eldest sons of peers, and thus it came about that the members of the Upper House had an intense respect for the opinion of the House of Commons. He assured them that the members of the House of Lords always tried to do the best they could for their country. In the House of Lords country always came before party, because the members had not to think of their constituents. The speaker then referred to his own experience in Political life, remarking that he remembered both Mr. Disraeli and Mr. Gladstone coming to his father’s house when he was a boy. He expressed his deep conviction that Lord Salisbury was the best Prime Minister this country ever had. Some members of the Indian Council, who were Liberals, had told him they were so convinced of Lord Salisbury’s ability from the manner in which he had managed Indian affairs, that they admitted the truth of this statement. Thoo present time was one of the most interesting in political history, and he hoped Mr. Walter Carlile would soon be in the thick of it in the House of Commons. (Applause.) Education had made great strides of late years and there was a tendency which might, with the best wishes in the world, bring about disaster if care were not taken, to prevent the sinking of the individual in the State. A great responsibility rested upon the members of both Houses in dealing with such questions as the shortening of the hours of labour. The speaker mentioned that Mr. J. W. Carlile had years before the passing of the Allotment Acts let his labourers allotments at Gayhurst. (Hear, hear.)

The Bishop submitted the toast of “Success to the Carlile Institute.” When he was in East London, one whom they knew well — the Rev. Arthur Brook — put up an iron room at the bottom of his garden. It soon got so useful that the wonder was how they had managed without it. But in that place they had not merely a room, but a group of rooms, and such rooms that he was confident the building would prove a lasting blessing to the place. They all deeply regretted the absence of Mr. Carlile, the founder — (hear, hear) — but in his absence they were glad to welcome his son. A few Sundays ago he spent a sweet day in their valley, and he did not know that he had had a more pleasant Sunday in any part of the diocese. (Hear, hear.) He was glad to again visit their healthy and happy valley, which was made the more charming by such exhibitions of generosity. He could not believe that the eager, able, and earnest people of this part would be indifferent to such a gift, or ungrateful for it, or fail to make use of it. He believed it would prove a great educational advantage to the people, and would aid them morally, intellectually, and also spiritually. He trusted they would have a full appreciation of the great boon conferred upon them, and he heartily wished success to the institute.

The toast was drunk, and three hearty cheers, led by Lord Addington, were given.

The Chairman expressed his regret that his father was not present, but in his absence he would his read his speech. First of all he would read a telegram which he had just received. The telegram was as follows:—

“Better, but unable to travel for some days. Wish every success to the trustees and the institute. Thank friends for their kind wishes.” (Applause.)

The address written by Mr. J.W. Carlile was as under:—

The kind and flattering words from my friends have gratified and given me the assurance that my hopes may be fulfilled, and that this building will really be the scene of much usefulness. So much has been provided in this valley by the liberality of the various members of the Brook family for the religious and educational wants of our people that any further extension in that direction is not called for. But years ago, when I was president of the Meltham Mechanics’ Institute, I felt that the time would come when better accommodation would be required for classes and lecturers. In addition to this, as I get older I feel a desire to escape from the bustle around me, and so I conclude that many here who have retired from daily work, would gladly seek a retreat made bright and interesting by books, lectures, and entertainments. This explains to you why this institute is divided into two distinct departments, the portion in which we are now met being set apart for members above 21 years of age. I have chosen the Elizabethan style of architecture, as it is one of which I am very fond. My house in Bucks was built at that period, and I always experience in its bright and chaste architecture a style highly-suited for quiet repose and study, and consequently most suitable for an institute of this kind. Two years ago when I relinquished my interest in these works to my younger partners, I felt a strong desire to leave some permanent proof of the deep interest I have always felt in our workpeople. I therefore invested a sum of money hardly knowing at the time the form in which it should be expended. Along with my excellent architect and the clerk of the works, we formed ourselves into a most harmonious committee, and I am delighted to find that our labours have fully realised our wishes. This building has afforded me so much interest that it is almost with a pang of regret that I see its completion. I now long to see this pet work realise its destiny, and I have asked kind friends to take it into their keeping so that it may be a blessing to this neighbourhood. Some kind friends have hinted that a little extravagance has attended my functions as a trustee, but let me assure them that such, is not the case. The invested money has been entirely devoted to building and furnishing the institute and cottages, where the pictures, maps, and decorations are supplied as a pleasing addition to the original scheme. I have now to perform the pleasing duty of proposing the health of the trustees and the members of the two committees — one committee devoting themselves to the portion set apart for the older members, the other taking the name of the Mechanics’ Institute will I trust carry out some good technical classes and prove of inestimable value to the rising generation. The trustees whom I have chosen are three members of my own family ; my son, my son-in-law, and my nephew, along with a son of my old esteemed partner, Mr. Brook. I have also chosen the first committee, many of whom I have long known and esteemed. In their hands I place the management of the institute and the adjoining properties, from which a portion of the endowment will be obtained, feeling confident that they will use their utmost endeavours to make it a success when the Mechanics’ Institute is managed by their own officers and committee. The chairman added his own thanks for the reception of the gift, and the kind words which had been used concerning it.

Mr E.H. Carlile responded to the toast, dwelling upon the work of the Mechanics’ Institute in the past, and the deep interest which Mr. Carlile had always evinced in its work. At the present time the Mechanics’ Institute was at work in two small rooms, but it had done good work there. He dwelt upon the importance of technical education, holding it absolutely necessary for the future maintenance of our trade. In the words of one who had been much quoted, he would say that if knowledge was not virtue, ignorance was weakness — (hear, hear) — and he trusted advantage would be taken of that institute to dispel ignorance. He promised, on behalf of the trustees, that they would attend to their part of the work, and endeavour to carry out the wishes of the founder.

Mr. James Kilburn also replied. That structure was a beautiful one, the material and workmanship being of the best possible description. He trusted that all the anticipations of the founder would be realised, and so far as the committee were concerned they would do their best to realise them. The building would certainly prove an enduring one, and he trusted would prove an immense benefit to that locality. There were great social problems before us. It was no use ignoring them, and he held that to get the people to read and think would be the best way of preparing for a solution of those problems. In that way that institute might do untold good. (Hear, hear.)

Colonel Freeman’ submitted the toast of “Prosperity to the township of Meltham.” He had never known Meltham when it was not prosperous. They had pure water, fresh air, railway accommodation, gas, an industrious and healthy people, a large command of capital, and gentlemen controlling that capital noted for their business capacity. Whatever difficulties there were in other places between capital and labour such matters had been solved in Meltham long ago by the masters recognising the duties devolving upon them and acting up to them. Churches, schools, a Convalescent Home, recreation grounds, and lastly that beautiful building had been provided at the expense of the employers. The workmen of the district as a result had loyally supported their employers. If the present partners at Meltham Mills followed their predecessors the prosperity of Meltham was assured for many years to come. (Hear, hear.)

Dr. Haigh, in responding, mentioned that he had been in Meltham 40 years, and the darkest cloud he ever remembered was at present overshadowing them He hoped it would soon pass away, and the valley once more rejoice in the sunshine of prosperity. (Hear hear.)

Mr. Tippitts proposed the “Health of Mr. J. S. Alder,” the architect, speaking in high terms of his professional abilities, and remarking that the building itself was Mr. Alder’s best testimonial.

Mr. Alder, in reply, dwelt upon the extreme interest which Mr. Carlile had taken in the work, and assured those present that many of the features they admired were Mr. Carlile’s own conceptions. Mr. Carlile had thrown himself heart and soul into the work. He also dwelt upon the excellent manner in which the contractors had performed their share of the work.

Mr. H. Holland replied on behalf of the contractors acknowledging the heartiness of the men in the work and the proceedings at this stage then concluded.


In the evening a public meeting and entertainment was held at the Dining Hall, Meltham Mills. There was a large audience, which was presided over by Mr. E.H. Carlile, and the gentlemen supporting him were amongst those who were present at the luncheon.

The Chairman expressed his great regret that he was in the chair in place of Mr. J.W. Carlile. He dwelt upon the ideas of Mr. Carlile in founding the institute, and emphasised his belief that in the future the reference library would prove of great advantage to the people.

Mr W. W. Carlile assured them that his father would have been present had he been able. He read the speech his father had sent to him, and which is give above. His father wished him to say that he was greatly indebted to three persons — the architect, the contractor, and the clerk of the works, Mr. James Haigh. On behalf of his father he handed over the deed of endowment, declared the institute open, and wished it all good luck.

Mr D. Gregg, Mr. Carlile’s son-in-law, and one of the trustees, accepted the gift, and expressed his hope that, along with the managers, they would make the institute a success.

Addresses were subsequently delivered on educational matters by Lord Addington, the Rev. C. Jerdein, and Mr. W. Brooke.

The band of Meltham Mills played selections at intervals, and Roberts’ Excelsior Quartet Party (Messrs. C. Roberts, A. Roberts, M. Baxter, and R.H. Hardy) sang several glees.

1891.10.17 Carlile Institute at Meltham - Huddersfield Chronicle 17 October 1891