Aigburth Peoples Hall

The Old Days

In 1876 the Aigburth Cocoa Rooms were opened in Aigburth Vale, "the Temperance Movement's answer to the public house". In the Rooms, non-alcoholic drinks were to be sold cheaply and facilities were to be provided for reading and indoor games while "... several ladies and gentlemen... offered to supply the Rooms with newspapers".

 

For a rental the Cocoa Rooms became the home of the Aigburth Working Men's Association. As the population offered by the Cocoa Rooms appeared increasingly inadequate and in 1898 a wealthy local business man, John Temple, made "... a generous offer to erect a new Cocoa Rooms upon a site in Aigburth Vale which would include... [a] Gymnasium and other rooms available for Club meetings and other parochial purposes, also the provision of a bowling green and ground for quoits... the new premises... to be vested in Trustees ...". This "kind offer" was accepted by the Cocoa Rooms Committee on 1st August 1898.

 

John Temple (1839-1922) had had a career which "... was notable for its romance as well as its successful business achievements". Born in Colne, Lancashire, he later worked in the telegraph service in Leeds, Manchester and London, then joined the Atlantic Telegraph Co. on its formation in 1856. He later worked as engineer for the Malta and Alexandria and other Mediterranean cable companies.

 

In 1865, 1866 he was third engineer on the laying of the second Atlantic cable. After this, he settled in Liverpool, becoming managing director, later chairman, of the Warrington Wire Rope Works. He "... did not forget the social amenities of the city in which he lived and in 1899 he presented Aigburth with its People's hall, a fine building covering a space of 500 square yards and standing on an acre of land adjoining Sefton Park"


Situated on a plot of land between Aigburth Vale and the perimeter of Sefton park and near to John Temple's home in Elmswood Road, the Aigburth People's Hall was officially opened on 21st June, 1901, to afford the people of the district in John Temple's words, "... some opportunity of rational enjoyment and improvement for them and their families".

 

A newspaper article contemporary with the opening said "It is desired that in the Hall the people of the district, shall at the close of their days toil find a congenial rendezvous where they may exploit their wit, discuss amongst themselves the topics of the day, play games - bowls, billiards, quoits, draughts, chess etc., smoke if they like, and in short, do everything which they would feel at liberty to do in... a public house, except partake of intoxicating liquors ..."

 

(see Liverpool Weekly News, 16th November 1961 in Aigburth People's Hall newscuttings). The Hall, non-sectarian and its membership open to all, was and is run by local residents.

 

In 1951 it was advertised as offering such activities as "Billiards, Bowls, Football, Whist Drives, Table Tennis, Socials, Concerts, Film Shows, Reading Room, Winter Classes in Cultural Subjects, Women's Guild". At that date, annual membership subscriptions were 12/6d for men and 7/6d for women.

 

Popular in every sense, the Aigburth People's Hall continues today.