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CHAPTER 3
ALBERT HALL, PART 2: May 1906 to 1909

This chapter moves forward from the time of the loss of the "old" Albert Hall to the last days of the decade and includes the purchase of the leasehold, the stone-laying of the "new" Albert Hall, the official opening, the work of the Mission during those last three years of the decade and the Binns organ.

While the congregations were in the wilderness there were problems in finding accommodation. A Special Committee Meeting held on Friday 4 May 1906 heard that the Rev. Rattenbury had been unable to make consecutive arrangements for the Sunday Services. The Mansfield Road Baptist Church had kindly placed their premises in North Church Street at the disposal of the Mission for the weeknight services during the summer months.

The Quarterly Committee Meeting held on Friday 28 September 1906 reported that, with regard to the building scheme, the corner house adjoining the Albert Hall site had been purchased for £1,450 and that an application had been made for the freehold.

Plans for rebuilding and fund-raising were discussed and approved with the full support of the original Committee. Mr. Jesse Boot (later Lord Trent) also gave generous and enthusiastic help and was already looking forward to the addition of an institute to the new hall. It was on this subject that he wrote a letter which was read by the Lord Mayor at the opening of a bazaar:

"I enclose a cheque for £500 towards the re-building of the Albert Hall.  Mrs. Boot and I feel that Mr. Rattenbury is carrying on a great work there and one that well deserves help... Something that appeals more strongly to me is Mr. Rattenbury's scheme to build, especially for young people, an institute in connection with and adjoining the Albert Hall...  I would be willing to give £2,000, but it will be on the condition that it is in every sense a thoroughly up-to-date, well arranged and equipped institute..."

While the new building was being planned and built, the Victoria Hall (a dance hall in Burton Street), was used for the services. Several of the public meetings in connection with the 1906 Wesleyan Conference were due to take place in the Albert Hall and new arrangements had to be made quickly.


Rev. R. Moffatt Gautrey and staff

Having completed five years with the Mission, the Rev. J. Ernest Rattenbury was appointed to carry forward the work which Hugh Price Hughes had begun in the Superintendency of the West London Mission which had become vacant. He was succeeded on 1 September 1907 by the Rev. R. Moffatt Gautrey.

For twelve months the Mission enjoyed the services of an additional minister, the Rev. H.J. Benson, but when he left to go to Rochdale, R. John Segar, of Liverpool, was engaged by the Committee as an evangelist, taking part in open-air preaching and pastoral visitation.

Mr. J.H. Thompson, who had formed the Silver Band and brought it to a high state of efficiency, was succeeded by Mr. Herbert Cumberland.

The rented premises in George Street, which had been used for meetings, had to be vacated by 10 September 1907.

Mr. Arthur William Black, M.P. retired as circuit steward in 1907 after five years' devoted service. He was born in 1863, educated in Nottingham, served his apprenticeship in the Lace Market with Messrs. Jacoby and Co. and soon after the completion of his time was appointed manager by Mr. W.H. Bevis of Pilchergate, being then only 21 years of age. In 1887 he married Miss Helena Spence, daughter of the late Mr. John Spence, of Paisley, and in the following year he became proprietor of the business he had been managing and reorganised it under the title of A.W. Black and Brother. Round about 1895 he stood as a Liberal candidate for Robin Hood Ward following the elevation of Mr. A. Brownsword to the aldermanic bench. In 1898 he was chosen as Sheriff of Nottingham, and was Mayor of the city in 1902-3. He had been a Justice of the Peace for the City of Nottingham since 1905. In the political field he unsuccessfully fought the Doncaster Division in the Liberal interest at the 1900 election, but was returned for Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, at the great Liberal triumph of 1906 and sat for this constituency until 1918. In his childhood days he was a scholar in the Mansfield Road Wesleyan Church, and became a local preacher when only 17. At one time he was president of the Nottingham Free Church Council. He received his knighthood in 1916.

The prominent local Methodist architect, Mr. A.E.Lambert, who had just designed the terracotta third Midland Station, which had opened in 1904 with great approval, was asked to prepare plans for the new Albert Hall mission building. It was designed with the then new cantilever method of holding the roof and balconies, to give an almost uninterrupted view from the platform. It was in the style of an Edwardian theatre or music hall and, in the practice of temperance halls, would be used for concerts and other events.

At 12 noon on Thursday 7 May 1908 there was a Divine Service held in The Tabernacle, Mansfield  Road, kindly lent for the occasion by the Pastor and Deacons, which was led by the Rev. J.E. Rattenbury.  This was followed by the Stone-laying ceremony of The Nottingham Mission, Albert Hall re-building, which was held at North Circus Street at 3 pm. The programme included the hymn O God of Bethel, by whose hand to the tune Belmont; a prayer led by Rev.  W. H. H. Kelshaw;  1 Chronicles, xxix., 1-18 read by Rev. W. A. Labrum; hymn O Lord of Hosts, whose glory fills to the tune Castle Street; and Rev.  T.  Moorhouse  Thorp gave the Chairman's  Address.  Councillor  J. T. Spalding, the Mayor of Nottingham, laid the first stone on behalf of the Citizens. An address was then given by Alderman Duckworth, M.P. The hymn appropriately was This stone to Thee in faith we lay to the tune Duke Street.  Mrs.  R.  Moffat  Gautrey then laid a stone on behalf of the Mission. The final hymn was The Church's one foundation to the tune Aurelia.

In the evening there was a great public meeting held in the Wesley Chapel, Broad Street, with the Right  Hon. J.E. Ellis, M.P., in the chair and speeches from the Revs.  Henry  J.  Pope, D.D.,  J.E. Rattenbury,  F. Luke  Wiseman, B.A., and R. Moffatt Gautrey. This was followed by a musical programme rendered by an augmented choir, conducted by Mr. Albert Rudd and organist Mr. Gordon Thorp.

The "Statement of Building Fund" printed on the back of the programme listed the receipts. The larger ones are recorded below:-

  £
Insurance (for "old" AlbertHall) 8,500
Mr. Jesse Boot 3,000
Mr. W. Walker (Whitehaven) 1,000
Mr. A.W. Black, M.P.

1,000

Grant from Chapel Committee 1,000
Bazaar 918
Mr. T.R.Ferrens, M.P. (Hull) 525
Ald. A. Pyatt, J.P. 300
Messrs. E. & A. Richards200
Mr. F.J.Crosfield,(Ulverston)100
Miss Hall 120
Bank interest, rents, etc.86

By a Deed of Covenant between Jesse Boot Esq. and  the Trustees of the Albert Hall, Nottingham, dated 31 December 1908 Jesse Boot covenanted as follows:-

"1. The said Jesse Boot will erect in the said Albert Hall an organ according to specifications and details which have been prepared and signed by the said Jesse Boot and  [there is a gap here] on behalf of the Trustees and such organ shall be held by the Trustees and other the Trustees for the time being of the said Hall, upon trust to give effect to the provisions hereinafter contained and subject thereto, upon the trusts for the time being affecting the said Hall.

2. The said Jesse Boot will for a period of three years from the opening of the organ contribute the sum of three hundred pounds per annum towards the salary of the organist of the said Albert Hall.

3. The organist of the said Albert Hall shall be appointed by the Trustees with the consent of the said Jesse Boot during the said three years.

4. The organ shall be available for all the Wesleyan services and meetings held in the said Hall and it shall be the duty of the organist appointed as hereinafter specified to play the organ at such services and meetings not exceeding in any year an average of six such occasions per week.

5. The organist shall be at liberty to take a reasonable number of pupils and shall have the use of the organ for that purpose at all reasonable times.

6. The Trustees will permit the said Hall and the said organist to be used free of charge every Saturday afternoon for the purpose of a public organ recital at which there shall be provided a fair number of seats at a charge not exceeding three pence each and the gross takings at which shall be given to the Nottingham General Hospital every week.  It will be part of the duty of the said organist to play the organ at such organ Recitals.  The control of the said recitals shall be in the hands of a committee appointed as hereinafter specified.

7. The Trustees will let the said Hall to the said Committee with the use of the said organ at the lowest price charged by them for the letting of the Hall to the public every Saturday evening for the purpose of the holding of concerts arranged for the purpose of promoting the love of high class music especially amongst the working classes. It shall be part of the duty of the said organist to play the said organ at such concerts as required by the said Committee.   The said Committee shall be allowed to charge such price for admission to the said concerts as they shall think fit provided that there shall be a large number of seats to which admission may be obtained at a charge not exceeding sixpence.  In the event of there being any profit arising from the said concerts the Committee may either apply the same towards engaging first class artistes to sing and to perform instrumental music at subsequent concerts or towards the stipend of the organist after the first three years.

8. The use of the Hall for the purpose of such organ recitals and concerts as aforesaid shall be subject to the conditions of letting to be from time to time prescribed by the Proprietors so far as they are not inconsistent with this agreement and the Committee shall be considered to be the Hirers.

9. Provided that if in the opinion of the Trustees there shall be exceptional circumstances requiring the use of the Hall on Saturday afternoons and evenings for other purposes (such as the meeting of the Annual Wesleyan Conference or the holding of a Special Mission) the Trustees may suspend the recitals and concerts for not more than two successive Saturdays but such suspension is not to take place more than once in any year.

10. In the event of the use of the organ being required by any person or persons who engage the said Hall from the Trustees the said organist shall (if willing to do so) play the said organ as required by him or them and shall be entitled to receive from him or them the fee of two guineas for the first hour and one guinea for each subsequent hour.  No person other than the said organist and his pupils shall be permitted to play on the said organ except by special arrangements with the Trustees.

11. In case after the said term of three years the said Jesse Boot either alone or in conjunction with others apart from the members of the Albert Hall Mission or such others without the said Jesse Boot shall contribute the sum of one hundred and thirty pounds per annum towards the salary of the said organist.  The provisions hereinbefore contained with reference to the use of the said Hall and the organ and the duties and appointment of the said organist shall continue otherwise they shall cease.

12. The first Committee for the management of the said Organ Recitals and Concerts shall be nominated by the said Jesse Boot and future Committees shall be chosen by the then existing Committee in conjunction with the said Jesse Boot during his life.

13. The Trustees will keep the Organ insured with a respectable Insurance Company for not less than three thousand five hundred pounds.

14. In the event of the said Albert Hall at any time hereafter ceasing to be used as a public hall the Trustees shall offer the said organ to the Corporation of the City of Nottingham who shall be at liberty to remove the same to some suitable building provided that they make good all damage that may be done to the structure of the said Hall by reason of such removal."

Albert Hall Organ<
The Binns organ in the 1910s
before the Pearson stained glass  windows

This organ, costing £4,500, was the work of  J.J. Binns of Leeds, to the specification of the Birmingham Town Hall organist, C.W. Perkins, who himself gave the organ's first public recital in October 1910 to a  huge audience with a series of works that included music by Mendelssohn and Bach.

The organ weighs 20 tons. It is a four-manual instrument operated by the builder's own patent tubular pneumatic action. There are 58 speaking stops, 18 couplers and three tremulants. The stops can be activated in groups by 23 pistons distributed over the five departments (four keyboards and the pedal-board) and most of these are instantly adjustable at the console by means of a mechanism which can only be described as remarkable for its time. There are 3,515 pipes (mainly flue) and 32 bells ranging in size from the smallest at 3/8 inch to the largest "Double Open Diapason", 32 feet in length. They are made of wood, zinc, or a lead/tin alloy. They may be open or stoppered at the top depending upon the type of tone required. Sixteen of the stops, however, are made up of reed pipes; these are far more complex and, as the name implies, incorporate a vibrating brass reed. The organ's pneumatic action involves the use of narrow lead tubing to connect the console to all the working parts by means of compressed air. There is upwards of two and a half miles of this tubing in the organ, each piece with its own specific task.

On 4 March 1909, "in exercise of the powers of the Ecclesiastical Leasing Acts", the Right Rev. Bishop Arthur Hamilton Baynes, Vicar of Saint Mary, (as the Lessor) leased to the Methodist Church (Arthur William Black and Joseph Derbyshire Marsden as Trustees for the Lessees) on a 999 year lease, all the land ("being part of the Glebe lands belonging to the said Vicarage") "situate at the junction of the Derby Road and North Circus Street" and "Numbers 13 15 17 19 21 and 23 in Derby Road and 1 North Circus Street", together with "The Albert Hall also erected and built on the said plot or parcel of land and fronting to North Circus Street" at a yearly rent of £108 0s 0d (payable 24 June and 25 December).

An unusual feature was that this lease stipulated that, following the practice of the temperance hall, the new premises should be available "for concerts, entertainments, large meetings and gatherings for useful purposes at a reasonable rent for a reasonable number of nights in every year".

The Dedicatory Service of the new Albert Hall on Wednesday 17 March 1909 was the first act of worship in the new sanctuary. The preacher for the day was the Rev. J.H. Jowett, M.A., of Birmingham. The congregation was reminded they were not there to celebrate a triumph, but to commence a great crusade. At the close of the service everyone felt that the inauguration of the new enterprise had been sealed by the presence and blessing of God. The programme may be summarised as follows:

Hymn All people that on earth do dwell to the tune Old Hundredth.
Dedicatory Prayer
Chant  Te Deum. Jackson
Scripture Lesson
Hymn O Thou whose hand has brought us to the tune Aurelia.
Prayer
Hymn Be with us, gracious Lord, to-day to the tune Blockley.
Sermon
Hymn O God of Bethel, by whose hand to the tune Jaizer.
Benediction.

At 7pm in the evening there was a great public meeting, chaired by Mr. Joseph Rank, at which the speakers were the Revs. J. Scott  Lidgett, M.A., D.D.,  T. Moorhouse  Thorp,  R. Moffat Gautrey, and Mr. Arthur  W. Black,  M.P.  The programme consisted of the following:-

Hymn All hail the power of Jesu's Name to the tune Diadem.
Prayer : Rev. T. Moorhouse Thorp
Hymn Omnipotent Redeemer to the tune Deliverance.
Financial  Statement:  Mr. A.W. Black, M.P.
Chairman's  Address: Mr. Joseph Rank.
Anthem: The Heavens are telling     Haydn The  Choir.
Address:  Rev. J. Scott  Lidgett, M.A., D.D.
Collection
Hymn We give Thee but Thine own to the tune In Memoriam.
Address: Rev. Henry J. Pope,  D.D.
Address: Rev.  C. W. Andrews, B.A., B.D.
Votes of Thanks: Rev. R. Moffat Gautrey.
The Choir: The Hallelujah Chorus Handel
Benediction

The following Sunday, the Rev. J. Ernest Rattenbury, the founder and first Superintendent of the Mission, occupied the platform. Even at the morning service, the seating capacity of the Hall was taxed to its utmost limit and at night more people were turned away than succeeded in getting in. An overflow service was held at the Victoria Hall and at a late hour Mr. Rattenbury put in an appearance.

There was still the need to rent accommodation for some activities. Until adequate premises could be obtained, rooms at Mr. Boteler's Cafe were very kindly offered at a minimum rental by the proprietor who was a member of the Brotherhood. The seventh annual report of the Albert Hall (1909) stated that: "Here the young men of the Mission assemble every night of the week and enjoy the amenities of social intercourse without any of the disadvantages which belong to other places of entertainment. Mr. W.W. Clark is 'the father' of this grown up family and demonstrates his unflagging interest in its well-doing."

The Sunday School continued meeting in the annexe of the Victoria Hall.  Mr. F. Skinner was the superintendent. Following John Wesley's precedent, a dwelling was hired as a Ragged School of 150 scholars. A Mothers' Meeting was a thriving institution: on one occasion the Superintendent Minister baptised fourteen babies!

In a hired room in Forman Street in the Narrow Marsh area a fellowship meeting for homeless men was begun, on Tuesday nights.

 In September 1908 the Rev. Allen Holt had joined the Mission staff as a result of the Committee applying to Conference for the appointment of an additional Minister.  Mr. John Segar moved to the Arkwright Street Circuit and found a sphere of service under the superintendence of the Chairman of the District. Sister Alice Maude married Councillor Ernest Richards J.P. and was succeeded by Sister Netta Purvis. Sister Beatrice Lees was sent by the Warden of the Wesley Deaconess Institute as an additional helper. Sister Grace Crump, after five years' strenuous service, which seriously overtaxed her strength, was obliged to take an extended period of rest. Therefore, as reported in the Seventh Annual Report, 1909, the members of staff were Rev. R. Moffat Gautrey (Superintendent), Rev. Allen Holt, Sister Grace [Crump], Sister Netta Purvis, and Sister Beatrice Lees. The Trustees' Treasurers were Sir Jesse Boot and Mr. Arthur W. Black, Esq., M.P.  The Mission Treasurers were Mr. John H. Brown and Mr. Walter H. Black.

The agreement setting out the following terms of the appointment of Edwin Hutchinson as Caretaker of the Albert Hall, Nottingham, would be rather costly if he were so employed ninety years on!

(1)  The Caretaker's duties shall commence on the first of March 1909.  He shall reside as near the Hall as practicable.

(2)  Duties.  He must keep all the prems [premises] clean & in good order, he must supervise the electric lights & manage the heating arrangements incldg [including] the boiler & shall act generally under the directions of the Proprietors or such persons as shall appoint for that purpose.

(3)  Hours of attendance.  Subject to special directions the Caretaker shall be in attendance on the prems daily from 10 am to 10 pm (incldg Sundays) & also at any other time when any part of the prems is in use & he shall be responsible for opening & closing the Hall.   One hour to be allowed from 1 to 2 o'clock for dinner & one hour for tea from 5 to 6 o'clock or such or [other] time as may be practicable.

(4)  Wages  30/- a week.  Cleaning materials will be found & special arrangements made for scrubbing the Hall when necessary & for cleaning upper windows.  The Caretaker's uniform will be found.

(5)  Holidays.   Tuesday to be considered the Caretaker's holiday, but if the Hall is in use on that day or Caretaker's Services are otherwise specially required another time shall be arranged for his holiday.  One week's holiday to be given during the summer.

(6)  Caretaker's wife will be expected to attend in the Ladies Cloak Room when Concerts etc.- are being held, & to help generally in the cleaning.

(7)  Notice.   One month's notice to be given on either side to put an end to this Agreement.   When the new bldgs [buildings] about to be erected adjoining the Hall are completed the Caretaker's duties & wages will be subject to revision.


from the north side

from the south side
The "new" Albert Hall, 1909


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