The 1891 report detailed the Committee’s frustrations in keeping the activities of the Institute’s members under the watchful eye of its instructors….
Difficulties arose through the lack of space for physical recreation; although cricket and football were played in Sefton Park and ‘on a piece of waste piece of ground lying between Mill Street and the river, but the want of a field for the exclusive use of these clubs is still very much felt…Without a field of our own, the Committee is quite unable to have that control over the boys’ games which it would like to have.’ Cadet drills and the Harriers Club maintained their popularity however, and 4,000 tickets were sold for entrance to Steble Street baths. The Superintendent, on several Saturdays, took large numbers of boys for expeditions to the countryside.
The Entertainments programme enjoyed a varied success; at times only three-quarters full, whilst at others oversubscribed by some 300 people! The most popular concerts were given by the German Bigophone Band, Ladies’ Mandoline Band, and the Dramatic Performance by the Thespian Nomads. The Committee were anxious to maintain the good reputation of their members against any accusation of unacceptable revelry: ‘On the whole the behaviour was good, and the efforts of the performers were generally most warmly appreciated. At some of the Concerts in the earlier part of the season, some members of a local football team gave a little trouble by their noisy behaviour; but latterly this nuisance abated. At no time had the Committee any serious trouble with any of the 800 members of the Institute.’ The Minstrel Troupe were of particular concern: ‘The Committee and Instructor’s chief difficulty is to keep these entertainments thoroughly refined and free from vulgarity, and should they not always have succeeded in this in the past, they hope to be more successful in the future.’
The Education Committee added Wood Carving, Joiner’s Class and Ambulance to their programme, but abandoned the Debating Class and Shorthand due to lack of numbers.
164 members of the Institute spent the first week of August at camp in Llandudno. ‘The behaviour of the boys was on the whole good, but a few had to be sent home for disobeying camp rules; dealing thus similarly with those who had misbehaved had a good influence on the remainder..’ The Superintendent reported that ‘These offenders had no sympathy from the other boys, who conducted themselves to my entire satisfaction.’
The Superintendent began to operate an early Employment Agency in order to assist members to find work.
The very first edition of The Florence Institute News was published, in order to ‘keep boys’ interest up’, listing the upcoming programme of events and Saturday night entertainment. The average membership was 517, but was becoming more regular, and supported by six monthly and yearly memberships available at a reduced price.
THE FLORENCE INSTITUTE
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