By 1894, The Florrie was contending with fresh challenges as it grappled for the attention of the neighbourhood’s youth. A Music Hall opened next door to the Institute, and together with local pubs drew away ‘many who spend their money on one evening’s entertainment which would have otherwise have provided them with the privileges of the Institute for a whole month.’ In addition, the report detailed that competition from almost every local church, each now having a boys’ club of their own, meant the landscape was very different from 1889.
As a result, the Committee established a Senior’s Club for over 18s in the upstairs rooms of the Institute. Despite being opposed to the use of tobacco, smoking was allowed, and attendance good: ‘the Committee is thoroughly satisfied with this venture , as they feel sure it tends to keep the elder members of the Institute from loafing about the streets and going into public houses to see the papers and read there.’
The Physical Recreation programme continued to be popular; this year saw success for the Florence Institute Football Association which reached semi-final in Liverpool and District Junior Cup-Ties. 85 boys attended summer camp at Groudle Bay, Isle of Man during the August bank holiday week. The cost was 10/ each, with additional expense incurred so as each boy received an extra blanket, and the Committee was pleased to announce that, this year, there was no sickness or accident and behaviour was excellent.
It was reported that classes were well attended, and a donation of easels and casts from Margaret Bernadine Hall, the surviving daughter of the Institute’s founder, was welcomed. Margaret was an artist, and her painting ‘Fantine’ hangs in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Artefacts from the woodcarving class were entered into The Boys’ Industrial Exhibition, held in April at the Walker Laboratories. The Institute had the largest number of exhibits at 102, and won the Champion Prize for the greatest number of prizes (19) won by any Institute or Club.
The new challenges the Institute faced led to a decrease in average monthly memberships to 244, and it appealed that ‘the Committee would be glad if people interested in the South End boys of Liverpool would give them Half-yearly or Yearly tickets instead of money for Xmas Boxes.’
THE FLORENCE INSTITUTE
Registered Office: The Florence Institute Trust Ltd, 377 Mill Street, Liverpool L8 4RF. Charity Registration No: 1109301. Company Registration No: 05330850 (registered in England and Wales).