Thankfully, attendance was again well maintained this year, with most members present on a regular basis, with the index card scheme now yielded detailed statistical information about attendance. ‘In the past we have often felt how little we have been able to do for the merely casual member, who soon drifts away before any impression has been made upon him.’ Considerable numbers of Institute members regularly attended Corporation Evening Continuation Classes and this, of course, limited numbers. Despite last year’s positivity, the music halls and ‘picture exhibitions’ of the neighbourhood proved to be the death knell of Saturday Night Entertainments at the Institute, which were sadly discontinued.
The Institute helped several more boys find employment, and negotiated to find berths for those wishing to go to sea as apprentices or deck hands.
The Boxing and Swimming Clubs were given a special mention for their successes this year; ‘Mr Leece reports that the Junior boxing is in quite a healthy state: the way some of the boys have stood up to the knocks they have received during a round has been excellent’ , as for the swimmers ‘‘It is with no little pride that we attribute our continued success to the loyalty, sportsmanship, and friendliness of the boys themselves. From the very youngest up to that strong backbone of Senior members-too numerous to name-all have done their part.’ Boys under 14, however, were no longer able to attend the Institute.
It was decided that electric light would be extended to every part of the building, including the basement, and a ‘Benefactor’s Board’, which remains in the building to this day, was presented by Mr J R Springmann to record the names of Presidents, Trustees, Benefactors and Honorary Workers of the Institute.
The October 1912 issue of the newsletter begans with advertising the wide range of activities available at the Institute to suit all tastes. Athletes would benefit from ‘the best Equipped and roomiest Gymnasium in the South End of Liverpool, with the best of Professional Instruction.’; footballers ‘one of the best plots in Sefton Park to play on with dressing rooms on the ground’; military drill for those with a desire ‘so that they may be ready to defend their country if needed’; the ‘beautiful reading room’ and lending library would appeal to students, and those with ‘a thirst for knowledge’ would revel in the weekly meetings of the Debating Club ‘to discuss the affairs of the nation.’ The institute appealed to ‘all those who frequent the streets to join this or other Institutes and so avoid many temptations. Here you are safe from such, you are safe from the weather, you have plenty of choice of good healthy recreation, and amusement, and opportunities to improve your mind; what more could any one reasonably want?’
The Ambulance class was advertised by a stark description of the perils of modern life: ‘In this age of hurry and bustle the aim of modern man seems to be the annihilation of time and space. He wants to ‘get there’, and to do so he employs various methods of rapid locomotion. As the outcome of deep forethought steamboats, railway trains, motor cars and the more up to date aeroplanes have resulted to aid him in the accomplishment of his object. But in making use of these different means of locomotion he runs a certain amount of risk, the risk of accident to himself and to others. Then if that is so it seems to me to be the bounden duty of every man to prepare himself to render aid to those who have been unfortunate to meet with accident.
Therefore I ask a question:- What are YOU doing to train yourself so that you can give assistance should the occasion arise? Are YOU doing anything?’ The answer to which clearly lie in joining the Ambulance Class!
Also advertised this month were the Gymnasium, Debating Society, Philatelic (stamp-collecting) Club- ‘no birds of passage, please!’, and Joinery class.
‘The greatest double event of this or any other season’ was advertised for the festive period, with socials and dances being held on both Boxing Day and New Years Day . The Institute promised that ‘There will be any amount of fun and all provided by ourselves; there will not be a dull moment if we can help it, therefore do not miss the opportunity of having a right good time, on the two nights, when everyone thinks more or less of enjoying themselves.’ This right-rollicking time at both events could be had for just one shilling, around £3.91 in today’s money! Florence Socials continued to be busy, and healthy attendances ‘are undoubted proofs of the popularity of a well conducted Social and Dance, there may be a few who chafe at the restrictions imposed, but the bulk of those attending appreciate the efforts made to ensure their comfort and enjoyment.’
Recruitment for the Ambulance Class continued in a dramatic vein: ‘Could a person obtain access to the interior of a gasometer whilst it is full of gas, and then strike a match or endeavour to use any other kind of naked light, it might reasonably be supposed that there would be a terrific explosion. Well that is not so; and the anticipated fearful calamity, with its attendant consequences, would not take place. The reason of it is that gas will only burn or explode when it is mixed with a certain quantity of Oxygen. The only result of a light inside a gasometer would be for the flame to be immediately extinguished. However, gasometers do at times explode, and also there are many other kinds of accidents happening every day too, and the forgoing is merely used as an introduction to a short dissertation on ‘First Aid’, or what we should do when an accident occurs.’
Football, boxing, joinery, gymnastics and swimming were all promoted in the newsletter, which also listed a diverse range of topics discussed by the Debating Society: ‘That Ireland should have Home Rule’, ‘Women’s Suffrage’, ‘Monarchy versus Republic’ and ‘Conscription’. The Philatelic Club (stamp collecting) published extracts from a letter writing competition for its members, on the subject of their thoughts on the hobby, to which Arthur Hanson replied, ‘The difference between the lesson taught by a schoolmaster and that taught by a postage stamp is that the latter is more interesting.’
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).