Withington Public Hall and Institute

An unusual small building on the north side of Burton Road is Withington Public Hall and Institute. It has the date of 1861 in the brickwork and was a gift of Lord Egerton of Tatton to the people of Withington. The Hall has functioned as a members' club since 1906 [1], and in the 1990s it had a membership of some 400. It was originally a men-only club, but moved to admit women in 2017. It is now (2018) believed to be in private ownership, and closed in early 2019.

Originally, in the main room of the building, there used to be a large fire in the winter for members and visitors. Upstairs, there was an early lending library for Withington (1861-1911), which eventually became the present Withington Library. Fletcher Moss, of the Old Parsonage, Didsbury, campaigned for a library for Withington during his time as alderman. The following quote from Fletcher Moss's Fifty Years Public Work in Didsbury refers to the library in Withington Public Hall:
"In 1895 and several succeeding years, I moved a resolution for the adoption of the Public Libraries Act and was always sat upon by the conservative majority. Mr Joe Lunn (Conservative builder) of Withington told us that there was a library in Withington in an upper room somewhere behind the White Lion and all the folk that ever went into it were a few women a week. What was the good of having another library?"

In 2017, one of the Civic Society members had the opportunity to view the interior as well as an extensive historical archives of documents, committee minutes, photographs, newspaper articles, etc. Here are some photographs of the building and example documents from the archives, including an indenture (1882) between Baron Egerton of Tatton and others, mentioning the Public Library, Reading Room and Literary Institution in the Public Hall.

[1] A history of Withingon. Kenneth Whittaker, (1957, Rev. Ed. 1969). E.J. Morten Publishers.

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