IN 1836 the shopkeepers and traders of Lisburn who agreed to close their shops at 9pm. and having nothing particular to do between that hour and bedtime, set about forming a club which became known as Lisburn Newsroom.
Down the years until about 1970 the newsroom was an institution in the town and throughout periods of depression and prosperity it survived, providing a place in which the men of the town could assemble for either recreation or a quiet read.
At the annual meeting in 1936 a balance of over £100 on the right side was reported. To celebrate the centenary a dinner was held in the Assembly Rooms at which Mr. Thomas a the popular president, presided.
|Pictured at the installing of the Lisburn Newsroom centenary scroll in the local museum are Mr. Ernest Bell, Mr. Hamilton Hewitt, Mr. J. H. F. McCarrison, the last President, Mr. James Johnston, Mr. Joseph Palmer, Mr. Howard Stevenson, Mr. Garfield Hutchinson, Mr. Trevor Neill, of Lisburn Historical Society and Mr. George Anderson. E4904.|
Those at the top table were M John D. Barbour, chairman of Lisburn Urban Council, Captain C. O. Beirne, Dr. T. A. Kean, Belfast, Messrs Ezekiel Bullick, James Duff, James M. Barbour, D. L. Malcolm, United States, John Stevenson and W. Duff.
Apologies were received from the patron, the Right Honourable J. Milne Barbour, M.P. and Mr. Thomas Sinclair.
Prior to the start of the proceedings about a hundred members and guests subscribed their names to a parchment scroll to be preserved as a permanent record of those who celebrated the centenary.
Mr. James Duff, who proposed a toast to the Newsroom, said they were fortunate in having as honorary secretary a very efficient gentleman who had unearthed the original minute book of the room.
The first extract dated January 8,1836 was to the effect that a number of the shopkeepers and traders assembled in the King's Arms Inn for the purpose of considering the practicality of closing their respective shops or offices at 9 o'clock each evening.
It was proposed that if a certain number of subscribers would come forward a Newsroom should be set up and a committee was appointed to obtain signatures. Its members were Messrs John Moore, John Millar, John Chapman, George Major and Hugh McCall.
It was agreed that various newspapers be bought and it was reckoned that they could be sold again at a third of their original cost.
Application was made to Dean Stannus for a suitable room to be used solely as a newsroom and new be subsequently received a deputation from the committee and granted them an apartment in the Market house.
By January 30 the Newsroom was established and a caretaker appointed at a salary of �10 per annum. The hours were from 8 a.m. till 11 p.m. and he was expected 'to be on hand to light candles when wanted'. The Dean said the Newsroom would not be allowed to be kept open on Sundays.
Mr. Duff referred to various events down the previous 100 years ranging from the Battle of Waterloo to the Somme and spoke of the introduction of various services including transport.
He wondered what folk in 1836 talked about. They had no traffic problems and when they wanted to cross Bow Street they could do so in perfect safety. There was no urban council and what did they read about in the local papers. But of course there were no local papers.
He added. "Looking back let us remember some of our old friends, G. B. Wilkin, John G. Ferguson, H. G. Anderson and all the rest of them. I wonder are they having a reunion tonight with Hugh McCall, John Moore, John Millar, John Chapman and George Major and looking down with approval on us.
' And some we loved, the loveliest and the best,
That time and fate of all their vintage prest,
Have drunk their cup a round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest'.
Mr. Malcomson said they hoped when 2036 came the newsroom would be celebrating its bi-centenary and be as strong and virile as it was then. How his hopes have faded.
Mr. Thomas M. Harvey said smoking was only permitted in the Newsroom after 9 p.m. but in 1893 the hour was changed to 8 p.m. and eventually removed altogether in1895 ladies were admitted.
Other speakers included Mr. John D. Barbour, Dr. W. Brian Maginess and Mr. Albert Stevenson.
Some folk in 1986 have happy memories of times spent in the Newsroom in the building which now forms part of the museum.
The following appointments were made at the annual meeting on December 15, 1936:- President, Mr. Thomas Malcomson; hon. secretary, Mr. Tom, Waring; hon. treasurer, Mr. H. A. Rankin; assistant tresurer, Mr.Garfield Hutchinson; accountants, R. R. Green and S. Stockman; committee, Messrs John Alister, A. N. Stevenson, J. Stevenson, Sam Wilson, W. H. Greenfield, N. L. Allen S. Stockman, W. Leckey, H. C. B. McNally, A K Harvey, S. Green and A. Shaw.
TREASURER FOR 30 YEARS.
The annual meeting of the members of this long established institution was held last evening in the Assembly Rooms - Mr. James Duff, J.P., presiding in the unavoidable absence of Mr. T. J. English (president), to who a resolution of condolence was passed in the death of his wife.
After the submission of the usual reports, the election of officers took place.
The Right Hon. J. Milne Barbour, D.L., was re-elected patron, Mr. English, president; Mr. Thos. Waring, hon. sec.; Mr. Alex. Thompson, assistant hon. Sec., and the vice-presidents.
Mr. Thomas Malcomson, after 30 years service, resigned the office of honorary treasurer, and Mr J. D. Corken also retired from assistant hon. treasurerships, but the offices were accepted respectively by Messrs. C. D. S. Cochrane and Garfield Hutchinson.
The following committee were elected :-
A resolution was passed, and placed on record, expressing appreciation of the long and valued service of Mr. Malcomson as hon. treasurer.
Mr. Malconson, in his reply, stated that he had been a member of the newsroom, for over 40 Years, arid would not sever his connection while life lasted.
The newspapers and magazines were subsequently auctioned by Mr. Wm. Martin, auctioneer, of Messrs. Martin Son. and satisfactory prices were obtained.