Star Coffee House, Institute and Hall- continued-

In addition to the proceeds from membership fees, lettings, refreshments and loans from a number of individuals a number of events were arranged throughout the year the profits from which went to the Star Institute funds. One of these events was an opening of the Hall gardens. Open gardens at the Hall had been a major attraction for a number of years, originally begun by Miss Mackworth Dolben’s father. Over the years the proceeds had been used to help a variety of different organisations in the town, but in recent years the profits had been passed to the Star Institute funds.


In the early years of the 20th century bicycle gymkhanas had become very popular, and in 1903 this attraction was included, along with dancing, into the opening of the Hall gardens. When I initially came across this I was unsure exactly what this involved. Fortunately details were given of the classes involved in the gymkhana in the Northampton Mercury report of the event.


Northampton Mercury 10th July 1903

Garden Fete- for the purpose of raising funds towards the Star Institution, a garden fete was arranged in Finedon Hall gardens on Saturday, kindly lent by Miss Mackworth Dolben.  About 1,200 paid for admission. Probably the principal attraction was the bicycle gymkhana, which had a good entry. The event was watched with much interest. Results- Decorated Bicycles– 1- Miss J Donald, 2- Miss Newman 3- Miss N Roberts. Gentlemen’s Serpentine Race– 1-  A Burr 2-R Wright Ladies Serpentine- 1- Miss Battle 2- Miss Donald Ribbon Race (double)- 1-Miss Roberts and Mr Frank Wright 2- Miss Redman and Mr Arthur Burr Gentlemen’s Umbrella Race– 1- J Coulbeck 2-Alice Donald Ladies Egg and Spoon Race- 1- Miss Battle 2- Miss Donald Potato Race (double)- 1- Miss Donald and Miss Alice Donald 2- Miss N Roberts and Mr Frank Wright Gentlemens Tortoise Race – 1 -A Donald 2- A Burr Ladies tent pegging– 1- Miss Battle 2-  Miss Redman  Gentlemen’s hat trimming– 1- Mr Phillips 2- Mr F Wright Ladies Tortoise Race– 1- Miss Redman 2- Miss Wallis Tilting at the ring (gentlemen)- 1- A Donald 2- J Coulbeck  Tilting (ladies)- 1- Miss Battle 2- Miss Donald Donkey Tail– 1- Miss Redman 2- Mr A Burr Apple Diving– 1- A Burr 2- H Wallis Consolation Race– Spencer Robb. The prizes were distributed by Mr J. T, Hawthorne J P. The Finedon Old Prize Band was in attendance, under the leadership of Mr Pentelow, and played a choice selection of music in the afternoon and for dancing in the evening. The arrangements were carried out by a large committee, with Mr C McAllister as the general secretary.


The committees involved were as follows- Gymkhana committee- Messrs. Henfrey; Burr; Harold Roberts; A. Ellson; J. Burland; R.Donald; A. Downing; C. Hampton; I. Partridge; N.Claypole; Hedley Roberts; C. Wright and the Revd. Annand. The refreshment committee – Messrs D. Roberts; D. Clapham; F. Henson; Cox; F. Cooper; J. Benson; J. Buckby; W. Wilson; C. Tompkins;

  1. Lucas; J. Lucking; J. Clipstone; J. Poyner; H. Goodman; Shelton; J. Panter; C. Coles; F. Ellson; F. Bailey; H. Hodges; H. Phillips and M. Yeates. Fortunately the Trustees ruled that all committee members should be expected to pay the entrance charge to the event. £7 was allocated for prizes. The Town Band fee of £4/10s was considered to be unreasonable, but the dancing went ahead with the Old Prize Band in attendance, so presumably their fee was more reasonable than that of the Town Band.

The event made a profit of £51.14s.4d and was deemed to be very satisfactory. Initially the Trustees decided that £50 should be paid towards the outstanding debt of the building fund.  But by the following day they had had a rethink and £25 was now to go to the building fund, and £20 to clear Miss Mackworth’s loan. This would leave £600 outstanding on the loan for the new room. They also recorded that they had forgotten to deduct the 7/6 charge for the police presence at the event from the profit.  Due to this event and a concert during the year it was reported at the Star AGM in November 1903 that the funds of the Star stood over £60 better that the previous year.


Dick Garton and Jimmy Neal – two early Finedon cyclists

Following the success of the event in 1903 the Trustees decided to repeat the format in 1904. A considerably reduced gymkhana and refreshments committees were decided upon and the event went ahead in July 1904. Although the event was considered to be satisfactory perhaps the novelty had worn off with the public as this time the profit was considerably less than the previous year at £17.12s.6½d.  No further bicycle gymkhanas were held in Finedon as fund raisers for the Star complex.




Next month meet the 20th century managers and their wives.