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The Historian (Part One)

Temple Cloud Mutual Improvement Association

Part One


Mutual improvement societies are neither so well known nor so widely written about as they deserve to be. This history of the Temple Cloud Mutual Improvement Association attempts to redress the balance. Unlike most mechanics’ institutes, mutual improvement societies were of the people not for the people. The movement as such began in London at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and spread to the north of England around 1825. There were however earlier isolated examples. The societies were democratic and usually provided instruction by working men themselves in elementary and sometimes, in other subjects. Political discussion was also a major feature. Mutual improvement societies were set up by early nineteenth‐century radicals, by Owenites, Chartists and secularist groups. From middle of the 19th century there were increasing numbers of nonconformist societies until by around the last quarter of the century almost every chapel in the North and the Midlands had such a group. The chapel societies seem to have been largely radical liberal in nature and by the 1890s individuals and entire societies were turning to socialism. Their decline began around 1900, and like so many Victorian institutions they largely passed away with the coming of the First World War, but Temple Cloud’s was not chapel based and lasted much longer.


It was rather late in the 19th Century when Temple Cloud decided to have a Mutual Improvement Association and it was early in November 1894 that a proper committee was formed, and a set of Rules and Regulations agreed.

The Honorary President was W. Rees-Mogg Esq., with Mr. (later Dr.) T. Martin and Mr Batstone as Vice Presidents. There were two Secretaries Messrs Ford and Cooper, with Mr. E. Pickford as Treasurer.

There were ten Members on the committee: – Charles Stock, Cecil Maggs, Charles Moody, Thomas Kemp, A. Bull, H Bourton, Frederick Carter, Henry Pollett, Alfred Bowditch and James Bennett. All these village worthies were gentlemen who were well respected residents and businessmen.

The Rules and Regulations are listed later but Rule 3 states “The Association is constituted for the purpose of promoting the mental culture of the Members.”

Initially there were about 60 Members rising to about 90 in later years.


To be continued.