This building, the only listed building in Grenoside was originally built as a school, being the second endowed school in Grenoside – the first endowed school, under the trusteeship of the Church wardens of Ecclesfield, was situated in Lump Lane. The exact date the second school was built is unknown, but it is understood to be between 1789 and 1791.
By a deed made on 22 January 1807, Thomas Walker conveyed the land on which the school was built, to the trustees of the Grenoside School Charity. Thomas Walker was the son of Samuel, former school master at the first endowed school; he was also instrumental in the development of the steel refining business on Cupola Lane, which later moved to Masborough. The trustees he appointed were all ‘Dissenters’ – Calvinists and Congregationalists and very much men of Grenoside, rather than Ecclesfield. Under the trust, the building was to be used to teach poor children and also as a public meeting place for religious worship.
Thomas Walker endowed the charity with an annual sum of ten pounds, a rent charge from property he had sold to Josiah Ashton on Lump Lane. Other endowments consisted of rents from properties, probably on Cupola, these rents bringing in seven pounds and ten shillings a year.lent by Benjamin Tingle, one of the trustees.
The school closed around 1890. In 1895 a meeting chaired by William Dronfield, a clog sole maker from the ‘Wood Yard’ petitioned the charity commissioners to allow the charity to continue. The building was to be used as a reading room and institute, particularly for the young men of Grenoside, who ‘when they left school had only the public house on one hand and the street corner on the other’.
So the Grenoside Reading Room and Institute was born. At the turn of the century Ecclesfield Parish council became the trustees of the charity and debates, lectures and concerts were held and a small selection of books and newspapers were provided. Until the 1970’s there were facilities to play card games, table tennis and darts, and more recently billiards and snooker.
In 2008, the trusteeship of the Reading Room passed from Ecclesfield Parish Council to residents of the village of Grenoside. Attempts are now being made with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the building and turn it into a Heritage Centre, meeting space and community amenity for use by residents of Grenoside and the surrounding areas.
We would like your ideas on the development of the building, perhaps you are part of a group or society
who could use the space for your meeting or event? Please come along, everyone is welcome.
The website is located at: www.grenosidereadingroom.co.uk