Move, move and move again
The Borough Café, the society's first home, stood on Leeds Road, approximately where the post-office is now. Meetings continued there until the summer of 1956 when operations were transferred to the Civic Theatre for the next season, apparently for financial reasons. The society was paying a room rental of 10/- per meeting in 1950, a sum which remained unchanged up to the end of January 1956. In February the payment suddenly increased to 15/-. With the annual membership subscription standing at 10/6 (only 6d more than when the society began; it wasn't increased again until 1962!) the extra burden must have been considerable. One member made the following note: "May 4th. AGM at Boro'. Decided to hold meetings in Civic Theatre in future. ½ the price".
The treasurer's notebook does indeed record a payment of 7/6 to the Civic Theatre, albeit with an additional 2/6 for caretaker services, on August 3rd. This precedes the 1956-57 season which commenced on September 21st and it is not clear what the nature of this extra meeting was. The society had made use of the Civic Theatre on an earlier occasion: the minutes of the 1955 AGM state "That the Goodman's recital should be held at the Civic Theatre on behalf of Gawthorpe Hall Appeal". An impression that this venue would prove cheap might have been gained from such occasional events. The reality was that the society paid out nearly £12 for room rent and caretaker services during their one season at the Civic Theatre, the Christmas Party being particularly costly on both counts. Averaging at 15/- per meeting this was no better than the Borough and the 1957 AGM sent the committee on a quest for yet another room.
Next season found the society in an unsavoury establishment called Regan's Assembly Rooms, on an upper floor in premises next to the Prince of Wales on Leeds Road. Despite being cheaper than the Civic Theatre (12/6 per meeting) it pleased no-one. The 1958 AGM clearly indicated members' dissatisfaction and several possible locations were tentatively mentioned. These included the Co-operative rooms, the Weavers' Institute and Carr Road Baptists. It was left to the committee to investigate and the new season saw a move to the Guide Headquarters Room in Rigby Street. In winter it was necessary to light the fire and warm the room before meetings but these premises must have met with general approval since the society continued to meet there for nine years, during which time the rent per meeting remained at 12/6.
This newspaper picture was taken at Rigby St. during a programme presented on Feb.24th, 1961 by Mr. K. Westall of Barnoldswick G.S. By the summer of 1966 dissatisfaction was again being expressed, un-comfortable chairs being one of the points mentioned, and the secretary was asked to make enquiries about the possibility of renting a room at the Weavers' Institute, the Civic Theatre (again!) or the Clayton Hotel (for which one can readily visualise both advantages and disadvantages). No change was made until the following season when the society began meeting in Nelson and Colne College. A commodious room (Room 79) in a quiet corner of the ground floor, with a small store-room in which the playing equipment could be kept, proved most satisfactory. Add to this the fact that the College cafeteria used to be open in the evening for refreshments and it seemed that the society had, at last, found an ideal meeting place.
This happy arrangement was disrupted in 1972 when the College was re-structured to cope with its new role as a tertiary college. Walls were moved, rooms were put to other uses and a new building went up behind the main block. There was still accommodation for us but we were moved, first to the rear half of the main hall, then to the back of the library and yet again to a bare, new room near the library. Stability was finally achieved at the start of the next season in the cafeteria of the (now demolished) Onward Unit where we could brew up and were disturbed only by the Colne Morris Men whose practising in an adjacent building made the floor shake.
At the end of the 1975-76 season a whopping increase in room rental at the College led to a preliminary trial of the seating, lighting and acoustics of the reading room at Nelson Library. These proved more than adequate and this large, comfortable and conveniently central meeting place has been home to Nelson Gramophone Society for the last 27 years - over half the society's lifetime.