WE asked for memories of Stranocum Reading Room which, sadly, is now gone to make way for a new Orange Hall as reported in our last edition.
A Bushside man has sent us an excellent letter about his younger days when the Reading Room was one of the most popular venues in the locality.
Memories of the Stranocum “Reading Room”
My first memory of the Reading Room was when we attended a Christmas party for the children of the old Stranocum School; I believe this was funded by the Ford Hutchinson family who were the family in Stranocum House at that time.
I have many happy memories of the Reading Room, from about 8 years of age it was the focal point of our lives with weekly films shows presented by George Brockerton, sometimes twice a week, we would eagerly await the big old black car with the screen and projector strapped on the roof and the
reels of film on the back seat. (I think it was 9 pence in old money, about 4p today) for admission.
The caretaker at that time and for many years was Wille King who lived beside the hall.
I remember comedy greats of that era such as Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello and The Three Stooges were great favourites. Of course there were many cowboy stars as well, there always seemed to be Johnny Mac Brown on the “wee” film and other popular stars included Hop along Cassidy and Roy Rodgers with his horse “Trigger” then we had Errol Flynn sword fighting in the pirate films.
The hall was used in the winter evenings for recreational purposes with a pot belly stove in the centre of the room for heating, it was around the stove that the papers were read and discussed, I can remember activities like Darts and Table Tennis, board games such as Draughts (or as we called
it “check a board”) Ludo, card games and of course it was also a great place for catching up on all the latest news or gossip.
Some of the happiest times I remember were when on summer evenings and holidays with Shaun McCurdy, his brother Liam, Alan Blair, Alwyn Holmes, Joey Stewart my brother Eric among many we had a circuit around the outside of the hall where we had many races with a hoop and cleek.
(The hoop was a bicycle wheel rim and the cleek was a bent piece of wire that was used to propel and control the hoop)
Then of course the hall was the venue for many dances and wedding parties down the years. (I can recall the local blacksmith Dick McKay and his band playing at some of these) Guest Teas and Daffodil Teas were also held there for fund raising.
The local football team also used the hall for changing for games and team talks by the late George McCormick, before going down the lane opposite the hall to Fosters field.
I am sure there are many others with stories to tell and I look forward to these.