THE RIGHT HONORABLE CHARLES BOOTH
Thringstone House Community Centre is reputed to be the first Community Centre in the country. Bequeathed by Charles and Mary Booth in 1903 to the people of Thringstone and surrounding villages. Booth was a wealthy merchant from the Port of Liverpool who travelled regularly to London. He rented Grace Dieu Manor as a half way staging post, and brought his wife Mary and 5 children to the manor in 1886. During their life at Grace Dieu manor, Mary Booth established meetings for the women of Thringstone who came up to the manor to talk, have tea, sew, read and generally socialise, and were a great success. Charles wanted to do something for the men of the village and in 1901 Thringstone House was bought for this purpose. This new club provided a reading room and games room with allotments in an adjacent field. In 1911 the premises was extended incorporating a large hall on the first floor for dances and private functions. In this year a Deed of Trust was formed which was taken over by Leicestershire County Council in 1950. The "Club House" as it affectionately became known has provided for the physical, mental and social need of the communities ever since.
Charles wanted to help relieve the suffering of the poor in the East End of London. over 17 years he produced volumes of statistics which led the government to pass the first Old Age Pension Act in 1908. Copies of LIFE & LABOUR IN LONDON complete with maps can be viewed at the Community Centre.
text of the illuminated Address presented to Charles Booth in the House of Commons in 1909
" To the Right honourable CHARLES BOOTH, Privy Councillor, Fellow of the Royal Society, Doctor of Science in the University of Cambridge, D.C.L. in the University of Oxford, LL.D. in the University of Liverpool.
We the undersigned Members and Supporters of the National Committee of Organised Labour desire to offer you our sincere congratulations on the passing of the first Old Age Pensions Act in the United Kingdom.
To you more than to any other man, this first instalment of justice to the aged is due. Ten years ago Lord Rothschild's Committee of Experts had declared all Pension Schemes impracticable, and had declined to concider the schemes which you had advocated. Both Parties in the State appeared to acquiesce in this negative result.
Then you consented to expound your views before a series of Conference, composed of Representatives of Trade Unions, Friendly Societies, and Co-operative Societies. Everywhere you secured a most impressive unanimity in support of your propsals. The outcome of these Conferences was the National Committee of Organised labour, which has for the space of ten years permeated all classes with your views, and eventually succeeded in winning the Nation to your side.
The House of Commons has, either without a Dicision, or with overwhelming majorities endorsed the demand which we learned from you to adopt and enforce. His Majesty's Government has repeatedly declared its acceptance of your contention that Old Age Pensions should be Civil Right, universal, non-contributory, and free from all taint of poor law.
In the sphere of principle our victory is complete, and we are proud to acknowledge that our victory is yours.
You have supplied the ideas, the arguments, the convincing considerations, which have conquered the Nation. The half million aged persons who now draw free pensions from the State, are the first of a great multitude whose declining years will be made peaceful and honourable by your high souled initiative, and whose increasing infirmities will be sweetened and hallowed by gratitude to Almighty God for what you have done.'
The Address was signed by the following: Geo.M.Barnes (Chairman), Geo. D. Kelly (Vice-Cairman), Edward Cadbury (Treasurer), Frederick Rodgers (Secretary), F. Herbert Stead (Hon. Secretary), R.Waite (Hon. Secretary), Ths. Burt, George Cadbury, John V. Stevens.
Extract from Victorian Aspirations
For more information here are two links click on highlighted script
The Charles Booth Online Archive is a searchable resource giving access to archive material from the Booth collections of the Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Senate House Library.
LSE Library Exhibition–
Charles Booth's London: Mapping Victorian Lives