Institute Opening Document (1904)

Urban District
Document (1898)
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Driving License

The Institute was a very large and commondious Institute, and was open and free "without question of interference" to every man entitled to wear the King or Queens' Uniform. A certain number of civilians could also become members on payment of a small subscription. Founded in 1880, in hired room in Union Street, it was opened on 29th September 1883, by Dr Harold Browne, Bishop of WInchester. It contained, downstairs, a large Refreshment Bar and Baths, whilst the accomodation upstairs comprised of a Reading Room, Writing Room, Sleeping Accommodation, a Chapel of ease and a magnificent Billiards Room, containing three first class tables erected as a memorial to Lieut-Col J B Walker's work as Honorary Secretary of the Insitute. The Lainson Music Room contained seven fine paintings by old masters. The very beautiful Chapel, built in memory of General Gordon, was at the top of the building, and was always worth a visit. The stained glass windows were by C E Kempe, and his cousin and successor, Walter Tower. It was managed by a Committee composed of retired and serving officers, non-commissisioned officers, civilians, representatives of the Church of England Chaplains serving at Aldershot and local clergy. Throughout the whole club there is a delightful sense of absolute freedom, and there was a welcome to all soldiers without question or interference as to their religious convictions. Accomodation was always available to men on leave, the upstairs part of the building being run on the same principal as the Union Jack Club. Created long before the advent of the aeroplane, the huge carved notice on the north of the building read... SOLDIERS AND SAILORS WELCOME, with no mention of airmen, but of course these were always accepted in the institute.

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