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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12



In presenting this Report it will, perhaps, be desirable for the information of members to recapitulate the circumstances which led to the appointment of the Sub-Committee. They were as follow:—
1st.The Secretary had addressed a petition to the Provincial Council, with a view to ascertain to what extent, if at all, that Body would aid in increasing the efficiency of the Institution, by grant of a site or otherwise, and upon what conditions.
2nd.The late Mr Peter Williams had made an offer to sell to the Committee the buildings erected by him in Maclaggan street as a Club House, for the sum of L4000. After some discussion in Committee, in order to ensure the fullest investigation of the advantages of either proposal, it was resolved to refer Both subjects to a Sub-committee, consisting of the Vice-President, the Hon. Secretary, and Messrs J ago, Lakeman, Sligo, and Stout; with instructions to inquire into their respective merits, and to obtain all necessary information, and present the same in asuitable form, to be laid before a general meeting of the subscribers at an early date.

The Sub-Committee had scarcely began their inquiry, when the death of Mr Williams changed the offer of the holding of the Club Building from freehold to leasehold, as, the property being entailed, the executors had no power to sell it; but they state that they are willing to let it for a term of 14 or 21 years, at the rate of L350 per annum.

The extent of Accommodation that the Club Building contains is as follows:—

1 Cellar, 46 × 35, running beneath two shops,&c.

1 Cellar 46 × 16

Ground Floor
1. Shop with Fire-place, 46 × 16
Back Room do. 10 × 10
2. Shop 46 × 15

Large Kitchen at back, cooking apparatus, &c.

3. Shop 22 × 18
Parlor to do.
Back Room 10 x—

A Ten-stall Stable, Hay-loft, large Yard, &c., at back

First Floor
  • 1. 1 Room with Fire-place (left), say roughly 30 × 15
  • 2. 1 Room with Fire-place (centre), say roughly 28 × 21
  • 3. 1 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 30 × 15
  • 1 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 15 × 14
  • 1 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 18 × 14
  • 1 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 14 × 8
  • 1 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 14 × 16
  • 3 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 10 × 10
  • 2 Patent W.C. Cistern and Force-Pump
  • 2 Private Staircases, one main do.
Second Floor
  • 1 Room with Fire-place, 17 × 12 and 13 others
  • 1 Room with Fire-place, 16 × 12 and 12 × 9,15 × 12
  • 1 Room with Fire-place, 15 × 13 and 18 × 9, &c.

From the foregoing statement, it will be seen that the first floor alone affords nearly as much accommodation as that given by the present building, while there remains a valuable surplus of room, which could be appropriated for a Public Library, should that scheme be adopted, and Librarian's residence and store rooms, the want of which is increasingly felt. There are besides, three shops, eight upper rooms, hayloft, a ten-stalled stable (now let), and a large extent of cellarage. The whole, under judicious management, should let for a total sum that would materially relieve the pressure of the amount paid as annual rental for the building. But as against these advantages it must be stated that the size of the building would compel an increased expenditure in care-taking generally, and that the situation is in some respects objectionable. Moreover, to adapt the building for the purposes of the Institute, an outlay of from L200 to L350 would be required.

For the purpose of showing more distinctly the different advantages of the proposals of renting or building, approximate statements of the probable receipts and expenditure under each method are here subjoined, which, it is hoped, will place the two proposals more clearly before the Members.

page 4
Dr. £ s. d. To Rent... ... ... ... 350 0 0 Rates... ... ... ... 50 0 0 Salaries ... ... ... ... 300 0 0 Books, Magazines, and Newspapers ... ... ... 500 0 0 Gas ... ... ... ... 70 0 0 Coal ... ... ... ... 10 0 0 Insurance ... ... ... 30 0 0 Printing ... ... ... 20 0 0 Stationery ... ... ... 10 0 0 Deeds ... ... ... 10 0 0 Petty Expenses ... ... 10 0 0 £1360 0 0 CR £ s. d. By Members' Subscriptions... 660 0 0 Interest (of sum with Prov. Govt.) ... ... ... 200 0 0 Rent of old buildings, 4 yrs. 300 0 0 Do of new do do 200 0 0 £1360 0 0 *There is a Reserve Fund of £100 in hand towards fittings, &c.; but any expense of alterations, in excess of this sum, would have to be found from the first year's income, unless otherwise provided for.

Comparative Estimate of Receipts and Expenditure in Club Buildings, if Rented.

Comparative Estimate In New Building. Dr. £ s. d. To Salaries ... ... ... 280 0 0 Books ... ... ... 245 0 0 Magazines and Newspapers ... 100 0 0 Binding ... ... ... 40 0 0 Printing ... ... ... 20 0 0 Stationery ... ... ... 10 0 0 Gas ... ... ... 60 0 0 Coal... ... ... 10 0 0 Insurance ... ... ... 20 0 0 Law Expenses ... ... ... 10 0 0 Petty Expenses ... ... ... 10 0 0 "*Interest and Sinking Fund... 155 0 0 £960 0 0 CR. £ 8. d. By Members' Subscriptions 660 0 0 Rent of old premises for four years... ... ... 300 0 0 £960 0 0 *The sum of £2,500 being estimated as the cost of erecting new building; at least £500 would be required for fittings, &c. A loan of £500, at 8 per cent., is supposed to be incurred for this purpose, and to be repaid by annual instalments.

Comparative Estimate in New Building

Similar statements, having in view the receipt of a Provincial subsidy, were also prepared; but from the necessarily uncertain nature of the items on each side, the number of subscribers under the new condition, &c., they were not adopted by the sub-committee.

The members of your Sub-Committee then considered the alternative question of building with the funds already in hand; and, with a view to simplify matters, endeavoured to arrive at the minimum space required, for the purposes of the Institute, and relative cost of the space required.

They are of opinion that the Institute could scarcely be carried on efficiently with fewer rooms than the following, viz:—
1st. Library, say 30 by 20.
2nd. General reading-room, 45 by 25.
3rd. Magazine reading-room, 20 by 15.
4th. Conversation and writing-room. 25 by 17.
5th. Class-rooms—Four: one, 25 by 17; and three of smaller size, which could be thrown into one, by arrangement of partition, if required for any purpose.
page 5

The addition of a Librarian's residence within the building, as also of a lecture hall, would, be contingent on the amount of funds at the disposal of the Committee when the previous needs were satisfied, as either could be rented, if required, within a short distance. In considering this portion of the subject, your Committee consulted Mr John M'Gregor, architect (who had on former occasions kindly assisted the Committee), and inquired the cost of a plain building, containing the above accommodation, on an area of, say, 60ft × 50ft, and were informed by him that in all probability such a building, exclusive of fittings, could be erected for the sum of L2500, provided no special difficulties were presented in the way of foundation, or other cause.

All arrangement of the rooms as to convenience, provision for light, &c., &c., would necessarily depend greatly on the nature of the site, and would form matter for after consideration.

The size of the respective rooms would be as stated above, and departments for the Librarian, or for score rooms, could be arranged in the attic story, if deemed desirable.

Finally, your Committee carefully considered the offers of sites* received in reply to an advertisement issued last January, but were unable to recommend any of them, the prices asked being far beyond what they consider the Committee would be justified in giving for a site, as they find by recent inquiry, that in two cases equally desirable positions can be purchased for from L300 to L400, another is offered as low as £275, and doubtless others exist, if the Committee should determine upon purchasing a site.

On the other hand, your Committee have ascertained by letter to the Provincial Government, that the only site available from the Reserves is a portion of the Octagon Market, if the City Council are agreeable to such an occupation.

By desire of the Committee, the Hon. Secretary then wrote the City Corporation to ascertain their views on the subject, and received, for reply, that for th surrender of the said site the Corporation expected an equivalent—viz., the surrender of the lease of the site now held by the Committee of the Athenæum, the present buildings to be taken at a valuation.