The public rooms were erected in 1852 following an appeal for subscriptions in £5 shares and donations. A total of £785 was raised and the building named The Subscription Rooms.
The ground floor housed the Mechanics Institute with its library, whilst lectures (some delivered by lecturers of high repute), concerts, dramatic performances and social functions took place on the first floor in the main hall.
By 1870 a coffee room had been opened and chess and draughts played. One thousand books were now available in the library and newspapers could be read. At this time twice-monthly lectures, debates and ‘Penny Readings’ also took place.
From about 1915 the Subscription Rooms became used as a Cinema.
In the meantime shares had been bought and sold and those extant were now sold to Mr Geoffrey Pavey–Smith. The premises remained in public use.
A library moved into the premises in 1952.
In 1954 Mr Pavey-Smith died. The records of the disposal of the estate describe the Sub Rooms as being mainly used as a cinema with seating on the top floor for 336 people, with a ladies and gents hairdresser, let to a Mr Beach for £100.
In 1960 the building was sold and became the premises of a Boys’ Club, affiliated to both the National Association of Boys Clubs (NABC) and the Gloucestershire Association of Boys Clubs. Later the NABC became known as the National Association of Clubs for Young People. Sports activities took place on the land at the rear of the building; there were hard surface for football and grass courts for lawn tennis.
At this time (1960) the ground floor (lower room) remained a reading room and Mechanics Institute Library, and subsequently the Nailsworth Branch of the County Library.
The library remained in the building until it moved to the purpose built library / Police Station/ Mortimer Rooms complex in 1973.
A gents barber shop was opened in the mid 1970’s in the room vacated by the library.
The Nailsworth Boys Old Members Social Club – a licensed club – was formed in 1973 and immediately took up occupancy of the rear room on the ground floor (i.e. behind the barber shop) and remained until Christmas 2000.
Nailsworth Tennis Club (NTC) entered into a 21 year lease with the Boys Club in 1989 to use the land at the rear of the premises and created two all weather surface tennis courts under floodlights; this is served by a small wooden pavilion.
The hard surface area between the tennis courts and the main premises has been used in the past for 5 a side football. It is not currently used as it is in a poor state of repair (2009).
A film show was held in the main hall in September 1992 as part of the celebrations to commemorate Nailsworth’s Centenary as a Civil Parish.
A Kids Club catering for children up to the age of 10 used the club premises on Saturday mornings for about 7 years from 1992 to March 1999.
The Boys Club remained primarily in use as a youth club having by now taken on girl members, until cessation for health and safety reasons at the end of 2000.
A mid-week badminton club has used the premises continuously since early 1990’s to the present day.
During the 40 years of the Boys Club (latterly Boys and Girls) the activities inside the building included indoor games such as table tennis, darts, pool, snooker, indoor football, octo-pool, basket-ball, short tennis, circuit training, weight–lifting and taikwondo. Outdoor games on the rear hard courts and grass area at this time included football, basket-ball, lawn tennis.
As an affiliated member of the Gloucestershire Association of Boys Clubs (itself a member of the National Association), Nailsworth sometimes hosted county competitions for members of other clubs.
Lawn tennis for Club members continued on the hard tennis courts as a condition of the lease with the Nailsworth Tennis Club.
The club building was used for decades for the matches of the Stroud District Table-tennis League of which the NBC was a member.
AGM’s of the Stroud & District Football Association were held here.
Discos in the main hall were a regular feature in the 1980’s / early 1990’s with public entry.
Author: Les Haines.
Archive sources include:
- A Portrait of Nailsworth by Betty Mills; ISBN 0 948640 00 6; published 1985:
- Documents held by Les Haines, former Boys Club Chair, current NYCE Chair.