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    Creator & Administrator Kev's Avatar
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    Default The Athenaeum

    Where peace and quiet is a real work of art

    Dec 26 2007 by Liza Williams, Liverpool Daily Post

    TUCKED away from the hustle and bustle of Church Street, three women stitch, clean and polish in an oasis of calm, preserving Liverpool’s literary legacy.

    The “library ladies” of Liverpool’s Athenaeum, hidden away on Church Alley, satisfy their love of books by conserving the historic reading room’s 60,000 collection.

    Placed on the table in front of them are a selection of shaving brushes, metal hair clips and fine paper – even a soldering iron has a place in their kit.

    Neatly stacked alongside are beautifully crafted copies of the Meaning of Relativity, Contributions to Molecular Physics and a volume entitled Chevereul on Colours.

    “It looks like we have the scientific books today,” says Susan Gothard, who has been preserving the collection for nearly 25 years.

    “Our methods are not very hi-tech but I think that is part of the charm. We will even use Vaseline to get a shine on the front of the books if they need it.”

    In the historic reading rooms, Mrs Gothard is one of three women – or “library ladies” – who clean, mend and preserve the volumes every other Thursday.

    They are all members of various Merseyside branches of the Decorative and Fine Arts Society (NADFAS) and volunteer at the Athenaeum because they love literature.

    Fellow heritage volunteer and head of the group, Joan Moran, said: “It is a lovely feeling coming in here, it is an escape, an oasis of calm, from Church Street. You could be in another world.

    “The work is a labour of love for all of us.”


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    The Athenaeum was established in Liverpool in 1797, and originally occupied the space which is now Primark.

    When the council widened Church Street in the early 20th Century, the library moved to its current home and was recreated.

    There are 12 library ladies in total, affectionately named by former club member Colonel Cook, whose niece Susan still belongs to the fold.

    The other groups help conserve prints, maps and other items the library holds in its possession.

    Each volunteer has to undergo regular training, much of which has been carried out at the Conservation Centre, on Whitechapel.

    The ladies say they are surprised and delighted every time they take a selection of books from the shelves. Mrs Gothard said: “There is such an array of books here, they often surprise you. My favourite was the Bible in Eskimo.

    “We are here for our love of books and we will often read bits out to each other. The art books are wonderful,” added Mrs Moran.

    The longest-standing member of the group is Joy Rigby, from Crosby, who joined after hearing about the society on the radio.

    “It is such a pleasure to be surrounded by the books and to know you are helping to keep them in the best possible condition,” she said.

    “It is a wonderful thing to be able to come here.”
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    Liverpool in Pictures/ YO! Liverpool has taken me over 10 years to develop and maintain.

    All server & domain costs are covered by myself & kind donations of individuals.

    If you like the website, please donatevia PayPal!




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    Kev
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    DaisyChains
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev View Post






    Brilliant pics Kev.
    My old work had a tour of there last year. I am sorry I didn't go now!

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    Creator & Administrator Kev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaisyChains View Post
    Brilliant pics Kev.
    My old work had a tour of there last year. I am sorry I didn't go now!
    Thank you
    Liverpool in Pictures/ YO! Liverpool has taken me over 10 years to develop and maintain.

    All server & domain costs are covered by myself & kind donations of individuals.

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    Senior Member lindylou's Avatar
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    took these photos of the back of the former George Henry Lees.
    The thin wedge shape of the building always fascinates me. Also the old fashioned doorway - you can imagine how the shop must have looked in days gone by.
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    Senior Member A.D.W's Avatar
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    Very good pictures, Kev and Lindylou.

    Currently Ignoring:
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    The voices in my head


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    thank you very muchski
    Liverpool in Pictures/ YO! Liverpool has taken me over 10 years to develop and maintain.

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    IT IS Liverpool?s oldest private members club, a secret sanctum of tranquillity upholding fine traditions ? but now looking to the future, too.

    The Athenaeum ? born of an era long gone ? not only survives today but continues to thrive with a forward-thinking attitude that actively encourages young people to join.

    It was formed in 1797 in order that its shareholding proprietors (members) might pursue the ?acquisition of knowledge? in attractive and pleasant surroundings.

    The club claims its newsroom ? where proprietors gather to read newspapers, books, or magazines ? is the most splendid room of its kind in Liverpool.

    Its library ? home to one of the largest private collections, with 60,000 items ? is renowned for housing some of the country?s most important documents.

    And its membership has been made up of some of the most distinguished individuals in the city?s history ? slavery abolitionist and founding member William Roscoe, to name just one.

    So, just how does one become a member of the club? ?Generally speaking, if you want to become a proprietor, you are proposed and seconded by existing proprietors,? says the club?s president, Hilary Gatenby.

    ?Or you can ring and ask for a membership pack and after application would be called in to meet committee members.

    ?It?s really to answer any questions you might have and to see if it?s the sort of place you hope it will be.

    ?It?s all on the website really.?

    The website is a key example of how the club has moved into the 21st century.

    Refusing to let 21st-century technology overtake tradition and etiquette, though, mobile phones must be switched off except in the Monsarrat room.

    Mrs Gatenby joined after visiting the club a number of times with a friend, who encouraged her to become a proprietor.

    ?We like to welcome people to join, and we would always like to encourage younger people to join to keep it fresh.

    ?The Athenaeum really is a very open, outward-looking, friendly institution that encourages learning.?

    That may in part explain a graduated fee structure that sees members under 25 pay only ?125 a year.

    ?People treat each other with respect, while holding vastly different views,? Mrs Gatenby said of the Athenaeum?s ethos. Theoretically, there can only be 500 full proprietors and 500 associate members, but Mrs Gatenby does not foresee the club having to turn people away.

    There are currently more than 500 members of the Athenaeum ? but full fees are only paid by those between 40 and 65 years old.

    The current membership is ?predominately older?, drawn from those involved in business, the law, the church, academia, public service, and the armed services.

    But there is a growing number of young people, including some students, and a number of graduates.

    ?That?s the area we are really encouraging,? said Mrs Gatenby. ?It?s a slow process, but that?s the best way, gradually growing.?

    Liverpool Echo
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    Senior Member taffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev View Post
    IT IS Liverpool?s oldest private members club, a secret sanctum of tranquillity upholding fine traditions ? but now looking to the future, too.

    The Athenaeum ? born of an era long gone ? not only survives today but continues to thrive with a forward-thinking attitude that actively encourages young people to join.


    And its membership has been made up of some of the most distinguished individuals in the city?s history ? slavery abolitionist and founding member William Roscoe, to name just one.

    Liverpool Echo
    This is guilding the lilly a little. Many Liverpool slave traders were also members !!

    For but one example see

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Tobin

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    Default Athenaeum Slave Traders

    I think you will find that is a urban myth. The Athenaeum was founded by the liberals of Liverpool including William Roscoe would was responsible for promoting the anti slavery Bill along with Wilberforce. He became the MP for Liverpool soley to push the Bill through Parliament and then resigned after he was successful. He was also beaten up by sailors in Castle street because they were fearful of losing their jobs if slavery was abolished.

    If you know of any Athenaeum proprietors who were slavers I would very much like to know who they were. I think you mean the Lyceum club members who were slavers as they were the conservatives of the town.

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