Friday, 6 July 2012

The Union Hall, Londonderry

The Union Hall  at the bottom of Shipquay Street will be remembered by many. The building remains but it is  now some thirty years since the hall finally closed and the trustees sold the premises.

Whilst the document pictured opposite is described as a Trust Deed it  also comprises a conveyance to the original trustees. The recitals indicate that the building was constructed by James McCorkell of 2 Queen Street Londonderry some time between 1879 and 1886. As to the the site's prior history the assurance tells us that by 1860 there was a building on it called the King's Stores and that it was occupied by a firm called Henderson & Company as a , " wholesale and retail provision and grocery warehouse." At the time of the Trust Deed the ground floor of the then building was occupied by the City Cafe save for, " three offices or shops" fronting Magazine Street. Ultimately the City Cafe would occupy the entire ground floor of the building.

The assurance to the Trustees states that they are to hold the premises, " upon and for the trusts intents and purposes hereinafter declared." Those aims or objects of the trust are set out in clause 1 of the Deed. They might be summarised as being of a Christian, evangelical, philanthropic and improving nature with a strong Protestant overlay. It is stated that the Buildings and Furniture shall be used for the following purposes:
  1. A Central place of meeting where Evangelistic work of a united or undenominational character which shall strengthen and benefit all Protestant Denominations, which agree with the basis of doctrine hereinafter mentioned, while specifically favouring none can be carried on by the united efforts of Protestant Evangelical Christians of various denominations, holding and professing the doctrines as set forth in Clause II.
  2. A central united Christian Association to be conducted so as to meet as far as the trustees in their judgment shall consider practicable the spiritual intellectual and physical wants of young men in the City of Londonderry, by affording them suitable accommodation for Bible classes, prayer meetings, member's meetings, religious, literary and social intercourse, libraries, reading rooms, refreshment rooms, gymnasium, lavatories and other conveniences, and for the general purposes of a Young Men's Christian Association
  3. A central united Christian Association of a like character for the purposes of a Young Women's Christian Association
  4. A centre for all religious but undenominational work in the City of Londonderry, and a recognized rallying point for similar work throughout Ireland.
  5. A daily or other prayer meeting or prayer meetings at such times and periods as the trustees shall from time to time determine upon.
  6. A Hall or place of meeting where the trustees may hold and conduct or arrange for special Evangelistic services, Temperance meetings, and annual or periodical Christian conventions or other such like meetings as may be considered desirable.
  7. For religious work amongst the sailors in the port of Londonderry, and the soldiers in the garrison.
  8. For meetings for benevolent, moral and religious purposes, including Missionary Societies Meetings, Band of Hope Meetings, Tract Depository and Sabbath School conventions, meetings for the Suppression of Vice, Midnight meetings, Prison Gate Missions, Philanthropic, Scientific and such other meetings as the Trustees may approve of.
  9. For the occasional holding at the discretion of the trustees and for such time as said trustees may think fit, of the the ordinary services of any Protestant Evangelical Christian Church or Denomination, whose Doctrines shall be in harmony and not inconsistent with the Basis of Doctrine hereinafter set forth.
  10. For meetings for feeding destitute poor in connection with religious work, and mother's meetings and all similar Christian work.
  11. Or for all or any such other purpose or purposes of a like or kindred nature as shall from time to time be approved of and sanctioned by the trustees for the time being, but not for any Political, Sectarian or party purposes, subject nevertheless to the provisions and declarations contained in the following clauses hereinafter inserted .....
There were seven original trustees. Hugh Lyle of Larchmount, Londonderry represented the Church of Ireland, Alexander McVicker of Londonderry, draper, represented the Irish Presbyterian Church, Charles Gordon of Londonderry, Delph and China Merchant represented the Methodist Body,Thomas C Campbell and David Campbell both of Ballinagard represented the Irish Congregational Body, Robert Mills of Londonderry, Rope and Sail Maker was nominated by the aforesaid James McCorkell and David Crawford of Waterside Londonderry is stated as representing other Protestant Sects such as Baptists, Members of the Society of Friends, Open and Close Plymouth Brethren and the Salvation Army.

One of the requirements to be an original trustee or a new trustee was that the individual should be a , "consistent total abstainer from all intoxicating drinks."

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