The Reading Rooms were made possible by the Education Acts which made literacy almost universal. They were killed off by the growth of radio and television which make entertainment a solitary occupation. A few favoured spots still have a Reading Room, at Southwold where the Sailors’ Reading Room continues in use. Reading was not the only occupation which happened there; games such as billiards were popular, In Cawston this was played in the cellar under the reading room and as in the above photo - piano playing. The Reading Room was an excellent institution that brought the community together in a way nothing has done since. Nothing did before either, this side of the Reformation; then the Parish Church fulfilled the same sort of function.
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Many thanks for permission to reproduce material from the Joe Mason website blog Click Here to visit blog and more information.
Many thanks for permission to reproduce this email received by e-mail 28th January 2012:
Hi , I have just been looking at the website, and the latest additions on the Cawston Historical Society pages - brilliant as usual and very interesting. I think that I can help with more information on the Reading Room and its owner though as it has a strong family connection.
The old Prince of Wales public house and premises became Prince of Wales Works around 1907 when they were bought by William A Bush, who established an Agricultural Engineering business there. The business included associated trades such as blacksmithing, building, carpentry and timber trading etc, and he became a major employer in the village employing 20 -30 men.
The Reading Room, in the picture, which was supplied by Jo Mason was set up by William Bush in the early 1900's in part of his premises, he was a keen believer in education and helping his fellow men and was an established Methodist lay preacher and later both a long serving member of and Chairman of the Parish Council and The Heath Trust as well as serving as a District Councillor on the St. Faiths and Aylsham District Council.