The Spennymoor Settlement
Drama Group - The Everyman Theatre Company
Contact Information for The Spennymoor Settlement
|The Settlement started in December 1931 in a shop in King street, containing a branch of the county library and was run by the Warden Mr. W. G. Farrell. An American group called the 'Pilgrim Trust' gave a grant to establish and maintain the resource until after the war. Facilities included a carpenters shop, theatre group, and cobblers, to give unemployed men a means of filling their time profitably during the depression. Play reading, local government, singing, history, women's crafts, a debating society, chess, and a sketching club were also provided. |
The original syllabus stated that; "The Settlement seeks to encourage tolerance, neighbourliness, and voluntary social service, and provides for its members opportunities to increase their knowledge, widen their interests, and cultivate their creative powers in a friendly atmosphere." All this from a small shop, (which contained the living quarters for the Warden on the first floor) and an outhouse.
In the first year membership (which was open to all persons over 18 years of age, men and women, employed or unemployed) stood at 250 adults, with 100 children involved in the Childrens Play Centre, and The Boy Scouts Troop.
Prince of Wales visit
|The Prince of Wales made his last visit to the Settlement on December 6th 1934, and among those presented to him were Mr. and Mrs. Farrell and the Prince was shown all aspects of the Settlement's work, and expressed his pleasure at seeing some of the most interesting work carried out at any Social Centre in the North East.|
Theatre Art Gallery
|Government help built the Theatre Art Gallery in 1938 at a cost of ~£1500, and the County Council and Urban District Council have given generous aid to keep the facility going.|
Famous people who spent time at The Settlement
|Artist Tisa Hess (Countess Elisabeth von der Schulenberg) came to Spennymoor in 1936 and spent 3 years at the Settlement. She taught woodcarving and other forms of art to the members and designed a stone carving which is still in place set into the outer wall of the building, now in a sadly weathered condition. She returned to Germany in 1939 but was unable to come back to England.
After the war she entered a convent and became known as Sister Paula teaching and creating sculpture. Some of her Settlement work is still in existence. She died in 2001.
Writer and Playwright Sid Chaplin studied for his further education at extra-mural classes at the Spennymoor Settlement. From here he won a scholarship to Fircroft college, and went on to develop his skills in creative writing. Later he wrote for the theatre and contributed to BBC drama "When the boat comes in". He died in 1986.
Local artists Norman Cornish ,Tom McGuinness, Robert Heslop, and Herbert Dees spent time at the Settlement also.