In 1911 The Robinson Institute was built by a successful businessman, Thomas Robinson, to celebrate the Coronation of King George V. The inscription over the door reads:
“The Robinson Institute, Presented to the People of Glaisdale by the late Thos Robinson Esq JP (The Gables) to Commemorate the Coronation of King George V 1911.”
In January 1913 The Institute was handed over to the Trustees of the Institute from the Trustees of the Will of Thomas Robinson Esq, deceased, and his son Thomas Alexander Robinson Esq to hold in trust ‘for ever’:
(a) As a Reading Room and Library
(b) For any Meetings or Lectures or other objects, ends or purposes having in view the intellectual moral or social wants of the people living in the said Township of Glaisdale which the Trustees may think desirable…
… subject to such Rules and Regulations for the management and government of the Institute as shall from time to time be framed by the Trustees.
Thomas Alexander Robinson (1830 – 1912)
Originally from Houghton le Spring, Co. Durham, Thomas Robinson was the son of a blacksmith. He worked as a clerk to a coalmine company owner, a role which took him to Europe where he saw an opportunity to import cheap fresh eggs to England to feed the growing masses in the industrial towns of the 1860s. Later he set up a shipping company in West Hartlepool, which moved to the deeper port of Hull around 1901 and was known as Thomas Robinson & Sons Co. Ltd.
In c.1904 Mr Robinson purchased land in Glaisdale and built The Gables, a prominent brick house on the hillside above the old site of the Glaisdale Iron Works, which had closed 25 years previously. He lived there with his daughter, Esther Isabella, and niece, Annie Greenhalgh, and in 1911 built ‘The Robinson Institute’.
Thomas Robinson’s Will provided for the Institute to be held in trust for the benefit of the people of Glaisdale. It also allowed for his daughter and niece to continue living at The Gables after his death for their lifetimes, the house to be divided into two if necessary, but for each ‘at all reasonable time have access to his autopiano and organ’; the ownership of the house was bestowed on his son Thomas Alexander Robinson (d. 13 January 1920), who lived at Ferriby House, North Ferriby, on the Humber.
Esther Isabella Robinson (Spinster) died at the The Gables, Glaisdale, on 16 January 1936. Annie Greenhalgh, Thomas Robinson’s niece, moved away to Lancashire by the 1940s.
The Robinson shipping firm made heavy losses during the World Wars, when egg supplies from occupied Europe dried up. The company ceased around 1963. Tom Robinson, great-great-grandson of the original benefactor, remembers family holidays during the 1950s and 60s at Millers Wood, when it was owned by members of his family.
Copyright © Valley News, July 2011 issue, published by www.basementpress.com
Thomas Alexander Robinson
The Original Trustees listed in the 1913 Conveyance:
Thomas Alexander Robinson
Esther Isabella Robinson – Spinster
Annie Greenhalgh – Spinster
Charles Smith – Auctioneer
Henry Hope – Gardener
James Richmond – Grocer
Alfred Thompson – Water Bailiff
William Ernest Mackridge – Grocer (a Great Uncle of William & Tom Lister, Glaisdale)
John Yeoman – Farmer
Frederick Augustus Matthew Edward
David Harrison – Postmaster
Robert Thompson – Farmer
Richard Clark Wakefield – Farmer
William Dale Brown – Farmer
William Lister – Farmer (a Great Uncle of William & Tom Lister, Glaisdale)
Edwin Atkinson – Butcher
(Up until 2001, the Trustees were appointed for life.)