Posts Tagged ‘info. centres’

In the 1970s and early 1980s, St Katherine’s Centre was a hub of community support activities such as the Welfare Rights Project and pressure groups such as The Right to Fuel Action Group and a branch of the Child Poverty Action Group. The Centre also housed a Women’s Centre, the Council of Tenants Association, Shelter and Jaw’s Wholefood Cafeteria.

St Katherine’s Club had originally been founded as a girls’ club in 1917 providing domestic, educational, recreational and religious activities. The club was initially based in a Shiprow tenement but soon moved to Broad Street and then in 1937 to a purpose built building in West North Street. After the Second World War the club became more of a community centre open to all, addressing the needs of working class communities. The Centre closed down in 1985 and was bought by the Council. It is now the Lemon Tree cultural venue.

References: “Education Through Recreation”: A History of St Katherine’s Club and Community Centre 1917 – 1985 (Lisa G Savijn , undated, c.1990s)

Sources: unknown but there will be related City Council papers in Aberdeen City Archives.

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After many years of organising, the Aberdeen Social Centre, based in the offices of the Aberdeen Trades Union Council in the Adelphi, opened its doors in September 2018. The Centre aims to be a valuable resource for the city where local campaign groups can hold meetings, disseminate information, hold social events and be part of a wider network of support.

References: website.

Sources: unknown.

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In 1980 the Grampian Union Against Youth Unemployment was set up with the assistance of Aberdeen Trades Council, to campaign for better services and facilities for the unemployed. By 1981 the Union (now called the Grampian Unemployment Union) had a ‘centre’ at the Trades Council property at 21 Adelphi and provided advice on welfare rights and campaigned against benefit cuts etc. In 1983 the Aberdeen Unemployment Centre was established at 334 George Street, in 1985 re-located to the St Katherine’s Centre at West North Street and finally in 1988 moved to 54 Frederick Street. The Centre published their own news-sheets, initially ‘Beat the Doledrum’ and then from the late 1980s ‘The Signing-On-Times’. The Centre was also utilised by various groups such as the Anti-Poll Tax Movement and in 1989 the Memorial Library of the 15th International Brigade was opened at the Centre (the library is now housed at the Aberdeen Trades Union Council offices at the Adelphi).

In 1992 the centre became the Aberdeen Employment Restart Centre.

Related entries: Aberdeen Claimant’s Union and Aberdeen Trades Union Council.

References: Aberdeen Trades Union Council Annual Reports and see below.

Sources: Some material such as annual reports are held as part of the Aberdeen Trades Union Council archives at the University of Aberdeen Library.

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The Aberdeen Women’s Centre was based at Shoe Lane and part of the Council owned St Katherine’s Club/Lemon Tree site. The centre offered a women only space for women’s groups (such as the Women’s Action Group) and classes to meet.

References: Aberdeen Women’s Alliance, City Centre Women’s Heritage Walk leaflet (2014).

Sources: archives are held at Aberdeen City Archives.

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The Association was founded in 1985 as a co-ordinating body for some 20 peace groups in the city, such as Aberdeen CND, Scientists Against Nuclear Arms and Teachers for Nuclear Disarmament. The Association had an information shop at 334 George Street which was a meeting place, shop and information hub. The Association also had a part time peace worker appointed after a grant from the Quakers. The centre at some point moved to 15 Belmont Street (at 1989).

References: Aberdeen Trades Union Council annual report 1985. Aberdeen City Libraries Directory of Community Contacts (1989).

Sources: unknown.

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Boomtown Books, ‘Aberdeen’s Radical Bookshop’, was formed in late 1976 and based at 167 King Street. The shop sold radical books (such as Peace News and Freedom), was a disseminator of local information from campaign groups and also acted as a postal address for groups. The shop shared space with Aberdeen People’s Press, the Workers’ Educational Association, and a wholefood shop Ambrosia Wholefoods (Cairnleith Croft).

References: Aberdeen People Press.

Sources: unknown.

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Founded in 1903 by Albert Mansbridge, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) was created to promote the higher education of working men and women at a time when few educational opportunities existed for the working class. The WEA is a national, voluntary organisation which provides adult education based on democratic principles.

In 1905, the first WEA branch was founded in Scotland in Springburn. It was followed by branches in Edinburgh in 1912, Glasgow in 1916 and Dundee and Ayrshire in 1917. The Aberdeen and District branch was founded in 1913 with Joseph Duncan, President of Aberdeen Trades Council and founder and Secretary of the Scottish Farm Servants Union, as President. The close connections between trade unionists and the WEA continued when Jimmy Milne, Secretary of the Trades Council, became a member of the WEA Executive Committee in 1966.

The range of subjects taught by the WEA has always been extensive and often focussed on social purpose, especially to marginalised and disadvantaged parts of the community. In the 1970s for example there was a particular programme developed relating to women’s rights and a crèche service was established, for daytime classes, conferences and community activities. Also, in the mid-1970s, the Association in collaboration with others such as Aberdeen Peoples Press, started a theatre project called ‘Playtime’, which brought socialist and community theatre to the city. Topics included subjects such as the Paris Commune, the role of women and cuts to social services.

There have been numerous structural changes, resulting in name changes as well: in 1946 the branch became part of the WEA North of Scotland District, which extended from the river Tay to Shetland. Then in 1993 the Districts merged to form the WEA Scottish Association and new local associations formed in the North-East, Moray, Inverness and North Highland.

The WEA had offices at 36 Albyn Place, later at Kittybrewster Shopping Centre and then in 1979 moved to 163 King Street (where they are still located today) sharing space with Aberdeen People’s Press, a wholefood shop (Ambrosia Wholefoods/Cairnleith Croft) and a bookshop (Boomtown Books).

References: website and Pairts: A Story of the WEA in Aberdeen and the North East 1913 – 2013 (WEA North-East Local Association, 2013).

Sources: some papers are held at Aberdeen City Archives (from c.1970 – 1993) and also at the National Library of Scotland. The UK central archive is managed by London Metropolitan University and attached to the TUC Collection.

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