Tuesday, May 10, 2022

J.W. Logan MP and his portable meeting room Free Speech Hall

Denied the use of village school halls by the Tories, my hero J.W. Logan took his own building around with him. I had imagined that it was some kind of tent, but an account in the Leicester Chronicle of 7 December 1889 shows it was far more than that:

On Saturday evening Mr. J.W. Logan, the Liberal candidate for the Market Harborough Division, addressed crowded meeting at Church Langton in his new portable building, to which has been given the appropriate appellation of Free Speech Hall. 
The building is an exceedingly neat and commodious wooden structure of oblong shape, being thirty feet long by twelve feet broad, and capable of accommodating about 150 people. Seats are arranged on each side to hold four, leaving a gangway up the centre by which the platform is reached. 
The heating apparatus consists of an elegant little stove, light being supplied by means of a couple of large lamps pendant from the top. When lighted and comfortably warmed and filled with an enthusiastic audience, as was Free Speech Hall on Saturday evening, it is not easy to imagine when inside that the erection is anything other than a permanent one. 
A lamp is hung at the entrance outside, and along one of the outer flanks is inscribed in large characters, "The system that will not bear discussion is doomed." 
The whole affair affords an additional earnest of the zeal and indomitable pluck of Mr. Logan in the cause which he has so thoroughly at heart, and is calculated to falsify the prophetic inspiration of his Tory friends, that he would ere long return to their fold - the wish of course being father to the thought.

Logan did start out as a Conservative, but - at least as he told the story - he was so shocked by the poverty he saw in Ireland that he became a Liberal and a thoroughgoing Radical at that. I must blog about this one day.

The Chronicle, which was clearly a splendidly Liberal newspaper, said that this Church Langton meeting was held "on the Green, in proximity to the rectory gate".

This puts it more or less in the area shown in the photograph above. This now includes the village war memorial, which includes the name of Logan's son Hugh, who was four years old when this meeting took place.


Frank Little said...

Do we know how the portable meeting hall was transported and erected?

Jonathan Calder said...

Another report in the Leicester Chronicle says Logan could take it about with him on a dray and erect it in a very short time. It sounds like a flat pack building.