History

After two years of fundraising Ovingham Reading Room was officially opened on 18th May, 1894 by Mrs. E. Bigge (with a silver key). The building replaced an earlier Reading Room in Ovingham, the location of which remains a mystery.

Initially the building was for use by men only for playing billiards and chatting, as well as reading (there were no public libraries then).

For a period during the Second World War the Reading Room was used for billeting soldiers brought back from Dunkirk.

By 1965, with no kitchen or toilets, the building had fallen into disrepair and the Revd. Clifford Bartlett got together a group of residents who set about fundraising in order to refurbish it.

In 1969, the Reading Room Committee, headed by Gladys Mills, Alan Edgar and Douglas Mennear formally applied to the Duke of Northumberland to reinstate the Ovingham Goose Fair in order to raise funds for the renovation. Permission was granted. The Goose Fair continues to this day and is still organised by the management committee of the Reading Room. It takes place on the 3rd Saturday of June each year.

The initial fundraising project was a success and in 1971 Dame Irene Ward MP re-opened the Reading Room which now included an extension, a kitchen, a side hall and toilets. A second extension, the Blackett Room, built on land donated by Mr & Mrs Frank Atkinson, was opened in November 1984.

The Reading Room is now in effect the Village Hall and as such is at the heart of  the life of the village. It is the venue for a wide range of activities and is usually fully booked for most of the week.