Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 12, 2016.
Webpage updated: February 12, 2016

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Major-General Charles George Gordon CB, Royal Engineers, died on January 26th 1885 at the hands of the Mahdist forces while defending Khartoum in the Sudan.  He was a favourite of HM Queen Victoria and a man of marked Christian beliefs.  When the details of his death became known in England, and the manner in which he had been let down by British forces sent to relieve him, he was raised by the British press to that of a martyr.  He had given his life in a most horrible way -- his head had been severed and put on public display and his body was never recovered.

Many forms of monuments to his name were devised, from Gordon School to statues of the man astride a camel, and one of these was the Gordon Institute for Young Men.

The Gordon Institute in Devonport was formed by the Reverends M R Moore and E Read and was opened at number 18 Morice Street on the evening of Saturday March 27th 1886.  The ceremony was conducted by Admiral Grant CB, in the presence of Admirals Napier and Wake and Sir William Hamilton.

In his speech, Admiral Wake said: 'He was now getting old, but when he looked back to the time that he was young, he remembered the shoals which made the navigation of the sea of life so dangerous, and he was sure that the opportunity to meet together and strengthen each other by mutual help would be of inestimable value to them.'

For a subscription of sixpence per month, there would be access to a reading room, a gymnasium, a games room and a room that could be used for 'mutual improvement classes' or the like.  The Reverend Read offered the Institution a library of 150 books that had previously been the property of a similar but now defunct organisation in his parish of Saint Paul's.