hist_instThe Institute

We call it that because it says it in stone over the front door. It was never called a Village Hall, and it will probably never be called a Resource Centre, even if that is what it is.

Hornby Institute is a listed building because it was designed by the famous firm of Lancaster architects, Austin and Paley and erected and completed in 1916.

The then Lord of the Manor, Colonel Foster had a son approaching his 21st birthday. As a gift to him and to the village men, the stone-built structure was provided. It was essentially a mens` institute since it boasted a reading room for Hornby and District men and a billiard room for the men of the village to enjoy that recreation.

At its official opening, Colonel Foster played the vicar, the Rev. Williamson at billiards – and lost, though he made the highest break. However, the ladies were not entirely fogotten. The `upstairs room` as it was always called, was intended for dancing and whist-drives. Even in 1916 village society did not expect the men to dance with each other. And ladies always had a role in the kitchens provided. The reading room to-day is the social lounge, not unlike its original purpose, but in a more enlightened age, open to all. The billiard room is now the snooker room but in all else stays as it was. The `upstairs room` is now the multi-purpose Foster Suite for obvious reasons and the kitchens, though still kitchens, would leave the original ladies gasping in amazement at to-day`s mod-cons.

One war ended and another came and passed before extensions were deemed necessary. A bigger dance-hall, a stage for plays and concerts, changing rooms, a coffee-bar area. It was now 1956 and about £12.000 was required for the work. Led by the then Hornby Castle incumbent, Sir Harold Parkinson, the village raised the money in a relatively short time. The new extensions were built, the older part was given a face-lift and the premises re-opened for business. Sir Harold then matched the money raised by investing a similar sum with the Charity Commissioners. Hornby Institute became a listed charity and Hornby Village Trust was formed to administer the premises. The 1956 area is now the Parkinson Suite.

From 1956 little was done to the building until almost 50 years later, when the building had become somewhat shabby and inefficient to run but above all it lacked even the basic resources needed in a modern community centre. So an application was made to the National Lottery, and in particular because of the buildings heritage status to the Heritage Lottery. The application made for extensions and refurbishment, including modern essentials such as disabled access. With all of these factors having to be taken into account, the Project was awarded nearly 1.3 million pounds and work then started on transforming the building into what you see today. There is now a Wenning room overlooking the river, a Boarshead room looking towards the hill behind, there is also a bar and an IT suite along with all the original rooms. The renewal superbly unites the old and the new parts of the building, so by continuing the long tradition of Hornby and District inhabitants having a suitable venue in which to socialise and long may it continue.


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