The Institute - Village Hall Langham Village History Group
Langham Village History Group
Langham Village Web Site
Langham Institute started as a Reading Room for the men in the village in 1885 and its numbers increased such that the cottage room in which it was held became too small. Major Brocklehurst (later to become Lord Ranksborough) presided at an AGM of the Institute which decided to secure a site for a suitable building. Plans were drawn and the Earl of Gainsborough provided a site of about 1/10th acre. Money towards the £290 estimated cost was raised through a subscription appeal, particularly from local Landowners and Gentry. The building completed in 1891 consisted of a small reading room and large hall with a lean-to store for fuel and a chemical toilet added a little later. The Deed of Grant, dated 14th September 1891, shows the Earl of Lonsdale (of Lonsdale Belt fame), the Earl of Gainsborough and Major Brocklehurst as the initial Trustees under the 1853 Charity Trust Act and states the object of the Langham Institute was to promote social intercourse, moral and mental improvement and rational enjoyment for the inhabitants of Langham and their friends'. Ordinary members paid an entrance of 6d and then 1s per quarter, with a minimum age of 15. The Reading Room was open all day and provided with newspapers and magazines having an open fire lit in the morning in winter. The men used the membership system to give them exclusive use of the Reading Room, women were only allowed in to clean and lay the fire. When not booked for special events such as dances and concerts the main Hall, with 2 open fires, was open in the evenings and used for games having a small billiard table, table skittles and card tables. One night in 1928 Lord Lonsdale as a Trustee looked in and said that if his horse won in the St Leger the next day he'd buy them a new billiard table. The horse won and he supplied a three-quarter table (a full size would not go through the door). A popular figure in the Reading Room was `Tuppy' Needham, known as the `local dictionary' who taught and helped members with their reading. Later when he became blind he continued to help by getting members to spell out words they couldn't understand. A Mr George Goldbourne also helped with teaching but his bald head suffered attacks from the teenagers elastic catapults. Other notable local Gentry who took an interest in the Institute, but not generally attending, were Lord Gretton, Sir Henry Clarke-Jervoise, Mr Owen Smith (who became a trustee in 1930) and Mr George Ruddle. George Ruddle organised boxing tournaments and was a victim of a prank which went wrong. One night the younger members decided to annoy the older ones by going outside and using a pin, some string and a button caused it to tap against the window. Two of the seniors guessed what was happening and picked up a mat and stood by the door to catch the culprits when they came in. Unfortunately the teenagers ran off and it was Mr Ruddle who decided to visit and as he walked in got thrown out with the mat. The two seniors were expelled but readmitted six months later. By 1935 the W.I. and the Mothers Union were regular users of the Hall and women's names began to appear on the members list. Between 1940 and 1945 the Hall was used as classrooms for wartime evacuees. By 1949 the Reading Room was little used and it was closed to members. 1953 saw the Institute brought under the 1939 Charities Act transferring the vested interest from the trustees to the Charity Commissioner and dismantling the membership system. So all residents became members without any fees. In the same year new toilets for ladies and gents were completed with a new entrance lobby. Use by the Education Committee between 1962 and 1971 for school meals required an upgraded kitchen area which had been made by partitioning off an area at the end of the Hall. In 1982 the Hall's name was changed from Langham Institute to Langham Village Hall. With the Hall centenary approaching an extension was proposed and numerous money making ventures culminated in a refurbishment of the ladies' toilets and an extension incorporating a large kitchen, a storeroom and a gents' toilet. Disabled persons' toilet facilities and some double glazing were completed for the Millennium. The following list shows the variety of regular and casual use of the present Village Hall. Post Office, Whist, Leisure Club, Dog Training, W.I., Keep Fit, Irish Dance Class, Yoga, Church Events, Mums and Toddlers, Parish Council Meetings, Group Committee Meetings, Gardener's Association, Children's Parties, Wedding and other Receptions, a Coffee Drop-in, Children's Holiday Activities, Social and Fund Raising Events.