The Institute of Weaverham

(and impeccable handwriting).


One of the more recognisable buildings that has been featured before is the Barrymore Institute.

It is not one of the listed buildings in the village but that doesn’t mean it has not played a major part in the history of Weaverham.

An earlier article on this site showed some extracts from the accounts from 1908 to the outbreak of the Great War.

Its companion ledger shows the minutes from 1930 onwards and gives a glimpse of the running of the Institute and into the life of the village. The 1930s of course had hoped to be a decade that built on the “Roaring Twenties” but the financial crash of 1929 set in motion a more challenging and ultimately troubled time leading to World War 2. A comparison of the two years 1930 and 1939 from this source gives a few glimpses of that time, often the quite ordinary as would be expected.

The Annual General Meeting January 1930

It covers the usual matters of such a gathering although it does note a vote of thanks for the financial support of the President and Vice Presidents that year, suggesting finance had, perhaps, become something of an issue.

Further on the purchase of a bagatelle table is noted.

Which may (or not, there are many variations) have looked like this:

This would have added to the already popular billiards that was played in the Institute.

Other sports also feature but some are facing hardship.

This from November 1930:

But this from December which seems to have been the only item on the agenda:

A passing comment refers to a tennis court in the society’s oral history book:

“Bebbington’s pear & apple orchard stretched from his yard up to the bowling green, which ran alongside the school playgrounds. Later the green became a tennis court then school buildings were built there.”

Owley Wood Club also boasted a tennis court.

The appointment of a caretaker and the upkeep of the Institute’s mower crop up in March 1930, as does the gift of an electric light bracket.

The caretaker’s salary is about £417 in today’s equivalence. Inflation in 1930 was -2.81, rather different to today (March2022).

And an early picture of where the said mowing machine would have gone:

But the light bracket is still up for discussion in July:

Now comes the time to move to 1939 and it is with the aid of some of the ladies of the village who haven’t really featured at all in any of the committees and discussions. And these extracts reveal less than helpful responses.

This from July 1930:

And in March 1939 almost a decade later:

But by now other matters are becoming more pressing.

March 1939:

A typical cheque of its time of the bank mentioned.

June 1939:

And when the accounts are studied:

It would appear the planned meeting never happened. The accounts are up to date in September but are only signed off 2nd August 1940, looking a bit more rushed, events having taken a more serious turn.

Incidentally on the same day:

Charles de Gaulle was tried and sentenced to death in absentia by a French military court.”

And to conclude and bring us back to today, these words will have resonance:           

“It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today, and so give us hope for tomorrow.”

Queen Elizabeth II April 21 1926 – September 8 2022

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