The Institute and its adjoining terrace of houses on High Street was built in 1908 on behalf of the Watson family, who at that time ran a prosperous ship-building business on the river at the end of Old Trent Road. Originating in London, the Watsons had been distressed by the lack of recreational facilities available for working people, which they considered contributed to the problems of drink and crime. They were determined that at least in Beckingham things would be different. Accordingly the Institute was built as a recreation facility for the village, while the adjacent houses were for rent, but only to members of the Institute.
The houses have been sold, although the Institute still owns the Caretaker’s accommodation and the flat immediately above the Institute. Membership was, and still is, open to anyone over the age of thirteen, resident within five miles of the village.
Unusually for that period, women were not only welcome as members, but had special provision made for them to have the same number of members on the Executive Committee as the men. The rules provide that there shall be no gambling or drinking of alcohol on the premises.
The Institute is vested in the Council for World Mission, a Registered Charity number 232868 (formerly the London Missionary Society Corporation) as Trustees, and is managed on behalf of the Trustees by an Executive Committee. Little is known of the early history of the Institute. During the 1939-45 war the building was used by the Army, and the records (including the minute books), which were kept in the reading room, all disappeared and have never been traced. The building is a fine example of the Edwardian period, but its age means that there is a constant need for repair and maintenance work.
Whilst the present Committee has made great strides in improving the financial position, repairs absorb such a proportion of the available funds that there is little left for improving the range of activities that can be carried on in the building. At present the Institute provides for billiards, snooker, darts, pool and dominoes. It is open from 10.00 a.m. until 10.00 p.m. every day of the week except Sunday, and is closed on Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Membership is currently £6.00 per adult per calendar year and £12 per family. (Young persons aged thirteen and under must be accompanied by an adult).
Beckingham Institute Roof Renovation 2009
Beckingham Institute was built in 1908 by the Watson family for the use of the local community as a recreational and educational facility. The building is a fine example, typical of the Edwardian era.
It has been maintained by the management committee with funding currently derived from membership subscriptions and rental from the flat and cottage which are part of the building.
The roof was in need of major repair with estimated costings far beyond the financial reserves currently available. Fortunately, the Star Energy Community Fund agreed to provide funding to support the renovation of the roof. The committee is extremely grateful to the fund administrators for making this grant.
The main roof has now been completely recovered with new synthetic slates. Any old slates which were still in usable condition have been salvaged and will be used when the roof of the cottage is restored in the near future.
Unfortunately the decorative ridge tiles were in too fragile condition to be salvageable and have had to be replaced with plain – but highly functional – ridge tiles. The roof is now fit for many decades to come.
The support for this project by the Star Energy Community Fund will be recognised by a commemorative plaque which will be erected soon within the Institute.