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The History of Cliffe Village Institute

This is an article written in 1988 by Jane Kelly, detailing the building and history of the Village Institute.

On June 8th 1923, George Williamson Briggs (retired farmer), sold to Tom Percival Jacques, William Gray, John William Dransfield, Fred Langdale, Jessey Catley Spencer, John Henry Woodall, Pickup Atkinson, Tom Barker, Alexander William Stripe, William Jacques, Durham Blenkhorn & George Williamson Briggs the younger, a piece of land of 400 square yards more or less, situated at Cliffe-Cum-Lund at a place called Pinfold Croft and formerly part of Carr Field, freehold & copyhold for the sum of TEN Shillings.

These twelve persons were known as "The Trustees" of the as yet to be built Cliffe Village Institute.

The first building was of wood and wasn't there long before it was destroyed by fire - in those days sawdust was sprinkled and then swept off the floors and the fire was a bucket containing sawdust and oily rags!

The second building (the one that exists today) was to be of sounder construction and work began in 1923. Money was raised in THREE ways:-

1 - The public were invited to buy shares with a 5% interest.

2 - Residents were invited to buy and lay a brick for £1 each (this fact has probably led to the comment that so much money was raised that £1 notes were laid between the bricks.)

3 - A local concert party was formed, called 'The Tonics', who performed in the village and around the area.

During the period that the village was without a meeting hall, the Rev. Peacock allowed the use of the mission, free of charge, as long as smoking was prohibited.

A hitch occurred when Squire Burton pointed out that in demolishing the old pinfold at the eastern end by the road, they had overstepped their rights as the pinfold belonged to him!  Having made his point, he gave up his rights and the building proceeded.

In 1924 the local MP, F. S. Jackson dedicated and opened the new hall - to be known as CLIFFE VILLAGE INSTITUTE WAR MEMORIAL.

One of the persons chosen from the committee was to act as host to the MP and it was wondered, as he was a dedicated Socialist and F. S. Jackson a staunch Tory, how they would get on, but as it happened, they were both cricketers...harmony reigned!

Twenty-seven persons, including the Trustees, were elected to form a management committee, and a 'Trust Deed' of twenty-seven articles was drawn up.  In short, the Hall was for the use of residents for any purpose the Trustees and Committee should think fit.  No person shall be barred from using the Hall by reason of religious opinions.  That the Trustees can sell or exchange the land and the Hall thereon for any other in England.  New Trustees shall be elected by the Institute Members, together with the residents of Cliffe over 18, at a public meeting, notice of which to be posted on the outer door of the Institute.

Originally the Parish Council was asked to keep the Trust Deed in its safe, there it remained until 1944 when Bailey & Haigh Solicitors requested it and have since kept it.

Home Guard Cliffe Village Institute

The Home Guard pictured outside the Village Institute


In 1943, the billiards table was sold as the club was running at a loss.

In 1944, three old cottages and land was bought from the executors of the late Arthur Burton for £60, but the vicar of Hemingbrough (F. ascots) objected to a new Institute being built on these premises, so in 1957 they were sold to Mr. R. Arrand.  The money from this sale was invested in electricity stock.

During the years of the second world war and after, the Institute was renowned for its dances.  People came on foot and by bike from many miles around and more recently, people remember Ray Driffill packing them in to the music of his electric organ.

Through the decades, Cliffe Institute has endured various vicissitudes, but it has survived and a caring committee today works to keep it an essential amenity to our village life, and with improvements recently of a modern kitchen and store room, it is well suited for every use.

Jane Kelly - November 1988.

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