The Village Institute started life in 1828 as a Wesleyan Chapel doubling up as a Methodist School, known as the British School. In 1846 it was sold for £150 to the Non-Conformist Church and, in turn, the school became non-conformist. The headmaster did not receive a salary but took his fees from the 1/ equal to 5p paid by each scholar for a week’s tuition. The village suffered from closure of many of its mills through the late 1800 / early 1900 period as a result of the depression in the wool industry, fire and other events .
Consequently, the population of the village also declined and the British School eventually closed around 1914. The building therefore remained virtually unused until after the First World War.
In November 1919, after the Peace Celebrations, the Board of Executors gave its consent for a Memorial hall to be built onto the back of the original building. The front portion was then adapted for use as a billiard and club room. The cost of the extension and conversions was met from public subscriptions.
In 1972 a further extension was erected to the rear of the building financed by the then Keighley Corporation. Other funds were raised by the Institute Committee for additional improvements. A sponsored walk resulted in practically the whole village turning out. Over the years the Institute has had various uses:-
Used for meetings by Morton Parish Council – from 1939 to 1977 rented by Keighley Library until the commencement of mobile library – until 1960 as a Child Welfare Clinic – Used for school meals and kitchen until the new village school was built in 1976.
Today, the building is used by a number of different clubs and societies including the Brownies, Mother and Toddler’s, Children’s Playgroup, Art Classes, Keep Fit, Zumba, Pilates, Women’s Institute, Scouts and Cubs, Dance Class and Yoga. It is available for hire by individuals for meetings, dances, social gatherings, wedding receptions and children’s parties and so on.
The Committee is very keen to ensure that the Institute continues to play an important part in East Morton village life, particularly now that the Post Office and last shop in the village closed. It remains a point of contact and centre for the village and is available for all its residents to utilise for their own purposes.
Villagers can play an important part by attending the social events, hiring the hall whenever an occasion demands it and proposing and supporting other possible uses for the hall. Even better, we would welcome enthusiastic villagers to create a Social Committee to develop and organise events and activities at the Institute such as :-
- Beetle Drive
- Casino Night
- Table Top Sale/Auction
- Games Night
- Dinner Dance
- Summer Dance
- Cabaret Night
- Horse Racing
- Quiz Night
We would like to develop, if interest exists :-
Drop-in-Coffee/Newspaper mornings. Bridge/Camera/Gardening/Film clubs. Carpet Bowls. Youth Activities.
So, please let us know if you are interested in playing a part, starting a new club or joining the committee.