A Short History of Kirkby Community Centre
On 12th January 1950, Holker Estates‘ solicitors conveyed a 5.35 acre parcel of land to the south of the road from Four Lane Ends to Beckside, “in fee simple” to Trustees acting on behalf of the village of Kirkby-in-Furness. The price was £642 for the field known locally as Longton, but known to the Ordnance Survey as Close No. 1042, and farmed by tenant Farmer William Fisher. The Trustees were obliged as part of the deal to erect a post and wire fence as the western boundary of the Community Centre land.
This land was to be held on trust “for the purposes of a public playing field” and of “physical and mental training and recreation” and “social, moral and intellectual development through the medium of a village hall.” There were to be lectures, classes, recreations and entertainments for the benefit of the inhabitants of the parish. Sixteen existing organisations were named in the document as being entitled to have a representative on the Management Committee which, with the addition of co-opted members, should not exceed 25 persons. Up to five people could be co-opted to represent the interests of the parish.
The sixteen organisations were: The Ladies’ Guild, The Youth Club, Kirkby Football Club, Kirkby Co-operative Society, Kirkby Cricket Club, Kirkby Tennis Club, The Women’s Institute, Kirkby Ireleth Literary Society, The Kirkby Flower Show, The Trustees of the Church of Christ, The Trustees of the Methodist Church, The Parochial Church Council, The Royal British Legion, The Kirkby Singing Class, The Kirkby-in-Furness Charities and Kirkby Ireleth Parish Council.
In March 1967 at a public meeting in Burlington School, plans for a ‘Pavilion’, a children’s playground and public toilets at the Community Centre were discussed and a sub-committee formed. The Community Centre organised Christmas Parties for children and a Sports Day in summer. A ‘200 Club’ was established to raise money by means of a monthly draw.
The 1960s was a decade of fundraising in the form of raffles, Whist Drives, and Christmas and Summer draws to raise money for a “pavilion”. The estimated costs were just under £5,000 in 1968, and a grant of 50% was obtained from the Department of Education and Science. The Rural District Council and the Local Education Authority were asked to provide a public convenience, but they both declined. However, by 22 November 1970, all was ready for the official opening by Lord Cavendish. Very unfortunately Mr Freddie Wayles, later to be awarded the MBE for services to the Community, and who had been responsible for much of the planning and fundraising for the Community Centre, was working for Vickers in Africa, so was unable to be there; his elder son David stood in for him by presenting a gift to Lord Cavendish to mark the occasion. Two football matches and a whist drive were held to celebrate the official opening.
At the AGM of November 1969, a scale of charges for hire of the building was agreed. The basic charge was to be £15 for two hours, with a reduction if a group made a block booking; use of all the facilities for a private function was set at £2.5s, and use of the room by out of village groups was the same price. Village organisations could use the field, changing rooms and kitchen for £2.10s. Back in 1962, following a proposal by Revd Canon Charles Whittaker and Dr David Harris, it had been agreed that any booking for a wedding that gave at least three months’ notice would take precedence over long-term bookings like cricket and football.
The Community Centre has undergone a programme of improvement over time with the addition of the tennis courts in the 1980s, a crown bowling green in the 1990s, and the provision of new play equipment in the 2000s. More recently, the tennis courts were redeveloped as a Multi Use Games Area, a large garage for storage was built, and a major refurbishment programme to extend and refurbish the community centre implemented from 2019-2020.
Sources: The first Minute Book of Kirkby Community Centre, 1962 to 1975
The Deeds of Conveyance of the Community Centre Field dated 12 January 1950