Bid for historic Institute to be 'beating heart' of Ansdell

A new group has been officially formed to restore Ansdell Institute and bring the building back into community use.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 3:45 pm

The inaugural meeting of the Friends of Ansell Institute was held last week at the Grade II-listed Woodlands Road building, where a committee was appointed and the goals for the group agreed.

Coun Ben Aitken of Ansdell ward, said: “We now have an officially-formed group to support this building and decide on how best to use it and improve it.

“We need to raise funds quickly, to prevent the further deterioration of the building.

The initial meeting of he Friends of Ansdell Institute
The initial meeting of he Friends of Ansdell Institute

“Over the years the roof has failed, and water ingress has caused damage throughout the building which, if not repaired, will cause further deterioration and put the building at real risk.

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“The Secretary of the Social Club in the building, Alan Roe, has worked wonders, taking on the role of secretary of the entire building.

“He’s brought in new businesses to give the building an income, and it is rapidly becoming the heart of Ansdell once again.”

Mr Roe has overseen the opening of the building’s new Emporium Cafe on the ground floor.

The Institute’s social club has reopened following the relaxation of Covid regulations, and craft business The Vintage Sewing Bunny now operates from the lower ground floor, Rarity School of Dance is on the top floor with hundreds of children attending classes, and the Institute is also home to children’s clothing firm Belle and the Beanstalk, and hosts Slimming World sessions too.

Mr Roe said: “This is too grand a building to see fall into further disrepair. When built, it was the largest piece of private largesse in the country.

“It really is a beautiful building and I am so pleased to see so many people take an interest in its future.

“It is my greatest desire to see this building being used as the beating heart of the community.”

Coun Richard Redcliffe, also an Ansdell councillor, added: “This building was built in 1909 to further the education and cultural development of Ansdell’s residents, with a reading room, classrooms and billiard rooms. There is no building like it on the Fylde coast – it must be saved.

“Over the years it became a social club and large areas of the building fell into disuse, and there is some wonderful architecture hidden away. We want to put that right and it is clear there is a lot of interest in using the building for the good of the community.”

Around 30 people attended the inaugural meeting of the Friends, which now has a constitution and appointed officers. The Friends are now looking at a number of funding bids, including to the Heritage Lottery Fund, to restore the building.

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