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Harrold Centre

Harrold Centre January 2008
Harrold Centre January 2008

Harrold Institute (now called Harrold Centre) was built in 1902 at the cost of Charles James Pettit JP, a former leather factory proprietor, of Harrold House. Pettit was a Congregationalist and handed the property over to the Congregational Union of England & Wales who acted as trustees from around 1914 to around 1970, after which time the running of the Institute was taken over by a local committee. The Institute Hall was built in 1911, again at the sole cost of Charles James Pettit, at the time of its opening lace making and leather dressing were carried on there.

Opening of the Institute Hall in 1911 Z1305-54
Opening of the Institute Hall in 1911 [Z1305/54]

In 1927 property in Harrold was valued under the Rating & Valuation Act of 1925; every piece of land and building in the country had to be valued to determine the rates to be paid upon it. The valuer visiting The Institute [DV1/C70/148-150] noted that it was constructed of brick with a tile roof and stood in 0.960 acres. The Institute Hall comprised a dance hall "let for dances, whist drives &c", a hall and two dressing rooms, with a balcony over. The valuer remarked: "central heat"

Institute Hall July 2008
Institute Hall July 2008

The valuer also noted that the Institute premises had a: "licence for tobacco" and comprised a refurbishment room, a kitchen, scullery, bathroom and wc, a billiard room ["one table"] and a reading room. Above were the caretaker's rooms - a reception room, three bedrooms and a wc. Outside were a coal shed, washhouse, wc, two tennis courts and a: "garden for caretaker". Hiring charges were 3/6 per annum for club, 21/- and 10/- for each occasion for the hall.

Institute Hall Sign
Institute Hall Sign

Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has a small archive relating to the Institute as follows:

  • copy license of Board of Trade to the Congregational Union of England & Wales "to hold lands situate and being the Harrold Institute of Bedfordshire: 10 Feb 1914;
  • X539/2: minutes of the management committee: 1917-1931;
  • X539/3: correspondence: 1938-1963;
  • X539/4: correspondence and financial statements: 1962-1967;
  • X539/5: draft leases between the Trustees and National Provincial Bank Limited to provide banking facilities once or twice a week from the Institute: 1927, 1945 and 1966;
  • X539/6: terminated insurance policies: 1927-1928

At the time of writing [2008] the Institute still has a flat. Snooker is played on the premises and tennis on courts behind. A playgroup meets in the Hall.

Rear of Harrold Centre July 2008
Rear of Harrold Centre July 2008