Together with the Clarendon, the Ibbotson Institute has been the centre of social activity in the village since 1903. The building and land was originally funded from the funds from a defunct charity and by public subscription. Its usage has changed over the years - once opened up from 9:00 in the morning to 10:00 at night, with a caretaker employed to keep it clean and the fires lit, it is now mainly used for the odd social occasion, slide shows, and meetings. This page attempts to recount its history of the last 120 years, as can be gleaned from correspondence with and documents of the Charity Commissioners, land conveyance documents, a selection of account books from 1910 to 1926, and a selection of Trustee Minute books from 1914 to 1919, and 1932 to 1963. Because of the gaps in the records, this cannot claim to be a complete history.
The Ibbotson Charity
The story of the Ibbotson Institute starts in the eighteenth century with a gentleman called Robert Ibbotson. According to Edmond Bogg in 1904, the Ibbotsons were a very old Craven family, and a member is reputed to have served at the battle of Flodden Field in 1513 with a Craven contingent. The 1672 Hearth Tax returns records four Ibbotson households in Hebden. Robert Ibbotson was a successful yeoman farmer who originated from Hebden, and who died in Skyrethornes in 1723, leaving a will which included bequests for a number of charitable causes:
"In the name of God, amen, I, Robert Ibbotson, of Skirethorns, late of Hebden, in the parish of Linton, and county of York, yeoman, being in a weak disposition of health, but of sound and perfect memory, thanks be to the Almighty God for the same, do make and ordain this, my last Will and Testament, in the manner and for the following, etc."
The charitable bequests included an annual gift to four poor widows of the township, and the establishment of an apprenticing charity. The interest on an investment of £40 was to help pay for the apprenticing of a boy or girl who bore the name of Ibbotson, or failing that, to any poor boy or girl from Hebden, and failing that, to any poor boy or girl from Grassington. According to Hammond, the £40 was invested in cattlegates (a cattlegate being the right to graze a specified number of cattle on common land) in Cracoe. When the common lands in Cracoe were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1788, the charity was awarded two plots of land totalling 7 acres, 2 roods and 10 perches in lieu of their grazing rights. After some parochial squabbles about the various village charities, there were some reallocations by the Charity Commissioners, and a field in Cracoe Raikes known as "Poor Grass" with an area of seven acres eight perches was assigned to the Apprenticing charity, with the proceeds being shared with the Grassington half of the charity. This was sold in 1943 (see below).
During the last twenty years of the nineteenth century, the demand for the support of would-be apprentices died out. The Charity had a steady income of £5 5s a year from rental income, but no outgoings, and in 1887 a surplus of £110 9s 6p was invested in 3% consols.
The Development of the Ibbotson Institute
There had been a Hebden Mechanics' Institute which was established in 1855, as the "working men ... were two miles from Grassington, and could not see the papers every day". It is not known how long it lasted, but in all likelihood, not very.
According to the memoirs of Thomas Hammond, some 40 or so years later in "about 1901" (more likely in 1898), two young men of the village drew his attention to the fact that there was in Hebden no place where the young people of the village could meet. Realising that the Ibbotson Apprenticing Charity had all but died out, a formal request was made to the Charity Commissioners in April 1899 to ask if it could be used for the building and maintenance of a village institute. According to Hammond, although there was opposition from some of the trustees, many of the villagers appended their signatures to the petition. On the 20th September 1901 the Charity Commissioners agreed that the assets could be transferred to the "Charity of Robert Ibbotson for Institute and Apprenticing". In the interim, a Reading Room was established in Thruskill Cottage, which was open for four hours in the evening, and had a membership of 25 strong. This was probably active from about 1899 to 1903.
The current terms of the charity as set out on the Charity Commission website are: "The net income is to be applied towards putting out or apprenticing to some useful trade or occupation any deserving and necessitous child or children bona fide resident in Hebden township. Any part of the income not so applied shall be used in or towards the maintenance of the institute or reading room, or rooms built out of the fund of the charity mentioned in clause 17 of the scheme of the 20th September 1901."
The following events did not seem to occur in the expected sequence. Land was obtained from the estate of Jonathan Hebden, who had owned Rose Bank Farm and died in 1857, but the formal conveyance of the freehold did not complete until September 1906, and it is unclear on what basis the Institute Trustees used the land before then. However, it must have been available before March 1901, as that is when James Hartley, architect of Skipton, issued his provisional drawings for the building. Hartley was an eminent architect who was involved in the design of Skipton Library and over 200 houses in the area.
The accounts for the building of the Institute have not been traced, but it is known that it cost between £300 and £400, and was paid for out of the cash held by the Ibbotson Charity and by donations - probably about 50% each. The foundation stones of the new building was laid with great pomp and ceremony by Thomas Francis Hammond and his second wife Sarah Ellen (who was to die three months later after just four months of marriage), and Jeremiah Metcalfe on 24th February 1903. The Grassington Brass Band entertained the guests, and a dance was held in the evening.
Detailed plans for the building are not available, but it is known that it was a partitioned single-room and stone-built, heated by two coal hearths at either end. The original form of lighting is not known, but by 1935 it was lit by acetylene burners.
It did not take long to complete the building, and it was formally opened to even greater pomp and ceremony on the 27th June 1903, with the celebrations shared with the Hebden Gala. The event was described in the Gala Book as follows:
"Gala held on June 27/1903. The Gala held on this date was coupled with an interesting event in the Village, namely the opening of the new Ibbotson Institute or Reading Room. This has filled a long felt want in the village and is much appreciated by the villagers in general. F. Whitley Thomson Esq. M.P. member for the division performed the opening ceremony, there a goodly company had assembled to watch in spite of a rather showery day. Immediately after the Room was declared open, all adjourned to the Schoolroom where a very good tea was provided, followed by sports, the day being terminated by a supper and dance. The Gala, however, although a success in other ways was a failure financially, the profits if there had been any were to go towards the Institute. There was an adverse balance however of over 30s."
As indicated above, the Institute was formally open by Frederick Whitley Thomson who was the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Skipton constituency between 1900 and 1906. He was presented with a silver key for his troubles, as recorded by his wife on the postcard below. The silver key may have been the purchase recorded in the Hebden Gala accounts - 7s 6d for an item bought from the jewelers Fatorini. Frederick Whitley Thomson was to later become known as Sir Frederick Whitley-Thomson.
Traditionally, Reading Rooms were just that - places where members of the community could sit quietly and read newspapers, periodicals and books. So in 1910, £2 16s was spent with Thomas Tattersall most likely for newspapers, and 18s 5d was received for selling them on after the Institute had finished with them. £1 3s 1d was spent on obtaining books from the Yorkshire Library Association. The choice of newspapers was regularly discussed and changed, but in 1914 the following were taken:
- Yorkshire Post (daily)
- Yorkshire Observer (daily)
- Evening Post (daily)
- Evening News (daily)
- Answers (weekly)
- Farm Field (weekly)
- Cassel's Saturday Journal (weekly)
- Sloper (weekly)
- Review of Reviews (monthly)
- Pall Mall (monthly)
Some publications were provided by the villagers - Hilda Annette Walker, for example, was thanked in the minutes in the 1950s for contributing the Readers Digest, and Herbert Longthorne, the founder of Longthorne's of Hebden, for The Dalesman.
The Institute was also a social hub. When the Hebden Gala was disbanded in 1903, the assets of £11 16s. 9d were "handed over to the Reading Room to be spent by them in the purchase of a Billiard Table for use of members of the institute", and this was in use for at least sixty years. Playing cards were also supplied. Community socials were also held from the beginning, with supper dances being combined with whist drives or, as in one case in 1910, "Cinematography". When the CHA arrived in the village, they arranged an annual concert party in the Institute,with the proceeds going to the Institute, but this was discontinued on the outbreak of the First World War.
It should be noted that apart from the social functions, the Institute was very much a male preserve, and in the 1960s its use declined. It no longer had a caretaker, and the lady members of the community were invited to join. It is now purely used for events.
For most of its earliest history, the Institute was a resource open for much of the day for the reading of newspapers, the playing of billiards, and general socialising, and a caretaker was employed to keep the building in good order. The earliest available accounts, for 1910, have a caretaker being paid £1 5s every quarter. In 1935 there appears to have been been a contretemps with the incumbent, as there was a vote to recruit a new one, and it was considered necessary to formalise the duties:
The room to be opened daily (except Sunday) at 9 a.m. Room to be swept each morning and cleared up from previous day. Fires to be lighted, at each end, daily at 5:30 p.m. The Acetylene generator, burners on brackets, to be kept clean and in good working state. The floors to be washed four times a year. Windows to be cleaned when required. The room to be thoroughly spring cleaned in June of each year. The Billiard table to be brushed once each week and the billiard cloth to be ironed once per month. In connection with any efforts made on behalf of the Institute funds, the Caretaker shall attend to the boiler fire, and the water required for purposes of Supper etc. When the room is let for any other event not being on the behalf of the Institute, the Caretaker shall attend to the Boiler and the provision of necessary hot water and shall be paid five shillings on each occasion that the room is let to outside party or parties, for rendering these services. The Caretaker shall prepare the room for each and all events and at the conclusion of the same, shall restore all to its normal condition. The Table Cloths to be washed and ironed by the Caretaker as and when required and for this service, he shall be paid 2s 6d each time. The lawn to be mown during the season at least once a week or more often if required. The ground in front and behind th building to be kept in good order, as to weeding etc. The outside light shall be lighted from three days after full moon until the new moon is three days old.The room to be open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. excepting on Saturday evenings, when the room remains open until 10:30 pm.
Disposal of the Cracoe Poor Grass
The Institute continued to receive their half of the rent from the charity's Poor Grass on Cracoe Raikes, but the quality of the land was deteriorating, and at a meeting on 27th May 1932 it was proposed that the trustees should sell their half to the Grassington trustees, but they declined. It was, therefore, agreed that with the Grassington trustees they should attempt to improve the land. At the Annual General Meeting it was decided to send a letter to the tenant asking him to mow the rushes at the end of June, and in 1936 a proposal was made that the land be limed with the Hebden and Grassington Trustees sharing the cost. In 1940 matters came to a head when it was agreed that the Grassington trustees would pay for the costs of draining the land, Hebden's share to be repaid from their half of the rent, with interest being paid on the outstanding sum.
This drainage project probably wasn't carried through, as in 1942 there were still discussions about water problems. This time it was the Grassington Trustees who proposed that the land be sold, and although the Hebden Trustees were at first reluctant, they were soon persuaded. Permission having been granted by the Charity Commissioners, the land was sold in 1943 to Thomas Boothman of Linton Hall for £300, with the Institute receiving half of the proceeds.
Later Building Extensions
Electric lighting was installed in 1939. Mains electricity did not arrive in the village until the 1950s, so it is likely that the source of electricity was a hydroelectric plant at the mill, supplied by T. & A. Stockdale. The kitchen area on the south side was the first extension to be added, at a cost of £483 in 1972. The toilets and store room on the north side were built in 1993. This project cost about £28,000, funded by £18,000 in grants from external sources, and the rest from village resources. An attempt was made to provide wheelchair access in 1993, but it required the purchase of a small fragment of land to the north, which was not forthcoming. In 2008, a further proposal was put forward to change the area in front of the building to accommodate a ramp to the main door, but the cost of £28,000 and the appearance discouraged the committee.