Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking
Our afternoon walk a couple of days ago took us up through Barrow Bridge again. The bank way into the village from Lightbounds takes one to the “Workers Model Dwellings” and The Institute. This lovely old building was built in 1846 as an educational establishment for the workers and their families from the nearby Gardner & Bazley’s Dean Mills. A great party was held on its opening day, 29th August 1846, with 950 people all sat down for tea.
It was used by 86 boys and 112 girls as well as providing a nursery for 70 infants. Each scholar paid 1 1/2d per week for the lessons, with books and materials provided by the mill owners. Employees used the library and reading room with lectures and other activities funded by the benevolent employers. Later on it was the base for a Penny Bank and a Mutual Improvement society. By the 1860’s the educational establishment fell away and the Institute became a social club. Unfortunately the mill declined when the owners died and a legal wrangle started in 1877 over who should inherit and run it.
The mill closed, the houses deserted and by the end of the century the whole village was deserted. The Institute became a laundry employing deaf people.
Although the houses were reoccupied during the 20th century, the Institute was only fully refurbished in the last few years, now residential houses and apartments.