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The Story of our Village Institute

Cononley Village Institute (Registered Charity No 223015) is a multi-purpose communal space designed for the village. It hosts a number of regular classes, clubs and societies, village events and also provides a venue for private parties.  The Institute is also home to Stepping Stones Nursery, Cononley’s childcare setting for children aged between 2 and 5.  


As a registered charity, The Institute is reliant on hire fees and fundraising events to run and maintain the building.  The Institute first opened in 1909, the product of several years of fund raising in the village. Its object was to provide ‘improving’ and ‘honest recreation’ and to bring together people who had previously only met with fellow members of a church, a chapel or a political club.  An equally important objective was to encourage young men not to spend their time in the village pubs!  A year later a billiard room was added by the group of villagers who managed the building.


In 1921, the sole trusteeship of the Institute was transferred to the Parish Council. The entire building was now to be a memorial to the men of Cononley who had died in the First World War. A small clock tower was added and a Roll of Honour replaced one of the windows. By 1960, after many successful years the facilities at the Village Institute had become outdated and its use was declining.


One of the reasons for the transfer of ownership in 1921 had been to ensure the Institute’s long term future. So it was that in the 1960s the Parish Council found itself solely responsible for a building whose future was in question.  Fortunately, enough new people came forward to ensure that it survived. The resulting momentum led to the Village Institute being refurbished in 1983 and extended in 1997. To meet the challenges of the 21st century the building has again been substantially altered and improved in recent years.

In 2013 the Village Institute had a major £95,000 refurbishment it included improved disabled access, new toilet facilities, an acoustic ceiling for the hall, a larger backroom and a new kitchen.

The architects, Nuttall Yarwood and Partners Ltd, oversaw the building’s transformation and the building contractor was Cononley-based Enoch Harrison and Son Ltd. 


Over a third of the £95,000 cost was raised by fundraising activities in the village, including the annual Cononley Scarecrow Festival, with the remainder coming from grants. Donors included the Big Lottery Fund, Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, Cononley Parish Council, Craven District Council, Freemasons of Yorkshire West Riding, Garfield Weston Foundation, Swire Charitable Trust, Waddington Trust, War Memorials Trust, Yorventure and the people of Cononley.

Helpers Needed

The Institute Committee is always keen for new members or for people who can help out at events!  If you could offer some of your time and would like to find out more, please contact us at

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