100 hundred years ago, in 1919, the Institute was built in the heart of one of the Lake District’s most celebrated and beloved valleys: Borrowdale.
Ever since, it has served as the central hub for the valley and its community. In this building, countless couples have celebrated their love for each other; generations of farmers have gathered to socialise, remember lost friends, and plan for the future; decades of school children have performed well-rehearsed plays in front of proud parents…
For a hundred years the Borrowdale Institute has served people near and far: not only the communities in Borrowdale, but also communities beyond the valley who regularly visit and call it their Home Away From Home.
The Borrowdale Institute is in urgent need of repair and upgrading.
Immediately evident once you enter the building, walls are crumbling and windows are disintegrating, a result of Lake District weather in the Borrowdale valley battering the building for 100 years.
Of particular concern is the ageing heating system, kitchen, electrics, and bar area. As they continue to deteriorate they’ll soon reach the point where the local school, Borrowdale CE Primary, won’t have anywhere for their P.E. lessons. Furthermore, bookings for parties and other gatherings will continue to decline, reducing the sustainable income the building needs.
Upstairs one can find the meeting room, commonly used by our friends at the HSBA (Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association). It offers an unparalleled view down Borrowdale towards Castle Crag, though this is somewhat tarnished by the rotten windows and crumbling walls.
The future of the Borrowdale Institute
Please watch this.
The vision for the Borrowdale Institute is to update, repair, and revitalise the building in order to serve the local communities and regular visitors for the next 100 years and beyond.
The building is ideally situated for gathering the communities of Borrowdale, as navigating the valley’s 13-mile long geography can be tricky; not only that it’s quite isolated living in the valley so just “grabbing an Uber” isn’t an option and taxis are prohibitively expensive to get to Keswick.
Within the valley there are roughly 300 residents, 13 farms, around 35 people working in agriculture, 56 kids at the local school, and six settlements (Rosthwaite, Grange, Stonethwaite, Lodore & Manesty, the “Top End” of Honister/Seatoller/Seathwaite, and Watendlath & Ashness).
For the communities in Borrowdale to prosper in the future it is essential that young people are able to stay living in the valley, rather than feeling that they’ll only have a future outside of it. A revitalised Borrowdale Institute must play a pivotal role in this goal, providing a communal and social hub for young people to gather for social events, parties, sports, and lots of other activities.
Additionally, the Borrowdale Institute must be fit not just for the local communities based throughout Borrowdale, but for visiting communities that love the valley and call it Home Away From Home. Borrowdale is a special place for people all over the UK and across the seas to Europe and the USA.
The Borrowdale Institute has served visitors from all walks of life: as a place for artists to exhibit their work; as a home for writers to share and be inspired; as a venue for couples to marry and celebrate their love for one another; as a hub for sports organisations and charities to host their events, and; as a starting point for fell runners and walkers to enjoy the magnificent spectacles around the valley.
To upgrade and revitalise the Borrowdale Institute, ready to serve for the next 100 years, your help is needed.
The improvements needed to the building include, but are not limited to:
Extension to the ground floor to create a larger re-fitted community kitchen
New toilet facilities for ground and first floor, with wheelchair accessible toilet and shower
Wheelchair lift to first floor
Creation of the multi-use “Herdwick Suite” with kitchenette on the first floor
New roof terrace overlooking Castle Crag
Refurbished main hall
New heating and electrical systems
The community needs you.
If you have ever enjoyed the splendour of the Borrowdale valley, walked its fells, and stayed in the areas hotels, now is the time to make a real difference to the community.
Please donate what you can; you can help save the Borrowdale Institute and ensure the building is fit for purpose, ready to serve as the home, hub, and heart of the community and visiting friends for the next 100 years.
For every £100 or more you donate, you will get a chair with your name on it in the Borrowdale Institute, and for £500 or more your name will be on a Honister Slate plaque on the entrance to the building.