The Valley End Institute stands close to the school and church, and remains an important part of Valley End life.
Mavis Smith has many memories of the Institute.
“We used to walk down the road to the Institute for our school dinners, and we used to used to have our school Christmas parties down there. They used to perhaps do a play or something, and that used to be held there.
Programme for a school concert in the Institute, 1916.
“It was a tin building. That did last a long time. In the early 70s it was really dilapidated. Then everybody wanted to get it up and running, so we all formed a party and got it going. I was on the Committee, and then I landed up being Treasurer. I’m still on the Committee now.
“We got it up and running in the old tin hut, and got toilets put on, because it only had the old bucket loos. Then we had it rebuilt.
“We wanted to raise money for building. We used to have jumble sales, and we did a calendar, of Chobham and Windlesham. Half of it was Chobham and half was Windlesham. It wasn’t a good idea, because Chobham and Windlesham people don’t mix! We’d have sold a lot more if we’d had just Chobham and just Windlesham.
Photograph of the Institute from the fund raising calendar.
“But the worse thing was the builder went bankrupt. He pulled the hut down, and then we found out. Someone just gave a hint. He didn’t let us know he was bankrupt, but he wanted money all the time. Well, what do you do? It was then a question of do we carry on? It was all down and on the floor.
“We didn’t give him the money. We got it finished. In the end we were down there every weekend, doing what we could, painting, and putting the skirting on, and doing the doors. We had a kitchen – we were lucky. At the time Christopher Bailey was having a new kitchen, so we had the old one. We’ve had a new kitchen fitted now.
Photograph of Henry Pigé Leschallas, benefactor of the Institute. This portrait is hanging in the Leschallas Hall. (Photograph by Suzanne Dolphin, Chobham Art Group.)
“The rooms are called the Leschallas Hall and the Christie Room. It was the Christies and Leschallas family who did a lot for the Institute in the beginning.
“There’s an old panel, saying, “Strength is Unity”. That was in the old building.
“Unity is strength”; it is between a photograph of Richard Copley Christie, and a list of all those from Valley End who fought in World War 1.
“It supports itself. We tried to keep it decorated, because then you get people wanting it. You’ve got the Nursery School there. The Baptist Church has it all day Sundays and on Wednesdays as well. Then you’ve got the bowls, the dancing, and the art club. Now it pays for itself, so it’s very good.
“I don’t think you get so many parties now. You don’t get the teenage parties. In the beginning when I used to clean the place, they were terrible.
Clock in the Institute, in memory of Lilian and Reg Millard. It was once stolen and retrieved from the bushes by the Vicarage before anyone realised it had been stolen.
“They don’t get many children’s parties now. Now and again there’s one. But they’ve had bouncy castles and all in there. You won’t get the big family parties, but once upon a time it used to be a party every week.
“I used to do the cleaning at one time, until I had my knees go bad, and had to pack it in. That’s when you weren’t being paid for it, because they didn’t have the money. Story of my life – you do everything for nothing! So I feel I’ve done my bit.”
Valley End Institute.
With many thanks to Mavis Smith née Smith.
(With thanks to Pat Tedder for information about the portrait.)