Not until the 19th century did the working classes have access to culture and this largely came from the Mechanics Institute Movement starting in the 1820s. This path was quickly followed by the middle classes who set up Athenaeums. In 1866 Canon Henry Robert Smith, Vicar of Grange, purchased land in Main Street and arranged for the building of the Working Men’s Institute which still stands to this day. Cultural and social programmes were provided and later a library was added. By the beginning of the 20th century several specialist societies such as the Photographic Society and the Natural History Society had been formed taking over the role previously provided by the Working Men’s Institute.
Grange Lecture Society held its first meeting in the Victoria Hall on 6th January 1908 and apart from a few years in the 1920s this has been its regular venue to the present day. It aims to provide a programme of informative and entertaining talks on a wide range of topics including travel, art, history, literature, music science and medicine etc. Over the years many famous people have spoken to the Lecture Society including in recent times Sir Bernard Ingham, David Starkey and Nicholas Crane.
Throughout its lifetime the Lecture Society and its programmes have adapted to changing tastes and interests. In its second century the Society remains a leading force in the cultural life of Grange and long may it remain so.
THE MILLENNIUM VISITORS BOOK
To mark the millennium a leather bound visitors book was obtained to be signed by lecturers and contain details of lectures together with the lecturer’s comments. This book is available for inspection before and after lectures.