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Celebrating 125 Years Of The Guildford Institute

Published on: 1 Apr, 2017
Updated on: 12 Apr, 2017

The Guildford Institute has proudly stood on Ward Street, in the heart of the town centre, for 125 years and a programme of events throughout 2017 will celebrate this important anniversary.

Originally known as The Mechanics Institute, The Guildford Institute was founded by local tradesmen who were keen to improve themselves and to promote learning for others also wishing to learn new skills.

In 1892 the Institute moved into its current location, a former temperance hotel on Ward Street and 125 years later it continues to promote learning for people of all ages in the local community.

It provides a full range of adult education courses including art history, drawing and painting, creative writing, photography and languages. The Guildford Institute continues to grow and diversify its course programme with yoga, family history, astronomy, drama, furniture painting and sushi-making recently added to the list.

The Institute is also home to The Beano, Guildford’s only vegetarian restaurant.

On Saturday, April 22 (the original anniversary date), the Guildford Institute will kick start its celebrations with a stand on Guildford High Street where they will be giving out birthday cake and visitors can learn more about what the Institute offers. Any donations will aid the funding of the interior restoration project, as well as expand the Institute’s programme of talks and activities.

The Guildford Institute building in Ward Street.

A celebratory afternoon tea party for members will be attended by the Deputy Mayor of Guildford, Nigel Manning, and hundreds of birthday balloons will be released from the Institute’s windows.

Trish Noakes, manager of The Guildford Institute said: “We are really looking forward to an afternoon of celebration and fun. It’s not every day you celebrate your 125th! When the Institute found its home in Ward Street in 1892 it also found its place at the heart of Guildford’s community. We are proud to be continuing the tradition of delivering educational and social opportunities for all.”

On Saturday November 11, a time capsule will be sealed and placed within the Guildford Institute’s historical archive. Items aimed to capture the spirit of the current time, including copies of the day’s newspapers and other contemporary items suggested by the Institute’s members, will be placed in the time capsule for 25 years. It is planned that the capsule will be opened and added to every quarter of a century.

The Guildford Institute is also proud to house a 125-year-old Bechstein grand piano, and local schools will be working with the Institute on a special celebratory concert to be performed by young pianists on Friday, May 12.

Other events aimed at local people with an interest in Guildford will include a talk delivered by Terence Patrick (former Mayor of Guildford) and Matthew Alexander (local historian and former curator of Guildford Museum).

Full details of these events can be found in the Institute’s free brochures, or visit for more information.

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