The Bryce - One man’s generosity gave the village a centre that lives.
Externally, not much has changed at the Bryce Institute, Burneside, one of the villlage’s most important buildings since it was constructed in 1897 with money given by Mr. John Bryce. But internally there have been big alterations to make it the focal point of social activities.
Mr Bryce went to the village in the early 1850s to manage James Cropper’s rapidly growing paper producing business and although fully occupied in that respect, he took a practical interest in the welfare of his workforce.
Of a generous disposition, he considered their wants and during his lifetime tried to realise them.
He unfortunately died before building work started on his most lasting efforts but his ideas were carried out and the Bryce Institute was built complete with library, reading and billiards rooms and a large hall for the special wants not only of his workforce but the parish generally.
In 1918 it was used a village bath house were residents paid 3d for a bath and if provided with soap and a towel, 6d. But preference was given for workforce coming off shift at the nearby mills.
It was administered by an executive committee and trustees and according to minutes of a meeting held in 1923 “ It is suggested to fix a curtain in front of the door of the ladies’ lavatory in the lower room so when being used, would not be so exposed”.
It was not until the mid-1970s that major alterations took place. The west side of the building was extended in order that a permanent stage could be constructed. Previously Burneside Players and other similar organisations had to use a stage specially built in the hall and this reduced the audience by half.
On the south side, further extensions were carried out to provide a store room, toilets additional committee room, with a small separate kitchen. This is now known as the Acland Room, named after one of the families involved at the papermill.
Internal remediation continues to this day, with upgrades to the old kitchen area at the front of the building, creating a more useful meeting room, christened the Cropper Room.
Kendal Model Railway Club have taken up permanent residence in an upstairs room, and one further room, named the Hoyle Room after one of the leading driving force behind the creation of the BATS Stage, Anne Hoyle, has recently been renovated.
The Bryce continues to be a focal point for the village, providing meeting space for, among other James Cropper plc and Burneside Parish Council, and a large number of local and not-so local groups who use the venue for their events.
The revised Trust Deed set up with the Charity Commission and completed on the 15th October 1992 is on the Trust Deed page.