Hawarden Institute

Hawarden Institute

This building, still a focus of community activities, was built in the 1890s on the site of Hawarden Iron Works.

The iron foundry was established in the 18th century. It was expanded in the 1770s by John Rigby. It produced stoves, furnaces, boilers, components for machinery, locks and other objects. Fire bricks (which could withstand the heat inside furnaces) were also made here. The Rigby family also had an interest in the Sandycroft iron foundry which built ocean-going ships, some fitted with steam engines made in Hawarden.

The company’s lease on the site expired in 1853 and the foundry machinery was sold. In the following year, the Hawarden Literary and Scientific Institute began to meet in a pair of cottages on the ironworks site. From 1856 onwards, funds were raised by an annual summer festival in the Hawarden Castle grounds.

The Institute’s smoking room and reading room opened in 1876. The reading room gave working people access to newspapers and other publications (then relatively expensive). The Institute had its own debating society for many years, and technical classes were held here.

The current Institute building was erected in the early 1890s to replace the original facilities. It included a reading room, lecture hall, bathing facilities, billiards rooms and a gymnasium. The main building was opened in May 1893 by four-times Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, who had been the Institute’s president since the 1870s. At the same time he gave the Institute 50 books, including all of Sir Walter Scott’s novels.

The Institute had its own football, billiards and bowls teams. In 1921 it opened two tennis courts, on gardens given by Herbert Gladstone. A chess club was launched here in 1965. Three years later, the Hawarden Institute Camera Club was formed.

In 1999 the building and facilities were refurbished with the help of National Lottery funding.

Sources include: A History of the Parish of Hawarden, by TW Pritchard, published by Bridge Books

Postcode: CH5 3NS    View Location Map

Website of Hawarden Institute