The Literary Institute, Egham
UPDATE: 19th October 2020
We are delighted to share the news that Runnymede Borough Council (RBC) has now given permission for the ground floor of The Literary Institute to be leased to “@ the Lit”.
The working party has now formed a committee of four First Trustees who are as follows :-
- Mr Philip Radcliff
- Mr David Knight
- Dr Brian Frank Perry BEM
- Mrs Sian Williams, Chair
We are now in the process of becoming a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and negotiating the terms of the lease with RBC. We aim to start activities early in 2021 – within government Covid guidelines of course.
A huge thank you must go to Sarah Corn, Curator of The Egham Museum, who has pushed forward with this project despite all the problems that 2020 has thrown at her. Sarah’s diligence and hard work has made this happen. Sarah has been greatly assisted by Cllr Mark Adams and Cllr Isabel Mullens.
Sarah’s words sum up the ambitions we have for @theLit :
“The Literary Institute has played an important role in the town since is development in the late 18thcentury, changing as the need required. Local groups and societies used the building to host their meetings and events, and for many, it was their adoptive home. It has long been the aim of many residents to see The Literary Institute once again be at the heart of the community. We are extremely excited that this vision is now turning into a reality where more people can access heritage, culture, and creativity together in one place.”
Over the next few months we will be looking for support in preparing for our opening. This support could range from cleaning and painting, financial contributions and offers of interest from potential trustees. We are in particular need of a Treasurer. We plan to involve people from all parts of our community either as Trustees or volunteers.
I will be writing to you again with specific requests for help. But for now the message is “thank you” and what a great start to 2021 “@ the Lit” will be.
Keep up to date with progress via this website and our Twitter account @AtTheLit.
Kind regards, Sian Williams
UPDATE: 26th June 2020
Positive conversations with Runnymede Borough Council (RBC) Councillors and Officers, owner of The Literary Institute, was gaining momentum in late 2019 and early 2020. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic temporarily paused this as businesses, retail, places of education and leisure closed, and RBC diverted their resources to those on the frontline and residents who required emergency support.
Following earlier lockdown easements in May and June, from the 4 July, the Government announced further businesses and venues will be allowed to open. The ‘@ the Lit’ Working Group are eager to once again continue our conversations with the Council as the country transitions into a new way of working.
‘@ the Lit’ hub would create a much-needed space for the local community to reconnect socially (and safely) after long periods of isolation; act as a centre for learning and engagement to counterbalance ‘digital fatigue’; as well as host exhibitions and workshops which will attract not only residents but visitors to the town who are avoiding large cities such as London but who still want to have a day out.
As our conversations with the Council resume, we are hopeful the ‘@ the Lit’ Working Group can bring positive news about next steps over the coming weeks.
UPDATE: 16th November 2019
Thank you to everyone for your continued support. There has been a lot of activity since the launch of this website in early September 2019. We have met with local community groups to present the ‘@ the Lit’ vision, held a public information session in October 2019 which was well supported, and continue to hold 1-1 meetings with interested individuals and organisations.
As well as this, ideas that were presented in our vision are now turning into a reality and detailed planning has been taking place. We have:
- secured two new members of the ‘@ the Lit’ Working Group who bring new skills and experience to the team;
- received advice from and secured the support of an existing craft co-operative to manage an indoor craft market;
- gained advice from local business and sole-trader networks in relation to ‘@ the Lit’s business incubation centre offer;
- gained advice from an existing food-based social enterprise for the cost and fit-out of the kitchen, with the longer term aim of providing a cafe within the Lit;
- received a number of in-principle hires for the hall, including a drama school who wish to make the Lit their regular base;
- received a number of formal letters of support including from Strode’s College, Royal Holloway University of London and their Student’s Union, Egham Residents Association, Egham Chamber of Commerce and the National Trust;
- liaised with the Village Centre in Englefield Green, Thorpe Village Hall and Addlestone Community Association to ensure the Lit offer complements our wonderful neighbouring community centres;
- drafted a Business Plan outlining the vision, the proposed governance & management arrangements, operational activity, financial and user targets, as well as key risks, dependencies and assumptions.
If we are unsuccessful in our proposal, it is likely that the ground floor of the building will be leased out to a commercial business for the foreseeable future. The question of how the Council will then address the town’s longer term cultural needs will be unclear. So if you want to see this proposal have the best chance it can, show your support by sharing your details on the Sign-Up page.
INTRODUCTION: 5th October 2019
Owned by Runnymede Borough Council, the ground floor of the Literary Institute building at 51 High Street Egham has been unoccupied since August 2018. It is currently available to let on the commercial market.
Our aim (the ‘@ the Lit’ Working Group) is to set up a new charity to take on the lease at a charitable rate, and turn this listed building with its rich history, in to a cultural community hub for the town. Read more about the vision here.
To do this, we need to convince Runnymede Borough Council that there is a demand (which we believe there is), and that, with a robust Business Plan, community support, and charitable contributions from the Council themselves, that this vision will have not only a positive social impact on town, but will complement the economic and regeneration aims for Egham.