Standing right in the centre of Madeley it’s hard to miss ‘The Anstice Workmens Club and Institute’. Built for the community of Madeley the building is a memorial to Mr John Anstice a prominent and well respected mine owner, industrialist and philanthropist. The building was funded by the Anstice family and by public subscription.
The Anstice was officially opened in 1870 and just four years later was almost completely destroyed by fire. It was questionable as to whether the building could be saved, as the insurance received did not cover the cost of the rebuild. The Anstice family made up the shortfall and in 1875 the building was reopened with a grand concert.
Over the years The Anstice has been host to the local Library, Lloyds Bank, a Dentist, Madeley Rest Room and provided a place for education, entertainment and learning. The square outside became the gathering place for all public events and announcements, such as coronations and regimental parades.
During the 20th century the Working Men’s Club became well known for its outstanding Ball room, ‘the best outside of Blackpool’ and held many dances and concerts. There are still numerous Madeley couples who courted at The Anstice. Membership of the club peaked in the early 1970’s at almost 3,000.
Sadly since then and particularly in recent years such traditional clubs have seen a steep decline and The Anstice was no exception. It was particularly hard hit as income could not match the need for substantial repair or updating of such a large building. In February 2014 the Committee of the Club decided to cease operating and handed the building over to a Liquidator.
Almost immediately local people started a Save the Anstice campaign on Facebook; it gathered over 900 supporters in two weeks. From that came the Anstice Community Trust (ACT) which turned alarm into positive action by gathering support from councils, the local M.P. and other agencies. This group organised consultation on the streets to find out if there was strong support for restoring the building to its former glory, and also what people would use it for. The response was passionate and many more volunteers came forward. A preliminary survey did not reveal any glaring faults in the building structure, but it does need a thorough update and access improvements. ACT commissioned a broad business plan, based on the improved building sustaining itself on income and started exploring what volunteers elsewhere had achieved with large buildings.
The Anstice is now owned by Madeley Town Council ‘for the Community’ with a view to handing management over to the independent Charity (ACT) created for the purpose.
Everyone in ACT is now working hard alongside Madeley Town Council Staff to finding the best funding bids and designs for 21st century use of a 19th century listed building. At this time, until a design is confirmed costs can only be estimated but it is anticipated to be around £2million, which may need to be phased over a lengthy period according to funding success. ACT welcomes contributions both as cash and in kind towards achieving their goal.
Together ACT and Madeley Town Council aim to:
Bring The Anstice back as the heart of Madeley- for the whole community, for Sport, Art, Learning, Health, Family and Friendship