Ref NoMS 1818
TitleRecords of the Moseley and Balsall Heath Institute
Date1881 - 1968
FormatCubic metres
AdminHistoryIn the autumn of 1876, members of the Moseley and Balsall Heath Debating Society founded a Literary Association, to meet in Lime Grove Schools for lectures and papers given by its members. Under the influence of the Midland and Perry Barr Institutes, a broader programme of events was adopted and within a year the name was altered to the Moseley and Balsall Heath Institute. At first meetings continued at Lime Grove, but as membership and ambitions grew they moved first to Clifton Road Schools (1878) and then to the new Tindal Street Board Schools (1880). By 1878, however, plans were being made to build an institute, funded by public money, on land entrusted to the organisation for literary and scientific purposes. The first hall was opened in October 1883; additions were made in 1887 and 1896, and the building was renovated between 1919 and 1924.

In the first presidential address on 11 October 1877, Professor Henry Morley described the organisation as 'one more combined effort for advance of thought'. The programme included lecture, concerts, theatre performances and dances, bit it was the provision of evening educational classes ranging from metallurgy to gymnastics which was probably the Institutes most important contribution to the community. The Institute formed close links with many other local organisations, especially the Free Masons, and became a member of the Birmingham District Institutes Union. However, gradually membership declined, events became limited and the building was only saved from closure by the Moseley Road Dance Centre in the 1980s.

More details may be found in 'Moseley and Balsall Heath Institute 1876-1926' (MS 1818/14/6) and a compilation of data made in the late 1940s (MS 1818/14/5).
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