Kelsick Educational Foundation

The Kelsick Centre
is at the heart of village life. It provides a spacious, comfortable and convenient venue on the level, in the centre of Ambleside, and is used by all ages for a wide range of activities.

John Kelsick HallThe building has full access for wheelchair users and there are Ladies and Gentlemen's toilets available at both ends of the building, and a disabled persons toilet on the ground floor at the south end. King Street car park is 100 metres from The Kelsick Centre, and there is on street disc parking nearby and space in front of the building for off-loading. Many groups have been happily accommodated at the Kelsick Centre for many years, including Ambleside Day Care centre four days each week. Other uses include public meetings, lectures, slideshows, toddler and playgroup sessions, yoga and line-dancing. The Kelsick Centre is also home to Ambleside Horticultural and Craft Society's Daffodil and Spring Flower Show; Ambleside Cancer Care's weekly drop-in session, and to Ambleside Players, whose twice yearly productions take place in the Hall.

Rooms available for public hire

John Kelsick HallThe John Kelsick Hall
This ground floor hall which was completely refurbished a few years ago, will accommodate up to 125 people (75 with tables) and is acoustically treated, has a sealed wooden floor, and high quality lighting.

It is ideal for a variety of activities and functions.

There is a Public Entertainment licence, and kitchen facilities can be made available.
Cumpstone Room The Cumpstone Room
A Ground floor room which will accommodate up to 40 people. The kitchen facilities can be made available with this room.
The Mackereth Suite
A private suite of two rooms on the first floor, this was completely refurbished in 1996. The main room will accommodate up to 66 people. It is ideal for business meetings, conferences, parties, receptions, clubs and classes. The adjoining refreshment room is furnished with crockery, water heater and fridge.
Please contact Peter Frost, Clerk to the Trustees, if you wish to inquire about hire charges or book a room.

The History of the Centre

Prior to 1875, the site of the present Kelsick Centre building in St Mary’s Lane was an orchard with an old stone barn.

In that year Messrs. Robert Crewdson of Rydal Mount, Rydal, and Arthur Henry Heywood of Elleray, Windermere, took out a 99-year lease on the site at an annual rent of twelve pounds. Their purpose was to build a Lecture Hall and this was completed by 1882 at a cost of seventeen hundred pounds, including furnishings. It was "...devoted to purposes of different kinds but as well with a view to the moral and intellectual improvements of the inhabitants ...i.e. for meetings, for educational and religious purposes, for night schools and reading room, for meetings of clubs, for a village savings bank, for Church of England temperance and Band of Hope and similar other gatherings." It was also hoped that it might be found suitable for "...classes of technical or other higher instruction."

This seems to have been a very philanthropic gesture to the people of Ambleside, particularly so as when it came into use the two gentlemen passed the operation of the building back to the Kelsick Governors who, it was felt, would be best placed to manage it.

As many local Ambleside people will recall, the Centre subsequently became the home of the YMCA and this use continued until 1984 following the granting of an extension to the original lease. It then became the Kelsick Youth & Community Centre, grant aided by the Kelsick Foundation and operated by an independent management committee. At the end of 1995 this committee handed the building back to the Foundation and relinquished control of its use.

The Trustees decided to commit considerable Foundation funds to the renovation of the Kelsick Centre in the mid-1990s in order to generate income for grants and to make it increasingly attractive to a broader range of users. This has restored its position as the focus for many groups in Ambleside, much as was the original intention of Messrs Crewdson and Heywood well over a century ago.