The Watson Institute (also known as the Watson Hall or Village Hall) was erected in 1897 at a cost of £1,500 by James Proctor Watson, Esq. It was given to the village as a public hall, free library and reading room, supplied with 700 books. Papers and periodicals were also supplied by Lady Carlisle.
JP Watson was the son of John Watson who, in his youth, travelled to India with his brother William. They later returned to Cumbria with their fortunes. In 1875 William purchased Holme Eden, the former Dixon mansion at Warwick Bridge and John built Gelt Hall as his residence at Castle Carrock. Both men are commemorated by a stained-glass windows in the St. Peters Church in the village.
Hanging on the wall of the main hall is a large watercolour of a large building in Mumbai (Bombay). This is the Watson's Hotel (Watson's Esplanade Hotel) soon after its completion in 1863. On the mount of the picture is an inscription written by JP Watson: “This building was designed in London for John Watson of Gelt Hall by Messrs Ordish and Le Febre.” Click here to find out more.
The Watson Institute is now a Grade II listed building and is used as the village hall for the local community.
The hall is the focal point for village life and in addition to regular groups, it’s used by the school, church, parish council, and various other organisations for meetings, presentations and fundraising events. The historic main hall with air conditioning and modern kitchen provides a warm and welcoming environment for a wide variety of functions; be it parties, concerts or community events.