1900 Cheveney Institute.
This water mill on the river Beult, had been for its working life, a flour mill, but its requirement for that purpose declined, along with that of our three windmills. To continue its useful life Mrs Alexander of Cheveney House was persuaded by William Galpin, the national school headmaster, to convert the idle machinery to generate electricity. In this way Cheveney House, farm and cottages, along with Warde’s Moat had this luxury 30 to 40 years before the rest of the village.
After it closed as a working mill, the large rooms and hall were in constant use for village events.
During the First World War, Colonel Borton of Cheveney instantly reacted to play his part in the war effort, and applied for permission to use the Institute as a hospital. Within two months he had ordered beds from Harrods and had them installed. The Belgian soldiers who were brought here enjoyed the hospitality of the Borton family, and the comforts of Cheveney House at each Christmas.
After the war a general handy-man Charlie Beech joined the Cheveney staff, and moved into the bungalow next to the mill. Charlie was to be involved in many projects for the Colonel, one of which was to install into the mill, an electrical generator turbine that was supplied by Drake and Fletcher of Maidstone.
Charlie also recalled his duties as caretaker and receptionist when the Institute as our village hall, was used for dances, slide shows and concerts. Typical events are some of those listed for 1895: -
In January the Yalding Minstrels gave an entertainment, and were able to hand over a substantial balance to the Village Pump Fund, beside giving a crowded house a very amusing evening.
The Girl's Friendly Society held a very successful annual meeting, under the direction of Miss Warde (Y) and Mrs Bradford (Hunton). After tea, the girls were greatly delighted with a pretty entertainment given by the Vicarage children, entitled "Beauty and the Beast".
Tuesday 26th February saw a Lantern Evening consisting of 100 beautiful slides illustrating, poems, stories, etc. These were interspersed with vocal and instrumental music.
Our lantern is being fitted with a powerful electric-light to the optical system, of even greater power than the lime-light with which we have been familiar this season in the lectures on "China and Japan", "Dr Barnardo's Homes", and the "Missions to Seamen".
The facilities were used by various village groups, such as the school for the girls cookery lessons, and youth groups. The surrounding grounds made an excellent camping site for various uniformed groups from the village and outside.
By the Second World War the Colonel’s son Biffy lived at Cheveney, and he being then a retired Air Vice Marshall, also intended that the Institute should continue to be used.
This time it was to house Italian prisoners of war who worked on the farm.
Since then of course it has been sold and converted for private residential use.