THE ‘GREGSON Memorial Institute’, aka today’s Gregson Arts and Community Centre, was built in memory of Henry Gregson, MP and local benefactor, with funds raised by Christchurch Vicarage. The memorial fund brought a response from many influential figures such as the Storey Brothers and Lord Ashton. The letter sent out in October 1885 announced:
“The building seems a fitting object to associate with his name, as one that meets a crying want, and promises to be of great benefit to the Parish with which he has been so long identified and the interests of which he took so much to heart.”
DESIGNED by the renowned architects Austin and Paley, the Gregson was completed in 1894 with the addition of the Bartlett Hall (named after the first Vicar of Christchurch).
CHRIST CHURCH Parish sold the Gregson in 1983 to the Freehold Community Association Charity (FCA) to run as a community centre for the local area of benefit. The modern day Gregson Arts & Community Centre and Café/Bar hosts a variety of community functions serving the Freehold, Golgotha, Moorland, Primrose and Ridge areas of Lancaster, from public performances and meetings to private clubs and events.
THE CENTRE is run on a commercial basis unsupported by any regular supply of public funds. Professional managers are employed to run the centre on a day to day basis, whilst the operations of the Gregson Community Association, the charity which now owns and maintains the centre itself, are organised and looked after by an elected committee of nine.
The Gregson Community Association Ltd (GCA) owns and supervises goings on at the Gregson Centre, an Arts & Community Centre within the Freehold area of Lancaster. It was formed in 1983 and became a registered company limited by guarantee in November 2007 and continues to operate as a charity with the following mission statement adopted in 2003:
“To promote and encourage discussion and participation in arts and community events, issues, activities and groups in order to improve the quality of life for the whole community. To excite, engage, stimulate and fulfil.”