The Ashton Institute was initially a group of people. However, when they began to meet regularly in a building, that building became identified with them, and it became known as the Institute.
The club became associated with the building around 1888 or 1890, when a group of people assembled at the St Anne's Hydro at the invitation of Charles E Tuke, of Maxwell and Tuke, architects of Blackpool Tower. Mr. Tuke outlined a scheme to establish a young men's institute to become a rallying place for youth of the town during the winter evenings and a pleasant rendezvous for summer visitors.
The picture shows the Ashton Institute at across No 2 Bowling green before its dismantling
The building itself existed before the club. It was probably the first public hall in St Annes. At that time it stood between the two lodge houses on St George's Road.
When the gardens were bought with Lord Ashton's gift, they were re-landscaped to a new design, and there was no place in that plan for the Institute building. A great deal of discussion about it future took place within the Council and the columns of the local newspaper.
Eventually it was moved (and probably embellished in the process) to facing what is now the No 2 Bowling green at the rear of the Plaza Bingo Hall (formerly the Empire Deluxe Cinema), and renamed the Ashton Institute.
At first it thrived, but later declined and closed as a club and was passed over to Fylde Borough Council who sought a profitable leisure use from it, but none could be found.
For a short time it ran as a drop in centre for young people, then the Council resolved to sell the building and SOAG began the long fight to prevent its disposal. This fight was both won and lost. The site of the building was eventually sold to Newfield Jones Homes for an apartment block. The Council has said that it intends to take the Institute down and store it. Then, subject to a satisfactory lottery grant, it may re-erect it elsewhere in the gardens. The original plan was to demolish the building, so the Council's present intention is a partial success.
As part of its main lottery scheme, the Council created a faithful replica of the Ashton Institute they had demolished and leased it out as a commercial cafe/restaurant.