Porthleven Town Council wants to hear your views on how the Bickford Smith Institute should be used.

Porthleven Town Council is seeking views from the community on the future use of the Bickford Smith Institute. Currently, the town council use the former institute cottage as their administration office and meeting place, with the main hall being used as the snooker club.

This is a public building and the town council therefore believe this building should be accessible and used by the whole community in a variety of uses.


Furthermore, the building itself needs a lot of work to its structure. The building is getting old and has faced the full force of the elements for over 134 years. This has taken its toll on the building and the material state of the building needs to be addressed sooner than later.

The work required is not going to be cheap, and will need help from grants. To have a chance of being awarded a grant, the building will have to have a wider community use.

An open day has been organised for the 26th March from 10am to 4pm for anyone to see inside the building. There will also be a questionannaire seeking views on the future use. This questionannaire will also be available online. It is also planned to make the questionnaire available in the supermarket and Post Office. It is very important people give their views.

To quash any rumours, the snooker club has been told they could be part of the future use, but not sole use. The town council has met with representatives of the snooker club to explain the situation, including the work required to the whole building.

This building is the most iconic building in Porthleven, and the town council wants to make sure this building stands proud for years to come.


  • Gilly Zella Martin

    Could they not incorporate a library and museum into it.

  • Fran

    I think that’s a good idea Gilly, especially the library, I’d like to see part of it rented out to the public as well for small meetings.

  • How about a Centre for the Cornish Diaspora. I know that Leven wasn’t a classic exit point for emigrees, but frankly where is?
    With some permanent presentations and dedicated computer access to census and shipping records, fed directly from the new archive in Pool, you’d draw in international visitors tracing their names back and could still use the hall space in the evenings for local cultural events.
    A kind of ‘Who do you think you are?’ centre.

  • Anonymous

    It’s disappointing that the two long-term users of the building haven’t been contributing to the maintenance of the building.

    In terms of future usage, it might be worth thinking of activities/businesses etc that would actually make use of the main assets of the building – i.e. its location and the views the building enjoys. It’s really odd that the building has been a snooker hall for so long given the need to block the light and windows in order to play snooker. Further, snooker is a game that permits 4 people per hour (on average) to use the main hall at best (2 x people on each table) which seems a terrible average for such a wonderful building – and not the best activity for large numbers to enjoy the space. It wouldn’t seem such a shame, but clearly neither the snooker club nor the town council have contributed sufficiently over the years towards maintenance. It doesn’t seem to me that either deserves to stay in the building.
    The building was originally gifted to the village as a literary institute with reading room, lending & reference library. It’s recent usage has strayed a very long way from the original intentions for the building. Not sure Mr Bickford-Smith intended for such a beautiful building to end up as private members male snooker club that doesn’t contribute its way….

  • Paul

    Fully agree with the points made by Anonymous on 16th March. How about a combination of tourist office/local museum during the day and private use for the evening?

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