The Woldingham Institute was set up as a charity under trusts expressed in an indenture dated 23 September 1920 in accordance with the Charitable Trust Acts 1853 to 1914. Shortly afterwards, with funds raised locally, the new Institute purchased a plot of land in Upper Court Road to be the site for the proposed ‘Woldingham Village Club’ as recorded by the Supreme Court of Judicature on 12 October 1920. The Institute’s newly acquired assets were subsequently vested with the Official Custodian for Charities on 23 December 1920 to ensure that any future proceeds from the sale of the assets by the Institute could only be used for charitable purposes in Woldingham and not for the personal benefit of the charity’s trustees or for non-charity purposes. On 4 September 1961, as required by the new Charities Act 1960, the Woldingham Institute was formally registered as a charity with the Charity Commission .
However, in August 1973, the Charity Commission became concerned that the Institute was being run in a way which was inconsistent or even conflicted with its original charitable purposes of 1920. These inconsistencies were contrary to the Institute's own constitution, rules, regulations and practices set out in the 1920 trust document. For example, the Institute’s original trust did not allow for persons under 18 years old to use the premises nor the employment of Club staff and they also prohibited the supply of intoxicating liquors or any form of betting or gambling. The practice of ‘vetting’ residents for membership also appeared to run counter to the trust provision that ‘every resident … shall be entitled to become and be a member of the Institute’ and the contemporary more inclusive charity principles of the 1970s. Legal opinion was sought and it was decided that rather than attempt to engage in a complicated process of amending or repealing the Institute’s old trust, the Institute should be wound up instead and replaced by another charity with a scheme which would allow both the charity and the Club to operate together legally as well as mutually support each other. The new scheme would also reflect more modern expectations of its membership at the time.
So, on 25 February 1975, by order of the Charity Commission, the Woldingham Village Trust charity came into existence replacing the former Woldingham Institute charity and taking over responsibility for the management of its assets. The Trust’s primary aim remains ‘to provide or assist in providing for the inhabitants of Woldingham facilities for recreation or other leisure time occupation in the interests of social welfare with object of improving the conditions of life for the said inhabitants’. Restrictive trust conditions were gone. For trading and tax purposes, the Club was later incorporated as the Woldingham Social Club Limited on 23 January 1997. The Club, not the Trust, determines its own constitution and rules which must, of course, accord with the Woldingham Village Trust’s charity objectives.
In practice, the day-to-day running of the Club and its membership management rests with the Club’s elected committee and employees. On the other hand, the Trust remains responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the Club’s property and fabric. As legally separate entities, the Trust and the Club produce and publish separate audited accounts annually.