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Hope for the future

The Mechanics Institute, Swindon

The Mechanics Institute today, hidden by scaffolding and fences.
The Mechanics Institute today, hidden by scaffolding and fences.
The Mechanics Institute in 1933
The Mechanics Institute in 1933

The Great Western Railway had a huge workforce and understood the importance of providing social spaces where they could come together and let off some steam.

The Mechanics’ Institute, built in 1855, is a beautiful example of gothic revival architecture. It was the social hub of Brunel’s Railway Village, providing a library, theatre and games rooms for GWR employees and their families.

The Mechanics’ Institute, became a Grade II* listed building in 1970. It fell out of use in the 1980s and decades of neglect have left it in a poor state.

It has been added to the Historic England's 'Building at Risk' register but there is hope for its future, as Swindon Borough Council has pledged to secure a sustainable future for the building.

 

Images: Copyright STEAM Museum – Mechanics Institute Then; Peter Benson, Mechanics Institute Today

This page is part of Then and Now