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