Swindon’s Mechanics’ could join the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu and Battersea Power Station on a World Heritage watch list.
The trust behind the campaign to save and return the Mechanics’ Institute to community use has been approached by New York-based World Monuments Fund to apply for recognition in their Watch List for 2012.
Trust chairman Daniel Rose, pictured below said, “we submitted our application to be considered for the Watch short list earlier this year, after I had a call out of the blue asking for information about the contribution of Swindon Mechanics’ Institution to the town, and how the trust has been working to save it.”
The WMF is an advocate for historic sites and buildings around the planet, having supported over 600 sites in over 80 countries since it first published the Watch List in 1996. According to the organisation’s website, over the last 15 years it has provided over $60 million of direct emergency funding, as well as facilitating a further $150m from other sources.
Should the Swindon Mechanics’ Institute be selected for the Watch List in October this year, it will join the ranks of other internationally renowned and iconic sites to have been helped by the WMF, including the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, Machu Picchu in Peru, Alexander Palace in St Petersburg, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Ephesus in Turkey and London’s Battersea Power Station.
“Even if the Mechanics’ is not selected it will shine a light on Swindon and provide recognition that we have a building of international significance,” said Daniel.
“The Institute here in Swindon was one of the biggest, longest running and most active in the community of all Mechanics’ Institutions. It is also the only one linked to the very British invention of the railway, which opened up whole continents.
“The site’s Grade II* listing puts it into the top 6 per cent of endangered buildings. Representatives from heritage organisations all around the world agree what an historically important asset we have here, and how it ought to be restored and reused for community benefit.”
And you can vote for the building to be the UK’s most endangered building in The Victorian Society’s poll.
The trust is also hoping that the Mechanics’ Institute will feature on The Victorian Society’s most endangered list this year, raising the profile of the building’s plight at a national level. But it’s relying on Swindon residents to speak up for the building on the society’s website.
“If we know how highly a community values a building, then this tells us more about its importance and how it merits inclusion on the list,” said Katie Gunning, Victorian Society campaign officer.
Give your support to Swindon’s Mechanics’ Institute by casting your vote at www.victoriansociety.org.uk