The plaster ceilings may be crumbling; inappropriate interior works may have been permitted by lax public guardians; but the sturdy structure of the Mechanics’ Institution, built by the GWR workforce, is still standing as a legacy to Swindon‘s caring and self-motivated founders and an inspiration for its modern citizens.
Swindon today still struggles to bring its people together without this crossroads, where all could find something worthwhile to do, and friends to do it with. Education, entertainment and social action were all of a piece within those walls. If something needed doing in Swindon, people could discuss it here, publicly, and set in motion the means of getting it done.
Because the Mechanics’ library was so comprehensive, Swindon Council never had to open its own until 1943, when the town was flushed with war workers. The long-standing library porta-cabins reflected the post-war struggle to re-position Swindon’s economy within an expanding town, and diversifying neighbourhoods. The loss of unity that the Mechanics’ provided was felt widely but perhaps not so widely understood.
Today, Swindon is at another turning point. With un-finished regeneration; with a new government promising to support "The Big Society"; and with all the necessary background work provided by the Trust during the past 15 years, the Mechanics’ Institution campaign is ready to deliver this building to the people who have stood up for it since it fell into speculative ownership when Swindon Works was forced to close in 1986.
The celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Great Western Railway is an ideal time to bring this landmark back into service. Under the Trust’s umbrella, all who live in Swindon would share in the ownership of the Mechanics’ and of the achievement.
Be part of the action – please show your support with membership today by printing and completing the form below.
"I wish to support The New Mechanics’ Institution Preservation Trust Limited"