Swindon's Mechanics' Institute to undergo urgent preservation works

By Jessica Durston - 15 March 2023


Swindon Borough Council say urgent repairs will be carried out on the iconic building in the Railway Village after a recent building condition survey was conducted.

The Mechanics' Institute, which was first built in 1855, has been empty since 1986, with a number of different owners buying the building in the years since.

The council say the intention is to ensure that this much-loved Grade II* listed building is preserved to make sure it can be brought back into use in the future.

Taking place over three days from next Monday - 20 March - work will include:

  • Minor roof and patching repairs
  • Gutter clearance and repairs
  • Removal of high level vegetation (i.e. in brickwork of the fly tower)

Swindon Borough Council has never owned the building, which was a social and community centre for Swindon’s railway workers, but says it recognises its historical importance and wants to see it restored in the future.

Attempts have been made to contact the current owner, but this has proved unsuccessful. After a waiting period, the council is now stepping in to undertake the works.

The cost of the repairs, £10,000, will be funded by a grant from Historic England.

Following the work, council officers, Historic England, and local organisations will continue to work together to find a way forward for the historic building.

Cllr Matty Courtliff, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Heritage, Leisure and Town Centre Experience, said: “The Mechanics is an iconic part of the Railway Village and key landmark for the whole of Swindon.

“It’s a shame, under its private owners, that it has fallen into a state that needs these repairs and I’m glad to see the work about to start.

“We all want to see the building brought back into use and this work will make sure it has strong foundations for the future.

“I’d also like to reassure residents that we are not stopping at just these urgent works. We are continuing to work with potential partners to safeguard the future of the building and establishing how we can make it a point of public pride once again.”

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