Still no progress on future of Mechanics' Institute

Daniel Rose, chairman of the Mechanics’ Institution Trust

Daniel Rose, chairman of the Mechanics’ Institution Trust

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @Michael_Benke

CONCERNS have been raised about the future of the Mechanics’ Institute as a group charged with deciding its use has not met since last May.

The building lies unused at the heart of the Railway Village, and the most recent idea of using it as an art gallery has now been ruled out.

It is in the ownership of the Crown Estate but Swindon Council has a big say in what happens to it. The plan is to apply for funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund to secure its future but proof is needed that there is a long term aim. The next meeting to discuss its future has been arranged for March.

Daniel Rose, the organisation secretary of the Mechanics’ Institution Trust, said: “At the beginning we were really pleased that everyone appeared to want similar things and we were moving in the right direction. There is no doubt we have been frustrated at the lack of progress but we are remaining positive and still want to work with the council.

“Our priority is getting the Mechanics’ Institute back in use and if the council does not want to do that then we will work with someone who does. We are not waiting for another six months for something to happen.”

The Trust wants to run a full site appraisal and examine all of the options. As the council has first charge on the building they must decide whether they want to use the building or not.

Daniel believes the Mechanics’ can be a key asset to the community, providing space for volunteer groups to use, an independent cinema, shops and a restaurant.

“What we don’t want to see is the building on the open market,” said Daniel. “It is such an important building which represents so much of the town’s heritage.

“It is bad for the area to have it empty and exposed to the elements. Applying for heritage funding is not a quick process so the longer it takes to get something together then the longer it will be before something can happen.”

Coun Garry Perkins (Con, Shaw) is a member of the cross party group. He said: “When we were looking at a site for the new art gallery the Mechanics Institute was a site we looked at. Now it has been decided the gallery will go on Princes Street we can move forward.

“Yes, we have lost five months over the process but now we are clearer on its future. Our next action will be to work with the lottery to come up with a workable plan.”

Coun Mark Dempsey (Lab, Walcot and Park North), who is also part of the group, said: “It is vital that we work together and create the best future for the building and for Swindon so that we can breathe new life into the future of Swindon.”

Comments (11)

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9:57am Fri 28 Feb 14

PJC says...

This has turned into a farce. Give the Council a concrete deadline, then if they can't decide by then, take it out of their hands.
This has turned into a farce. Give the Council a concrete deadline, then if they can't decide by then, take it out of their hands. PJC
  • Score: 7

10:36am Fri 28 Feb 14

villageoldman says...

It could only happen in Swindon, 7 years to come up with an idea! No wonder the town is in such a mess.
It could only happen in Swindon, 7 years to come up with an idea! No wonder the town is in such a mess. villageoldman
  • Score: 13

11:02am Fri 28 Feb 14

A.Baron-Cohen says...

There must come a point when enough and enough and the taxpayers should cut the losses.
There must come a point when enough and enough and the taxpayers should cut the losses. A.Baron-Cohen
  • Score: 5

11:10am Fri 28 Feb 14

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man says...

The trouble is that all of the trusts ideas for use of this building seem to involve spending lots of (our) money to keep it afloat in the longer term. It should probably be drawn to their attention that the council is not exactly awash with funds at the moment!
The trouble is that all of the trusts ideas for use of this building seem to involve spending lots of (our) money to keep it afloat in the longer term. It should probably be drawn to their attention that the council is not exactly awash with funds at the moment! The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man
  • Score: 7

11:28am Fri 28 Feb 14

ChannelX says...

The only reason the self-appointed 'Mechanics’ Institution Trust' don't want to see the building on the open market is because they have no money with which to purchase and own it yet, for some reason, seem they should be handed it to do with as they wish for no other reason than that's what they'd like to happen.
The only reason the self-appointed 'Mechanics’ Institution Trust' don't want to see the building on the open market is because they have no money with which to purchase and own it yet, for some reason, seem they should be handed it to do with as they wish for no other reason than that's what they'd like to happen. ChannelX
  • Score: 1

12:13pm Fri 28 Feb 14

swindondad says...

I have only lived in Swindon for a little over 20 years so could someone of longer standing tell me when this building was last used for anything constructive.
I have only lived in Swindon for a little over 20 years so could someone of longer standing tell me when this building was last used for anything constructive. swindondad
  • Score: 5

1:57pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Davey Gravey says...

Either come up with some money to sort the place out or knock the f*cking eyesore down.
Either come up with some money to sort the place out or knock the f*cking eyesore down. Davey Gravey
  • Score: 5

4:28pm Fri 28 Feb 14

twasadawf says...

Get the consultants in they will confirm that it needs either knocking down or a bucket full of money to be spent transforming it into a whit elephant
Get the consultants in they will confirm that it needs either knocking down or a bucket full of money to be spent transforming it into a whit elephant twasadawf
  • Score: 3

6:36pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Wiltshireman says...

The council do not want to do anything with it. It will cost them too much so they are hoping that the building falls down beyond repair, buy the land and build another monstrosity of a car park
The council do not want to do anything with it. It will cost them too much so they are hoping that the building falls down beyond repair, buy the land and build another monstrosity of a car park Wiltshireman
  • Score: 1

9:00pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Richard Symonds says...

Oh I do wish the Mechanics' Institute would say and do something constructive!!
Oh I do wish the Mechanics' Institute would say and do something constructive!! Richard Symonds
  • Score: 1

9:58pm Fri 28 Feb 14

faatmaan says...

do everybody a big favour and knock it down, if they can't come up with a viable use for the building. If the supporters of this building could deliver guaranteed sources of income it may be a different story, alas these people still see Swindon Council as a source of finance for their folly, time to accept defeat and let life move on.
do everybody a big favour and knock it down, if they can't come up with a viable use for the building. If the supporters of this building could deliver guaranteed sources of income it may be a different story, alas these people still see Swindon Council as a source of finance for their folly, time to accept defeat and let life move on. faatmaan
  • Score: 2

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