The Swindon heritage action zone
The Mechanics’ Institution
The Mechanics’ Institution is the priority project for both the council and Historic England and integral to the success of the whole Heritage Action Zone (HAZ). It should be the catalyst for the wider regeneration of the railway village and the town centre. It has national heritage significance but is of great local significance and it is held very dear to Swindon people’s hearts. Whatever its future use, refurbishment is likely to cost many millions of pounds and funding will need to be sought from different sources such as the Nation Heritage Lottery Fund (NHLF).
There will need to be a fundraising campaign and we would very much like to hear your ideas. If you would like to get involved or make any suggestions, contact the Mechanics' Institution Trust (MIT) at: email@example.com.
In order to find a solution for the Mechanics’ Institution, a working party has been set up which includes representatives from MIT, the Theatre’s Trust, Historic England (HE) and key council officers. Historic England funding has enabled the council to commission a condition survey which will assess the current condition of the building, including the interior, and estimate the potential costs of refurbishment. Following the issue of a Section 215 notice to the owner of the building (to which no response was received), in December the council arranged for the vegetation around the Mechanics' Institute to be cleared away. This has improved the appearance of the building and will enable the surveyors to gain access in order to carry out the condition survey.
The MIT secured funding from the Theatre’s Trust to commission consultants, Fourth Street, to carry out a viability study on potential future uses for the building. This study concluded that there should be demand for the MI to function as a venue for meetings, conferences and weddings which could underpin its financial viability and enable it to operate as a multi-purpose venue with a broader use by the community for meetings and arts, cultural and community events. A Detailed Business Plan will be commissioned once the final results of the Condition Survey are available. This will also need to take into account the impact of the pandemic on the original assumptions of the Viability Study.
You can read the Viability Study below:
A further event will be organised when circumstances allow us to publicise the results of both studies and to gain feedback from residents.