Wiltshire

Swindon Mechanics Institute gets £500,000 funding

Interior of the Mechanics' Institute Image copyright TheSecretVault
Image caption The derelict state of the building's interior was revealed by "urban explorers" in March

A campaign to restore a "neglected" historic building has been given a £500,000 boost.

Historic England said the money would help develop an "inspiring and sustainable new use" for the Grade II* listed Mechanics Institute in Swindon.

The Institute opened in 1854 as an educational centre for railway workers, but closed in 1986 and has lain derelict ever since.

More than 3,200 people have signed a petition to save it.

The town's Railway Village, where the building is located, was recently announced as a Heritage Action Zone by Historic England, which is investing £1.6m to regenerate the area.

An initial £40,000 has already been allocated to the Institute for preparatory work.

A spokesman said: "A further £500,000 will be ring-fenced towards the costs of refurbishments once a plan for the building has been agreed.

"We are working with our partners to find an inspiring and sustainable new use for the Mechanics Institute."

Image copyright Google
Image caption The council is working with Historic England to find an "inspiring and sustainable new use" for the building

Dale Heenan, from Swindon Borough Council, said "visible progress" on the restoration was expected within the next five years.

Sally Hawson, from Save Swindon's Heritage, welcomed the funding, but said any regeneration project "needs multiple investors and needs business".

"I'm very pleased to see that there is any work going on, but this building is going to need about £30m, which is not a small amount of money in anyone's book," she added.

Matthew Singh, of the building's owners Forefront Estates, was unavailable for comment.

Mr Singh bought the Institute in 2003 and planned to develop it, but no work has taken place.

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