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1981-1986

Although the regular use of the auditorium had concluded in 1980 there were continual small events running on an ad hoc basis.

Beer Exhibition 1985

Beer Exhibition 1985

Here the 1985 Beerex shows the auditorium area at one of the last uses recorded.

The photograph’s angle is from a low view point due to the photographer being in a wheelchair. The irony is that now the building would be unable to cope with wheelchair access without major renovation and alteration.

In 1985 in anticipation of the closure of the rail works, the Borough Council entered into negotiation with BR property board for the acquisition of the Mechanics’ Institution building. This negotiation failed after a survey revealed a degree of neglect resulting in a potential repair bill of well over £1 Million.

At the time the Swindon Central Area Local plan (adopted November 1983) stated “The Mechanics Institute will not be allowed to fall into disuse or disrepair.”

British Rail closed the works in early 1986 and as a result the Mechanics’ Institution building finally closed on 9 February 1986.

Playhouse Stage as at 1986

This rather sorry scene shows the stage at the time of the closure of the Mechanics' theatre. The fly tower is now open to the elements in large areas and the auditorium itself is in a much worse state of repair with the floor having fallen through into the bar area below.