Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Arts for All - Mechanics Institute interior

The Mechanics Institute, one of the buildings designed by Cuthbert Brodrick and opened in 1865.

Leeds Mechanics Institute was founded in 1824 or 1825 (sources vary) and was first established in Park Row. A competition was announced for the plans for the new building in 1860, almost at the same time as Brodrick had won the contest for the Corn Exchange.

The plan was centred on a circular lecture room fitted in a rectangular shell which contained workshops, studios and a library.

In the early nineteenth century Mechanics Institutes were founded in many cities of the UK, the first being in Glasgow. They were usually funded by industrialists to provide education for working men, particularly in technical subjects. It has been said that one of the main aims was to steer people away from gambling and alcohol.

Very soon after the opening of the new building, in 1868, Leeds Mechanics Institute became the Leeds Institute of Science, Art and Literature, later renamed Leeds College of Technology, and now within the Metropolitan University. Research has also revealed that in 1903 it joined with the Literary Institute to form Leeds College of Art. That's the internet for you. Back to the books.

The embroidery was hand stitched on printed fabric by Hilary Thurlow.

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