Author Topic: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans  (Read 38934 times)

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Offline Steve Wakefield

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Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« on: January 26, 2010, 08:25:43 AM »
James Wallin may have gone but his reports live on:

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/4870865.All_change_for_Mechanics__Institute/#commentsList



All posts on this forum are my own opinion and do not represent the views of any council or any political party.  :banana:

Offline komadori

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2010, 08:34:29 AM »
Reads like the usual tit-for-tat shouting between Mr Singh and the council & English Heritage. You only have to walk past the north side of the building (the side he's yet to get planning permission for) to see the appalling condition its in, with the roof off or holed in places. It will be interesting to see if his new plans (once submitted) for that part of the building are any more sympathetic than his previous attempts (first a proposal for a massive glass tower, then a proposal to demolish the north side).
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Offline swindonlinkman

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2010, 10:06:57 AM »
Mr Singh has a long, long history of delusional thinking, claiming that he knows what's best and is doing the best, whilst blustering through the media that the council and English Heritage don't appreciate what's trying to do. I imagine the banks are closing in on the guy. I've posted an article by Martha Parry of the New Mechanics' Institute to appear in the February Link magazine at: www.swindonlink.com

Offline Tobes

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2010, 11:02:15 AM »
I dunno - I've put out enough empassioned rants on TS about seeing our heritage demolished to hopefully have made my opinion pretty clear on what I think should be done regarding the preservation of what little remains.... BUT... It seems to me that there's something totally unrealistic and untimately contradictory about Martha Parry and her crew's 'preserved in aspic' view. On a purely idealistic view, she is of course right, nothing ought to be done to damage the building's appearance... BUT - and its an acre's worth of BUT - the place has been rapidly deteriorating for years and years now. Unless some sort of compromise is reached, it will be condemmed, or it will 'catch fire accidentally' (maybe more than once!?) - and the site WILL end up being demolished and replaced by a development of high density flats and vibrant bars called something hideous like 'Mechanics Court'.

Only money is going to save the Mechanics - and any investor is going to want to see some means of recouping their investment. The only way I can see them managing to do that is to encorporate some sort of commercial aspect into the building - that would seem obvious. I think some sort of change is going to have to be allowed as a compromise.

As things stand, this looks like yet another battle of egos - and sadly, the fallout of this negatively effects the rest of the town.

Pessimistically, I don;t see this ever getting resolved. I wish it were otherwise, but we're now got 30 years of precedence to see that A: The council would prefer to spend their efforts on other vibrant visions, B: Any private investor will be knackered by the demands of English Heritage and Parry et al. C: The residents of Swindon have become so used to the failure of anyone to develop anything inspiring within the town that expectations are at rock bottom.
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2010, 11:23:02 AM »
Tobes

You are very lucid today I hope you are being inspirational and not too pessimistic ;)
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 12:57:51 PM by Steve Wakefield »
All posts on this forum are my own opinion and do not represent the views of any council or any political party.  :banana:

Offline Bobby Bingo

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2010, 12:50:22 PM »
Steve I believe he is being REALISTIC.
Bobby

Offline Tobes

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2010, 01:34:13 PM »
Hehehe - I hope I'm not being damned by faint praise Mr Wakefield!  ;)

Mind you, where my pessimism is concerned, I am always and very honestly HAPPY to be proven wrong!!!

Actually, as an old stager of matters cultural and industrial, I've spotted something which may well be of interest to you (and Martha - not sure if she frequents TS but she might be interested to hear about this). Down the bottom of Great Western Way by the weird 'four way roundabout' (Bruce Street Bridges?) along from B&Q, there's a row of old shops. One is in the process of being completely refurbished. They're pulled the front off the shop and revealed an old Victorian looking handpainted shop sign-board which says 'The Terminus Cafe'... would this be something to do with the old tram network...? The sign looks fantasic - I hope someone saves it.

(The restoration of part of the tram network I'd contend would be of far more historical relevence, eccenomic, practical and social benefit to the people of Swindon than the dead-ended ditch canal!!!! Sorry, being lucid again!   ;) )
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline kecl

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2010, 01:51:07 PM »

......They're pulled the front off the shop and revealed an old Victorian looking handpainted shop sign-board which says 'The Terminus Cafe'... would this be something to do with the old tram network...? The sign looks fantasic - I hope someone saves it.



The cafe did indeed mark the end of the tram system.

Tramway map can be found here
http://www.flickr.com/photos/swindonlocal/4004091153/sizes/l/
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Offline swindonlinkman

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2010, 02:41:43 PM »
Terminus story at http://www.swindonlink.com/features/show/206 or see Swindonweb for a longer piece.

If nothing else Martha and trust members have a track record of consistency in trying to get an important feature in Swindon's heritage preserved, put to good use and not totally deformed by developers with fancy ideas. As she wrote, they've been involved with the building for 15 years and lots of time during this period there could have been positive action. The trust were responsible for getting the consultant's report done by English Heritage which showed there were no commercially viable uses for the building and were also responsible for having its status upgraded to II* which puts it in the top 5% of listed buildings in the country.

The trust has either been ignored or the attempts to persuade them to take another view have failed. Most people would have given up; they often do against the odds. There are plenty of people in the town who have given up on socially/educationally/culturally useful project that could not gain the patronage of the borough council, and a few at TS who have been on the brink. So, at least somebody's fighting for another viewpoint in Swindon.

Offline Tobes

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2010, 03:33:40 PM »
Hey! Good story and photo - exactly what I'd spotted and was interested in - cheers.

Back to the thread...
Quote
If nothing else Martha and trust members have a track record of consistency in trying to get an important feature in Swindon's heritage preserved, put to good use and not totally deformed by developers with fancy ideas.

Well, good to a point - but what if the outcome of those efforts is that the building in question (or major parts of it) rots to a point it has to be destroyed anyway? Surely we're perilously close to that watershed?

Out of interest, has Martha and co. any examples of a Swindon feature that they've managed to save from alteration which are no longer lying deralict? It just seems to me that its better to save a building in some form (even compromised) rather than eventually, none at all. This 'all or nothing' attitude is surely that which has resulted in the construction of our Chavopolis? Buildings of historical or cultural interest were left to rot to a point that they were simply pulled down as being unsafe. The few which are left have evolved and are protected because they provide some sort of commercial return.

Quote
The trust were responsible for getting the consultant's report done by English Heritage which showed there were no commercially viable uses for the building and were also responsible for having its status upgraded to II* which puts it in the top 5% of listed buildings in the country.

... then aren't they actually directly responsible for the death warrant on the very building they profess to care so much about?

Its all very well having a 'vision' for something - but unless you've got the wonga and the wherewithall to put spout into clout, words and plans are useless, surely? Who on Earth do they think is going to buy or invest in a multi-multi-million pound project if there's no commercial aspect to it? And even if a fairy wand was waved and free money rained from above, who's then going to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the place once its repaired - especially if its been cursed by a Grade ii* status?

I think there's a hint of the mythical 'them' in the Trust's philosophy: The Trust think they're there to save The Mechanics - but it'll be down to 'someone else' (and someone elses money) to actually make it happen. I think therefore that its unrealistic, possible dissengenuous, maybe even a bit selfish - and ultimately self defeating to start calling the absolutes about what should or shouldn't be done. If you REALLY love something, surely you've got to accept that a compromise of your own ideals might be necessary to save it for everybody else? I can't criticise their passion, their determinatrion or their good intentions - but frankly, if we're now looking at the even more decayed shell of a building in the 15 years from the Trusts formation, perhaps what we can all see for ourselves the obvious flaw in their approach to date?

I passionately don't want to see the Mechanics converted into some hideous mutation. But I more passionately don't want to see it left still rotting for ANOTHER 30 years - or see it pulled or burned down. To use another analogy, I don't want to be disfigured by having a leg amputated - but if I had gangerene, I'd strill rather lose my leg than my life. After 30 years of ever increasing illness, I think the same sort of choice is left for The Mechanics.

 :'(


I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline komadori

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2010, 08:03:24 PM »
I totally agree with everything Tobes has said on this matter in this thread.
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Offline Mart

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2010, 08:08:12 PM »
So do I.

I  may have to go for a lie down.
Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline Jules

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2010, 10:01:17 PM »
Spot on Tobes 

 :agreed:

Offline Alex

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2010, 08:29:44 AM »
Yep, me too, akin to the "wisdom of Solomon" isn't it.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2010, 10:02:26 AM »
A few years ago I would not have agreed with you all (and it hurts me to have to now) I also thought that the perfect dream should be pursued - now though, with the time that's passed, I'd say get the very best you can towards the preservation of the building inside and out, let Mr Singh pay for it to save the building.  We don't know what opportunties there may be just around the corner and if the building is there it can be got back for its dream uses, if it's not saved another bit of Swindon's heritage bites the dust.

It is difficult if you have fought for something with so much passion to let even one bit of the ideal go, but sometimes you just have to.  The Mechanics Trust is a GROUP of people, not just Martha, so they all need to take a grip on it.
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Offline Richard Shaw

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2010, 11:48:19 AM »
Regeneration of this building by some could well be perceived as Degeneration by the majority of Swindonions.  I wonder which it will be?

The question should be what little deal has our Rod done with Matthew Singh on the quiet? 

Offline Tobes

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2010, 12:02:14 PM »
Richard - I think the majority of Swindonians would like to see a final resolution to the issue. A continuing stand off between the Trust, English Heritage and Matthew Singh will only result in the worst possible outcome for everyone.

I'm pretty sure everyone would have loved to see the place put to some community use - but unless someone just happens to have a spare £50million going spare, it just isn't going to happen. That accepted, whats the best (and most realistic) compromise to ensure that the building is preserved and its future ensured?
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Richard Shaw

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2010, 12:06:42 PM »

I'm pretty sure everyone would have loved to see the place put to some community use - but unless someone just happens to have a spare £50million going spare, it just isn't going to happen. That accepted, whats the best (and most realistic) compromise to ensure that the building is preserved and its future ensured?

Has anyone asked the Mechanics Trust how they would deal with this problem?  I heard a couple of years ago that the Mechanics was to feature in the first Series of the BBC programme 'Restorations' but because of the ownership issue it couldn't proceed.  It probably would have won as well.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2010, 12:33:55 PM »
No doubt with all the plans the Trust has worked on over the years, there is a plan ready to go - but first it would have to go through planning and then to funders if there are any appropriate streams about.  I'm sure the Trust is not expecting SBC funding and would if possible prefer to be independent in their regeneration of it - again that would be part of the dream scenario. They would also need to have the complete supoort of the community and the community and voluntary sector to make it sustainable.  Oh hark at me, can't you just tell how much of the jargon I've learnt. 

Certainly I would think that all could not be done in one go and soon, whether it could be done soon enough is probably up to the Gods.
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Mechanics Institute Latest Plans
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2010, 03:07:29 PM »

The TS Leakline has been fairly well thrumming over this latest twist in the Mechanics saga.  Hat-Tips to Lamplighters Mercutio, Bob Cratchett, Vandella & Red Fox


I'm going to sit tight and not pass comment until I've seen what the next evolution in the local dead tree press is, and even then I may wait a while longer. 

I'll hazard that Matthew Singh is going to get another battering in the Adver - a typical build 'em up then knock 'em down sort of thing. Hat-Tip to Lamplighter Hong Kong Fooey

No. I'm staying out of this because there are deeper and slower running currents yet to be navigated in this story.  Darker and murkier depths for the leakline to plumb on your behalf.

Something is already on the hook and wriggling uncomfortably. Whether we can oik it out onto the bank, gut it and toss it in the frying pan is another matter  :)