Author Topic: Lamplighters: Mechanics Institute In Imminent Danger Of Collapse?  (Read 47885 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2010, 10:47:23 PM »

Didn't Martha and Daniel say they were going to publish their plans on TS some time back?

I hope they weren't 'warned off' by 'you know who' :)

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2010, 07:37:39 AM »
Can't remember Geoff but I did enourage them to do so when I was a committee member for the Children's fete.

As for shutting Martha up - no one could achieve that and I think she has already left her mark on this administration.  Some would say that The Trust has backed itself into a corner because of the way in which they have approached their campaign.  But certainly Martha has a lot of film footage of what was said at Council meetings.  The thing is that unless they (The Trust) engage with the people of Swindon on this now all they will have left of their dream will be filmed memories.

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Offline Muggins

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #22 on: September 05, 2010, 09:07:05 AM »
http://www.new-mechanics.com/proposal-for-mechanics/

It is inconceivable that Martha or Daniel would be cowed into silence.
The plan has been about for some time - see link.  if they were we might as well all give up, proof positive that there are no brave people in this town. I would think a silence from that direction is ominous......

It could be they are wading through all the paperwork and videos to good purpose.  Why keep good records if you can't bring them into play at the appropriate time!
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline komadori

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2010, 09:42:31 PM »
The mechanics has for many years been a thorn in the side of Swindon Council, dammed if they try to preserve it due to the high cost of repairs and maintenance , dammed if they don’t for the loss of this historic building. It’s just a lose lose situation that appears irresolvable due to the lack of, as Des rightly pints out, a self sustainable end use/user for the building.
And with the northern part of the building in such poor condition, the council is also possibly now in another damned if they do (because of the cost) and damned if they don't (because English Heritage could take them to court for failing to fulfil their obligations under the Listed Buildings regulations) position. That doesn't stop the timing of their intervention from being a very poor politically motivated cock-up.
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Offline Mart

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2010, 07:37:44 PM »
Fire! Fire! Fire!

Ooops, am I too early?
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 Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2010, 11:22:40 PM »
Fire! Fire! Fire!

Ooops, am I too early?

I've known it to happen....

Offline Tobes

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #26 on: September 07, 2010, 11:25:20 PM »
... in fact, if the first one isn't destructive enough, things have been know to spontaneously combust TWICE !
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 Muggins

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2010, 08:26:36 AM »
God forbid this should happen, but if it does can we have Ivy growing up it and wooden cabin cafe inside?

If that happened at last the Mechanics would fulfil it's potential as a gathering place for the community.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline roborant

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2010, 04:11:49 PM »
. . . with the support of Nick Martin we persuaded the Arts and Rec Committee to spend the resources it did have on the running track.
We have no regrets whatever on that.

Des Moffatt

Well I, for one, think that was a wiser expenditure choice.

Offline roborant

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2010, 04:49:15 PM »
Does it look like they've left it too late?

And if English Heritage gave £250,000 (no mean feat considering the cuts they have to make), how much did SBC think they'd have to cough up? Enough to paint the whole thing orange and add a double glazed porch?

I've never know a town so actively and aggressively commited to destroying its heritage!

£250,000 was never closer than a country mile to what would be needed - just to deal with the current condition - never mind any conversion works.
I think you'll find that it is the 'benevolent Mechanics Trust' that sought, and may have approval for, the addition of a huge glass 'thing' to the building - something that easily dwarfs any porch or conservatory around.
As for destroying heritage - what do you think about the Borough's rural villages and open landscape, Lydiard, Town Gardens, and the 'GWR area' [where English Heritage's only really impactful investment in Swindon was made, ie the creation of a range of permanent jobs [photographers, library & office workers, security staff, etc, etc - all of whom are likely to shop or lunch at some time in the 'town centre' [though, probably, as seldom as necessary, for obvious reasons]. 
The Borough's heritage-conservation list is vast - far beyond what I have mentioned.  But most of the effort that secured it was made in the past.  And not all was done long ago.  Historic Conservation Areas were being designated in the 1990's, and the significant GWR Works building-rescues were carried out [after public funds had saved 'Railway Village' from joining the 'Mechanics' in ruination] between 1992 & 2005.  [And could well now be being spoiled if SBC Planning Committee is misguided enough to allow that]. 

Offline Drone

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #30 on: September 12, 2010, 08:01:45 AM »
Thanks for all the above. I think one of the demoralising issues with SBC is their short-termism. They have, repeatedly, supported heritage, but forget to build in the long term support for those sites or protect them from later political vanity projects.

Take STEAM: a great museum that all Swindoners should feel really proud of. But, councillors saw it as a cash cow and so saddled it with hopelessly large income and visitor targets. It didn't meet these, so they are fast turning it into a private conference venue with little money spent on keeping the museum up-to-date.

Lydiard. Benefitted hugely from almost £6 million, of which most came from the lottery, English Heritage, Intel (who used to sponsor a lot of things in the Borough), BMW and othe rlocal businesses. Although the council now sees the restoration as a huge success, they opposed the scheme through much of the earliest stages and ceelbrated the near-completion by sacking the decent council officer responsible. They now want to slash staff and subsidy and farm it out to a private trust asap.

Queen's Park - a great park, but the council got rid of the staff who could have made a similar lottery-funded regeneration happen.

The Museum and Art Gallery - aka Promise 27. They missed hte boat on getting this sorted, but did spend lots of money on expensive consultations.

But, you are right, there are some positives.

Outlet Village - amazing how well this has worked. Creating jobs, encouraging tourism and preserving the works surprisingly well.

Relocation of National Trust and English Heritage to Swindon. It's very significant the the two most important heritage bodies in the UK have bases here. Again, we should be very proud of this and try and work a bit more closely with them.

Science Museum. Ditto. Amazing collection and library.

British Postal Museum still hope to move into the Railway Works, which would help STEAM attract more visitors. The Postal Museum has an amazing collection and this would be a huge feat.

Churches. Swindon has some lovely churches, most of which are well-loved and well cared for.

Local history groups and 'Friends' groups - do more and more to celebrate Swindons heritage. The Swindon Society is  agreat example!

The new Library. A well-designed, well-used facilty. It may have taken over sixty years to get a proper library, but it was worth the wait. Very knowledgable and dedicated staff, too.
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #31 on: September 12, 2010, 10:15:36 AM »

Agree with the above except, (from a purely personal p.o.v), I think the central library was poor value. I'm not faulting the library staff though.

Offline Chav

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #32 on: September 12, 2010, 03:35:11 PM »
I saw in the paper, that they are going to take the roof off the Mechanics and that it will cause traffic chaos.

That aside, I recon once they have lifted the lid so to speak, then the rest will come tumbling down.
First the North side, and the rest will soon follow and I can just see it now - a little fenced off area with the same railings that surround Farringdon Road park, a couple of benches and a monument where the Mechanics used to stand  :o

........... But on the other hand, they could lift the lid (roof), do the works and restore it back to its original glory  :)
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Offline Bobby Bingo

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #33 on: September 12, 2010, 03:55:33 PM »
Chav I think the former would be safer bet.
Bobby

Offline Drone

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #34 on: September 12, 2010, 05:05:28 PM »
Quote
Mechanics Institute Roof to be Removed

10.09.2010 The roof of the historic Mechanics’ Institute is so close to collapse that Swindon Borough Council is to dismantle it next week. English Heritage has agreed with the decision.

Work to remove the roof over the main Northern part of the Grade II* listed building will begin on Monday, 13th September. All the roads around it will be closed for three weeks, with diversions in place for all traffic, including buses. Significant delays and disruption are expected.

The operation will be carried out from above using mobile cranes and platforms, as the roof is too unstable to allow workers underneath it. This means that it cannot be propped up from within the building, and engineers and structural experts have concluded that the only option is to dismantle the roof before it falls in.

Laser monitoring equipment set up since the council took control of the privately-owned building in July has revealed that even in that short period, the roof has moved significantly.

Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council Deputy Leader, said: “We have taken over the building in the nick of time. An uncontrolled collapse of the roof could well cause other damage to the structure. Once the roof is off we will then protect the building with scaffolding and sheeting to prevent further weather damage. There will inevitably be disruption in the area but it is vital that this work is carried out quickly.”

As much as possible of the historic roof structure will be retained so that it can be used in any future restoration, or serve as a template for areas that need to be reconstructed with new material.

Local councillors are being kept informed of the progress of the work and a meeting for nearby residents in the Railway Village has been organised for Wednesday, 15th September to explain what is happening and give them a chance to question the people in charge of the project.

Leaflets will be distributed to nearby residents over the weekend explaining why the work is necessary and outlining the road closures and temporary bus routes.

In addition to problems with the roof, the interior of the Mechanics’ Institute has suffered significant damage and there are high levels of contamination from asbestos and lead, materials commonly used in the railway works. Measures are in place to ensure that none of the contaminants escape from the confines of the building during the work.

Swindon Borough Council was granted the legal right to temporarily take over the Mechanics’ Institute in July to carry out 'Urgent Works' after failing to receive sufficient reassurances from the owner, Forefront Estates, that it would do the work within a reasonable time and to the required standard. The council will seek to recover the cost of the work from the owner.

The owners of listed buildings have a legal duty to ensure they do not deteriorate. Forefront Estates, which has owned the building since 2002, has been carrying out building work for a number of years on the South side of the building after it was granted permission to create apartments, offices and a café. The Urgent Works involve the northern half of the building.

The council has secured a grant of £250,000 from English Heritage to carry out the Urgent Works. The Mechanics’ Institute opened in 1854 as an educational centre for railway workers, but was closed and disposed of by British Rail in 1986. After securing Grade II* listed status in 1999, it was placed on English Heritage’s list of historic buildings that are at risk.


Road Closures

From 10.00am on Monday 13th September 2010, the following roads will be closed to all traffic, for up to a maximum of 21 days:

1.Emlyn Square West between Bathampton Street and Bristol Street.
2.Emlyn Square East between Oxford Street and Bristol Street
3.Bristol Street between Emlyn Square West and Emlyn Square East
London Street /Sheppard Street will be two way traffic for access only. The current one way order will be suspended.


Diversion Routes for Buses and Cars

As a result, the following diversion routes will be implemented.

1.Faringdon Road (Emlyn Square) Farnsby Street, Commercial Road, Princes Street, Fleming Way, Holbrook Way, Bridge Street, Sheppard Street , Station Road. Access only into Sheppard Street/London Road, which will become a two way road
2.Bristol Street , Church Place, Park Lane, Faringdon Road. The diversion route follows as in 1 above.
3.Emlyn Square, Exeter Street, Church Place.
4.Oxford Street, East Street, Read Street, Exeter Street, Church Place and Park Lane.
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #35 on: September 12, 2010, 05:21:24 PM »
I suppose payment for this will be made from SBC capital?

The money will never be retrieved from Forefront Estates because the 'bill' from SBC will bankrupt the company...

...An auction will be held, the Mechanics will be sold to a buyer at a fraction of its current value,(probably to our elusive 'undisclosed buyer'), and Bluh & Greenhalgh will have delivered the building into 'friendly hands', subsidised by Swindon taxpayers.

All within the rules of course...

*Adver article makes no mention of aspestos and other hazards?

Offline James

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #36 on: September 12, 2010, 07:25:19 PM »
Quote
,(probably to our elusive 'undisclosed buyer'),

Anyone managed to hunt out who?

Offline Chav

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #37 on: September 12, 2010, 07:54:51 PM »
I suppose payment for this will be made from SBC capital?

The money will never be retrieved from Forefront Estates because the 'bill' from SBC will bankrupt the company...

...An auction will be held, the Mechanics will be sold to a buyer at a fraction of its current value,(probably to our elusive 'undisclosed buyer'), and Bluh & Greenhalgh will have delivered the building into 'friendly hands', subsidised by Swindon taxpayers.

All within the rules of course...

*Adver article makes no mention of aspestos and other hazards?

I recon once the lid is lifted the roof is removed, that other major structural problems may be found , and the rest of the building will hit the deck (it will be terminal)

Like some cancers - you have a op to remove a tumour - they slice you open, remove it and low and behold , its worse than they first thought, so they dig out more and more, they realise its all gone too far and there is nothing they can do to save you.
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Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #38 on: September 12, 2010, 09:50:24 PM »
How will they deal with the contaminents, surely there will be Lead and Asbestos to deal with apart from the structure?
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #39 on: September 12, 2010, 09:53:09 PM »

Re: Undisclosed buyers.

Quite a lot of rumours have been flying around for several months some of which will bear closer scrutiny soon.

The two which particularly prick my interest centre on the main characters in the Cotswold Water Park criminal investigation, (sub judicy so being careful there), and Rod Bluh's register of interests which shows him to be quite active in property, as is Rikki 'fingers in every pie' Hunt.

I reckon the Mechanics debacle might yet end up in the High Court and if/when it does I intend to be there to get the whole story.

There is a strong whiff of Poulson hanging over Swindon - maybe a new satire is needed: 'Our Friends In The North. Swindon'