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Tyne and Wear HER(9829): North Shields, Saville Street, No. 54a, Mechanics Institute - Details

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N Tyneside

North Shields, Saville Street, No. 54a, Mechanics Institute

North Shields




Mechanics Institute

Early Modern


Extant Building

Former Mechanics Institute and Free Library. Built in 1857-58. Now the North Tyneside Business Advice Centre. 1857-8 by John Johnstone, perhaps with alterations by Dobson. Plain Italianate, without any flights of fancy. Red brick with stucco trim. Mechanics Institutes were buildings where artisans could learn more about their craft and the science behind it. They could use the reading room and attend lectures. Such institutues were set up to take up the ideas of Jeremy Bentham, politician and reformer (1723-90). London's Mechanic Institute was founded in 1824 by George Birkbeck. By 1844 there were 200 institutues in Britain with 50,000 members. By the 1850s however the institutes were mostly attended by clerks and shopkeepers and the artisan interest declined. Nevertheless mechanics institutes can be regarded as the forerunner of modern professional engineering bodies {Dictionary of Industrial Archaeology}.




North Tyneside Council and Nexus, North Shields Heritage Trail, board 14 'Georgian Town'; J. Grundy, G. McCombie, P. Ryder, H. Welfare, 2002, The Buildings of England - Northumberland, page 527; English Heritage (Designation), 25 january 2013, Consultation report; English Heritage, 3 April 2013, List Entry Number 1413269

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