Mechanics’ Institutes were educational establishments, originally formed to provide adult education, for working men, writes Mark Stevenson.
They were often funded by local mill and factory owners who needed a more educated and skilful workforce who could keep up with the ever changing technology of the day.
The Mechanics’ Institutes were also used as ‘libraries’ for the adult working class.
In the beginning the institutes would meet at premises in their areas, but this was not ideal and purpose-built buildings such as the Temperance Hall and Mechanics’ Institute on Wesley Road in Armley were built in 1866 by the Temperance Society, which was founded in 1836. Also on Thornhill Street in Calverley, which opened in 1874.
Pudsey’s Mechanics Institute was founded in 1847 and first met at Greenside.
In the 1850s larger premises had to be found and these were found on Church Lane at a place called the “Butcher’s Arms”.
By 1890 – at a cost of £5,000 – the building that still stands today was opened. But by 1912 with large debts and membership dwindling it was decided to sell the building.
Pudsey Council put in a successful bid, and the building became Pudsey Town Hall.