Mechanics Institute

Designed by government architect Richard Roach Jewell (who also designed the courthouse) The Mechanic’s Institute in Meadow Street, is a fine example of a public/civic building dating from the early decades of colonial settlement in Western Australia. The Guildford Mechanics Institute was formed in 1862 by the gentry of the Swan District as a society with object of improving the general education for the working/trades men of the town.

Mechanics Institute Heritage ImageThe building was not commenced until 3 years later, in 1865, and on completion it was the first public hall in the Swan district. It was used for public meetings, lectures, concerts, educational workshops, and housed a lending library. Since its establishment it has continued to be used for various forms of community entertainment or education. The Mechanic’s Institute is representative of a typical community hall and the fact that it is still a major part of community activities today demonstrates the role of the Institute in the Guildford community.

Mechanics Institute Low ResWhile the Institute was clearly set up for the benefit of the working class, all the top positions (such as President and Vice Presidents) were generally filled by the gentry, again reflecting the social divide that existed in the second half of the 1800s.