Halifax Mechanics' Institute

The Halifax Mechanics' Institute was also known as the Halifax Mechanics' Institution and the Halifax Mechanics' Institution & Mutual Improvement Society.

On 3rd May 1825, Joseph Baldwin, wrote a letter which was distributed to the principal inhabitants of Halifax, advocating the establishment of a Mechanics' Institution in the town.

A Mechanics' Institute was established at a public meeting in the Old Assembly Rooms on 27th May 1825. On 29th June 1825, the rules and regulations were decided. They acquired a room at the Talbot Inn at a rental of £8.

By 1828, finances had become strained and Joseph Lewthwaite offered the Institute a room over his pawnshop in Woolshops – and performing certain duties and providing certain necessaries – for half the sum they were paying. By 1830, they moved to a larger room in the same building.

In the 1830s, there were around 400 members – at an annual subscription of 8/-.

In September 1831, the Institute came to an agreement with Mr Bradley, and in early 1832 they moved to rooms over a gunsmith's shop in Horton Street.

In 1849, it was joined by the Halifax Mutual Improvement Society. Around the same time, the Institute merged with the Wesley Court Reading Room and moved to Wesley Court.

Evening classes were held in Swan Coppice, and those for females were held in Cow Green. Classes were subsequently held in the Albion Street British School

In 1850-1851, the idea of a new building was revived. John Crossley and James Stansfeld canvassed for subscriptions and soon raised around £3,500.

In 1857, the Institute moved to the new building in Crossley Street, designed by Lockwood & Mawson and built at a cost of £9,000. It opened on 14th January 1857.

The building covered an area of 670 square yards, and comprised

The building later housed the Halifax School of Art and a penny savings bank to serve the Institute.

On 25th March 1864, a painting of the Crucifixion by Henry Courtney Selous - valued at £7,000 – was saved when fire broke out at the Hall.

On 18th November 1864, there was a soirée when the debt on the building was paid off. Addresses were delivered by Lord Frederick Cavendish, the chairman, Sir Frank Crossley, Sir James Stansfeld, Archdeacon Musgrave, Edward Akroyd and others.

The Leeds Mercury Weekly Supplement of 17th January 1880 reported that the number of members was over 1,100 and the total number of issues from the library had been 29,000.

On 31st March 1911, Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst appeared at the Institute.

On 25th October 1932, it was announced that the Institute was to close.

The building was later renamed the Marlborough Hall

See Joseph Baldwin, Bechuanaland chiefs, Rev Russell Lant Carpenter, Evening Classes, Halifax Junior Evening Institute, Halifax Mechanics' Hall, Halifax Mutual Improvement Society, Hall of Science, Halifax, Jonathan Ingham Learoyd, Peter Tarby Macaulay, Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, Henry Radcliffe, Judge James Stansfeld, The Tichborne Claimant, Joseph Thompson, Trinity Road Baptist Church, Halifax, John Waterhouse and John Whitworth

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 11:09 / 28th May 2021 / 8153

Page Ref: KK_182

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