Former Bishop Auckland Mechanics’ Institute, 27 Victoria Avenue, Bishop Auckland: Historic Building Report

Author(s): Alastair Coey Architects

The subject of this report is the former Bishop Auckland Mechanics’ Institute on Victoria Avenue, Bishop Auckland. It sits within the Bishop Auckland Conservation Area, to the south-east of the historic core. A substantial part of the existing building was constructed in 1880 and at an unknown later date, possibly circa 1900, the bridging section abutting the Temperance Hall was constructed, the roof altered accordingly and the internal staircase rearranged. The Mechanics’ Institute ceased regular operation in around the 1970s and the building has mostly lain vacant since, with a number of short term retail tenants. This report was commissioned in late 2018 as part of a programme of works relating to the Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone and is intended to provide a more detailed understanding of the building fabric and historical context, through a combined programme of physical inspection and research. The Mechanics’ Institute is a good, compact example of its type, reflecting the movement’s appreciation of high-quality architecture for its buildings. The interior contains a large amount of original details and evidence of the building’s previous use. The Institute reflects a national movement, itself part of the late-19th century move for improved education. It retains associations with the Bishop Auckland family of architects which produced its designer, Robert Wilkinson Thompson, and local men who worked hard to run the Institute, notably its librarian and caretaker, Matthew Richley. The Institute offered a place of social gathering well into the 20th century and remains in the memory of the town.

Report Number:
Research Report
Modern Standing Building


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