Former Mechanics Institute, Keighley
Another loss to the town centre fabric of Keighley:
Currently used as part of Leeds College, the building is to be levelled to form a car park.
Mechanics institutes are a mysterious thing of the past. You see the words embossed in stone on a building now occupied by Weatherspoons, somewhere in most industrial northern towns.
Nothing embodies the civic aspiration of the Victorians more than these institutions, and for that reason alone they are culturally indispensable. Rome had the agora, the Victorians had mechanics institutes.
We simply can not knock these temples down. Even the heritage statement (which was commissioned to support the demolition of this building) agrees.
Keighley loses beautiful buildings often. Warehouse shaped piles of rubble are found throughout. It is a town that struggles with identity, but until now has somehow retained a town centre that is a lot grander than its contemporary economic situation would attest.
The fact that at some point we were willing to develop diminutive small towns to the aesthetic standards of classical cities says a lot about our erstwhile civic pride.
We can’t let the last vestiges of local history in towns like Keighley be torn down for car parking space. Half of the original building was lost to fire some time ago. It was lucky the other half survived until now. Bradford council, please intercede.