Marsden Mechanics, as we now know it, was built in 1860 as the new home and headquarters of the Marsden Mechanics Institution. This organisation was founded by local employers to provide betterment for the workers, so the building was a seat of learning and social gathering, traditions that remain embodied in its role to the present day.
The building’s ride through the 20th century was a rocky one.
Taken over by Marsden Town Council in 1911, it witnessed many major events and movements such as the Suffragettes and continued as the principal venue for dances and concerts.
Saving the Mechanics
Sadly its condition gradually deteriorated until the Colne Valley Urban District Council closed the doors in 1967. The new Kirklees Metropolitan Council inherited the building in 1974 and sought to demolish it but a campaign by local people succeeded in getting the building listed and demonstrated a need and desire for its retention.
Marsden Community Association was formed in 1978 and finally pressed Kirklees into carrying out a major refurbishment in 1991.
For the next quarter century usage of the restored building thrived under the auspices of a Management Association comprising local people, Council officers and elected members. However the fabric of the building remained the responsibility of Kirklees Council.
That changed fundamentally in 2017 with the ‘asset transfer’ of the whole building back to the local people. Marsden Community Trust was formed as the registered charity and listed company that now owns and manages the building on behalf of the community of Marsden. The MCT Board is comprised wholly of residents elected by the people.
Marsden Community Trust has to date completed one phase of further refurbishment and alteration, which created new spaces for the Library, Mikron Theatre Company and Marsden Jazz Festival. New signage was commissioned to encourage locals and visitors to recognise the shift away from municipal complexion to a more community focussed presence at the heart of the village.
Footfall increased substantially as a result of completed work and fund-raising has begun to deliver other improvements such as a refurbished lift to make the building more accessible. More ambitious ideas, such as an extension for greater capacity, await their turn in the queue behind urgently required repairs to woodwork and better weatherproofing.