A £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant has been awarded to Burnley Mechanics to deliver a six-month heritage project.
Thanks to National Lottery players, the money from the HLF’s Resilient Heritage programme will be used to carry out the ‘Transforming the Heritage of Burnley Mechanics’ project, which is due to start in February.
It will include working with heritage specialists to conduct a condition survey of the Grade II listed theatre and explore options and opportunities for future conservation work.
The project will also focus on sharing the history and heritage of the building with Burnley Mechanics partners through a set of organised workshops.
Helen Jones, head of cultural services at Burnley Leisure, said: “We are immensely grateful that Heritage Lottery Fund has provided us with this support.
“Burnley Mechanics has always been at the centre of the community, providing space for creative projects, events and entertainment to people of all ages.
“We are now looking for new ways of how we could utilise this historic building even better and the project will help inform us of options available in the future.”
Burnley Mechanics has also teamed up with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), which will stage a three-day business competition for its students to help support the project.
Both the event and the project will help inform a further application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Members of the public are also invited to get involved by sending in any memories or photos they have of the Mechanics in the past, dated if possible.
All stories and photographs collected will be used to help document the history of the building for a heritage report. They will also feature on the Mechanics website and within the building.
People can send their photos via post, call into the box office or share them on the Mechanics Facebook page.
Designed by Architect James Green of Todmorden, Burnley Mechanics opened its doors in 1855 as a shining example of the Mechanics Movement.
It aimed to provide better education and skills for the rapidly expanding workforce to meet the needs of a changing society during the industrial revolution.
Local people flocked to the venue to enjoy classes in arts, science and technology and Burnley Mechanics became the focus of the town’s cultural activity.
As a result of changing social and economic patterns the original Mechanics Institute closed in 1959. A few years later the building was purchased by Burnley Council and Burnley Mechanics took on a new role as an entertainment venue, hosting famous performers.
For the next 18 years, the building had a variety of uses from concerts to ballroom to bingo club, finally closing for extensive refurbishment in 1979.
It was re-opened in 1986 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as the town’s premier entertainments venue for hire. Since then the Mechanics have hosted some of the world’s finest talent from all realms of the performing arts.
In 2014 the Mechanics underwent a major refurbishment of its ground floor, which now has a modern Simply Classic bistro and bar serving an array of classic dishes.
Last year the Mechanics was named the Cultural Venue of the Year at Lancashire Tourism Awards.