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. In the early 1960’s the building was purchased by Burnley Council and Burnley Mechanics took on a new role as an entertainment venue, hosting famous performers, including a young singer called Tom Jones. 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.
Burnley Mechanics was re-opened in 1986 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as the town’s premier entertainments venue and in the years that have followed the Mechanics have hosted some of the world’s finest talent from all realms of the performing arts including the highly acclaimed Burnley International Blues Festival which helps to ensure its international status as a unique and bustling venue.
Burnley Mechanics is a tribute to the people of Burnley, people who backed the rebirth when it was most needed and have supported the arts and entertainments so well throughout its history.