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Romsey Mechanics’ Institute

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Mechanics Institutes originated in Scotland as educational establishments in 1821. Following the efforts of a foundation committee formed in 1865, the Romsey Mechanics’ Institute’s foundation stone was laid in 1875 with a timber community hall erected with a capacity to seat 250 people. It featured a stage and, in one of two ante rooms, a library. In 1884, the foundation stone was laid for a more spacious hall in front of the original one. It became the social hub of the town hosting public meetings, dances, performances, billiards matches, boxing and (in the 1880’s) roller skating. In 1901, the Mechanics’ Institute was the venue for a public meeting to establish the Romsey Brass band, with instruments financed by the Mechanics’ Institute committee. In 1904, a fire started in a neighbouring residence and destroyed

the wooden hall. A larger brick hall was then built which included a supper room and balcony. The upper level of this building is almost identical in style to that opposite it (formerly Neal’s General Store, also built in 1884 by the same builder).