Mechanics Institute Lawson

Exciting events are taking place in one of Lawson’s most historic buildings, the Mechanics Institute at 284 Great Western Highway.

The current building first officially opened in 1903 and was constructed from the materials of the 1867 Lawson Railway Station. Later additions to the side and front entrance of the building were made from bricks from Mount Victoria’s old railway station. It was intended to house the Literary and Debating Society set up in 1896 (using the building of the original Blue Mountain Inn as its meeting place) and the library that was growing rapidly. In 1911 it became the Literary Institute and in the 1960s the Lawson Community Centre. Until the 1960s it was a major social centre and performance space for the area.

For example, in a Directory of 1905, under the heading “The Village of Lawson” the following appears:
“Mechanics’Institute, with reading room, where. daily and weekly papers of every variety are to be seen and a circulating library containing about 1,000 volumes. The hall has a seating capacity of about 300. “
In 1906 a new caretaker’s room and dressing room for performers were added at the rear of the hall and in 1907 the new Blue Mountain’s Shire Council took over the building temporarily for meetings etc. In1909 the stage was enlarged and wings were added for theatre,  and moving pictures were first exhibited at the hall by a travelling show. In the “Blue Mountain Echo” of April 1911, it was advertised that “flickerless flicks” were being shown in the above hall. Up to the 1930′s being the only hall in the district, it was very popular with all types of entertainment. Pictures continued to be shown until the early 1940′s.

Mechanics’ Institutes are the forerunners of public libraries and adult education in Australia. The Mechanics’ Institute movement began in 1799 when Dr George Birkbeck conducted a series of free lectures for the working men of Glasgow. The term ‘mechanic’ at that time meant artisan, tradesman or working man. In the days before Government funded libraries and adult education, the Mechanics’ Institute provided people with much-needed access to books, newspapers, periodicals, lectures and scientific demonstrations. Their halls also provided local communities with a place for social, cultural and recreational gatherings.

More Historical Information on : www.midmountainshistory.org

  Rare Photos of Lawson

See what’s on in April at Mechanics Institute Hall

  1. Roy says:

    We used to go to the Queen’s birthday weekend Ball at the Lawson Hall. Great place and you really feel like you are in the Blue Mountains not just some characterless venue.

  2. Nick Ernest says:

    Congratulations to all who worked to save the Hall.
    I remember the early 80′s and bush dances, what great fun had by many. It would be great to do it again despite the now creaking bones.
    Looking good Lawson Mechanics Institute.

  3. Siobhan Rothsey says:

    I remember the heavy rock bands in the ’90′s that played up at the hall…Mutated Muppet among them. The acoustics were good! Best wishes for tomorrow’s opening!

  4. Erst says:

    It’s so good to see the Mechanics Institute finally having great performances – like the Spooky Men, Brook Theatre, Folk Club, Rock and Roll dances! After all Lawson has been through with the road widening this will bring some life back to the town and provide an opportunity for the people of Blue Mountains to display their talents in a historic performance space with character. It’s also a fine space for smaller community events like the Permaculture and Transition Towns groups, fencing classes, art exhibitions etc. Enjoy!

  5. John Sheehy says:

    I am the current chairperson for the Mechanics Institute committee. We are on a fundraising drive to acquire about $6,000.00 to install permanent stage lighting and sound system in the hall. This will provide quality support for theatre and music productions and encourage use of the hall. We have installed the curtains and some lighting received from Springwood Civic Centre. We have the Kawai baby grand piano for solo piano performances.

    2014 promises to be a big step forward for patronage with regular events planned with the Blue Mountains Folk Inc.

    At all events we will be asking for your donation and will provide food for purchase.

    I wish to express my gratitude to the many volunteers who continue to assist in supporting the hall. I acknowledge the payment of $600.00 by ACMMR to the purchase of two front of house speakers and the contribution of microwave ovens. The donation of certain lighting by Brook Theatre and the donation of a second refrigerator by Jason Eddy of Brook Theatre.

    Please support the hall by attending events and give generously.

  6. Nick Szentkuti says:

    Cant’ find the street address here on the website.
    Could you add this to contact information?

  7. Greg Smith says:

    My first visit to the hall for the classical guitarist Simon Powis. Magnificent performance in a venue rich in character.