Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Solid and practical education within reach of the humblest means’: the growth and development of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes 1838–1891

By Martyn Walker

Abstract

This thesis questions the generally accepted view that mechanics’ institutes made little contribution to adult working-class education from their foundation in the 1820s to the last decade of the nineteenth century when, finally, government recognised the importance of adult and further education with the passing of the Technical Instructions Acts of 1889 and 1891. It addresses the issue of what impact the mechanics’ institutes exerted upon the adult working classes in a regional context. It has also questioned research previously carried out by a number of historians who hold the view that by 1850 the mechanics’ institutes’ movement was in decline.\ud \ud \ud This thesis argues that in Yorkshire the movement, through no small contribution made by the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes, went from strength to strength and responded to the need for relevant curricula throughout the period of study. It establishes that mechanics’ institutes of the Yorkshire Union (1838 – 1891) were not only to be found in the urban and industrialising towns, but many were also located in the rural and semi-rural areas of the Dales and Pennines. Across the Yorkshire Union as a whole there were similar patterns in growth and development. This thesis establishes that not only did mechanics' institutes support the working classes but they also provided a firm foundation for technical and further education, which was built on through the passing of the 1889 and 1891 Technical Instruction Acts. Several institutes either became technical schools or had established a tradition of adult education which was taken up by the new technical colleges of the early twentieth century. Many smaller institutes either became satellite centres for local colleges or became public libraries and museums. \ud The nineteenth century success of the mechanics’ institutes foreshadowed the later development of adult education

Topics: D1, H1, HN, HT, HX, L1, LA
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:9087

Suggested articles

Citations

  1. (1907). (Local Studies) Annual Reports for the Wakefield Mechanics’
  2. (2001). A Auerbach, ‘The Great Exhibition and Historical Memory’
  3. (1867). A biographical notice of the Very Revd Richard Dawes, dean of
  4. (1974). A History of
  5. (1962). A History of Education in
  6. (1996). A History of Modern British Adult Education (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education,
  7. (1947). A History of Savings Banks
  8. (1933). A History of the Teaching of Domestic Subjects
  9. (1854). A History of the Working Men’s College,
  10. (1999). A Man’s Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England
  11. (1938). A Nineteenth Century Experiment in Adult Education: The Sheffield Mechanics’ Library and The Sheffield Mechanics’ Institute’, Adult Education, Volume XI,
  12. (1904). A Page of History, being a Record of the
  13. (1924). A Short History of Birkbeck College
  14. (1944). A Short History of English Education from 1760 -
  15. (1830). A Sketch of the Principal Means which have been employed to ameliorate the Intellectual and Moral Condition of the Working Classes in
  16. (1970). A Sketch-Map Economic History of Britain,
  17. (1987). A Social History of
  18. (1973). A Social History of Education in
  19. A Suggestion for Supplying the Literary, Scientific and
  20. (1848). A Tale of
  21. (1999). A Town is Born,
  22. (1826). A word to the members of the Mechanics’ Institute
  23. (1984). Adult education and literacy: The importance of post-school education for literacy levels in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’,
  24. (1957). Adult Education and Self Help’,
  25. (1993). Age to Separate Spheres? A Review of the Categories and
  26. (1994). An Invaluable Treasure; a History of the Trustees Savings Bank (London,
  27. (1900). and Science and Art Schools Building Committee Statement, p.1. Huddersfield Libraries (Local Studies) Victoria County History of Yorkshire: Enumerators Census Returns for 1831 –
  28. (1900). and the Absence of a Public Library’, Library History, Volume 19,
  29. Annual Report for Bridlington and Quays Institute, 1848. Colne Library, Lancashire. Photograph of the Colne Mechanics’ Institute The Advertisement for the Sale of the Mechanics’
  30. (1970). Approaches to Technical Education in 19thCentury England, Part II, The Liverpool School of Science’, The Vocational Aspect of Education (Autumn
  31. (1971). Approaches to Technical Education in 19thCentury England, Part III, The Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society’, The Vocational Aspect of Education (Spring
  32. (1973). Approaches to Technical Education in 19thCentury England, Part IV, The Liverpool Mechanics’ Institution’, The Vocational Aspect of Education (Summer
  33. Archives, Leeds Annual Report for the Sheffield Mechanics’ Institute,
  34. (2000). Aspects of Accrington (Barnsley,
  35. (1995). Aspects of Barnsley, Discovering Local History, III
  36. (2000). Aspects of Rotherham,
  37. Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen, (1868), Volume I.
  38. (1844). Birkbeck, the Pioneer of Popular Education. A memoir and a Review,
  39. (2001). British Women in the Nineteenth Century
  40. (2004). Building an Urban Identity. Cultural Space and Civic Boosterism in a ‘new’ Industrial Town: Burslem, 1761-1911’, Social History,
  41. (1978). Burnley Mechanics’ Institute in the Nineteenth Century unpublished MEd dissertation,
  42. (1920). Cambridge Essays on Adult Education,
  43. Census Enumerators Returns for Huddersfield:
  44. (1946). Chapters of Whitby History 1823 – 1846, The Story of Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society and of Whitby Museum (Hull and London,
  45. (1912). Chemistry and the Chemists at the London Institution 1807 –
  46. (1968). Class and Class Consciousness in Early Nineteenth Century England: Three Clusters or Five?’ Victorian Studies
  47. (1880). Class and Gender in the Making of Urban Toryism,
  48. (2003). Council Local History / County Records Brown,
  49. (1900). County History of County Durham: Enumerators Census Returns for 1831 –
  50. (1999). Craven College, A History of Further Education in Skipton (Craven College,
  51. (2005). Culture and Wealth Creation: Mechanics’ Institutes and the Emergence of Political Economy
  52. (1900). Cumbrian Literary Institutions: Cartmel and Furness to
  53. (2003). Development and Change in Municipal Ideology and Practice: The Role and Expansion of Urban District Councils to 1940 with Special Reference to County Durham’ unpublished M.Phil dissertation,
  54. (2001). Discussions of the Characteristics of Mechanics’ Institutes in the second half of the nineteenth century: the Bradford example’,
  55. (2001). Dissenting academies and the education of the laity,
  56. (1971). Drink and the Victorians, The Temperance Question
  57. (1977). Early Victorian Government 1830-1870
  58. (1919). Education and Social Movements,
  59. (1968). Educational Documents, England and Wales 1816 –
  60. (1975). English Education and the Radicals,
  61. (2008). Examinations for the ‘underprivileged’ in Victorian times; the Huddersfield Mechanics’ Institution and the Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commence’, William Shipley Group for RSA History
  62. (1886). Extension Lectures Examination Questions,
  63. Extracts from the City &
  64. (1930). Forgotten Worcester
  65. (2006). From Popular Enlightenment to Lifelong Learning (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education,
  66. (1993). Golden Age to Separate Spheres? A Review of the Categories and
  67. (1878). Guilds of London, A Short History,
  68. Hand-book of Mechanics’ Institutions, with Priced Catalogue of Books suitable for Libraries (Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes,
  69. Higher Schools and Universities in
  70. (2006). History and Cultural Theory
  71. (1839). History Archives Tait, A., History of the Oldham Lyceum
  72. (1900). History of Lancashire: Enumerators Census Returns for 1831 –
  73. (1985). History of Spen Valley
  74. History of the Oldham Lyceum (1839
  75. (1900). History of Westmorland: Enumerators Census Returns for 1831 –
  76. HM Inspector for Durham District (1896),
  77. (2000). http://www.swinhope.myby.co.uk/genuki/Colleries in Northumberland and Durham A – Z. http://www.thenortheastfsnet.co.uk http://www.ic.ac.uk Imperial College London, History of the College.
  78. Huddersfield Mechanics’ Institution up until 1883.
  79. (1992). Huddersfield: A Most Handsome Town (Kirklees,
  80. (1825). Industrial Bibliography,
  81. (1974). Industry and Empire, The Pelican Economic History of Britain,
  82. Inspection Report for Huddersfield, 1885, Miscellaneous,
  83. Institution, Class Registers 1856 – 1868. HMI/5/2. University of Huddersfield Archives (Royal) Society of Arts for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce,
  84. (1914). Landscape of Britain: From the Beginning to
  85. (1955). Learning and Working
  86. (2002). Learning to labour: elementary education
  87. (1989). Lessons: The Lives and Education of Working-Class Women
  88. (1910). Library (Local Studies) Annual Reports of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes for: 1838 –
  89. Library (Local Studies) Forty-Sixth Annual Report of the York Institute
  90. (1992). Limited Livelihoods, Gender and Class in Nineteenth-Century
  91. Liskeard Literary and
  92. List of Institutions in Union with the Society of Arts November 3 1852, RSA Archives. Letters of correspondence between the Society of Arts and individual institutes relating to examination matters.
  93. (1999). Literary and Scientific Institute,
  94. (2002). Lost: Rural Idyll and Social Change since 1800
  95. (2008). Ltd, North Riding of Yorkshire Mining Industry Polley, L., ‘Reading Middlesbrough: Nineteenth Century Reading, Reading Rooms and Libraries’, The Bulletin of the Cleveland and Teesside Local History Society, Issue 95,
  96. (1988). Mastering Economic and Social History,
  97. Mechanics’ Institutes and Popular Education, An Address delivered at the Annual Soirée of the Huddersfield Institute,
  98. (1969). Mechanics’ Institutes and Science and Art Classes
  99. (1972). Mechanics’ Institutes and the attempted diffusion of useful knowledge
  100. (1985). Mechanics’ Institutes and the State’, The Steam Intellect Societies,
  101. (1971). Mechanics’ Institutes and the Working Classes, 1840 – 1860’,
  102. Mechanics’ Institutes for Working Women, with Special reference to the Manufacturing Districts of Yorkshire’,
  103. (1980). Mechanics’ Institutes in Ireland,
  104. (1971). Mechanics’’ Institutes and the Working classes, 1840-1860’,
  105. (1700). Men of business and politics: the rise and fall of the Quaker Pease Dynasty of north-east England,
  106. Mining Museum Rules and Regulations of the Seghill Colliery School 1864, Inspector’s Report.
  107. (1977). Nature and Control: Interpreting Mechanics’
  108. (1949). Newcastle Mechanics’ Institute’, Adult Education, Volume XXII,
  109. (1948). Nineteenth Century Community Centres: Thornton Mechanics’ Institute’, Adult Education, Volume XXI,
  110. (1912). Nottingham Mechanics’ Institution
  111. of Institutes Examination Papers for Weaving and Dying,
  112. On the Working Men’s Reading Rooms, as established in 1848 at Carlisle’,
  113. (1992). Pennine Valley, A History of Upper Calderdale (Smith Settle,
  114. (2000). Political Economy and Popular Education: Thomas Hodgskin and the London Mechanics’
  115. (1998). Popular politics in nineteenth-century
  116. (1825). Practical Observations Upon the Education of the People, Addressed to the Working Classes and their Employers (London,
  117. (1914). Private Lives, Public Spirit:
  118. (1974). Railways in West
  119. (1976). Religion and Respectability:
  120. (1911). Reminisces of Sixty Years Ago’,
  121. Report from the Select Committee on Education, Manchester and Salford, and proceedings,
  122. Schools and Technical Education, a Paper read at the Forty-Ninth Anniversary of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes,
  123. (1991). Schools and the Society’s Examinations’,
  124. (1975). Science and the Mechanics’ Institutes, 1820 – 1850: the Case of Sheffield’,
  125. (1914). Social Classes and Social Relations
  126. (1981). Social Control in Victorian Britain’, The Economic History Review, Volume XXXIV,
  127. (1984). Society and Politics in Late Nineteenth Century England: A further look at
  128. (1957). Some Aspects of the History of the Society of Arts’, unpublished Ph.D. Thesis
  129. (1859). Some Statistics of the Huddersfield Mechanics’
  130. Source: Forty Third Annual Report of the Yorkshire
  131. Source: Forty-Second Report of the Yorkshire
  132. Source: Forty-Third Annual Report of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes, 1879, p.154 - 9. Statistical Tables, Reports of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes.
  133. (1910). Source: Seventy–Third Report of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes,
  134. SOURCES (a) Manuscript Sources Barnsley Library,
  135. (1964). South Kensington to Robbins, An Account
  136. Special Technical Examination in Textile Fabrics (1879) Work to be sent to Centre Office of the Yorkshire Union via Chambers, Leeds by Saturday May 3 1879. I An essay on the utilization of the waste products of the woollen cloth trade.
  137. (1838). Speeches of Henry Lord Brougham, Volume III
  138. (1904). Statistical Tables, Reports of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes.
  139. Subjects Taught Art Sciences Baildon School Yes No Barnoldswick Mechanics’ Institute Yes Yes, 4 Bingley Mechanics’ Institute Yes Yes, 4 Cottingley Mechanics’ Institute Yes No Cowling Board School No Yes, 2 Crosshills Temperance Hall No Yes,
  140. (2004). Teaching in Further Education, New Perspectives for a Changing Context’, Bedford Way Papers,
  141. (1919). The
  142. (1992). The Annuals of Trawden Forest
  143. (1914). The Aristocracy of Labour
  144. (1973). The Beginnings of English University Adult Education,
  145. (1954). The Birmingham and
  146. (1859). The Bradford Mechanics’
  147. (2002). The Crystal Palace and the Great Exhibition, Art, Science and Productive Industry
  148. (2004). The Crystal Palace Company and Joint-Stock Politics, 1854-1856’,
  149. (2004). The Crystal Palace Company and Joint-Stock Politics, 1854-1856’, in
  150. (1995). The Early Feminists,
  151. (1957). The English Common Reader
  152. (1989). The Examiner, James Booth and the Origins of Commercial Examinations
  153. (1997). The Gendering of the British Working Class’,
  154. (1999). The Great Exhibition
  155. (2001). The Great Exhibition and Historical Memory’
  156. (2002). The Great Exhibition and Its
  157. (2001). The Great Exhibition of 1851,
  158. (1999). The Great Exhibition of 1851, A Nation on Display (Yale University,
  159. The Great Exhibition of 1851, A Nation on Display,
  160. The Growth of
  161. (1962). The Growth of Technical Education in Nineteenth-Century Accrington’, The Vocational Aspect of Secondary and Further Education,
  162. (1969). The History of Adult Education
  163. (1913). The History of the Royal Society of Arts (London,
  164. (1991). The History of Women’s Education
  165. (1950). The Hitchin Mechanics’ Institute’, Adult Education, Volume XXIII,
  166. (1992). The Industrial Revolution
  167. (1973). The Industrial Revolution in Shropshire (London,
  168. (1981). The Influence of Welsh
  169. (2001). The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (Yale,
  170. (1991). The Issue of Technical Education,
  171. (1960). The Language of “Class”
  172. (1981). The Language of Patriotism,
  173. (1973). The Liverpool Mechanics’ Institution’, The Vocational Aspect of Education (Summer
  174. (1990). The Making of the English Middle Class:
  175. (1968). The Making of the English Working Class (London,
  176. (1984). The Mechanics’ Institute – Its growth and impact on the cultural life of Burnley Unpublished Local History Essay,
  177. (1971). The Mechanics’ Institute Movement
  178. (1930). The Mechanics’ Institutes in Lancashire and Yorkshire, 1824 – 1850 with special reference to the Institutions at Manchester, Ashton-under- Lyne and Huddersfield’, unpublished PhD Thesis (University of Manchester,
  179. (1957). The Mechanics’ Institutes of Lancashire and Yorkshire Before 1851
  180. (1962). The Mechanics’ Institutes of the East and North Riding of York,
  181. (1859). The Mechanics’ Institutes of Yorkshire’,
  182. (1993). The Mechanics’ Institutes: Pioneers of Leisure and Excursion Travel’,
  183. (1836). The Mental Illumination and Moral Improvement of Mankind,
  184. (2000). The Nineteenth Century, The British Isles: 1815-1901
  185. (1960). The Origin and Development of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics’ Institutes’, unpublished MA dissertation (University of Sheffield,
  186. (1660). The Origins of Middle-Class Culture,
  187. (1952). The Origins of the Mechanics’ Institutes Movement’,
  188. (1968). The Pennine Dales (London,
  189. (1914). The Public Culture of the Victorian Middle Class
  190. (1826). The Rise of James Kitson: Trades Union and Mechanics’ Institute’,
  191. (1993). The Rise of Professional Society, England since 1880
  192. (2001). The Romantic and
  193. (1976). The Social Context of an Educational Movement: A Revisionist Approach to the English Mechanics’
  194. (1929). The Spitalfields Mathematical Society (1717-1845)’,
  195. (1991). The Uninvited Guest, the Cholera Epidemic of Britain, with Particular Reference to the East Midlands’, unpublished MA dissertation
  196. (1980). The Unitarian Contribution to the Development of Female
  197. (2004). The Urban District Library Service: A Case Study from County Durham’,
  198. The Vital Statistics of Sheffield (1843,
  199. (1951). The Woolton Mechanics’ Institute’, Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society, Volume X,
  200. (1974). The Working Class and Mechanics’
  201. (1914). The Worshipful Company Clothworkers donated 100 copies of The Dyeing of Textile Fabrics by J.J.
  202. (1991). The York Institute and Masonic Jar’, (Unpublished source,
  203. (1990). Thompson Critical Perspectives
  204. (1990). Treasures Open to the Wise: A Survey of Early Mechanics’ Institutes and Similar Organisations’,
  205. (1992). University Extension in the North of England and the Leeds Historians’,
  206. (1973). Victorian Culture and
  207. (1983). Voluntary Societies and British Urban Elites, 1780 – 1850: An analysis’,
  208. West-Country Poets: Their Lives and Works (London,
  209. (2000). Why Should Working Men Visit the Exhibition? Workers and the Great Exhibition and the Ethos of Industrialism’, I. Inkster (ed), The Golden Age,
  210. (1980). Working - Class Women and Adult Education in Nineteenth -
  211. (1960). Working-Class Cultures
  212. (1840). Working-class Organisations and Popular Tourism,
  213. (1999). Working-class Organisations,
  214. (1984). Worlds of Labour,

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.