In April 1839 a circular was sent out setting out the idea of begining a
Mechanical Institute for Bacup. The movement began in 1823 with the
formation of the first institute in Glasgow and London. The object of
the Institute was to enable the spread of knowledge irrespective of
class or creed or political views. The first institute in Bacup was held in
a room above Daniel Baron's shop in Union Street. On 9th May 1830
a public meeting was held and the rules of the society decided upon.
Subscriptions were Persons over 21 10/- annually. Persons under 21
6/- annually. Females could attend the library and have singing
lessons for a subscription of 1/- quarter. The first president was Robert
Munn J.P. In 1840 they moved to rooms in Irwell Terrace where
classes were taught in English, Arithmetic, Writing, Singing,
Geography, Science, Bible reading, History.
It soon became apparent that they needed bigger rooms and this is
when they built the present day building on the site of the old Bacup
school in 1846. The old school house had been used since about
1692 by the Protestant Dissenters of Bacup as a meeting room. From
1855 the Mechanics continued the teaching that had been carried out
at the British School in the town, were the pupils were mainly mill children.
The building was added to in 1867 and 1873 and included a infants department as well as junior department.
The infants were taught the alphabet, reading and writing. From July 1893 the school came under the control of the new Bacup School Board,
with a new headmaster Mr Ashworth, who it seems was a very determined man.
According to writing on the back of one of the pictures above the pictures were drawn by Tom Bradley at a Night School in Bacup about 1835. Its
probable that this night class was one being held in the school that once existed on the same site as that of the Mechanics Institute or what we
today know as the library.
The building was acquired by the council in 1909 and in 1931 the ground floor was taken over as the public library. Previous to this from 1863 to
1931 the Bacup Cooperative store had provided a newsroom and lending library. In 1931 the store library was closed
and the Cooperative store gave it's collection to the corporation.