3rd February 2023

The MIT (Mechanics’ Institution Trust) community engagement officer: Dan Fishlock

I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a while now. An introduction to the MIT community engagement officer, Dan Fishlock and what the Mechanics’ Institution Trust is up to. Aside from the elephant in the room that is the Mechanics’ Institution building itself – the trust is jolly busy! It’s important we remember that the MIT is responsible for much more than the Mechanics’ building itself. So, even if that situation appears static there’s a heap of other stuff going on.

MIT Community Engagement Officer - Dan Fishlock 3rd from the left
MIT Community Engagement Officer – Dan Fishlock 3rd from the left

A Swindonian by birth and upbringing, Dan went off to university to study criminology & sociology. He lived in Cheltenham for a while and worked for McDonald’s for a period as an assistant business manager. There he acquired many useful and transferable skills. But now he’s in Swindon as the MIT community engagement officer.

It’s certain that the MIT has got way more visible since Dan stepped into his role. I’ve noticed the social media being more active, regular newsletters and more. Dan says that membership is growing and they’ve got more volunteers – all of which is fab.

About the newsletter

#Obvs the best way to stay up-to-date with what the MIT is upto is to sign up to their fortnightly newsletters. If you follow this link you can see previous editions and sign up to get them into your mailbox. There’s also some stuff here: https://swindonian.me/category/mechanics-institution/

Drop in session at Central Community centre in the railway village
Central Community Centre in the railway village

What’s coming

The MIT is engaged with a planning process for staging a full programme of community and heritage events for the coming year. They’ve arranged the events to span all the seasons. This includes opening the railway village museum more often than is possible at the moment. To get more information on the MIT’s events all you need to do is pop to this link here.

The railway village cottage museum
The railway village cottage museum

Between January and March (so one is gone already) the MIT is staging a series of Swindon heritage talks. These will take place in Emlyn Square in the heart of the railway village.

The Cricketer’s Arms

We have hopes of starting work very soon on our current, Cricketeer’s Arms, restoration project. We’ve received all tenders and we’re now exploring ways to begin restoration work on the building’s exterior, along with some internal features – all within our current funding.

Community Projects

We’ve started hosting a number of community projects in Swindon’s railway village. These include community gardening, warm spaces and games and activities. But one with a particular heritage focus is our heritage and culture club that runs weekly at the Baker’s Cafe on Emlyn Square.

Toasty Tuesday at the Baker's cafe

There you can get involved in local heritage activities such as research, archiving, oral histories and creating exhibitions. If you are interested in learning more or getting involved, please contact me using dan@mechanics-trust.org.uk

Further, we’re proud to be working at close quarters with the Wiltshire Family History Society to collate information for the project: Our houses through time. We’re always looking for more information relating to each address within the railway village throughout history. We intend to collate all of this information onto a map that can explain the history of a building by location. If you have any information, please do get in touch.

See here for my 10 things to celebrate about Swindon post featuring the railway village:

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