First mystery solved… Devonport Mechanics Insitute

© Plymouth City Council (Arts & Heritage)
© Plymouth City Council (Arts & Heritage)

This photograph caused some interest in our office last week! It was catalogued as the interior of Devonport Guildhall, but our volunteer Madeleine was not convinced! Quite a bit of detective work followed, looking into various suggestions including whether it could have been Devonport Library. The racking and filing didn’t look like it was part of a library though.

Our Curator of City and Maritime Heritage, Nigel Overton, then suggested to try the Mechanics Institute, which sounded like a good lead. Although there are many references to this building online, it wasn’t until after searching on the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office catalogue, we got a match that we could positively identify! Here, it is listed as “a black and white photograph of interior of Devonport Library, showing main hall with gallery”. We do think though, that our copy may be from the time that it was used as the Motor Tax office which closed around 1976.

The record is now listed as ‘Photograph showing the interior of the Mechanics Institute, Duke Street, Devonport, Plymouth, possibly when it was used as the Motor Taxation Office.’ We have the date as c1950, but if you can give a more accurate date it would be welcome!

All this work helps towards plans for our redevelopment – you can head over to the Love Our Past news section to find out the latest on the developments.


One thought on “First mystery solved… Devonport Mechanics Insitute”

  1. Thank you to John Ellis – who has suggested that this image was taken in the early 1950’s – he has also told us a lovely story about the wood ships that were on display in the room before this time.. can anyone shed any more light on this? Or perhaps you have a picture of the room with the ships on display?

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