The Mechanics' Institute was a revolutionary organisation and venue that encouraged the education of railway workers in Swindon, and catered for many of their needs.
Founded in 18?? by the workers themselves but partly funded and supported by the Great Western Railway, the Mechanics' even, at one point in its existence, was involved in the provision of a market and bathing facilities. But it is best remembered for its extraordinary - especially for the time - efforts to provide opportunities for the men and their families to better themselves, culturally.
The Mechanics had an excellent library which included national newspapers and even a wire service, bringing instant news from around the world. Among the many different kinds of social events held there, it was most famed for the lectures that brought enlightenment to ordinary railway workers at a time when few of their contemporaries, employed in other fields, would have had no access to such opportunities.
Alfred first delivered a lecture there in late February, 1910.