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Toodyay Library

Mechanics Institute, Road Board offices & public library

Published:
Thursday, 1 July, 2021 - 15:52

The Toodyay Library was originally built in 1874 as the home of the revived Newcastle Mechanics’ Institute. It was one of the first civic buildings in the town known today as Toodyay. On 19 November 1877 the first Newcastle Municipal Council was elected and meetings were held in the Newcastle Mechanics Institute hall.

Throughout the late 1880s and early 1890s the hall was used for a variety of public gatherings. In 1894 the hall was renovated inside and out, and in May 1897 additions were made. These are assumed to be the two side wings, and possibly also the current curved façade.

By 1919 the Toodyay Mechanics Institute had fallen on hard times. No new books had been purchased and a paid secretary had been dispensed with. A last ditch effort by John Masterton to rally support through renewed membership drives and fundraising events to pay off debts and provide amenities failed.

The Institute’s furniture and books were sold but there was uncertainty about who owned the building.

In the meantime, between 1921 and 1927, it was used by a variety of community organisations for fundraising and social events.

In 1926 ownership of the building and land reverted to the Crown and subsequently to the Toodyay Road Board.

In 1927 the building was thoroughly renovated and became the new Toodyay Road Board offices.

In 1947 the Toodyay Public Library commenced operating in the southern room of the building.

In 1959 the Road Board relocated to new premises and the Library moved into the back portion of the main hall. A partition separated the library from the front foyer.

In 1981 the partition wall was removed and the library expanded into this space as well as the now disused northern room.

Ten years later the spare room on the southern side became a study and reading room.

Between 2007 and 2009 the library building was restored and extended which doubled its size. An archaeological investigation was undertaken in 2009 and a total of seventy three (73) objects were recovered from the north wing.