The Mechanics' Institute

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The Mechanics' Institute in Cape Town was a 19th century venue used on occasion for theatrical and other performances and presentations.

(For a discussion of the concept of "Mechanics' Institutes", or simply "Institutes"s, see the entry on Mechanics' Institutes)

The Cape Town Mechanics' Institute was founded in September 1853 and was situated in Burg Street. It was apparently intended mainly to keep the youth occupied and to give them some background and training in science and technology.

According to Broom (February, 1900, cited by Bosman, 1980:p102, footnote 263), the building contained, among other things, "a large concert room, in which vocal and instrumental amateur concerts were nightly given and where stump speeches, recitations and other amusements drew audiences, both of the members and of the general public." Broom also refers to the hall as the Music Hall.

The Institute is cited as the venue for a number of theatrical companies in Cape Town in the 19th century, but unfortunately the Institute was not profitable and the building was sold - according to Bosman (1980, p. 319) probably to the Cape Town Institute and Club, and eventually making way for the Club's new theatre in 1876.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.

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