Daylesford School of Mines

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The Daylesford School of Mines commenced in 1890.[1] It was located in Daylesford Street and has most recently been used as the Daylesford Museum.

M. Bradbury Challen was director of the Daylesford School of Mines from 1891 until 1917.

Mr M. Bradbury Challen director o£ Daylesford School of Mines, has tendered his resignation to the school authorities and will be departing for Melbourne in three or four weeks. It is now 18 years ago (January 1899) since Mr Challen took charge of the school, and during that period it has increased considerably in importance and size, some very substantial and extensive building additions having been made. Whilst Mr Challen's friends will regret his departure they will wish for him and his family a happy and prosperous future wherever their lot may be cast. Mr Challen will be much missed in connection with the Bowling Club.[2]


The effort to establish a school of mines in Daylesford is likely to prove successful, as the movement has been warmly taken up by the townspeople. The borough council has given land and buildings valued at £1,000. The Education department has promised to subsidise this and all other amounts raised for building purposes £ for £. The provisional committee appointed at a public meeting recently held collected £200 towards the building fund in a couple of days' canvass, and a large portion of the town, as well as the outlying districts, yet remain to be canvassed. A start will be made immediately in rooms connected with the town hall, the use of which will be temporarily granted to the school. Mr. John Beavis, a gentleman who holds a number of certificates from the Kensington School of Arts as a teacher of scientific subjects, and who is at present connected with the school of mines at sale as science master, has been appointed director.[3]

At the monthly meeting of the executive council of the local school of mines, great dissatisfaction was expressed with the manner in which the institution is being hampered by the Education department. The new building for the school is completed, but no response has been obtained from the Minister of Education to an application made some time ago for a grant for the necessary fittings and furniture to enable the building to be occupied. In the meantime, whilst the new building, erected at an outlay of £2,000, is standing idle, the building at present used for the school is so cramped and uncomfortable that proper teaching cannot be given to the classes, and some classes for which there are a number of students entered cannot be started for want of room; whilst, owing to there being no fireplaces in the present rooms, a number of students have left intimating that they will not attend during the winter months unless better accommodation is provided. The metallurgical, mineralogical, and advanced chemistry classes cannot be started for want of accommodation and appliances. It was resolved that the Minister for Education again be appealed to on the matter, and the urgency of the case pointed out. Letters were received from Professor Kernot and other scientific gentlemen, consenting to delivery a series of popular lectures on scientific subjects, in connection with the school.[4]

The formal opening of the new building for the Daylesford School of Mines and Arts took place last night, in the presence of a large assemblage.
Sir Frederick Sargood, Minister of Public Instruction, before declaring the building open, delivered an interesting address, stating the result of inquiries made by his instructions into the working of the various schools of mines and arts throughout the colony and the cost of tuition. He found that many subjects were being taught which should not be taught in technical schools, as for instance, shorthand, harmony, the violin, singing, nursing, ambulance work, elocution, bookkeeping, arithmetic, &c., and that in many cases the cost was extremely high. He had formulated a scheme for putting these schools on a sounder basis and it would remain with his successor in office to say whether it should be put in force or not. He might say that it comprised uniformity of teaching and text books; regular examination, conducted by Government inspectors; the issue of certificates of proficiency in the various subjects of study; making the council responsible to the Education department for the mode of carrying on the schools and the expenditure of the Government grant; allocating the Government grant in proportion to the amount raised locally; appointing only teachers approved of by the Education department; considerably restricting and modifying the list of subjects now taught, and rendering those schools more strictly technical schools; dividing the colony into school districts, and only subsidising one central school in each district. This would, of course, mean wiping some schools out, but it could not be denied that these institutions had sprung up in all directions in localities where there was really no need nor justification for their existence. There was a complete justification for the existence of the Daylesford school, inasmuch as it was the centre of a large and rich mining and agricultural district, otherwise he would not have consented to open it. He considered that agricultural chemistry and a knowledge how to treat various soils for different crops and the correct manures to use should be a prominent feature in the teaching of these schools. He then declared the school formally open.
Sir Frederick and Lady Sargood were the guests of Mr. J. H. Wheeler during their visit to Daylesford. [5]

The council of the School of Mines has resolved to close the science side of the school after the 17th inst. In the report submitted to the council recommending the closing it was stated —
"That the great drawback to success was the want of some uniform scheme of instruction and examination for all technical schools and the granting of certificates by a central body of weight which would entitle the holders of such certificates to consideration when applying for positions requiring the possession of such special knowledge as the possession of the certificate implied. The conference held by the Polytechnic School Association speedily evolved an eminently workable and practical scheme. On this being submitted to the Education department it suddenly woke up and professed to take the matter in hand itself, and by its indecision and delays, by carefully studied neglect, and by placing all sorts of obstacles in the way: by the continual issuing and altering and cancellation of hampering regulations, by insisting on the adoption of syllabuses for the year which did not begin to appear till the year was well advanced (many of them not yet being to hand), by the establishment of a system of payments utterly ruinous to good teaching and which starved the schools, by recommending the establishment of certain classes and then striking them off the list of authorised subjects, and stigmatising the councils of the schools as dishonest for establishing such classes, the department has taken elaborate pains to kill the schools, and when its system has had such disastrous effects on such large and powerful schools as the Ballarat and Bendigo Schools of Mines, the Working Men's and Gordon Colleges, it is not be wondered at that the smaller schools all over the colony are compelled to close their doors."
It was also pointed out that the department had twice in succession promised to send up an inspector within a few days to confer with the council regarding the practicability of carrying on some of the science classes, but though over two months had elapsed the inspector had not come, nor had any explanation or apology been sent regarding the non-fulfillment of the repeated promise. It was resolved to carry on the art side of the school for a time if possible, and the finance committee was instructed to report on the necessary financial arrangements.[6]
The School of Mines is to be improved by the addition of a brick building in front of the present structure to provide additional class-rooms. [7]

See also


  1. Blake, L.J., Vision and Realisation: a centenary history of state education in Victoria, Vol 1, p611.
  2. Daylesford Advocate, 3 February 1917.
  3. The Argus, 14 October 1889
  4. The Argus, 16 May 1891.
  5. The Argus, 4 February 1892.
  6. The Argus, 12 August 1893.
  7. The Argus, 26 February 1914.

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