Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Workingman's College - RMIT

Late last week I had a need to meet a client in the CBD of Melbourne. I‘m not fond of going to the City for work. It’s not that I don’t like the City – It’s finding parking that stresses me out.
On this occasion I was fortunate to find a 2 hour non-metered parking spot opposite the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). From there it was only a short walk to meet my client. As I walked to meet him my eyes were attracted to the various styles of architecture of RMIT. The early Gothic style from the 1800s is followed by many Art Deco style buildings from the 1920s, the steel, glass and concrete of the 60s to todays very innovative architecture of the last few years.

The original building of the Workingmans College

I promised myself to return on the way back and investigate the College. With the meeting over, I went back to my car to get my little Canon pocket camera and battled my way back through the multitude of students enjoying the sidewalk cafes and most probably taking a break between classes.

Francis Ormond, founder of the Workingman's College.
The first thing I noticed was a recently completed modern façade of Story Hall on Swanston Street. It contrasts dramatically with the other buildings around the corner that date from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The history of RMIT is an interesting one as described by Wikipedia;

Entrance to Story Hall The Working Men’s College of Melbourne was founded in 1887 by a prominent grazier and philanthropist, The Hon. Francis Ormond MLC, who donated £5000 toward the establishment of the college. The Council of the Melbourne Trades Hall then matched Ormond's initial donation through rallying its members. On June 4, the college opened in a purpose-built building on the corners of Bowen Street and La Trobe Street in Melbourne, with a gala ceremony, becoming the third official provider of higher education in the Colony of Victoria (the Melbourne Athenaeum was founded in 1839 and the University of Melbourne in 1853).

Enjoying the sunny afternoon weather, I took a wander through the Colleges laneways back to the car which passed by some ruins of the “Old Melbourne Gaol” where students were playing basketball.

A mural depicting students at the Workingman's College from the 1900s.

And a more recent mural from today's art students at RMIT.

Between the turn of the 20th century and 1930s, the college expanded dramatically over the former Melbourne Gaol site with the establishment of an art school, an engineering school and a radio school. In 1934, it then changed its name to the Melbourne Technical College. During the 1940s, over the course of World War II, it trained a sixth of Australia’s service personnel (mainly Royal Australian Air Force radio communication officers), 2000 civilians in munitions manufacturing and was commissioned by the Government of Australia to manufacture parts for the DAP Beaufort Bomber. In 1954, it was awarded royal patronage by Queen Elizabeth II for its service to the war effort – becoming the only Australian university to receive the honour – and it was renamed the Royal Melbourne Technical College. (from Wikipedia)

From here I passed by a small student market place where books and vinyl records were on sale. Unfortunately my time was at a premium as I had another appointment.
I was glad that I took that 15 minutes to discover part of Melbourne that I had long forgotten.

Its Sunday now and the second day into our Labour Day long weekend - Melbourne and most of Victoria has been hit by torrential rain storms along with hailstones said to as big as golf balls. We were caught in it yesterday when driving home from shopping. The end of our street was covered in knee deep water however we could negotiate the shallow part to get to our home.

Cnr of Flinders and Swanston Sts, Melbourne (Herald-Sun)

Neddy racing at Flemington Racecourse was cancelled with hail putting a damper on the day.

Sue purchased produce for a dinner party we are having tonight. It was going to be a casual BBQ however with the rain, she decided we would have a sit-down dinner. She's been cooking up her own storm but more about that in tomorrow night's blog
Stay tuned.


  1. Melbourne is such an interesting and fun city. I can't believe all the hail you got; it looks like snow.

  2. You know, it's only become that since our travels to France. We come to appreciate what we have more, not to say that it is any better, but different.
    It's fun being a tourist in your own city, almost like being on holiday everyday.

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  4. Here in Leeds, Yorkshire there are photos of the Melbourne Athenaeum on the wall in The Leeds Library (founded 1786) where I am a member.


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