Technical education in Bathurst

The School of Arts introduced Bathurst to technical education in 1855. Within three decades, the NSW Government had formed a Board of Technical Education, and purchased land from the School of Arts in 1894 to construct a Technical College in William Street. Opening in June 1898, the College’s Romanesque features stood out among Bathurst’s typically symmetrical Victorian architecture. Proving to be an enduring structure, the College readily adapted to changes in curricula and student demand. Skills taught were often tailored to local industry and cultural trends. “... carpentry, plumbing, dress making, cake decorating, wool classing. My mum even had me sitting up in a type writing class at one point!” Keith Redding, Bathurst Technical College Caretaker’s son and resident Enabling learning in technical subjects such as agriculture, mining, sciences, mathematics, mechanics, carpentry, sewing, cookery, typewriting and visual arts the College remained operational into the 1990s. The College included the Howick Street Public School building from 1948, with some Technical and Further Education (TAFE) courses continuing on site until the mid 2000s.

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

1896 plans for Bathurst Technical College included designs for a ground floor arts and sciences museum. Five such museums had already been established in NSW through Government initiative of the 1890s. Prior to completion of the new complex, the Bathurst branch museum was temporarily established in rented quarters on Keppel Street. The Technological Museum afforded Bathurst a permanent teaching collection of mechanical models, timber, geological samples and animal specimens. A taxidermy African lion and Asiatic lioness, acquired from the Australian Museum, were well renowned attractions.

The Museum’s popularity peaked in the early 20th Century. Travelling art collections were regularly exhibited. International dignitaries toured the Museum and off ered donations. The achievements of Technical College students and graduates were showcased and celebrated. Perhaps most significantly, artefacts from the Bathurst region were acquired and preserved. In spite of its success, the Museum struggled with irregular funding and support from the varying Government agencies responsible for its operation.
Attendance figures declined in the post-War years, as theatres grew in popularity and televisions found their way into lounge rooms. Following a decision in the early 1980s to close all rural branches of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the collection in Bathurst was slowly dispersed. The Bathurst Technological Museum was officially closed.

“...conspicuous by its indifference to anything else in the city, and the evident abandonment of any desire for the beautiful”. National Advocate, 30 June 1898, page 2

“In November 1913, the Museum had been included as a must see for visiting Governor Strickland; in February 1954, the visiting Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were provided only with a drive past the building”. Dr Robin McLachlan, 2014

“...it was my job to go around and close the Museum on Friday night. Put out all the gas lights. I’d get straight out of there once it was dark...” Keith Redding on the Bathurst Technological Museum

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