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VHR Statement of Significance
What is significant?
The School of Mines was founded in Ballarat in 1870 by a group of officials from the Mining Board, to provide scientific and practical training focused on, but not exclusively related to, mining. As its reputation in science, engineering, metallurgy, chemistry and geology increased, the School of Mines diversified into a programme of general studies.
A Court House building in Lydiard Street was initially used by the School of Mines and this was opened by Sir Redmond Barry on 26 October 1870. The court building became available when another court house was opened further south in Lydiard Street in 1868, and the former court was converted to contain offices, a library, lecture hall, classrooms and museum for use by the school. The second building to be used by the School of Mines was the 1858 bluestone Wesleyan church in Lydiard Street, which was acquired and converted to a museum after the construction of an adjacent new church.
This School of Mines building was constructed between the two buildings in 1899 as an administration block. The adjacent court house building was subsequently rebuilt in 1914 as a red brick arts building and a new brick facade was applied to the bluestone church building in 1921.
The School of Mines building of 1899 is a two storey, symmetrical red brick building with tiled roof and a street facade which is divided into five bays. Paired and tripled rectangular windows are topped by segmental heads and hood moulds and, together with the main entrance arch, provide the building with a Gothic character. Cream brick and sandstone are used to contrast with the red brickwork and details include unusual brick patterning below windows and a corbel table detail under the central hip roof section.
How is it significant?
The School of Mines building is of architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The School of Mines at Ballarat is of historical significance due to the important role it played in providing colonists employed in mining with formal scientific education and in spreading mining expertise to other parts of Australia. Its establishment reflects the strong tradition of mechanics institutes and mining schools brought to Victoria by British migrants, with Schools of Mines being particularly popular in Victorian gold mining towns such as Bendigo, Castlemaine and Ballarat. The Ballarat school has a long history within the City and this building was the first built specifically for the School of Mines. Together with the former Wesleyan church building, the adjacent 1914 building, the 1868 Supreme Court and remains of the former gaol to the south, it forms a collection of related educational buildings all fronting Lydiard Street.
The School of Mines is of architectural significance as a substantially intact, imposing building with unusual brick detailing. Together with the surrounding buildings, it provides an important streetscape element to this section of Lydiard Street.
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