Day Tour of the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute – Ballarat Heritage Festival

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A colourful history of the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute and it’s people.

Dr. George Birkbeck, a professor of natural philosophy in Glasgow, held the first lectures for the skilled workers of the day in 1799. He is acknowledged as the founder of the Mechanics Institute movement. These lectures led to facilities dedicated to workers’ education – the Edinburgh School of Arts opened in 1821 and the London Mechanics’ Institute in 1823. Then, in the 19th century, Institutes spread rapidly throughout the British Empire and to other areas such as the United States.

By 1851 over 700 Institutes were operating throughout Britain. The first Australian Institute was established in Hobart in 1827. Sydney followed in 1833 and Melbourne in 1839 (the Melbourne Mechanics’ Institute became the Athenaeum in 1873).

This event is part of the Ballarat Heritage Festival.

Content: The Ballaarat Mechanics Institute

Accessibility Information

  • Caters for people with sufficient mobility to climb a few steps but who would benefit from fixtures to aid balance. (This includes people using walking frames and mobility aids)
  • Caters for people who use a wheelchair.

  • Tue 21 May

2pm–3pm

Ballarat Mechanics Institute | Hugh Williamson Foyer

117-119 Sturt Street, Ballarat Central VIC 3350

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$10 per person

$10 plus booking fee.


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Accessibility Information

  • Caters for people with sufficient mobility to climb a few steps but who would benefit from fixtures to aid balance. (This includes people using walking frames and mobility aids)
  • Caters for people who use a wheelchair.

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Across Victoria’s Midwest, we acknowledge that we travel across the ancient landscapes of many First Peoples communities.

These lands have been nurtured and cared for over tens of thousands of years and we respect the work of Traditional Custodians for their ongoing care and protection.

We recognise the past injustices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this country. As our knowledge grows, we hope that we can learn from their resilience and creativity that has guided them for over 60,000 years.

As we invite people to visit and explore Victoria’s Midwest, we ask that alongside us, you also grow to respect the stories, living culture and connection to Country of the Ancestors and Elders of our First Peoples.

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© 2023 Ballarat In The Know. This initiative is funded by the City of Ballarat and Tourism Midwest Victoria.