Tuesday, March 01, 2016

These walls speak volumes - Book review

Victoria’s local history community have been waiting eagerly for the sequel to Pam Baragwanath and Ken James’ Mechanics Institute’s history. If the Walls Could Speak.

These Walls Speak Volumes is now available. This book represents early Victorian history. They were local, independent, self –funded and self-help initiatives. They were the forerunner to public libraries and community hubs we know today.
Each of Victoria’s institutes is highlighted with a short history and very often a photograph. Local institutes featured include: Arthur’s Creek, Christmas Hills, Diamond Creek, Eltham, Epping, Heidelberg, Hurstbridge, Kangaroo Ground, Kinglake, Mernda, Panton Hill, St Andrews, Thomastown, Warrandyte and Whittlesea.
Articles are well sourced including records from local history collections, Public Records Office Victoria, local history groups and local historians.

The Mernda Mechanics Institute was built at the rear of the Old Bridge Hotel. It was planned and built by W. Baird. The foundation stone was laid on 12 September 1888 by Robert Harper MLA. It was built from bluestone which was carted from Melbourne by local resident W. G. Cockerell. Walter Thomas was the first librarian and trustee of the Mernda Mechanics Institute and Free Library. The Whittlesea Shire Council held council meetings there from 1915, until 1939.

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