Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall and Free Library

Chapter 22

Published Apr, 2004

Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall and Free Library.  Photo by Bruce G. Draper, 2012
Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall and Free Library. Photo by Bruce G. Draper, 2012

…after some discussion about the most suitable colour to paint the building, the matter was left to the contractor to use his own judgement…

On 11 March 1886 a public meeting of persons interested in erecting a hall was held at the Arthurs Creek School. Present at the meeting were Fred Simms, H. Plant, Angus McDonald, Owen McDonald, T. Bailee, Jeremiah Lodge, Thomas Green, Patrick W.J. Murphy, Jas. T. Murphy, Joseph Murphy and David Murphy. P.W.J. Murphy was appointed Chairman, J.T. Murphy Secretary and J.A. Lodge Treasurer pro tem. It was proposed and accepted that the subscription for committee men be half a sovereign. The Secretary was asked to obtain prices on materials for a 40 feet x 20 feet weatherboard building with a corrugated iron roof.

At a meeting held on 1 April, William Murphy offered half an acre of land adjoining the Methodist Church on the condition that the deed and title be given to nine trustees who were to pay all transfer fees. P. Murphy moved that ‘no concert or dance or entertainment of any sort with the exception of a bazaar or entertainment for some charitable purpose, be held in the hall knowing there was to be a meeting in the church the same night.’ John Green seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.

At a meeting held on 13 August 1886, E.H. Cameron M.L.A. acted as the returning officer for the election of trustees and a committee. Eleven candidates were nominated. The Evelyn Observer reported that ‘The following gentlemen were elected to act as a committee for the ensuing year: – Messrs. C. Draper J.P., W. Murphy, J. Murphy, W. Reid J.P., Jas. Morris, R. Bassett, P.W.J. Murphy, J. Lodge and P. Green. The three first named being appointed trustees. Mr. Draper was appointed treasurer, and Mr. J.T. Murphy Hon. Sec. Subscription lists were opened and Mr. Cameron generously handed in £2.2s.’ Mr. Cameron spoke about the Government grants for similar institutions throughout the colony and expressed the opinion that the Government would grant £25.0.0 annually towards the liquidation of the debt on the proposed building at Arthurs Creek. On 10 September 1886, two additional  trustees were appointed,  Messrs. Patrick  Green and P.W.J. Murphy.

Mr. William Murphy made an alternative offer of land on a lower site adjacent to the School. A meeting held on 26  October decided, after much discussion, to accept the land on the lower site as the most suitable for the erection of the new hall.

The next meeting worked out specifications for the new building. The hall was to be 40 feet x 20 feet and the Library and dressing room to be 14 feet x 12 feet each. Mr. Macfarlane was to be asked to prepare the plans. Arrangements for the transfer of land to the Trustees were placed in the hands of Mr. Hornsby, a solicitor. The original trustees shown on the Certificate of Title are Charles Draper, Joseph Murphy, Patrick Green, Patrick William, John Murphy and William Murphy.

At a meeting held on 24 January 1887, it was resolved on the suggestion of Charles Draper that the plans prepared and submitted by Mr. E.J. Henderson, architect, Queen Street, be accepted. Charles Draper offered to superintend the erection of the building.

Advertisements were placed in The Age and Evelyn Observer calling for tenders. When the Committee met on 15 March 1887 motions were passed ‘that the Committee instead of the Trustees open the tenders and let the contract’ and ‘that the Committee be responsible for the money raised to carry out the contract’. The tender of D. J. (Denis) Murphy of Streamville was accepted. The contract required the building to be completed within three months from 21 March 1887. ‘After some discussion about the most suitable colour to paint the building, the matter was left to the contractor to use his own judgement’.

On 30 May 1887 it was moved that 20 plain forms be obtained from D. J. Murphy and that his offer to build two WCs with screens etc. be accepted. It was decided to place a five-foot high dado around the inside of the hall at a cost of £3.10.0. The Secretary was asked to insure the building for £200 at the cost of £1 per annum.

At the meeting held on 19 July 1887, a committee was formed to make arrangements for the opening of the hall. Con. Hildebrand offered to supply the music (violin, flutina and harps) for the ball at a cost of £4.0.0.

Charles Draper resigned from the Hall Committee on 6 August 1887. A hearty unanimous vote of thanks was proposed and seconded to Mr. Draper for his services in connection with the building of the Mechanics Institute and Free Library.

It was decided to hold a concert on the same night as the Opening Ball with an admission price of one shilling for children. Joseph Murphy agreed to meet the concert party and musicians at the coach, Morang, and to convey them back to Preston the next morning for the sum of 25/0.

The grand concert and ball to celebrate the opening was held on the evening of Friday 2 September 1887. The Evelyn Observer reported that ‘As this was the first entertainment of the sort ever held at Arthurs Creek, much speculation was indulged in as to how it would come off; and it is pleasing to record that the result achieved, notwithstanding the recent heavy rains, which rendered the roads in a very sloppy condition, far exceeded the most sanguine expectations of those concerned in its promotion. A letter of apology was read from E. H. Cameron, Esq. M.L.A. who was to have taken the chair, but was unable to attend. In his absence the chair was kindly taken by Wm. Reid, Esq. J.P. .’ … ‘There were about 40 couples present.’ … ‘A programme of 21 dances was finished a little after 5 o’clock in the morning’.

Subscription books were issued to members of the Committee to collect money for the Library Book Fund. A concert was held on 26 November 1887 to raise funds and in January 1888 it was decided to write to the Whittlesea Council asking for a donation. The President (Mr. Reid) and Secretary were asked to proceed to Melbourne to buy books for the library.

Rules and regulations for the management of the library were drawn up. Mr. Green acted as Librarian and was granted all the privileges of the library free of charge. The sub-committee for management of the library comprised Hugh Macmillan, Denis Murphy, J.T. Murphy, J. Harrison, Angus McDonald, J. Green and Con. Hildebrand.

Source : Extract from paper prepared for Mechanics’ Institutes World Conference 2004 by Ken Murphy and Bruce G. Draper.

Publishers note: this article was written in April 2004, however many of the photos were taken after this date.

Celebrating 150 years of continuous settlement and 125 years of the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute and 70 years of the Arthurs Creek / Strathewen Fire Brigades, October 2012
Celebrating 150 years of continuous settlement and 125 years of the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute and 70 years of the Arthurs Creek / Strathewen Fire Brigades, October 2012
Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute by Bruce G. Draper, published in 2012 to mark 150 years of continuous European settlement in Arthurs Creek and 125 years of the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute
Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute by Bruce G. Draper, published in 2012 to mark 150 years of continuous European settlement in Arthurs Creek and 125 years of the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute
Just across the road from the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall, this Fire Brigade station was a key part of the township in the 1960's, along with the Arthurs Creek Primary School, the General Store, the Post Office and two churches.  The CFA station has relocated to opposite Ryders Flat
Just across the road from the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall, this Fire Brigade station was a key part of the township in the 1960's, along with the Arthurs Creek Primary School, the General Store, the Post Office and two churches. The CFA station has relocated to opposite Ryders Flat
Arthurs Creek Mechanics' Institute Hall, 1950s
Arthurs Creek Mechanics' Institute Hall, 1950s
Arthurs Creek Mechanics' Institute Hall, early 1960s
Arthurs Creek Mechanics' Institute Hall, early 1960s
The author was invited to join the Hall Committee as local historian on 16th May, 2005, and assisted with the development of an historic photo collection and display for the History Day and the Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005.  Mrs Kathleen Bassett of 'Tregowan', presented the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute with the donation of two very fine items of district cricket memorabilia held by the Bassett family over many years; and the Brock family of ‘Kirkliston’ donated the significant Arthurs Creek Tennis Shield, presented on behalf of the family by Mrs Isabel 'Bel' Cracknell (nee Laidlay), the only living member pictured in the 1931/32 Hazel Glen Premiership team photograph
The author was invited to join the Hall Committee as local historian on 16th May, 2005, and assisted with the development of an historic photo collection and display for the History Day and the Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005. Mrs Kathleen Bassett of 'Tregowan', presented the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute with the donation of two very fine items of district cricket memorabilia held by the Bassett family over many years; and the Brock family of ‘Kirkliston’ donated the significant Arthurs Creek Tennis Shield, presented on behalf of the family by Mrs Isabel 'Bel' Cracknell (nee Laidlay), the only living member pictured in the 1931/32 Hazel Glen Premiership team photograph
One of the photos in the significant photo collection and display for History Day and the Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005 at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute.  This image (and many others for this and subsequent projects) was restored by Wade Ashley, and shows the Arthurs Creek Hall decorations by Carmella Ryder and her brother Leo, for the wedding of Allan Verso and Lena Murphy, 5th December, 1925.  Although there are no known interior photos of the demolished Hazelglen Hall on Bannon’s Lane North, this photo gives a good idea of how an event looked in one of these historic rural community halls
One of the photos in the significant photo collection and display for History Day and the Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005 at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute. This image (and many others for this and subsequent projects) was restored by Wade Ashley, and shows the Arthurs Creek Hall decorations by Carmella Ryder and her brother Leo, for the wedding of Allan Verso and Lena Murphy, 5th December, 1925. Although there are no known interior photos of the demolished Hazelglen Hall on Bannon’s Lane North, this photo gives a good idea of how an event looked in one of these historic rural community halls
Committee members Bruce Draper, Peter Nankervis and Collette Apted at History Day and the Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005, Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute
Committee members Bruce Draper, Peter Nankervis and Collette Apted at History Day and the Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005, Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute
One of the many successful bush dances held at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall over the last 133 years.  Old Time Ball.  Hall Centenary Celebrations, September 1987
One of the many successful bush dances held at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall over the last 133 years. Old Time Ball. Hall Centenary Celebrations, September 1987
Old Time Ball.  Hall Centenary Celebrations, September 1987.  One of the many successful bush dances held at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall over the last 133 years
Old Time Ball. Hall Centenary Celebrations, September 1987. One of the many successful bush dances held at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall over the last 133 years
James Chester Draper (centre, the author's father, 1905 - 1998) at the Annual Garden Walk in 1995.  This great community day is run by volunteers who are committed and dedicated to the upkeep, maintenance and restoration of the magnificent 133 year old (in 2020) Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall.  Left to right: Ross McDonald, Chester Draper, Sonja McDonald
James Chester Draper (centre, the author's father, 1905 - 1998) at the Annual Garden Walk in 1995. This great community day is run by volunteers who are committed and dedicated to the upkeep, maintenance and restoration of the magnificent 133 year old (in 2020) Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall. Left to right: Ross McDonald, Chester Draper, Sonja McDonald
Peter Nankervis and Bruce G. Draper at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening, Sunday 17th April 2016
Peter Nankervis and Bruce G. Draper at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening, Sunday 17th April 2016
On Sunday 20th September, 1987, a plaque was unveiled celebrating 100 Years of Community Involvement at Arthurs Creek Hall from 1887 to 1987
On Sunday 20th September, 1987, a plaque was unveiled celebrating 100 Years of Community Involvement at Arthurs Creek Hall from 1887 to 1987
On Sunday 20th September, 1987, a plaque was unveiled celebrating 100 Years of Community Involvement at Arthurs Creek Hall from 1887 to 1987
On Sunday 20th September, 1987, a plaque was unveiled celebrating 100 Years of Community Involvement at Arthurs Creek Hall from 1887 to 1987
The organising committee at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening, Sunday 17th April 2016
The organising committee at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening, Sunday 17th April 2016
The Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening, Sunday 17th April 2016
The Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening, Sunday 17th April 2016
Bruce G. Draper (second from left), Barrie Apted and  Bruce's brother Robert Draper (right hand side) in 2016 at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening.  Information credit Neil Brock
Bruce G. Draper (second from left), Barrie Apted and Bruce's brother Robert Draper (right hand side) in 2016 at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening. Information credit Neil Brock
Bruce G. Draper and Bronwyn Hodges (nee Reid) at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening, Sunday 17th April 2016
Bruce G. Draper and Bronwyn Hodges (nee Reid) at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening, Sunday 17th April 2016
This General Store is now a private home located across the road from the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall.  The General Store was a key part of the township in the 1960's, along with the Arthurs Creek Primary School, the Fire Brigade station, the Post Office and two churches
This General Store is now a private home located across the road from the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall. The General Store was a key part of the township in the 1960's, along with the Arthurs Creek Primary School, the Fire Brigade station, the Post Office and two churches
Minutes of the first meeting of the Arthurs Creek and Districts Bush Fire Brigade, 20th December, 1941.  Celebrating 150 years of continuous settlement and 125 years of the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute and 70 years of the Arthurs Creek / Strathewen Fire Brigades, October 2012
Minutes of the first meeting of the Arthurs Creek and Districts Bush Fire Brigade, 20th December, 1941. Celebrating 150 years of continuous settlement and 125 years of the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute and 70 years of the Arthurs Creek / Strathewen Fire Brigades, October 2012
Cake celebrating 150 years of continuous settlement and 125 years of the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute and 70 years of the Arthurs Creek / Strathewen Fire Brigades, October 2012
Cake celebrating 150 years of continuous settlement and 125 years of the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute and 70 years of the Arthurs Creek / Strathewen Fire Brigades, October 2012
1887 to 1987 Arthurs Creek Hall 100 Years of Community Involvement.  Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute garden plaque
1887 to 1987 Arthurs Creek Hall 100 Years of Community Involvement. Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute garden plaque
Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall Jubilee celebrations, 1938
Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall Jubilee celebrations, 1938
Arthurs Creek Primary School parents playing a modified form of Two-Up (a traditional Australian game) at Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall
Arthurs Creek Primary School parents playing a modified form of Two-Up (a traditional Australian game) at Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall
Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll, erected in 2015
Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll, erected in 2015
Erected in 2015 by a grateful community to the honoured memory of the men and women of the district who served in the Great War of 1914 - 1918.  Lest We Forget.  Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening, Sunday 17th April 2016
Erected in 2015 by a grateful community to the honoured memory of the men and women of the district who served in the Great War of 1914 - 1918. Lest We Forget. Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute’s WW1 Honour Roll and Commemorative Garden Opening, Sunday 17th April 2016
The author, pictured with Bronwyn Hodges (nee Reid) and his daughter Catherine Ashley (nee Draper), 2016
The author, pictured with Bronwyn Hodges (nee Reid) and his daughter Catherine Ashley (nee Draper), 2016
Miss Carmella Ryder taken on her 90th birthday, March 19, 1986.  The Evelyn Observer of 1912 reported that a social night for the Arthurs Creek Football Club was held in the Mechanics Institute during October as a winding up of the football season.  Some 24 couples kept the floor to music supplied by Miss Ryder
Miss Carmella Ryder taken on her 90th birthday, March 19, 1986. The Evelyn Observer of 1912 reported that a social night for the Arthurs Creek Football Club was held in the Mechanics Institute during October as a winding up of the football season. Some 24 couples kept the floor to music supplied by Miss Ryder
The Arthurs Creek Rifle Club World War 1 Memorial Shield was with the Brock family who have since donated it to the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall.  The inscription at the bottom reads ‘This Shield is placed in this Church as a Memorial to the Members of the Arthurs Creek Rifle Club who fell in the Great War’.  Names on the shield include A.E. Sutherland, G. Jolley, D.R. McDonald, W.W. Limmer, J.W. G. Butcher, T. Weir, K. Macmillan, L. Apted, S.B. Verso, J. MacCaffrey, A. Bate, H.J. Mason, A.S. Paynter, W.L. Young, A.L. Brock, E. Garside, J.A. Laidlay, H.A. Graff.  It started as a Challenge Shield, and the inscription at the top reads ‘Arthurs Creek Rifle Club Challenge Shield.  In Honour of Fellow Members who have left Australia for Active Service in the Great War 1914 – 19’.  Photo and information credit Neil Brock
The Arthurs Creek Rifle Club World War 1 Memorial Shield was with the Brock family who have since donated it to the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall. The inscription at the bottom reads ‘This Shield is placed in this Church as a Memorial to the Members of the Arthurs Creek Rifle Club who fell in the Great War’. Names on the shield include A.E. Sutherland, G. Jolley, D.R. McDonald, W.W. Limmer, J.W. G. Butcher, T. Weir, K. Macmillan, L. Apted, S.B. Verso, J. MacCaffrey, A. Bate, H.J. Mason, A.S. Paynter, W.L. Young, A.L. Brock, E. Garside, J.A. Laidlay, H.A. Graff. It started as a Challenge Shield, and the inscription at the top reads ‘Arthurs Creek Rifle Club Challenge Shield. In Honour of Fellow Members who have left Australia for Active Service in the Great War 1914 – 19’. Photo and information credit Neil Brock
Arthurs Creek Tennis Association, Hazel Glen Club, Premiership Winners 1931-32.  Photo taken at the Hazel Glen tennis court located on the corner of Bannon’s Lane North and Doctor’s Gully Road (Hazelglen Hall is the background).  Back row left to right: Alice Victoria ‘Vic’ Laidlay, W. Stephens, Everard Bassett, Neil Laidlay (son of Vic & Bill), Lina Bassett (sister-in-law of Everard).  Back row: Isabel ‘Bel’ Laidlay, William ‘Bill’ Laidlay (husband of Vic), Jean Bassett (daughter of Everard).   The Hazelglen Hall became a centre for the Hazel Glen Church of England, the Hazel Glen Private Assembly, Arthurs Creek Cricket Club, Arthurs Creek Rifle Club, Hazel Glen Football Club and Hazel Glen Tennis Club.  Photo and information credit Neil Brock
Arthurs Creek Tennis Association, Hazel Glen Club, Premiership Winners 1931-32. Photo taken at the Hazel Glen tennis court located on the corner of Bannon’s Lane North and Doctor’s Gully Road (Hazelglen Hall is the background). Back row left to right: Alice Victoria ‘Vic’ Laidlay, W. Stephens, Everard Bassett, Neil Laidlay (son of Vic & Bill), Lina Bassett (sister-in-law of Everard). Back row: Isabel ‘Bel’ Laidlay, William ‘Bill’ Laidlay (husband of Vic), Jean Bassett (daughter of Everard). The Hazelglen Hall became a centre for the Hazel Glen Church of England, the Hazel Glen Private Assembly, Arthurs Creek Cricket Club, Arthurs Creek Rifle Club, Hazel Glen Football Club and Hazel Glen Tennis Club. Photo and information credit Neil Brock
The Arthurs Creek Tennis Association Challenge Shield.  The Brock family of ‘Kirkliston’ donated this historic shield to the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute at the History Day and the Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005.  It was presented on behalf of the entire family by Isabel 'Bel' Cracknell (nee Laidlay), the only living member pictured in the Hazel Glen Club Premiership Winners 1931-32 tennis team photograph.  Photo and information credit Neil Brock
The Arthurs Creek Tennis Association Challenge Shield. The Brock family of ‘Kirkliston’ donated this historic shield to the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute at the History Day and the Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005. It was presented on behalf of the entire family by Isabel 'Bel' Cracknell (nee Laidlay), the only living member pictured in the Hazel Glen Club Premiership Winners 1931-32 tennis team photograph. Photo and information credit Neil Brock
The Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute and Free Library History Day and Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005.  The collection of historic photographs and articles can be seen on display
The Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute and Free Library History Day and Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005. The collection of historic photographs and articles can be seen on display
Isabel 'Bel' Cracknell (nee Laidlay), the only living member of the Hazel Glen Tennis Club Premiership Winners 1931-32, presenting the Arthurs Creek Tennis Association Challenge Shield to the Hall Committee. The Brock family donated this historic shield to the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute at the History Day and Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005.  Photo and information credit Neil Brock
Isabel 'Bel' Cracknell (nee Laidlay), the only living member of the Hazel Glen Tennis Club Premiership Winners 1931-32, presenting the Arthurs Creek Tennis Association Challenge Shield to the Hall Committee. The Brock family donated this historic shield to the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute at the History Day and Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005. Photo and information credit Neil Brock
Kathleen Bassett of 'Tregowan' and her son Ken Bassett pictured at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute History Day and Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005.  Kathleen Bassett presented, on behalf of the entire family, two very fine items of district cricket memorabilia held for many years.  Photo credit Neil Brock
Kathleen Bassett of 'Tregowan' and her son Ken Bassett pictured at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute History Day and Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005. Kathleen Bassett presented, on behalf of the entire family, two very fine items of district cricket memorabilia held for many years. Photo credit Neil Brock
Ken Bassett and Peter Nankervis pictured at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute History Day and Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005.  Photo credit Neil Brock
Ken Bassett and Peter Nankervis pictured at the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute History Day and Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on the 11th September, 2005. Photo credit Neil Brock

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