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Posts tagged ‘history’

Weekend Wanderings – Royal Exhibition Building

Last weekend we had a Social Snappers Excursion and it was to the museum, though more importantly, to the Royal Exhibition Building.  There was no exhibition on in the building, so it would be possible to do a tour of the inside of the building as well.  The Royal Exhibition Building is a very historic building in Melbourne,  and is one of only two buildings in Australia that have World Heritage Listing.  Surprisingly it was given that listing before the Sydney Opera House.royal-exhibition-building-museum-7

The above is quite an iconic image of the building.  There are four points to the building, so from a central dome, it reaches out to the north, south, east and west.  The north and south wings are shorter, and the other two much longer.  In the above image you are seeing the south wing entry doors.  There are doors at each end.  This is possibly the nicest entrance with the fountain, but for the management of the building, these are like the back doors, so when an exhibition is on or has just finished, all the trucks and rubbish and everything like that is here as well.  So disappointing that they choose this side to do that. Makes it very ugly, but beautiful too.

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This is a view from the other side, and the doors there are for the north wing.  This is the side that faces the museum, and for those that saw my monochrome madness image the other day, this is what was reflected into the glass.

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I planned the trip so the building would be empty.  It was still being cleaned from an event the previous day, but I really wanted to see the building’s bare bones, so to speak.  It is so easy for things to get hidden when there are exhibitions on.

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The tour was great in giving you the history of the building and why it is significant. I learned a lot with it.

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The tour is good for that, but not great if your purpose for the doing the tour is to get lots of photos.  I found we only stayed in a small part of the building.  So I had to take photos of what I could.  I’m not too disappointed, if that is all you can get, then you have to do what you can.  It would be nice if they did tours so people could get good photos of it.  Maybe I will suggest it to them.

The building is historical because during the 1800’s there were many many exhibition buildings built, the most famous being the Chrystal Palace in London, but today not many of them of survive, and apparently this building is the only one in the world that is still being used as an exhibition building.  There are big exhibitions on there all the time.

I am going to leave you with a gallery now. If you are interested in doing a tour of the building, then contact the Museum of Victoria.  I hope your weekend has been good.  The weather is finally turning good here.  It is less than 0 degrees here now, apparently that is 32 in Fahrenheit, it is cold, well really cold for here, but it also means good weather today, yay, no rain.

From the History Books

Today is the last Friday of the month and time for another post on Deaf Children Australia.  I know I had previously stated that I was going to go back and take more photos, well it hasn’t happened.  I don’t know what has happened with the time in the last month.  It has vanished.  So today I thought I would do something a little different.  I was lent a book about the history of the school, “The History of the Victorian School For Deaf Children” by J.H. Burchett, MBE, published in 1964, and I have’t read all of it, but there are lots of photos in it.

I have wanted to show photos of how the school used to be, a different time, a different way of life, but it has been hard to get access to the old photos, so today I thought I would show you a gallery of images from the book. I scanned them for you.  They aren’t great, you can see that they are from a book because of some crazy grid stuff, but hopefully you can get an idea of what it was like.  There are images from when the school first started and into the 20th century.  I left the explanation under each photo so that should help explain them to you.

There is also a DVD that has been produced, it is called “Behind the Bluestone” and is full of footage from the school and stories by people who went there.  It is very inexpensive at $15 and a great way to support Deaf Children Australia.  If you are interested in purchasing it then you should go to this link, click here.

Don’t forget you can also donate money to Deaf Children Australia and there is a donate button on their website.

How a Bluestone Came to be on St Kilda Road

On my last visit to the Bluestone for Deaf Children Australia I was allowed to borrow a book The History of the Victorian School for Deaf Children.  The book was written by J.H.Burchett, MBE and was first published in 1964.  I don’t think the book is still available, so I have to be very careful with the copy I have.

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It is great to actually read some of the history rather than just getting bits and pieces from this person and that.   So for today’s post I thought I would share some of the information of how the DCA ended up where it is today.  The photos are going to be all the ones I have taken of the building so far, I think that will work with this.

The history starts before this, but I am more interested in the bluestone and I am going to look at how it came to be.  The book isn’t great with dates, but we can assume that by the early 1860’s the enrolment numbers in the school were increasing at such a rate that operating the school from various houses was not possible anymore.  So the school applied to the Board of Land and Works for a land grant.  The land on St Kilda Road was not the first piece of land offered, but the one they finally settled on.  We know, and have been told before that the land was marsh land, which is probably why they were offered it, what would be today considered prime real estate.  Not sure it was back then, but today any land on St Kilda Road is worth millions.

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From what I can work out to get a grant of money from the Treasury they needed to raise money from an “apathetic public”.  So lots of public meetings were held to raise money for the building fund, and they managed to raise £1,054 and then the Treasury granted them £3,000.  With these funds architects were then employed to draw up plans for the new building, I don’t like using the word institute.

The book also states that FJ Rose, the original principal of the school, had ideas and the architects used many of these for the building that was then built.

The contract for the building was signed on the 4th of January in 1866 and work began on it in February, the following month. Sir C.H. Darling, K.C.B. laid the foundation stone for the building on the 6th of March and by September the building was occupied.  His Excellency Sir J.H.T. Manners-Sutton K.C.B. officially opened the building on the 13th of October, nine and half months after construction began.  Could you imagine a building being built that fast today?

Here is a quote about the way the building was built.

“When the solid nature of the structure is considered and the materials from which it is built, that every stone had to be shaped by hand, the scaffolding an affair of poles and ropes, and then note a modern structure under way with all the modern electrical and other equipment in use, one is amazed at the speed with which the building arose.”

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While the building was going ahead and the costs were mounting up, the Treasury wasn’t very forthcoming with the promised funds and the committee found itself struggling financially.  In the end seven members of the committee made themselves personally responsible to the bank for the funds and they became the first trustees.  Eventually the £3,000 promised was received from the Treasury, much to everyone’s relief.

The building cost £7,266/18/6 to build the central 3 stories with the tower, and the south wing with its two stories.  Over the years the building has been added to, with the north wing and various other additions.

Now I find myself part of the story of a new chapter in the building as it prepares for the next 100 years and it changes as the world does around it.

Now here is a gallery of images of how the building is today. There are a lot of them, I was surprised, but it was good to see them again.

 

If the Walls Could Talk

Today saw me back at the Bluestone building for Deaf Children Australia, though not really for photos.  Today was more to find out about some of the plans for the restoration and the future.  A really interesting meeting, though not something I am going to talk about today. I need to read some information and look into it more and I don’t have the time right now.  Time is something that just keeps running out right now.

Boys Dormitory Right now the above space is empty, but it was once the boys dormitory.  The room was full of beds for the kids that stayed at the school.

Someone WatchingThis is a room off the dormitory, and I thought it had been sectioned off at a later date, but down the other end where the girls dormitory is, there is a similar room in the corner where the matron slept and kept an eye on the girls, so I am going to assume that this room was where the man who looked after the boys slept.

It was an interesting day, I got another tour and learned a lot more about the history.  I didn’t realise that the girls and boys were segregated so much, the boys had their own areas to play and the girls theirs.  They were in class together, and had meals together, but that seems to be about all.

One of the most intriguing things about these places is how they started.  I had heard this story before, but I have it here again and this time I am going to copy what was written in a book, so please bear with me.

“The origin of the Victorian Deaf and Dumb Institution and its subsequent progress was on this wise.” On the 14th February, 1859, there a letter in the Melbourne Argus over the signature “G”, setting out the tragic position of the deaf and dumb in the colony of Victoria, stating that it was the writer’s belief there were more than 50 deaf and dumb children receiving no instruction.  Two days later appeared a letter from Mrs. Sarah Lewis, under the nom de plume “Widow”, in which she appealed for help in the instruction of her little eight-year-old daughter.  She concluded the letter thus: “If nothing can be done speedily in this colony, I shall be put to the peril and danger of a sea voyage to get her educated in Old England, but should such an institution arise here, I would enrol myself a life subscriber.”

At the time Mr. Rose was residing at Bendigo, carrying on the occupation of a builder.  He immediately responded to the appeal.  It seemed providential that an educated deaf man should at that time be working on the gold fields – a man fully qualified, having the skill and necessary missionary zeal to accept the challenge and responsibility, with little prospect of adequate material reward.

Mr. Rose wrote to the Argus on 24th of February, 1859, confessing his ignorance of the fact that there were so many deaf children in the colony and offering to establish an institution for their instruction for a fair remuneration if sufficient numbers were forthcoming.

After winding up some contracts on which he was engaged at the time, Mr. Rose inserted the following advertisement in the Argus on the 28th and 30th April and the 2nd May, 1859:- “Education of the Deaf and Dumb.  It is in contemplation to establish an asylum to educate the Deaf and Dumb in this Colony should there be a sufficient number to warrant such.  The parents and guardians of Deaf and Dumb children are requested to communicate with the undersigned stating the ages, sex and address of any wishing to become pupils.  F.J. Rose, Haymarket Hotel, Bendigo.”

The first school was set up in Prahan in Peel Street,  and was opened with four resident boarders.  One of those was the daughter of Mrs. Sarah Lewis.  Her daughter is the first person registered in the book of “inmates” ( I can’t believe that is the term that was used for them.)

The First EntryToday I was lucky enough to be shown the book of “inmates” that had the first entry and there she is Lucy Lewis and all her information.  Sorry about the photo, I had to take it with my phone and the lighting wasn’t great, but hopefully you get the idea.

I hope you can read what it says, when she went deaf and why.  This next part is on the following page.

LeavingThis is on the adjoining page.  She left the year the “Institution” got the new building.  I wonder if she was ever in it?

I hope you haven’t minded the history lesson, not so much photography, sorry, but I love the history and wanted to share it with you.  I need to get back to the images from the Manchester Unity Building now, so much work to do on those and the time is running out.

Dial 4 for the Matron

It would appear that Wednesday’s post may become more about the Blue Stone building that is owned by the organisation Deaf Children Australia.  The building, I suspect has many stories to tell and I am looking forward to finding out what they are.  When I was shown around last week I was told many stories and those stories have intrigued me and I know they will intrigue you as well.

Wall Phone

I imagine that the things I find interesting are not necessarily going to be the things that the people working there would find interesting.  I can imagine that some of the things are just things that have been there forever and they don’t think about them any more.  For example, an old telephone mounted on the wall.  I don’t think I have ever seen a phone like this before.  I tried to do some research on it, admittedly very quickly, but I couldn’t find out anything.  I found a similar phone, but it had a spiral cord, and the body of the phone was longer.  That phone was from the 1920’s, which is earlier than I thought this phone would be.  I thought this might be from the 1930’s or 40’s.  I don’t really know.

You might not be able to see it from there, but if you dial 2 you get the Superintendent, dial 3 for the General Office and if you need to speak to the Matron then dial 4.  I love how these things are still there and haven’t been changed.

It was hard to get a good photo of it, and hopefully when I go back with my tripod I will be able to get a better one and one of the whole phone with the long cord as well.

The Stained Light in the Stairs

Near the main entrance is a set of stairs and half way up is the above stained glass window.  I first saw this window when I was waiting for Damian.  I looked at it and read the inscriptions in it.  The one on the left says “And on that day, Shall the Deaf, Hear the Words, of the Book” and the one on the right says “He Maketh Both, the Deaf to Hear, and the Dumb, to Speak”.  When I saw this window and read those words, I realised that the building must have always been here for the Deaf and the Dumb.  As it turns out I was correct in my assumption and the building was specifically built for the Deaf and Dumb Institution back in the 1860’s.

Records

This book case holds many records of the people who have been part of the DCA.  The earliest records I could see were from 1862, so from before the building was built.  I am going to have to investigate that further.  I might see if I can get some photos of the inside of the books.  I might need to get special permission.

I was told by Damian that they used to call the kids and people attending the institution inmates, and that is how they are referred to in the ledgers.  Such a different way of life from now.  It is amazing how much as changed.

There is so much history there, and I am sure many stories.  I am really looking forward to seeing what I can find there.

Visiting the Centre of Town

In yesterdays post I spoke about how I had been to the city to visit the Melbourne Town Hall.  You may remember some previous images I have shown you of the outside of the building just before Christmas.  It was the building that had the amazing light show on it.  I never realised that you could take a tour of the inside of the building.  So Klara and I went on one.  It was really amazing.  Such a beautiful building and obviously built during a time of great wealth in Melbourne, the gold rush era.

Council Chambers - 1Before we talk about the tour and the images, I need to explain, that the images aren’t great.  It is quite dark inside the rooms we visited.  I had to up the ISO as high as it would go, and that is probably one of the worse things about the D300s, the high ISOs give a lot of noise.  I couldn’t use a tripod, so I had to do what I could holding the camera, even with the highest ISO, I still had to have a wide aperture.  I am hoping that I will get to go back again and do some photos with a tripod.  I tried to get rid of as much noise as I could, but it is still there.  I was going to use Topaz DeNoise, but I see my trial has run out.  Might have to check out the one from Nik Software.

The image up there, as all the images today are, were taken in the Council Chambers Room.  A very opulent room where the council members of the City of Melbourne meet.  Three very important people sit in the three chairs above, the middle one being for the Lord Mayor of Melbourne.

Council Chambers - 2The rest sit in these seats.  It isn’t a large room, but then it is just for the local council.

The room is so beautiful.  The attention to detail was astounding.  It really is worth the tour just to see this room.  A room like this would never be built today.  The intricate carvings would cost so much money, and all the marble.  There are so many things to photograph in this room.  I really do think this is the room I would want to go back and photograph.

Council Chambers - 3This is taken from the back and looking to the Mayors chair.  You can see the trouble I had taking the photos.  HDR images would be a must here.  These are HDR images, but only with 3 images.  If I am allowed to go back, I hope to do more.

Mayor KlaraHere is my daughter Klara sitting in the Mayor’s Chair.  She didn’t take much convincing.  You can see some of the detail there that is on the chair.

I had a wonderful time on the tour.  It is a beautiful building and with a rich history.  Our tour guide was lovely and very knowledgeable.  Of course, there is a lot more to the building than what I have shown you here.  This is just from one room.  You also get to see the main hall, and if nothing is on you can go to the back and see all the organ pipes and see how the organ works.  We were shown the Melbourne Room where the Queen came for afternoon tea in 1954, and where the Beatles hung out when they came to Australia.  We went out onto the balcony and watched Swanston Street below.

One of the things that surprised me was how surprised they were that Klara and I wanted to do the tour.  Apparently they don’t get many people who live in Melbourne wanting to do it.  We both thought it was great.

If you would like to go on the tour, then check out the details below.

Contact details

03 9658 9658
townhalltour@melbourne.vic.gov.au
www.melbourne.vic.gov.au

Virtual Photography Field Trip

I have to get back to writing the Virtual Field Trip for my new client.  We have had various discussions about where to go and finally settled on a place in California.  I am as excited as she is about where she is going.  I convinced her to try photographing a subject she wasn’t sure about, I thought it was a great opportunity for her to learn how to do something new with me to help her. I have written most of it, time to go and do some more.

Some Expensive Real Estate

When I woke up this morning, I had planned on going to Mostsalvat to take photos.  Montsalvat is an artists colony in Eltham.  They have some beautiful buildings and it is an amazing place.  I wanted to go in the morning, but then I realised I had to be somewhere at 12, so there was no time to go.  I had to think about where else to go and there was one place I’ve been meaning to get to for years and late afternoon was the perfect time of day for it.

On Brighton Beach are a number of these boxes.  They are a famous landmark in Melbourne.  It is amazing that I haven’t photographed them before.  They appear in many publications about Melbourne and by the number of people there taking photos, I would say it is a very popular place to go and take photos.

I took all the images with 5 bracketed shots and they are all HDR’s with various degrees of post editing.  Again, I’ve used Photomatix for the HDR’s and Photoshop CS5 for the post editing.  I decided that HDR’s would be a good option due to the cloudy sky and the brightness of the boxes.

I really wanted to capture the boxes straight on with the clouds behind them.  I like the contrast between the clouds and the colourful boxes.

The boxes have a very long history in Melbourne and there is a website that gives lots of information about them.  If you are interested click here.  They are all privately owned and when they come up for sale, they seem to sell for around $200,000.  They are an expensive piece of real estate.  They have no amenities, you can’t live in them.  You have to pay rates, apparently they are around $500 a year.  Not bad for a wooden box that just sits on the beach.

There are a lot of them, no idea how many exactly.  They all have numbers and they are all painted in very different ways.  They are certainly very colourful.

I took my daughters with me and I think I really need to start going on my own.  One of them didn’t bring a jacket, even though I said she should, so she was cold and wanted to go.  I should have know it would happen.  I get worried about going places on my own, so I should start to get over that and just go.

I was hoping to show one of the photos I took with Instagram, I sent it to facebook, but it has disappeared into cyberspace somewhere.  If I ever find what happened to it, I will post it.  So enjoy the beach boxes.

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