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Mechanics Institute Plaque : 28-October-2014
Mechanics Institute Plaque : 28-October-2014

Photographs supplied by Sandra Brown

The Mechanics Institute of Victoria plaque was unveiled on the 17th March 2004 at the Annual General Meeting to commemorate 126 years on this site.

In 1877, permission was requested from the Ministry of Lands Melbourne Registry for the building to be moved to a site in the main street near the Post Office "to a position which was easy of access". In 1878, Robert Bain, the owner of the Border Hotel from 1857 until 1887, gave the Institute a block of his land, this gift taking the form of a lease for a period of 500 years on condition that the land was used for a Mechanics Institute and Public Library. The rental was set at one shilling a year on demand.
The present Institute still stands on that land. In 1979, a further site of similar size was purchased by the City of Berwick for extensions. This purchase came as a consequence of a donation of $50,000 by Lady Casey to the City Council in 1979 for a new library building. It was agreed that this donation would be matched by the City Council, with an amount to be raised by the Library Committee for furniture, fittings and bookstock. To satisfy local building regulations, the lease from Robert Bain to the Institute was surrendered to the then City of Berwick. A copy of this historic lease document hangs on the east wall of the new building, on the site of the original leasehold.

The new building was opened in 1982 by Lady Murray, the wife of the Govenor of Victoria. It retains the features of the old building, including hand-made bricks, baltic pine lining boards and the design of the original facade.

The purpose of the MIV Historical Plaques Program is to inform the public of the history of Mechanics' Institutes in Victoria and also give a snippet of history about the individual Institute. The idea of putting a plaque on Mechanics' Institute Halls was advanced by Committee member Alan Tonkin in 1999. Committee member Paul Permezel brought it to reality in 2003 and since then plaques have been installed to mark special occasions within Institutes all across the State. These plaques have been used to commemorate a significant date in the history of an Institute or town; be it an anniversary, or a significant renovation or restoration project.



Address:15 High Street, Berwick Mechanic Institute & Free Library , Berwick, 3806
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -38.030892
Long: 145.345285
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Culture


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 17th March, 2004
Front Inscription

Mechanics Institute of Victoria

Berwick Mechanics' Institute & Free Library.

Established on this site in 1878.

The Mechanics' Institute movement began in British urban industrial centres in the early 1800s. A "mechanic" was a person applying skills and technology. During the 19th century, most towns in Victoria established a Mechanics' Institute or Athenaeum with a library and meeting hall. Common objects were the "spread of useful knowledge" and provision for "rational recreation" in the community.

This plaque, No. 6 in the MIV series, was unveiled on the 17th March 2004 at the Annual General Meeting to commemorate 126 years on this site.

Source: MA, MVIC
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au