Sydney Mechanics' School of
One of the most prosperous institutions in the colony is the School of Arts, Sydney: and doubtless oure readers would be glad to know something of its history. It was established on the 22nd of March, 1833 and very few of its founders are now living. On the date named the late Major Mitchell (then Surveyor-General), the late Dr. Nicholson, the late Rev. H. Carmichael, M.A., and a few other literary and scientific gentlemen, met together and re- solved to found an institution similar to those estab- lished in England by Dr. Bircbeck, Dr. Ure, and other distinguished promoters of popular education. The Surveyor-General furnished the society, gratis, with temporary accommodation in one of his offices on Church Hill. The institution was named "The Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts," and its objects were declared to be "the intel
THE NEW READING: BOOM AT THE SYDNEY MECHANIC'S SCHOOL OF ARTS.
lectual improvement of its members and the culti vation of literature, science, and arts.' As po pular lectures were then the rage in England, they were introduced, and at the end of the financial year, the society netted from the sale of tickets the magnificent sum of £1 2s 6d.. The roll contained 91 members, and the subscriptions amounted to £147 17s 6d. Next year brought an accession of 34 members, and the revenue from the lectures' was £13 17s 6d. Thus em boldened, the promoters in 1835 applied to the Governor, Sir R. Bourke, for "a grant without purchase of an allotment on the site of the old lumber yard, for the pur'pose of erecting thereon a suitable building." The Home Government would not accede to the request, but recommended the Governor to give the institution such support as he deemed proper in the shape of money from the public funds. Sir R. Bourke then proposed to the Legislativo Council the following resolution:-- '"That the' Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts be allowed the sum of £200 a year for the objects re ferred to until this most useful society shall have become so firmly established as to remove all
doubts of its permanency, and render it more expedient to grant a furthor sum of money for the erection of such buildings as the institu tion requires."' That annual grant of £200 has been continued from that timo till the present. In 1835 Major Mitchell resumed the premises where the society met, and the members, after some trouble, secured the lease for 10 years of an eligible allotment of land in Pitt-street, adjacent to the north side of the Independent Chapel, having a frontage of only 13ft and a depth of 112ft. On this land they conmenced building the old library, and ultimately bought the chapel,
which has ever since been used as an amusement
hall. Thus the society prospered until 1851, when the society was in a state of disorganisation and paralysis; but soon after Dr. Woolley's accession to the institution it steadily ad vanced in public favour and usefulness. Within the last two years extensive alterations and improvements have been effected in the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, which render the in stitution the best (as it is the most successful of its kind) in the colonies. The Technical Working Men's College recently established under its aus pices bids fair to meet a great want among the working classes. Theo institution has been enlarged
to three times its former dimensions, at an expense of £8000, to which the Government only contributed £2000. Recently the public were invited to in spect the alterations, improvements, and addi tions, and a very large numbor of visitors attended, and expressed their pleasure at the complete reno vation of the institution. Among those present were the Honourables E. Bakor (Minister for Mines), Professor Smith, M.L.C.; S. D. Gordon, M.L.C.; and L. F. De Salis, M.L.C., and Mr. H. E. Cohen, Mr. J. Davies, Mr. W. C. Browne, Mr. D. O'Connor, Mr. J. Shepherd, Mr. Charles, Mr. Hungerford, Mr. Beyers, Mr. W. Neil, J.P., Mr. Harrie Wood (Under Secretary for Mines), and Mr. M. A.. Black. The visitors were shown through the building, or rather buildings, by the librarian, assistant librarians, and the committee. On the ground floor is the new library, which was the old reading-room, 64 by 26 feet, about three times the size of the old library, and well lighted and venti lated. The room covers 1512 feet, and contains
20,000 volumes, placed in cases that are ranged along the walls and down the centre of the room. Each member is at liberty to select his book from the cases, which are conspicuously labelled as con taining works of history, fiction, &c. The entrance to the library, hall, &c, is much enlarged and embellished. To the left is a small room, used by the secretary (Mr. Rogers) as his private office. Adjoining this is the ladies' reading room (formerly the old library), elegantly furnished, and fitted up with every con venience. Passing down the well lighted and airy passaga between the library and the hall, we come to a chess room 47ft by 10ft, which is double the size of the old one. We next visit a fine room called the Working Men's College, which is 48ft by 28ft. It covers 1320 squaro feet, well lighted, ventilated, and beautifully ornamented. The room has a raised platform, open timbered roof, and a lantern light and circular window at each end. The room was filled with models, scientific apparatus, and mineralogical collections, the sole property of the institution. There aro two en trances into the room, one leading from a passage into George-street and the other by the main passage into Pitt-street. Near the George-street passage is a chemistry room and lecture room 37ft by 19ft, admirably fitted up with all the appliances for the study of chemistry. To the right and left of the college are staircases leading to six class rooms fitted up with models, cases, and all the appliances for engineering, drawing, music, and other intel lectual pursuits. Ascending the grand staircase, at the entrance to the hall in Pitt-street, lavatories are met with, and then we enter the largest read ing room connected with any literary institution in the colonies. The room, which is shown in the engraving, extends along the whole front of the building, and goes back a distance of 64ft, being moro than double the size of the old reading room. The walls are ornamented with busts, pictures, and photographs of colonial scenery (especially some views of Sydney and Melbourne); there is a large and very costly referenco library of several thou sand volumes, principally old and rare newspapers, and the latest standard works of reference. The cases are highly ornamental, and are on one side, but it is intended that a similar line of cases will be erected on the other side to receive a large sup ply of works now stored up. Ranged throughout the room are long tables covered with colonial,
English, and continental newspapers and peri- odicals. The room is splendidly lighted, very healthy, and well ventilated; while the noise of the performances in the hall and the passing vehicles in the street, which used to prove a great inconvenience to readers in tho old room, has now been greatly reduced, if not shut out altogether. What with the benefits conferred by these grand improvements, the institution must necessarily prove more attractive, and bring about an increase in its membership.