Mechanics’ institute


Mechanics’ Institutes, established in Scotland in 1821, were formed to provide education in technical subjects to working men. They also housed libraries which aimed to provide an alternative pastime to gambling and drinking. The first Australian Mechanics’ Institute opened in Hobart in 1827, followed by the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts in 1833. In Victoria, more than 1200 Mechanics’ Institutes were built, including this one in Leongatha, which operated until 1982 and played an important role in the development of the local community. The building itself, containing a Public Reading Room, Members’ Room and Billiard Room, is notable for the construction of the walls, which are made from river weeds covered in plaster, a technique unique to the area. Also notable is the sign, the individual letters full of life and character.

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