Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Council Will Destroy Our Heritage

Some historical facts from the Mid Mountains Historical Society website.

In June 1896, a meeting was held at the residence of Mr. W. Newton that resulted in the formation of a Literary and Debating Society for the Village of Lawson with a membership of eight interested residents and no funds. The first meetings of the new society were held in the old Blue Mountain Inn which had been made available by Mr AW. Wilson. A small library was established and the society began to grow. When Mr. Wilson died a move was made to the 'Coffee Palace' in San Jose Avenue and a 3/4 size billiard table was purchased with assistance from Mr. J.H. Humbly, to attract young men to the society. It proved an instantaneous success and a permanent site was procured for the town through the efforts of the local Progress Committee.

A Mechanics Institution was first established in the Colony of NSW in 1823 under the patronage of the Governor, Sir Richard Bourke and under the direction of a Scottish Minister, Rev. Henry Carmichael. The objects of the institution were similar to those that had been established at the beginning of the 19th century in Scotland and England to provide for the diffusion of useful knowledge, and the awakening of a love of study by means of a library, news and reading rooms, lectures and classes for instruction accessible for the working classes.

From the 1850s
, Mechanic's Institutes spread quickly throughout the towns and cities of Australia through Government support in the provision of sites and some financial support. Sir Henry Parkes had had his early education in such an institution in Birmingham and supported the movement in NSW during his time as Premier of the State. By 1880 there were 76 Schools of Arts, Mechanics or Literary Institutes throughout the state offering a wide range of adult education. The Board of Technical education was established in 1883 to oversee adult and technical education and by 1914 was overseen by the Department of Education. Formalisation of technical education in NSW left local Mechanics Institutes free to pursue a wide variety of cultural and social activities within their communities.

In February 1899
, Lot 17 of Section 1 of the Village of Lawson was set aside and dedicated as the site for a Mechanics Institute and a small timber building was erected on the site by the fledgling Lawson Literary Society. The move to this building provided additional impetus for the institution, which was a focus for social activity in the village and within a short period a public meeting was held to support the formation of a Mechanic's Institute and the erection of a more imposing structure to house its functions. Fund raising activities proceeded with community functions and entertainments being held in the 'Coffee Palace Hall' in San Jose Avenue.