Ballarat Arch of Victory

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Arch of Victory, c1920, Courtesy University of Ballarat Historical Collection [Cat.No.1279].

The official entrance to the Ballarat Avenue of Honour, despite its name the Arch is actually a memorial arch rather than a triumphal arch (as the use of the word Victory would imply) - it does not record the victories and generals of World War One but implores us to remember the Ballarat and district men and women who served to keep the world safe and peaceful for us all.



To the Editor of "The Courier."
Sir.-May I direct the attention of the public to the following facts in connection with the designs for the entrance to the Soldiers' Avenue of Honor. Designs were publicly called through the Press. Ten designs were submitted, and two of Melbourne's prominent architects were asked to adjudicate. The judges were Messrs Drummond and Campbell, of the Victorian Institute of Architects. These gentlemen awarded the first prize for an eminently suitable design, [illegible] and dignified, to Mr H. H. Smith, principal of the Ballarat Technical Art School. Then mirabile dictum[Notes 1], Lucas' themselves suddenly developed into art critics, and capsized the adjudication, and the authorities in that establishment announced that the vote of the girls would be the deciding factor. The absolute inference that this was an insult to the eminent architects chosen to make the award evidently did not appeal. Some of the girls went ahead and adjudicated, deciding against the prize-winner, and, although it seems scarcely credible, the Press informs the public that the final decision is to rest with the girls. One hopes that this is not authentic; and while one cannot deny the splendid work done in the cause of patriotism by the employees of Lucas', it is sheer effrontery on their part to pose as art critics in globo[Notes 2], to the ignoring of the two men whom they themselves requested to do the adjudication. It would be interesting to learn from Lucas' what was the motive of such an action.-Yours, &c.,
The Ballarat Arch of Victory showing early plantings in the Ballarat Avenue of Honor, c1920. Courtesy Federation University Historical Collection [Cat.No.19012].

General Sir William Birdwood laid the foundation-stone for the Victory Arch on Saturday 7 February 1920[Notes 3] - also presenting a number of decorations to returned service men and women.[2] Local bricklayer George Brookes and his team then worked for just over three months to lay 70,000 bricks.[3] Only four months after the foundation stone was laid, on Wednesday 2 June, amidst heavy rain a dense crowd watched as the Arch was officially "opened" by the visiting Prince of Wales[4] - the 600 Lucas Girls in pride of place on special tiers erected directly beside the Arch.[5]

The Arch of Victory, Ballarat, Courtesy Victorian Interpretive Projects Inc.
'It has been decided by the City Council to place two captured German howitzers in the trust of the employees of Lucas and Co., who were instrumental in having the Soldiers' Avenue of Honour planted. The weapons will be placed in front of the Victory Arch, which was erected at a cost of about £1,000, and was opened by the Prince of Wales. The money for carrying out this work was also raised by the girls employed at Lucas and Co.'s.' [6]

In 2011 restoration works to the value of $810,000 were undertaken on the Arch of Victory - with some 800 people turning out on 5 November 2011 to see Governor-General Quentin Bryce cut the ribbon.[7]




Herbert H. Smith of the Ballarat Technical Art School was responsible for the initial design of the Ballarat Arch of Victory.

The students are busy making models and working out my design for a proposed entrance to the Avenue of Honor. It is intended to make a large scale model about 18' x 12' and place sane on view in a show window in Sturt Street about the moddle of next month. The work has been undertaken at the request of Lucas and Co.[8]

At the special request of Lucas and Co who waited upon me some time ago, I undertook on behalf od the School, to prepare a design and models for the Avenue of Honour Entrance. The design completion was inspected by the Proprietors and girls, who expressed approval of it, but as it was felt by some of them that before commencing same, it might be well to get some other designs and estimates, I suggested that a public competition be held and the best possble judges secured. This being agreed to designs were sent in. Messres Lucas and Co made all the arrangements for the judging and paid two representatives niminated by the Institute of Architects to come to Ballt and make the award, which they did in a flattering repost in favour of the Schools design. This in view of the fair and open attitude taken by the school in very satisfactory to all concerned, but as Mrs Thompson considerd it no sufficiently impressive and freakish enough, and her own design and on of the other superiors, and has decided that a vote of the girls will decide which shall be erected. I am afraid there is little chance of the Schools design being carried out, but a very big chance of an inartistic monstrousity being thrust upon the public for all time resulting from sucn incompetant and immature judgement. Personally I feel the Council and public bodies who have contributed to the Avenue should enter a protest.[9]


See also


  1. A Latin interjection that is readily interpreted here by replacing it with the English term 'amazingly'.
  2. A Latin term used to suggest that a mass is to be taken as a single unit rather than separately. Here, the writer uses it in a disparaging and generalising manner.
  3. In his speech at the subsequent luncheon he praised Ballarat for contributing 4000 men to the A.I.F. during World War One. (In The Argus, Monday 9 February 1920, page 7.)


  1. The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), Monday 25 November 1918, page 6. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  2. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), Monday 9 February 1920, page 7. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  3. Address by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia on the Occasion of Official Opening of the Arch of Victory Ballarat, Victoria, 6 November 2011.
  4. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 -1957), Thursday 3 June 1920, page 7. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  5. Poverty Bay Herald (New Zealand), Volume XLVII, Issue 15241, 14 June 1920, page 8. Via PapersPast.
  6. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 -1956) Wednesday 26 January 1921, page 11. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  7. Jordan Oliver. The Courier, 6 November 2011. Ballarat's Arch of Victory reopens
  8. Ballarat Technical Art School Principal's reports, 30 August 1918./
  9. Ballarat Technical Art School Principal's reports, 30 Nobember 1918./

Further reading

External links

--Beth Kicinski 20:05, 28 August 2013 (EST)

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