From Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project
William B. Withers wrote of the Old Colonists' Association:
- The objects of the association are to form a bond of brotherhood among those whose long connection with commercial or mining pursuits on the Victorian goldfields so ultimately associate them with the early history of the colony; men to whose indomitable energy and perseverance Ballarat and other mining centres are so largely indebted for their development and material prosperity; some of whose names, also, are closely identified with that memorable and sanguinary struggle for freedom and constitutional liberty in ’54. To gather together in one fold those who survive these stirring times; to meet occasionally in social and friendly intercourse; to relieve our brethren who are overtaken by sickness or affliction; to pro vide the shelter of a home for those pioneers of the goldfields whom the reverses of for tune have deprived of the means of procuring the comforts of life in their declining years; to assist the widow and succor the orphan; to mutually cheer and support each other in our temporary trials and vicissitudes as we journey onward to the grave; and, lastly, to render a tribute of respect to the memory of a departed brother, by following his remains to their final resting place. The receipts from all sources during the past-year, amount to £292 4s 9d. Expenditure (including £65 17s 6d for relief votes and donations to local charitable institutions), £224 18s 4d. In crease of fuuds for the year, £67 6s sd. The total general receipts to date (19th August, 1886), amount to £463 63 l0d. The expenditure, £316 14s 6d. Balance to credit of association, £146 12s 4d. There are 122 contributing and 139 honorary members — including four ladies; total, 261. The qualification for membership is residence on any of the Victorian goldfields for not less than twenty-five years. The fees for admission are — For contributing member, 4s entrance; contributions, 6d per week, for twelve months, 31 per week afterwards; yearly honorary members, 10s per annum, payable in advance; life honorary members, £2 2s. The site for a hall and offices, comprising 2r 2 2 l0p, situated in Camp street, was gazetted, as reserved for the association, on the 9th July, 1886. The site is one of the oldest local landmarks, being a portion of the old Government Camp, and as such forms an appropriate gift to an association composed of Old Identities of Ballarat. Owing to some obstacle existing, which prevented the Lands Department granting the land to a body calling themselves ‘Old Identities,’it was resolved, at a special meeting of the association, held on the 18th May last, to alter the name to ‘The Old Colonists’ Association of Ballarat.’ Thus far Mr Fraser in 1887. The office bearers for the current year I887-8 are : President, John Paul Murray; Vice-presidents, James William Graham and Thomas Stoddart; treasurer, Daniel Fern; trustees, William Irwin, J. W. Graham, and John McCafferty; council, Charles Dyte, James Ward, Frederick Ramsden, and James Vallins; honorary solicitor, Charles Salter; medical officer, Dr Holthouse; dispenser, W. H. Malyon; auditors, Thomas Richards and David Christy; bankers, Bank of New South Wales; secretary, John Fraser. Since Mr Fraser’s communication of 1887 great changes have come to the association. The Camp street site has been given up, and a much more valuable site in Lydiard street obtained, namely, that on which stood the old bluestone dungeon known originally as the local sub treasury, aud lately as the den of the mining registrar. Upon this site the association has erected, from designs by Mr A. G. Legge, a two-story-building, as an Old Colonists’ Hall, the following description of which I take from The Star columns: —“The lower portion is built in Waurn Ponds freestone, while the upper part is of brick, cemented, stained dark, and tuck-pointed. The centre bay is supported by two three-quarter columns, with lonic caps, which are surmounted by a pediment on which rests an excellent cast of the Ballarat coat of arms. There are four other bays, which are carried by partly fluted pilasters, with Corinthian caps. The keystone of the arch that caps the main en trance displays, in marble, a very excellent representation of the head of the president of the association, Mr John Murray, J.P. The space within the walls has been utilised to the best advantage. On the either side of the ample hall that leads to the stairway are — on the ground floor, shops, which are already occupied. The first floor is devoted entirely to the uses of the association. The principal room is the hall, where the meetings will be held. This is 44 feet x 33 feet, and is 17 feet high. Opposite this are the committee room (14 feet x 16 feet) and secretary’s room (14 feet x 17 feet 6 inches), while provision is also made for a kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom, &c. Fronting the street are two large rooms that can be let for offices or utilised for club purposes. The first floor is reached lay a wide stone stair case, handsomely balustered, which termi nates on a spacious landing, over the centre of which is a dome, with cornice and ornaments. The walls around are panelled with marble slabs, on which the names of officers and other prominent members will be inscribed from time to time. Ample provision has been made for lighting and ventilating the rooms, while the requirements of the Central Board of Health in the matter of providing means of egress have been carefully attended to. The gas fittings are unique in pattern, and very handsome. The graining of the doors and windows has been done most artistically, and the colors have been selected with a view to their thorough harmonisation. In fact, the whole of the work has been carried out in a thorough and tasteful manner, and re flects considerable credit on all connected with it. The contractors for the work were Messrs Whitelaw and Atkinson, Irving and Glover, Reynolds, and J. Donaldson. The building has costsa trifle over £4000.” On the 30th August, 1888, the building was formally opened, and 150 guests sat down to a feast in the hall, under the chairman ship of Mr Murray, the president of the association. The Star reports that he “had on his right hand the Hon. J. L. Dow, ALL. A., Minister of Lands; the Hon. D. Ham, M.L.C.; and Mr J. M‘Donald, mayor of the city. Amongst others present were the Hons. Henry Gore and J. B. Macpherson, M’s.L-C.; Dr Rose, and Messrs D. Gaunson, C. E. Jones, R. T. Vale, J. Russell, and E. Murphy, M’s.L.A.; Mr N. Melville, M.L.A., of Sydney; Mr Elsworth, mayor of Ballarat East; Archdeacon Julius, and other leading citizens. Apologies received from the follow ing were read by Mr C. Dyte:—His Excellency the Governor; the Hon. D. Gillies, Premier; the Hon. A. Deakin, Chief Secre tary; the Hon. Hy. Cuthbert, Minister of Justice; the Hons. W. C. Smith, M.L.A.; Mr M. H. Davies, Speaker; Messrs L. L. Smith, M.L.A.; J. N. Wilson, R. M‘Gregor, and Dr Holthouse. The gathering broke up shortly after midnight with the National Anthem.” This is all a sign of life in the association, whose roll of members numbered 505 at the end of August, I888, when the finances showed a credit balance of £377 193 3d for the general or relief fund. The building cost £4074 13s 8d, raised by loan for seven years, at 7 per cent, per annum, the annual revenue from the four shops alone being £46S, whilst the whole of the upper storey is still available for revenue purposes. It is proposed that an Old Colonists’ Club shall be formed, and already (November, 1888) all of the required 50 club members’ names have been obtained, so that the completion of the busi ness would seem to be mere matter of brief time now. If the project be carried out the premises will be duly licensed as a club hotel, and will be provided with ordinary club accommodation.
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