Thomas Hart

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Thomas Hart Courtesy University of Ballarat Historical Collection.



Thomas Stephan Hart was born on 30 March 1871 at Caulfield, Victoria. Be died at Croydon on 26 June 1960.[1]

Educational Achievements

Hart received his education first at the East St. Kilda Grammar School from which he matriculated on 18th March 1887. He then attended Toorak College, passing from there he studied at the University of Melbourne, graduating with a B.A. (1890) and M.A. on 19th March(1892). There he took up the art's course, doing at the same time the subjects of the engineering course. After receiving his art's degree he continued at the University, finishing the engineering course in both the branches, civil and mining. However, he spent much of his time over geology and not quite having completed the outside work, he has not taken out his degree of BCE.

While at University Thomas Hart a scholarship in final honours in mathematics and natural philosophy, and the much coveted Wyselaskie scholarship in mathematics. After leaving the University, Hart spent nearly a year at Johns & Waygood, Ltd. hydraulic and general engineers. In July 1896 Hart was then appointed lecturer in geology, mineralogy, petrology, mining and botany, as well as curator of the museum, at the Ballarat School of Mines (SMB) after succeeding Mr. Purdie, as well as becoming Head of Geology Department from 1896-1913.

In 1901 Hart went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Civil engineering on 11th May 1901 and was then appointed a Professor at SMB in 1908.[2]

Leslie Coulter and the Ballarat School of Mines Sports Committee, 1908.
Standing left to right: W. Smith, L. Seward, Leslie Coulter, T. Williams. Sitting left to right: L F. Treloar, Mr Whittington, Thomas Hart, Mr Murphy, O.W. Williams, Seated at front: L. Knight.
Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 534)

In May 1913 Thomas Hart was appointed first senior master of the Victorian School of Forestry, Creswick. He joined the Education Department and became a member of the foundation staff of Footscray Technical School in 1916. The next year he took an appointment at the Bairnsdale School of Mines where he taught mathematical, geological, and botanical subjects. In 1931 he transferred to Brighton Technical School and later that year to the Correspondence School in Melbourne from which he retired in 1936. He wrote widely of Victorian natural history.


In 1887 Thomas Hart joined the Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria and in 1894 the Royal Society of Victoria. He was elected a fellow of the Geological Society of London in 1901. He attended the congresses of the Australasian and British Associations for the advancement of science when held in Melbourne.

Thomas Hart contributed over fifty papers to the Victorian Naturalist between 1892 and 1954 and then to the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria between 1899 and 1913, most of them descriptive accounts of botanical and geological features in Victoria.

Hart became well known among Australian naturalists for his wide knowledge of Victorian plants about which he carried on a vigorous correspondence with both expert and novice. An orchid which he discovered near Bairnsdale in 1925 was named Prasophyllum Hartii by R. S. Rogers in his honour. Hart was a foundation and long-serving member of the committee of management for the Lakes National Park at Sperm Whale Head and a member of the Victorian Plant Names Committee of the Field Naturalists' Club.

Visit of the Chinese Commissioner to the Ballarat School of Mines, 23 November 1906.
Twelve men pose for a photograph on the stairs of a building at the Ballarat School of Mines. Back row left to right: Archibald D. Gilchrist (Prof. of Engineering), Bertram Whittington (Mathematics, Physics), Thomas Hart (Prof. of Geology and Mining), John M. Sutherland (Electrical Engineering)
Front row left to right: Dr Wong Chock Son (Ballarat), Frederick Martell, Alfred Mica Smith, Ah Ket esq (Melbourne Barrister), His Excellency Hwang How Cheng (Chinese Commissioner), Wen Esq (Secretary), Alderman Grase (mayor of Brisbane), Grase Esq (Ballarat).

Students of the Ballarat School of Mines stand in the background.
Courtesy Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 206).


Dec. 19th 98
Dear Mr Martell
I had meant to write to you before as I feel that among my various going on -- I had quite forgotten the Field Club. (sic) Has Mr Doepel done anything about it. There should be something hunted up for a meeting early next year at all events. I suppose Wallace has been able to get the cases back to their proper places in the museum. The number on the specimens will indicate where those I had out for the Petrology students cam upon. In many cases this will be sufficient indication through of course it only applies to the older specimens. I shall be back in Brighton on Saturday and would be glad to know if there is anything wanting attention from me. I may say that following the example of the rest of the family I am taking to writing the Stephen in my name in full as it serves as a distinction from others as all our family has it. Wishing you a happy Christmas. I remain, yours sincerely Thomas Stephen Hart.[3]

Wilston St, Brighton
Dec 12th 98
Dear Mr Martell
Please convey my sincerest, at most hearty thanks to the members of the staff for their beautiful gift and their kindness in sending it. We both admire it very much and will always prize it very highly. With many thanks to you all. I remain, yours very sincerely, Thomas S Hart.

It was decided to offer Mr L(sic) Hart 2 pounds and 2 shillings a week for forty week in the year for teaching Photography, two lessons per week. The engagement to be terminal at one month notice. [4]

It was resolved that the tittle of professor be conferred on T Hart, lecturer of Geology and on Mr Gilcrist lecturer in Mining Engineering. 28th Feb 1908

Also See

Ballarat Science and Field Naturalists Club

Ballarat School of Mines

Ballarat School of Mines Museum




  1. Federation University Historical Collection (Cat.No.00337)
  2. Letter from G. B. Deacon, Assistant Registrar (Records) University of Melbourne, to Mr. Warren Perry dated 21st September, 1978 in response to an inquiry into details of graduates from the University of Melbourne. Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 169).
  3. Ballarat School of Mines Council 1986
  4. Ballarat School of Mines Council 1986

Further Reading

Australian Dictionary of Biography. V.9: 1891-1939. Melb.: M.U.P.,1983.169

--S.Singaram 13:12, 11 January 2012 (EST), --C.K.Gervasoni 17:15, 16 August 2012 (EST); --Rachelle Vanderlinden 16:53, 22 May 2015 (AEST)

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