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St Pauls


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Our History
1940-49  ::  1950-59  ::  1960-69  :: 1970-79  :: 1980-89 :: 1990-94

Although St. Paul's Technical School was opened on September 25th 1949, it was eight years earlier that the desirability of a Catholic Technical School for Ballarat had begun to develop. Many discussions were held by various interested groups, particularly the Ballarat East Old Boys' Association. Mr. J. Hewitt, President of the BEOBA approached His Lordship Bishop Foley who promised to do all he could to further the project. Bishop Foley wrote to the Provincial of the Christian Brothers, Br. M. B. Hanrahan requesting that a Brother be sent to conduct classes in Woodwork. The Bishop had at his disposal two large rooms adjoining St. Alipius school which he thought would provide ample accommodation for the training of sixty boys. Unfortunately he received a letter four days later stating that no Brothers would be available to staff a new school before 1943.

The matter was now becoming urgent because the Apprenticeship Commission of Victoria had extended its jurisdiction to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo in 1940. This meant, that before obtaining an apprenticeship, Catholic boys had to attend the Ballarat Junior Technical School to obtain a Junior Technical Certificate. This problem, together with the imminent establishment of a large munitions factory in Ballarat which would employ many people with technical training, saw a pressing need for a Catholic Technical School. In the meantime, the Ballarat East Old Boys' Association had purchased sufficient tools and materials to make a start in educating boys in technical skills. Classes were held over two days and two nights and were conducted by Br. C. Robinson and Messrs. A. Button, A. Newton, W. Stafford and D. Harrington. On the 16th of May, 1943, Bishop James O'Collins visited the night classes and gave great praise to the efforts of the Association and to the instructors in particular.

It became evident that establishing the School at St. Alipius would be pushing space to the limit as it would require at minimum a Science room, a Woodwork room, a Metal room and an Art room. The Rev. Fr. L. Fiscalini, Secretary to the Bishop, purchased the three houses adjoining the presbytery in Lyons Street and it was intended to build the school here if no more suitable site could be obtained. In August 1945, Cooke and Co. Auctioneers advertised the Lydiard Street site, then known as Irwins Buildings, for sale by public auction. The Rev. Fr. E. Glourey noticed the advertisement and notified Bishop O'Collins who instructed his solicitors to make an offer to the owner, Williams The Shoeman, of Bridge Street. The offer was accepted and the building passed into the ownership of the Roman Catholic Corporation Trust on August 11th 1945, for six thousand, seven hundred and fifty pounds.

Soon after the purchase, a large number of surplus Air Force desks were up for sale and these were purchased by Fr. Glowrey for sixpence each. The price included transport to Ballarat. They did not fall to pieces during the trip and that, according to Bro. Cooke, was the only good thing that could be said about them.

During February 1947, Bishop O'Collins requested that the Brothers send Br. Bernard Hanley to Ballarat to inspect the site and draw up suggested floor plans. He arrived in May from Paddington and co-opted Br. K. Butler and Bro. W. Cooke. They spent a week in the building and at night Br. Hanley drew up the suggested floor plan. When he presented these to the Bishop, His Lordship was very pleased that something could be none with the old building

Br. Hanley returned to Sydney and the suggested plans were given to the architects O'Connor & Brophy of Collins Street, Melbourne. The first problem occured when it was found that each floor would have to be concrete to conform to regulations. The re-planning was done by Br. Butler and Br. Cooke with the assistance of Br. Webster and Br. Kent. After a number of alterations, these were acceptable to the architects who proceeded to draw up plans and specifications.

After the floor plans were complete, the Brothers proceeded to give the architects detailed drawings of all cupboards, benches, presses and fixtures required for each room.

It was decided to buy all tools and machinery and store them at Abbotsford. As the war had just finished, it was hard to get good tools. These purchases necessitated a lot of travel between Ballarat and Geelong, Bendigo, Hamilton, Coleraine and Melbourne.

During 1947, Br. Butler and Br. Cooke visited Ballarat regularly to ensure all was going smoothly. Finally on December 3rd, Strathfield decided that Br. Cooke should take up residence at St. Patrick's College. He obeyed very promptly and was soon afterwards appointed Clerk of Works. The first general foreman was Mr. A. Newton, followed by Mr. W. Brooks. Too much praise could not be spoken about these two gentlemen. By the middle of 1948, all floors were poured and Bro. Cooke took over as general foreman

1948. 1948 started off as a student's dream with the beginning of school being postponed a week due to the noise made by labourers renovating the present front stairway. Each Saturday during the first several months, Bro. Cooke went to Melbourne in a truck loaned by the builders, S. J. Weir, to pick up machines tools and desks stored at Abbotsford. He was directed by Bishop O'Collins to alter the building as required to get only the best and when things were finished, not to come back for more. On a number of occasion during the year, it was necessary for him to sleep at the school as some machinery, flooring and fitting could not be locked up because there were no doors.

1949. Bro. L. W. Cahill was transferred to St. Paul's from St. Patrick's College. The school was officially opened on the 25th September, 1949, by the Bishop of Ballarat, Dr. J. Q'Collins who described it as second to none other as a technical college in the Commonwealth. The function was attended by many hundreds of people from the Catholic community. The following article appeared in the Ballarat "Courier" on Monday, 26th September.



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