Answered By: Lisa Hodge
Last Updated: 18 Jan, 2018     Views: 59

Go to the Hunter TAFE Historical Collection LibGuide - this is full of photographs and information about Hunter TAFE history.

Some extracts are included below:

The Beginnings of TAFE in the Hunter

In 1877 the Newcastle school of Arts began their first technical classes of Elocution, Grammar, French and Mechanical drawing. The School of Arts building (built 1875) was located at the corners of Hunter and Wolfe Streets.

1884 the School of Arts was given local control over all the technical classes in the district with John Pentecost appointed Science Master. 161 students were enrolled, and classes included: Chemistry & mineralogy, Mechanical drawing & building construction, Shorthand, Freehand model, & Perspective drawing.

1885 the Hunter River Miner’s Association applied to the Board of Technical Education for classes to be held in Newcastle. 1886 the School of Mines was created. Classes were held in various locations such as Wickham, Lambton and Plattsburg (a mining village near Wallsend).

1890 the Branch of Technological Museum was established. Classes were held in the School of Arts building and the Public School on Bolton Street. Additional courses included : Phonography, Boilermaking, Mathematics, Dresscutting, Steam and steam engines, Typewriting, Plumbing, Carving and Gilding. Between 1889-1891 there was a quadrupling of enrolments with some classes being held at Newcastle, Wallsend, West Wallsend, Lambton, Merewether, Stockton, Minmi and Hamilton.

1893 the School of Arts premises were vacated and moved to the premises at the Old Court House on the corners of Hunter & Bolton Street. Also in 1893 the Technological & Natural History Museum opened.

1895 the Technical College & School of Mines building was completed. It was officially opened on the 20th February 1896. Technical classes and the Museum moved in to this location (The Current Hunter Street Campus).

1902 galvanized iron workshops opened for trades courses on Hunter Street

By 1908 there were 40 classes running : Metallurgy, Assaying, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Mineralogy, Metalliferous mining, Coal-mining, Mine-surveying, Mechanical, Freehand, Model, Geometrical, Perspective and Plant drawing, Design(Art), Machine design, Fitting & turning, Applied mechanics, Boiler-making, Pattern-making, Blacksmithing, Plumbing, Carpentry and joinery, Staircasing and handrailing, wood-carving, dressmaking, Millinery, Cookery, Shorthand, Bookkeeping, French, Mathematics, Botany, Physiology, Industrial continuation classes for boys 14-16 years old.

1910 a separate Plumbing workshop opened

1913 a two storey brick building fronting Hunter Street opened for Electrical and Woodworking classes.

1915 The Trades Hall (built 1895) adjoining the College was acquired.

1917 a two storey brick building for Engineering classes opened on the site of the 1902 building – it was constructed slowly around the old building, which remained in use throughout the process.

1918 a new two storey building was erected at the back of the main building. It was used for the new Chemical and Engineering Laboratories.

November 1919 an old brewery building on the corners of Wood and Parry Street were acquired to meet the demands for vocational training of returned soldiers (Current Hamilton Campus site)

February 1920 some classes were transferred from Hunter Street to the Brewery Building at Wood Street. These were Carpentry and Joinery, Plumbing, Sheet-metal work, Patternmaking, and later on Boilermaking. New classes began for Bricklaying, Motor mechanics, Moulding and framing, Quasi-arc and Oxyacetylene welding, Wood working machinists, and House painting.

24th October 1929 Newcastle Technical College Students’ Association was inaugurated.

1929 Mr P.D.Riddell, Principal of Newcastle Technical College, sought the cooperation of representative employers and employees, and the Newcastle Technical College Advisory Committee came into being.

1933 the Government appointed a commission to inquire into technical education in NSW. The Advisory Commission used this opportunity to point out that local facilities were inadequate.

By 1934 enrolments had reached over 1100 students with 72 teaching staff. Teaching departments of Chemistry and Metallurgy, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Physics, Building trades (carpentry and joinery) and Applied Art.

August 1934 classes were held in the new Electrical and Physics building on the corner of Parry and Veda Streets, Hamilton. It was planned to erect more buildings on this site.

The Newcastle Advisory Committee to the Technical Education Committee reported to the Commission that the premises were no longer large enough and recommendations were put forth for new buildings to be erected. 

17 January 1936 the Newcastle Technical Education Advisory Council replaced the Advisory Committee. The Council surveyed the district and concluded that Wood Street was unsuitable for further expansion, and recommended an area at Islington. Information from the Newcastle Technical Education Advisory Council report to the 2nd Annual Meeting, 21st January 1938 stated that on the 6th March 1936 – an area of 20 acres, 3 rods and 4 perches at Islington West was resumed by the Minister for Education. This became the current Newcastle Campus site.

Newcastle Campus - 1936 onwards

29th May 1936 The Foundation Stone Ceremony was performed for the Sir Edgeworth David Science Building (E Block). The building was officially opened on the 24thSeptember 1938.

The H G Darling Engineering Building (C Block) setting of the Foundation Stone 24th September 1938.
The building was completed in January 1940. The Library, Administration offices and the Council Room were temporarily housed there.

1939 Newcastle Technical High School was established and shared the site with the College (until 1951), temporarily using the Sir Edgeworth David Science Building (E Block ) until students moved to the H G Darling Engineering Building (C Block) in 1940.

1940 work began on the Technical College lawns and gardens.

In the 1940’s classes in sheep and wool were introduced to support the wool trade. Shipbuilding apprenticeship courses were provided to support the needs of the State Dockyard, and Management classes began.

1941 the Newcastle Technical Education District Council was inaugurated, replacing the Newcastle Technical Education Advisory Council. The District Council was reconstituted in 1950.

During the war under the Commonwealth Government’s Defence Training Scheme, around 800 men were trained as toolmakers, fitters and machinists. A munition annexe was established on campus. At times the annexe was working a 3 shift roster. Approximately 20 000 bren-gun tools were made.

From 1939 - 1965 the W E Clegg Building (D Block) was constructed wing by wing. DA, DB & DC were started in 1939 and opened in 1941. DF opened 1954, DE opened 1955 and DD was completed by 1965. The Clegg Building was also known as the School of Trades Building.

3rd December 1951 The Newcastle College of the New South Wales University of Technology was opened at a ceremony. The University College shared the Technical College site until 1971.

A building trades annexe (L Block) was built behind the Clegg building in 1952 and then later demolished in 2013.

1952 N/O block was built

1954 the Technical Education Students’ Association was formed. It represented every section of the College, and provided many services to students including daily papers and games in the Common room (ground floor of the Clegg building), free fortnightly movies, and fortnightly issues of OSCAR, the college news-sheet.

1959 The University Building was opened, it was later renamed the C J Chandler Building (F Block). In the same year the University Union Building (B Block) was also built housing the University Union Cafeteria, which was available for both University and Technical College students.

In 1959 Dr J.K. MacDougall, Chairman of the District Council resigned and was succeeded by Mr C.J.Chandler

Other classes introduced in the 50’s included : Navigation and Seamanship for Deck Officers, Foreman carpenters, refresher course in Bricklaying for New Australians, short courses in Pastrymaking and Sweetmaking, Motor body building, Plastering, Diesel engine mechanics, Plumbing, Upholstery, Company secretarial practice, Dressmaker’s art, Home gardening, House drainage, Mine electricians, Coppersmithing, Rigging, Scaffolding, Intermediate art, Manual arts for trainee schoolteachers, Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgy, Glove making, Hotel management, Soft furnishings, Electrical engineering certificate, Industrial electronics, Design and machine leatherwork, Automotive replacements parts salesman’s course, Clerk of works freehand drawing, Fibre glass plastics, Introductory management accounting, and welding.

During the 1940’s and 1950’s student life at the College was busy with many sporting and social clubs for students to join including the Rugby club which started 1945, the Orchestra (late 1940’s – early 1950’s), Badminton club, Basketball team, Bushwalking club and the Speleological society (an offshoot of the bushwalking club for cave exploring), Athletics club, Car club (formed 1959) Cricket club,  Chess club, Debating club, Dramatic Society, Photography club, Women’s Hockey club,  Table tennis club, Weightlifting club, films, newsletter – OSCAR, and the Annual College Ball. Many activities were held in the Gymnasium which was situated in an Armco hut later demolished in 1996 to make way for M Block.  

Campus life in the 60’s was still very social with many student amenities and sporting clubs in existence. The 1962 student guidebook advertised free daily lunchtime films, free tennis court facilities, recreational games and equipment available for loan from the Student Amenities Office, and advertised many sporting and student clubs to join. The Judo club was formed in 1962.

Building commenced for the Riddell Building (P Block) in 1962 and was completed 22nd March 1963. In the mid-sixties the Cricket and Football Clubrooms were demolished to make way for the Dressing Pavilion located adjacent to the J.K. MacDougall field. The Daniel Clarke Building (G Block) was started in 1966 and completed the next year with the official opening held on the 10th February 1967.

In 1965 the Newcastle University opened at Shortland but they still shared the Newcastle Technical College site until 1971.

In January 1966 the Newcastle Technical College Union was established by the authority of the Minister for Education and Science.

In 1966 the first Meat Trades school for the training of butchers opened, and classes in commercial cookery began in 1972 with the Food School established in 1973 in the re-furbished accommodation in the Chandler Building.

New courses in the 1970’s included Nursing, Language laboratory, Colour television technicians course, Library Practice, and the introduction of Block release programmes for apprentices.

In 1974 following the report of the Kangan Committee significant changes occurred in Technical Education with the Commonwealth Government providing funds. The Technical and Further Education (TAFE) Act became effective from 1 January 1975. This led to an expansion of courses and provision for training for disadvantaged groups – Aboriginals, Ethnic groups, Disabled people, Mature age, Women, Outreach, Adult literacy and programs for the unemployed. Courses were developed in Computing, Childcare, Welfare, Toursim and Hospitality. 

The development of courses led to further expansion on site.  1980 the Security Hut was built.  1983 the Ralph Basden Building (J Block) was started and completed in 1984. The Carinya Building (Q Block) was built in 1984, A Block was built in 1985, Main Store (H Block) was started in 1985 and completed in 1986.

In December 1989 the Newcastle Earthquake damaged many of the buildings at Newcastle. Repair of this damage continued into the 1990’s.

The Child Care Cottages that were located on the corners of Clyde and Colwall Street were demolished in 1990/1991 to make way for staff parking  in this area.  In 1992 the M A Watson Building (S Block) was started and completed 29th November 1993. Munchies canteen which was built circa 1940’s was demolished circa 1993/1994.

TAFE went through a restructure between 1989-1993. In 1991 within TAFE NSW 11 Institutes were formed, and Newcastle Technical College became the Newcastle Campus of the Hunter Institute of Technology. By 1993 Principals were no longer part of the Institute structure, replaced by the Campus Manager who reported to the Director of the Institute.

In 1996 M Block was started and completed in 1997.

Useful Websites:

NSW Government State Records - Newcastle Technical College

Hunter Institute of TAFE - Wikipedia

NSW Government State Records - Newcastle Technical Education District Council 

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