Singleton Heritage Festival Celebrates Mechanics Institute

Filed under Event & Venue, Heritage & Historical, Hunter Valley, News ~ by Press on  1 Apr 2019

Historic Mechanics Institute celebrated in Singleton Public Library’s heritage festival program.

The Singleton Mechanics Institute will be a headline in Singleton’s Australian Heritage Festival program for this year as the subject of an exhibition of photographs and artefacts as well as a topic at a special High Tea & History event.

Singleton Public Library has joined forces with Family History Society Singleton Inc to celebrate the architecture, civic and social history of the George Street building, with the exhibition to be launched at Singleton Public Library on Thursday 18 April 2019 from 10.30am to 11.30am. All are welcome to attend.

Lyn McBain from the Singleton Family History Society Inc. will then tell the stories of the building at a high tea on Wednesday 24 April 2019 from 11am to 2pm, joining Barry Cox’s “Singleton Bakeries Then and Now” focusing on the people, places and processes of the town’s baked goods industry; and Vivien Dwyer, who will talk about her unique insights into Wambo House during hours of documenting the building in a Field Sketch Book Study.

The event will be held at Singleton Public Library. Tickets cost $30 per person, including a glass of champagne on arrival and sandwiches and sweets prepared by Parkview Café.

Mark Wiblen, Council’s Manager Corporate and Community, said the Mechanics Institute is a fascinating link between Singleton’s colonial past and the function it still provides today as a centre for community connectedness.

The Singleton Mechanics Institute was officially opened on 8 July 1867 in front of up to 500 people, including Henry Parkes according to newspaper reports,” he said.

To quote the report of the event, the chairman said the building was ‘calculated to promote the interests and improvement of the inhabitants of Singleton and the vicinity’ – and given where we are now, you would have to think it achieved its purpose.

Singleton is a fascinating place with a long, long history of significance to a number of cultures, and is great fodder for our library team when we are putting together programs like the Australian Heritage Festival.

It’s also great to work with groups such as Family History Society Singleton, our local historians in Lyn McBain, Barry Cox and Vivien Dwyer, and a wonderful opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate the people and events that have brought us here.”

The festival of heritage will continue with the Library also branching out to global history, taking the people of Singleton back in time to the Roman Empire and the Titanic with a time travelling virtual reality experience on Thursday 16 May.

These are virtual reality sessions designed especially for adults, providing an amazing insight into our history and our universe,” Mr Wiblen said.

Bookings are essential. To reserve your place or for more information, contact the Library on 02 6578 7500.

Henry Parkes

At the opening of Singleton Mechanics’ Institute on 8 July, 1867, a guest in attendance rose to speak.

The Hon. Henry Parkes, Colonial Secretary, said he felt some diffidence in expressing his sense of the compliment they had paid him by inviting him to be present, because it showed they believed him to be a friend to such societies.

If they did believe him to be a friend to those efforts to awake the intelligence of this new country they were quite correct.(cheers)

He was aware that there were men of infinitely higher attainments than his who did not look with friendly feelings upon such institutions as these, who said they engendered a captious disposition, and created village politicians who interfered with things they did not understand. Well, even supposing they did, where was the disadvantage it was those who meddled with things they did not understand who would be likely to arrive at a better understanding with such things?

On occasions of this kind it was unusual to have some gentleman to deliver an address who had suffcient time and ability to prepare a regular discourse, which would have borne merit as a literary composition. He (Mr Parkes) could, however, assure them his engagements would scarcely allow him even to think of what he should say.

Still, as he had always been very anxious that the people of this country should be educated, not only as children, but also as men and women, he would try and utter a few words, and would take as his example one of the brightest men in the world – Thomas Carlyle…

Full report at NLA Trove

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