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Corporate entry Hobart Town Mechanics Institute (1827 - 1871)

Alternative Names
  • Van Diemen's Land Mechanics Institution (Also known as)


The Hobart Town Mechanics Institute was established in early 1827 by James Ross and George Augustus Robinson. The Institute was modelled on similar bodies in Britain that aimed to provide classes, lectures and skills to working class individuals. This was seen by many members of the aristocracy to be a 'moral' imperative. The composition of the committee for the institute attracted and sustained criticism over the life of the institution. The domination of the committee that oversaw the institution by non-mechanics led to the institution being called exclusionary.


According to research into the organisation by Stefan Petrow the institute never really gained much interest from the working class community it claimed to serve, rather it was attended mostly by the middle and upper middle classes. The institute also ran into financial problems as it struggled to acquire paying members.

Despite the best efforts of early Tasmanians such as Reverend John Lillie, Adam Turnbull and James Ross the Institute was formerly closed in 1871.

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Petrow, Stefan, 'The Life and Death of the Hobart Town Mechanics' Institute 1827 - 1871', Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), 40 (1) (1993), 7 - 18. Details

Newspaper Articles

Elizabeth Daniels