This article was originally written by Max for the
Maffra Historical Society Bulletin #32; it is reproduced here slightly amended
with the kind permission of the Society
Upper Maffra Mechanics Institute Centenary
Maffra community celebrated the centenary of the Upper Maffra Mechanics
Institute building on April 3rd 1982.
Around the 1920s must have been a busy time for the committees. The main hall became a picture theatre (the projection room was removed from above the entrance as late as 1975). From our minutes it appears that pictures were not always profitable as the promoters changed often. At one time the projection equipment was offered to the Institute Committee for purchase or lease. In 1926 electricity vas connected to the hall; the purchase of a wireless set was considered, but no action was taken.
Probably because of lifestyle changes, it was moved that the library be closed on the 5th September 1931 after forty-nine years serving the community. The importance of the library service is possibly hard to realise today, but being before the main era of wireless and the major development of the motor car, people were very dependent on a library for information.
Cost incurred at the Jubilee dance in 1933 read very differently to what we spend on a present day function. The orchestra from Traralgon cost £5/5/0 with car hire £3/3/0. Mr Taverner of Maffra catered supper at 1/6 per head if guaranteed 150 people. Admission charges for the evening were 4/- gents, 2/- ladies; an entertainment tax was charged by the government on admission and this came to £3/15/3.
With the passing of the first 100 years and the important part the Mechanics Institute has been in the life of the Newry/Upper Maffra community being recorded, it is hoped future generations will continue to support the hall as committee members in the same way as residents have done in the past.
Max provided us with several documents relevant to the Mechanics Institute. Here’s part of one:
Extracts from the Licence issued by the Chief Secretary of Victoria to the secretary of the Mechanics Institute 27th May 1919:
(the building was licenced) .. as a place wherein may be acted, represented, performed, and exhibited for hire, gain, or reward, any Interlude, Tragedy, Opera, Comedy, Stage-play, Farce, Burletta, Melodrama, Pantomime, or any Stage Dancing, Tumbling, or Horsemanship, or any other entertainment of the Stage whatsoever to which admissions shall or may be procured by payment of money....
(the building may be used each day of the week except Sunday)
Provided that such place shall be closed on Saturday night at the hour of half-past Eleven:
Provided further that no acrobatic or gymnastic or sensational feat or exercise either wholly or partly to be performed or to take place at any height above ten feet measured from the lowest point of the main floor, or in case the same shall be appointed to be performed or to take place wholly on the stage at any height above ten feet from the lowest point on the floor of such stage, shall be allowed to take place in such place unless and until adequate measures have been taken to prevent injury to any performer or performers, or any other person or persons, or to any of the spectators, by providing, fixing, and maintaining during the whole time any such feat or exercise is being performed or taking place a sufficient rope netting or other similar appliance in such a position and at such a height between the performer or performers or other person or persons and the spectators, or between the main floor or stage floor, as the case may be, so that in the event of any accident or failure occurring every such performer or other person would, if he, she or they, or any of them, at any time fell while going to perform or exercise, or while performing or exercising, or when coming from performing or exercising, fall or alight therein without injury to him, her, or themselves, or to any other person or persons whatsoever, spectators or otherwise:
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