Working Men's College, Melbourne

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Working Men's College
RMIT Building 1 (Francis Ormond Building)
RMIT University Building 01.jpg
former Working Men's College (left building) from La Trobe Street
Type college of further education
Established 1887
Founder The Hon. Francis Ormond[1]
Location Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
37°48′32″S 144°57′55″E / 37.8088°S 144.9652°E / -37.8088; 144.9652Coordinates: 37°48′32″S 144°57′55″E / 37.8088°S 144.9652°E / -37.8088; 144.9652
Nickname "The College"

The Working Men's College was an Australian college of further education located in Melbourne, Victoria. It was founded in 1887 by a prominent Victorian parliamentarian and philanthropist, Francis Ormond.

The college was the predecessor to the current-day Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University). Today, the original building of the college is known as RMIT Building 1 (Francis Ormond Building).


The Working Men’s College was founded in 1881 by a prominent grazier and philanthropist, The Hon. Francis Ormond, who donated £5000 towards the establishment of the college.[1] The Council of the Melbourne Trades Hall then matched Ormond's initial donation by rallying its members.[1] On 4 June 1887, the college opened in its purpose-built building on the corners of Bowen Street and La Trobe Street in Melbourne, with a gala ceremony.[1] It became the third official provider of higher education in the new Colony of Victoria (the Melbourne Athenaeum was founded in 1839 and the University of Melbourne in 1853).


Stage 1: building permit dated 23 April 1885. Architect: Terry & Oakden and Nahum Barnet.
Stage 1 of the building was the "Bowen Street Wing" - which included the main lecture hall, workshops, classrooms and caretaker’s quarters.[2] It cost £10,600, which was paid by Ormond's initial donation and the further contribution of the Trades Hall Council.[2]

The college building was constructed in two stages. The builder was "James Moore of Sandridge Road", South Melbourne.[2]

Stage 2: construction contract dated 3 July 1890. Architect: Percy Oakden, Addison & Kemp.
The "La Trobe Street Wing" and the tower block were added in 1890, at a cost of £13,700.[2] This addition was financed by the bequest of The Hon. Francis Ormond, who died the previous year, and some government funding.[2] When completed in 1892, the La Trobe Street wing provided offices, College Council and instructors’ rooms, large classrooms, and laboratories for photography and practical chemistry on the top floor.[2]

Adjoining the college in the 1890s were the Supreme Court of Victoria (later the Melbourne Magistrates' Court) and the Melbourne Gaol - both which are now part of RMIT today.[2]

21st Century refurbishment. Architect: Peter Elliot Architecture. Builder: Kane Constructions.
In 2008, 121 years after its opening, the building was registered with the Victorian Heritage Register. It is also registered as a "notable building" with the Melbourne City Council.[3]

New features of the building include: rainwater harvesting, Solar water heating, intelligent lighting controls and systems; glazed stairways and galleries, new lift and reintroduction of period features.[3] The refurbishment also includes the creation of a new university lawn with underground rainwater tanks.[3] It was completed in 2011.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d A Timeline of RMIT history. About RMIT. RMIT University. Retrieved on 2010-07-21
  2. ^ a b c d e f g RMIT Building 1 (Francis Ormond Building). About RMIT. RMIT University. Retrieved on 2010-07-21
  3. ^ a b c d Francis Ormond Building refurbishment. RMIT Capital Works. RMIT University. Retrieved on 2010-07-21