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Science and the making of VictoriaRoyal Society of Victoria
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Royal Society of Victoria 1854-1959


Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science

Philosophical Society of Victoria

Philosophical Institute of Victoria

Royal Society of Victoria



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Philosophical Society of Victoria (continued)

With this abrupt refusal on the part of the Lt-Governor to assist in this section of the Society's plans, the matter of exploration was dropped for the time being.

The second of the discussions was not implemented at once, in fact, it was to be approximately five years before the desire of the council was realized, and then not in the form of a Royal Charter.

At this stage in the development of the Society, a proposal was received from the Victorian Institute that the amalgamation of the two organizations would be a desirable one. This was in January 1855, and at once the Society commenced negotiations for its accomplishment. However, this proposal was temporarily relegated to the background, following a very contentious paper delivered to the Society by Dr David E. Wilkie who spoke on the subject 'On the probable failure of the Yan Yean Reservoir', a subject which was, of course, of vital importance to the development of the rapidly expanding Melbourne. His objections were based on what he considered the inadequacy of the supply and its unsuitability from a sanitary point of view. As can well be imagined, this paper brought forth a clamour for a detailed investigation of the whole scheme, and a special commission was appointed by the Society consisting of three engineers and the secretary to investigate the matter further. This investigation was carried out over the following two months, and a report submitted to the Society; later, it was published in detail in the Transactions of the Society for 1855 as Article XV. This report in many ways vindicated the opinions submitted by Dr Wilkie in his earlier paper and made recommendations for what it considered to be improvements in the design of the whole water-catchment proposal.

Following this discussion on the Yan Yean Water Scheme, the matter of amalgamation of the two societies was again brought into prominence. The members of the Philosophical Society also felt very strongly on the matter, and pointed out that—

whereas the Victorian Institute had only a credit balance of £68 in March 1855, the Philosophical Society had available funds to amount of £179 which, in the case of amalgamation, would, leave, in favour of the Victorian Institute, £102. Moreover at the same date, only six papers had been read at the Institute compared with seventeen at the Philosophical Society, which also in the case of an amalgamation, would leave in their favour eleven papers.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Philosophical Institute of Victoria; Philosophical Society of Victoria; Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science

People in Bright Sparcs - Wilkie, David Elliot

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Pescott, R. T. M. 1961 'The Royal Society of Victoria from then, 1854 to now, 1959', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, vol. 73, no. 7, pp. 1-40.

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