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


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Philosophical Society of Victoria

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Royal Society of Victoria



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Royal Society of Victoria (continued)

From early in the life of the Royal Society, the president was ex officio a member of the Board of Management of the Alfred Hospital, though the exact relation between these institutions was never made clear. This arrangement continued until 1911 when the membership of the board was reconstituted.

With the rapid improvements in essential services taking place in Melbourne in the early 1900s, the Society was faced with the desirability of the use of electric lighting in the main hall. The change from gas to electric lighting took place early in 1910 when, for a total cost of £22.0.6, the necessary installations were effected. The incomplete faith in this system was evident when the council decided that it was desirable to retain the gas fittings throughout the buildings. The economical nature of this 'new method of illumination' was shown by the monthly accounts of two-thirds paid to the City of Melbourne for the following 12 months. At the same time as this change took place, it was decided that a re-arrangement of the rooms on the ground floor was also desirable. The new proposal called for the north-east room to be devoted to the council room, with the room behind it a stack room for the library. This arrangement has persisted to the present day.

In 1913, the inadequacy of the present building to meet the needs of the Society and its tenants caused council to consider either enlarging the present building or rebuilding on the same site. An appeal by the council to the members for financial assistance brought an immediate response, £1,500 being promised, largely on the principle of debentures as used in the financing of the first building project. An approach to the government to meet this on a pound-for-pound basis was not enthusiastically received.

The proposal as approved by the council envisaged a new hall placed to the east of the existing building, thus leaving the site to the west available for letting at some future time. As considerably more money was required for the project than was in hand, it was decided to seek finance from the State Savings Bank. However, the title deed of the Society was such that this was not permitted without an amending Act of Parliament. Approval for this being granted by the government, the necessary Bill was prepared and eventually, late in 1915, this Bill passed through both Houses of Parliament without amendment. Immediately an agent was appointed to act for the Society with respect to the leasing of its land but, possibly because of war-time conditions, no offers were forthcoming.

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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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