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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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Royal Society of Victoria (continued)

The raising of the government grant to £200 in the 1949–50 budget was welcomed as it enabled arrears of binding and printing to be commenced. The remission of stamp duty the following year brought some further relief.

Early in 1951, preliminary discussions commenced between the Society and the Australasian Branch of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists concerning possible alterations to the building and the grounds which would be of mutual benefit. After considerable discussion, a plan was mutually agreed to which entailed additions to the south side of the building to make it square in plan but, at the same time, preserving a unity of design and materials. On the ground floor, the old supper room was to be completely remodelled and available to both institutions for use, while the additions on the south side were for the sole use of the Royal College. On the upper floor, the lecture hall was to be remodelled and refurnished, while the library was to be refurnished and available for the Royal College as a council room. The additions to the south-east corner on the first floor were for the expansion of the library of the Royal Society. The whole of the cost of the alterations and the refurnishings, amounting to over £20,000, was to be met by the Royal College in return for a long-term lease of the site. The details finally receiving the approval of both societies and the government, work commenced on the project early in 1953. While the alterations were in progress, the Royal Society used the geology department of the University of Melbourne for its monthly meetings. In order to cover the new building against damage in any way, an insurance of £30,000 was effected, this contrasting sharply with the original valuation of the property at £4,000 in 1892.

Because of the declining finances of the Society and the necessity for raising more funds for incidentals following the alterations, the council in 1953 was forced to raise annual subscriptions from £2.2.0 to £3.3.0 for members, and £1.1.0 to £2.2.0 for associates, with corresponding increases for life membership. This was actually the first increase in membership fees since the foundation of the Philosophical Institute in 1855.

The death of Professor E. W. Skeats in January 1953 brought to a close many years of service to the Society, firstly as a member, secondly as a councillor and president, and later as a trustee. Professor Skeats made a considerable bequest to the Royal Society to be used for any purposes which the council thought fit. Such bequests are commonly found among English scientific societies, but have been markedly absent in the Australian counterpart. They are extremely important and valuable to such a society, as they enable specific problems to be undertaken which would be impossible under normal circumstances.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Philosophical Institute of Victoria; University of Melbourne

People in Bright Sparcs - Skeats, Ernest Willington

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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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