Historical information

The following extract written by Karen Tyers Warrnambool Family history group explains the journey and background of the Warrnambool Pioneer Board.
Warrnambool is fortunate to have a photographic record of some of its pioneers. They are commemorated on the Pioneers’ Board.
The Pioneers’ Board with its elaborate frame measures approximately 2 metres by 3 metres and holds 204 photographs of Warrnambool’s early pioneers. In 1907 Edward Vidler, secretary of the Warrnambool & District Progress League and Chamber of Commerce and Industry, invited descendants of those who arrived in Warrnambool before 1860 to send photographs of their pioneer ancestors to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Warrnambool’s foundation in 1847. A charge of £1 for each photograph was set.
Lillian Foyle of Foyle’s photographic studio, was engaged to colour the photographs and undertake the associated artwork. By December 1907 the honour board was on exhibition in Bernard’s Gallery, Melbourne.
Unfortunately Vidler left Warrnambool in 1907 with the honour board expenses unpaid. The Progress League refused to take responsibility for the debt and the honour board remained with Foyle’s Studio for 17 years. In 1922 subscriptions were called for and £43 16s 6d was acknowledged. After a final determined effort was made in 1924, the £100 debt was collected and Charles Foyle, Lillian’s brother, accepted settlement of the debt. On 2 May 1924 the honour board was moved from Foyle’s Studio to the Art Gallery.
For many years the honour board was in the entrance passage to the public library. After the library was demolished in 1975 the pictures were removed to the Art Gallery where it was restored by the Director of the Art Gallery, Jack Welsh. The board was later stored in an empty front room at Murweh and the dismantled frame stored in an outbuilding.
By 1982 the honour board was in the foyer of the City Council offices. During the renovations of the interior of the council offices in 1997 the honour board was moved to the library where it remained until moved to HeritageWorks in March 2014.
For a full list of names go to


The Warrnambool pioneer Board is one of those rare items which can claim significance on most if not all of the primary and comparative significance criteria. As a collection of early pioneers in the district it provides a valuable resource for historians and researchers. It gives light to a social scene in the district much of which can be verified from diaries and other items held by the historical society and also available on websites such as Trove. It has relevance to this day with many family historians enquiring of people included on the board. The collation of the board is a story of great interest in itself. While there are images of 204 men on the board the only reference to a woman is Lillian Foyle the artist who was responsible for much of the artistic work on the board. It compares well in size and quality with a number of montages, and collations of images from around the state of Victoria. It is by no means a complete list of pioneers of the district but there are many well- known ones included. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and as such presents a cross section of our earliest settlers in the district from 1840's to 1860’s.

Physical description

Cardboard folder with black and grey mottled cover with 3 metal studs along spine and white paper label with the word negative printed in black on front cover. Inside is a printed index of pioneers with reference relating to board number and negative number. There are three loose strips of negatives and 20 pages with pockets to hold strips of negatives. Up to page 13 have negatives strips inserted. There are 15 large and one small print of some of the pioneers from the board.

Inscriptions & markings

This negative album was prepared by John A Welsh MBE JP Dip M Eng Director Warrnambool Art Gallery 1/7/1975 to 11/12/1977.There are a number of grey lead notations possibly corrections against some of the names in the index.