Historical information

This picture shows an angle of Beechworth Primary School (State School number 1560) which is also pictured in the building's entry in the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR record 1718). The school began as a national school in 1858 as an alternative to Wesleyan and Anglican schools already operating in the area. Its name was changed to Common School number 36 in 1862 and the Beechworth Academy prior to being taken over by the Education department in 1873. The new premises were built in 1875 utilising the skills of architect Henry Bastow though the original design may be attributable to the firm Wharton and Vickers. The design was used with modifications for other schools in Victoria, including the Competition School in Errol Street, North Melbourne. The school moved to the building pictured from its original premises in Loch Street, designed by Thomas Dalziel, which later became the office of the Ovens Advertiser. The school was opened on 2 July 1875 by former Beechworth resident G.B. Kerferd, who was then the Premier of Victoria.

The image shows approximately ninety older students at the school in approximately 1900. There are approximately equal numbers of boys and girls pictured, with most of the individuals pictured appearing to be between the ages of twelve and fifteen. Although the school had more than 1000 students enrolled at its height, enrolments had declined to 304 in 1890. Also visible is a fringe of sequoia pines which were planted by the school children as a project lasting through to the late 1930s.

Lantern slides, sometimes called 'magic lantern' slides, are glass plates on which an image has been secured for the purpose of projection. Glass slides were etched or hand-painted for this purpose from the Eighteenth Century but the process became more popular and accessible to the public with the development of photographic-emulsion slides used with a 'Magic Lantern' device in the mid-Nineteenth Century. Photographic lantern slides comprise a double-negative emulsion layer (forming a positive image) between thin glass plates that are bound together. A number of processes existed to form and bind the emulsion layer to the base plate, including the albumen, wet plate collodion, gelatine dry plate and woodburytype techniques. Lantern slides and magic lantern technologies are seen as foundational precursors to the development of modern photography and film-making techniques.


The image is significant because it sheds light on the educational infrastructure present in Beechworth in the early part of the Twentieth Century, including the prevalence of education for students after current-day primary-school age and the education of girls. It also provides insight into the building and design practices used by Government departments at the time.

Physical description

Thin translucent sheet of glass with a circular image printed on the front and framed in a black backing. It is held together by metals strips to secure the edges of the slide.

Inscriptions & markings

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