Collingwood Technical School
Tiny Empire Collective
for Culture Victoria, 2017
Contact Culture VictoriaCopyright
Tiny Empire Collective
35 Johnston Street has stood as a centre for art, design, and vocational education for over 140 years, most notably as Collingwood Technical School.
Exploring the history of the former Collingwood Technical School with interviews with past students, footage of the current site and historic photos, this film aims to chart the social history of the site and its place within the local community.
The site is now undergoing a transformation to become the Collingwood Arts Precinct - a new hub for artists and creative communities. Although changed, the spirit of Collingwood endures - with its connection to its industrial past still visible in the fabric of its communities and distinct architecture. The Collingwood Arts Precinct will continue this trend by linking the future of the site to the legacy and memories of its past.
35 Johnston Street is undergoing a transformation to become the Collingwood Arts Precinct-- a new hub for artists and creative communities. Located at the original site of Collingwood's Courthouse, this space stood as a centre for art, design, and vocational education for over 140 years-- most notably as Collingwood Technical School.
Intrinsically linked to the area's rich industrial history, Collingwood Tech opened in 1912 and created opportunities for boys and men to become skilled in a trade.
My name's Ronald Gumley and I grew up in North Carlton. I'm the oldest of five children-- four boys and a girl. I went to Collingwood Technical School in 1949, 1950, and halfway through '51-- when left at the age of 14 to get a job. Mum and Dad needed the money, and that was the major reason.
My name's George Ioannidis. We came from a little village over from Greece. We left there 1959 and arrived here in January 14, 1960. Yes and no was the only two words I knew. And I started in grade three at George Street State School. Finished grade six and then straight over to Collingwood Tech from 1964 till '67, which was four years. That's all you did there.
In those days, there was only two choices-- you went on to high school and into university. Or you chose a trade and went one of the technical schools, which were all over Melbourne. And Collingwood Tech was always a part of every family.
For 75 years, it educated, inspired, and laid the foundations for the careers of thousands of students.
I was very lucky to come to Collingwood Tech because a lot of us were meant for trade school, you know? Plumbers, electricians, fitters, spray painters, and the list goes on and on and on.
Technical schools then would have given you an idea on what trade to go into. They tried to have a bit of everything. There was carpentry, sheet metal, fitting and turning, art, painting and decorating.
When you start using lathes and drills, you think, wow. I'm talking 12, 13-year-olds. And that was a big, big buzz to be able to use these machines. You think, yeah, I want to do more of this.
I think the practice regarding the trades has been an advantage to me all my life.
Everything I did, I would never take back. I loved it.
Collingwood was an industrial hub. And Collingwood Tech continued to serve as a training ground for the next generation of tradesmen in the area.
It was a working class area with factories. People lived and worked in the area or nearby suburbs. And you can still see around Collingwood remnants of that. And where the factories are being turned into apartments.
When I was growing up, the only things that went up were the Collingwood flats and the Fitzroy flats. Which is sad because I'm older than those buildings in town.
There was very few restaurants or anything like that.
I mean, every second shop was a butcher shop, a fruit sharp, clothes. No bars, no restaurants. There was a fish shop and that was it.
As the neighbourhood changed, Collingwood Tech changed with it and by the 1970s, the school was admitting girls. Waves of immigration and gentrification reinvented the Collingwood of George and Ron's youth.
Now it's turned full circle. It's the place to go. It really contributes with the other suburbs around to Melbourne being one of the greatest cities in the world.
It's a lot different now. I would never ever want to leave, because it's still Collingwood at the end of the day.
Although changed, the spirit of Collingwood endures-- with its connection to its industrial past still visible in the fabric of its communities and distinct architecture. The Collingwood Arts Precinct will continue this trend by linking the future of the site to the legacy and memories of its past. Breathing new life into this important local space. Bringing together communities and renewing its sense of creative purpose.