The re-opening of the La Trobe University Heyward Library is another great milestone in the history of libraries in Bendigo. In fact, the Sandhurst Collection has been the bedrock of libraries and learning in Bendigo since the 1850’s. When visiting the University Heyward Library, you will see the beautiful Sandhurst Collection, rich in history, rarity and wonder. This collection started its life in a timber framed canvas pavilion in the heart of the Bendigo goldfields in 1854. It was housed here for 10 years before the Sandhurst Mechanics Institute built a permanent dwelling in 1864. A year later, in 1865, this very pavilion was burned down, with the collection somehow surviving. The Mechanics Institute, which was described as a “utopian idea” in the early 1850’s, housed the collection until its closure in 1904, where the Bendigo School of Mines took over the ownership.
The collection was a mainstay at the Bendigo School of Mines for more than 40 years until the school’s eventual closure of the Library in 1946. The collection stayed dormant until 1979 where volunteers began sorting through and cleaning the Collection in preparation to move to Edwards Road. The Bendigo College of Advanced Education (BCAE) took stewardship and gave the Collection its name, the “Sandhurst Collection”.
In the early 1980’s the BCAE received $9,500 to repair and professionally bind a number of books in the Collection. By 1982, the Collection consisted of 2,500 books and was housed in the Heyward Library. In 1991 La Trobe University amalgamated with BCAE and became the new custodians of the Sandhurst Collection. When 1995 came around the Collection had to be moved to a climate-controlled environment for its preservation. It remained in this environment for many years where it was occasionally accessed by Bendigo academics.
Fast forward to 2020, the Heyward Library refurbishment has been completed, including our fantastic purpose-built Sandhurst Lounge (see photos). It is hard to believe that the Collection was created in the same year that our University’s namesake finished his term as the first Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria.
Forged in a time of unrest and in the developing Colony of Victoria, the Sandhurst Collection has stood the test of time. It is with great pleasure, that the Library can share this historically significant Collection for our community to enjoy.
La Trobe University would like to thank the generous support and commitment to the preservation of the Sandhurst Collection by Dr William Holsworth & Mrs Carol Holsworth and the Bendigo Tertiary Education Anniversary Foundation.