How a Grassroots Culture First Grew in Victoria

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 05:15 PM


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Google map and directions

Event contact

Gerardine Horgan
(03) 9326 9288

Victorians are invited to explore the very first roots of our State’s grassroots culture, as the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s March lecture takes us on a journey back to where it first sparked.

To be held on Tuesday 15 March, Professor Weston Bate OAM will highlight many rare and important interactions between economic, social and political forces lying at the heart of Victorian democracy.

“Our unusually strong local history network may be seen as a parallel to the nineteenth century emphasis on Victoria’s grassroots,” explained Professor Bate.

“Beneath the ferment that produced Eureka, the Eight Hours’ Movement and the remarkable Land Convention – supported by the democratic constitutional framework of manhood suffrage and vote by ballot – there lay the distinct grassroots ambitions of a lower middle class migrant society.

“The desire to build a strong, educated and fair community produced, for instance, the Mechanics’ Institutes. 

“Desire for land was also a key definer and battleground with activists responding to the groundswell of the new society. 

“Overarching, was the Radical Liberal political movement, driven by Professor Charles Pearson and his pupils, Alfred Deakin and Henry B Higgins in a characteristically Victorian alliance of capital and labour. 

“Our talk will bring to life these characters and events as we explore where grassroots activism in Victoria began.”

About the speaker

Weston Bate is an unusual grassroots man.  He taught at every level from sub-primary to PhD, and bravely used his academic training to transform despised local history.  He was an athlete, an accomplished amateur footballer, intervarsity (winning) golfer, shop assistant, farmhand, and Lancaster pilot.  At 91 he became C Grade champion of the Metropolitan Golf Club.  A past president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, he instigated History Week and championed our local history network.  His sixteen books include the pace-setting A History of Brighton, the prize-winning Lucky City, histories of two schools, two golf clubs, two volumes in the Museum’s Photographic Archive Project and the story of Melbourne’s lanes, as well as a book of poems.

About the event

Date:                            Tuesday 15 March

Time:                            5.45pm – 6.45pm; refreshments from 5.15pm

Address:                       Royal Historical Society of Victoria, 239 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne 

Cost:                            $10 non-members; free for members of the RHSV


t: (03) 9326 9288
e: [email protected]

Posted by on ,

$10.00 AUD · Purchase tickets


The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.

Read More


Our calendar lists all upcoming public events arranged by the History Council of Victoria (HCV), plus events in Victoria, Australia, that are added by our Friends and Members.

If you are organising an event that relates to History, we encourage you to publicise it on our website.

Read More


As the peak body for history in Victoria, the History Council makes submissions on current issues. In doing this, the HCV Board is guided by its Advocacy Policy and by the Value of History, a statement developed co-operatively by the HCV and the History Councils of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

Read More


Since 2015, the HCV has been pleased to sponsor the Years 9 and 10 category of the Historical Fiction Competition organised by the History Teachers' Association of Victoria.

Read More


Ways to support us:

Subscribe to our free newsletter:
Endorse the Value of History statement:
Find us on socials: Twitter / Facebook / YouTube

Read More



The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

As the peak body for history, the HCV has both ‘outward-looking’ roles (including advocacy and representation to government and the wider community, consultation, community education, and networking with allied interest groups) and ‘inward-looking’ roles (including member support, information dissemination, and networking between members).



The History Council of Victoria acknowledges the State Library of Victoria and the Public Record Office Victoria for supply of the archival images that appear on this website.

We acknowledge the National Film and Sound Archive for the right to use of the video footage on the home page, titled "Melbourne: Life in Australia (1966)".

Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese procession in Collins near Elizabeth Street 1901, Harvie & Sutcliffe, photographers, State Library of Victoria
  • People’s homes, Aboriginal station Coranderrk 1878, Fred Kruger Photographer, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese nurses at Children’s Hospital under scholarship 1947, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Ladies physical culture class VRI Melbourne c1931, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001, 011/02
  • Melbourne Cup, Derby and Oaks Day, Flemington Racecourse 1936, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001/4802, 372/30
  • Flinders Street viaduct at foot of Market Street with advertisement for McRobertson’s Chocolate on bridge, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 1342