Henry Bastow - Victorian State Education’s first Architect and Surveyor

History; Research
Henry Robert Bastow: Image Courtesy of the Bastow FamilyThe largest education building program ever seen in this country began in 1872 when education was proclaimed free, secular and compulsory.

The challenging job of designing and constructing hundreds of new schools throughout the state was made significantly easier for the Department of Education by the employment of Henry Robert Bastow as Chief Architect and Surveyor.​

Confident and ambitious, Henry Bastow completed more than 600 schools in the first half a dozen years, and plenty more in the ensuing decade. He achieved this by creating templates for various sized buildings and adapting each to meet the specific environmental needs of the ​​individual schools.

His designs for hundreds of schools and influence over other great public works (as head of the Public Works Department in the 1880s) places him in the upper echelon of influential Melbourne architects.

Just as Bastow’s designs did a century ago, the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership will encourage exponents of education to consider the connection between the external, the built and the internal environments and learning.

State school No. 307

Architectural drawing of Queensbury St State School no.307 North Melbourne,
now the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership: VPRS SSO307-7:
Reproduced with permission of the keeper of public records, Public Records Office of Victoria

Written by Jenny Gardner - Creative Hat Interpretation for the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership.

Based on research conducted at the Public Records Office of Victoria, State Library of Victoria, Transport Library of Victoria, Heritage Victoria, National Trust, individual schools’ heritage research and seminal publications by Laurie Burchell: ‘Victorian Schools: A Study in Colonial Government Architects 1837-1900’, Richard Peterson: ‘Survey of Historic Government Schools in Victoria’, and Sweetman, Long and Smyth ‘History of State Education in Victoria, 1922’.


Bastow legacy and the development of state education