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In 1962, historian and Brighton Grammar schoolmaster Weston Bate published the groundbreaking A History of Brighton. The book's detailed research, passion, and keen sense of place encouraged many to recognise the value of local history and became the catalyst for the formation of the Brighton Historical Society.

The Society's inaugural meeting was held on October 2nd, 1963, in the Brighton Town Hall's supper room. It was a resounding success, by the end of the night fifty-eight people had paid the £1 membership fee.

More than fifty years after its founding, the BHS remains an active and passionate part of the Bayside community, dedicated to preserving and promoting our shared history for current and future generations.

Some milestones

  • 1963 - The Society held its first public event, 'Bring Your Treasures Night'. Locals were invited to bring along small antiques and bric-a-brac, with local antique dealers on hand to assess them. Some of these things, such as items from the Thomas Wilson Estate, were donated to the Society and became the nucleus of its new collection. Thomas Wilson lived all of his life in Brighton, was a councillor for over 50 years and the Mayor of Brighton seven times.
  • 1964 - The BHS was featured in the Australian Women's Weekly after a popular public event, 'The Schools of Early Brighton', in which thirteen speakers were invited to speak about the local schools they attended.
  • 1967 - The BHS held an 'After 5' cocktail party to launch a Sidney Nolan exhibition at the Brighton Town Hall. Sir Sidney had been a student at Brighton Technical School, and he and his family loaned paintings for the exhibition, which was attended by more than 3,000 people. Footage from the exhibition was included in the ABC documentary This Dreaming, Spinning Thing.
  • 1973 - 'Brighton Treasures on Display' was held in the chapel of one of our famous old houses, Chevy Chase. Opened by Victorian Premier Sir Rupert Hamer, the exhibition included works (on loan) of Nolan, Heysen, the Boyd family, Cumbrae-Stewart and Tom Roberts.
  • 1998 - BHS moved to our current location in the former Brighton Town Hall, in rooms once occupied by the Council, and later the Children's Library.
  • 2009 - We remembered the life of Sir Thomas Bent by re-creating his funeral on the centenary of his death. A horse-drawn hearse followed by mourners made its way to Bent's graveside at the Brighton Cemetery, where Weston Bate delivered a eulogy.
  • 2010 - A Victorian Heritage Council grant enabled a Significance Assessment of our costume collection, which was found to be of State significance.
  • 2015 - BHS published The Lure of the Beach, a comprehensive and colourful history of sea bathing in Brighton written by Dr Jo Jenkinson.
  • 2016 - The Society formally repatriated a stone axe head to the Traditional Owners of the Bayside area, the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. Unearthed in the nineteenth century from a burial site in Landcox Park, the axe head was probably locally made from central Victorian Mount William green stone. The official handover and Smoking Ceremony were accompanied by the opening of a new display in the Society's rooms, created by Dean Stewart, highlighting the Boon Wurrung people's millennia-long history in Bayside.

© BRIGHTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY INC. 2018

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