The history of Daylesford College involves many name changes and is strongly connected to the story of Daylesford Primary School – at times they provided post primary education together, sharing teachers, buildings and management. In the late 1880s gold was the driving force behind the establishment of a school beyond primary years. Technically trained workers were required for the deeper gold mines once the shallow gold fields were worked out.
The present Daylesford College evolved from three separate schools:
- The Daylesford School of Mines
- The Daylesford Higher Elementary School
- The Daylesford Junior Technical School
Daylesford College commenced in the first week of November 1889 as the Daylesford School of Mines in what was then the old Market buildings in Vincent Street. It had an enrolment of 100 pupils in January 1890.
A new building was erected and opened in 1892 on the Market site, this was later extended to front Vincent Street and additional buildings were erected behind and to the side of the original structure. The building now houses the Daylesford and District Historical Society Museum collection and the town’s Band Room.
The School of Mines was commenced at a time when mining skills were in high demand. A laboratory and assay chimney were important features of the facility. Subjects offered included Mining Engineering, Assaying, Petrology and Metallurgy. Other subjects included Magnetism, Electricity, Mathematics, Latin, Botany, French, Book-keeping, Telegraphy and Art.
With the decline in local mining, the school became Daylesford Technical School No. 30 in 1907.
Night classes were a feature of the school until the early 1980s.
In 1912 a Higher Elementary School was begun, housed in the adjoining Primary School and two years later the School of Mines started a Junior Technical School. The close proximity of the two schools led to a sharing of subjects and teachers.
In 1915 the main building was extended forward to front Vincent Street.
In 1944 the Higher Elementary School was incorporated into the Junior Technical School and became The Daylesford Technical-Higher Elementary School. This was a unique amalgamation of academic and technical education and in 1946 the name was again changed to Daylesford Technical and High School. This name persisted for twenty years until in 1965 the name was contracted to Daylesford Technical High School.
In 1961 the school had outgrown the original buildings and moved to the Middleton Park – Smith Street site. Further wings were completed over the following two years and in 1964 Sports ovals, a basketball (netball) court and cricket pitch established.
This site continued to develop and the Theatre-Gym-Cafeteria building was completed in 1977 and thirty years later The ARC opened – an indoor community sporting facility.
On December 28, 2015 a devastating fire destroyed most of the ‘A’ wing of the school. Moves were already afoot to rebuild/replace the 1960 buildings as they had lasted well beyond expectations. The students coped with being on a building site for a number of years. One building demolished after another and classes moved to relocatable buildings. Eventually the ‘rebuild/refurbishment’ was completed in 2019.
Further information about the history of the school can be obtained from The Daylesford & District Historical Society.