Explore Melbourne Polytechnic

Vice-regal brickie’s apprentice enrols at Collingwood Tech.


It’s not every day you encounter such an unusual and promising apprentice as was met by the teaching staff at Collingwood Technical School during October 1956.

The Melbourne Argus reported:
‘Watch out you skilled bricklayers. There’s a star pupil on the way up in the business! His name is Sir Dallas Brooks.’

Amusingly at the time, the Governor of Victoria, Sir Dallas Brooks, had undertaken, the briefest of instruction in Bricklaying at Collingwood Technical School, under the watchful eye of teacher and Head of the Bricklaying Department, R. Cheel. Sir Dallas undertook this training so he would appear reasonably proficient as he laid a small course of commemorative bricks, using a special silver trowel, for the new wing of Prince Henry’s Hospital. The crowd gathered at the opening of the new wing were surprised by the quality of the workmanship demonstrated by the Governor.

The only one who wasn’t surprised was Mr Cheel, the Head of the Bricklaying Department:

‘Sir Dallas came to the school and had special lessons last week, and he turned out to be such a star pupil, he was immediately made an honorary member of the Bricklayers Union.’

It is not recorded whether Sir Dallas Brooks subsequently sought gainful employment as a bricklayer to augment his stipend as Governor of Victoria.

Scott, Ian D. ‘COLTECH: a story of technical education in Collingwood, 1870-1987.’ Melbourne, Collingwood College of TAFE, 1988.

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