Explore Melbourne Polytechnic

Through the Decades – 1950s

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Despite cows only being banned from the City of Preston area as late as 1954, the region recorded phenomenal growth during the post-war period as ex-servicemen returned to the workforce and sought to settle their families in new, affordable housing made all the more accessible by mass car production. The area was also a destination for newly arrived migrants, mostly from the UK and southern Europe.

Consequently, demands on facilities and services in Preston (including education) outstripped supply and by 1951 Preston Tech was the biggest public technical school in Victoria. The school struggled to cope with the demand and had to occupy temporary, off-campus, facilities like the ‘Gowerville Unit’ on Bell Street while also constructing new buildings in Jesse Street for the junior boys section.

The biggest change at Preston Tech during this decade was the commencement of technical education for girls. Despite numerous requests for the establishment of a girls section since the late 1940s, the school didn’t commence classes for girls until 1956, using a temporary site at a local primary school. A newly constructed, permanent facility for girls opened in Cramer Street in 1958 with an initial enrolment of around 500.

As Preston grew, so did its reputation for providing far more than just practical technical skills – the school offered students a fully rounded education and boasted numerous sporting teams, a drama club, a band and even an air cadet training corps. Around this time Preston also began to produce some famous alumni including VFL great, Ron Barassi, and test cricketer, Bill Lawry, who both attended Preston in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s.

Student Enrolments

By 1959 Collingwood Technical School had approximately 764 Secondary enrolments and 2661 post-secondary.

Final Siren

In Victorian football, the Premiers were Geelong (1951 and 1952), Collingwood (1953), Footscray (1954), Melbourne (1955, 1956, and 1957), Collingwood (1958) and Melbourne again (1959 and 1960).

Winning Post

Melbourne Cup winners for the 1950s were Comic Court (1950), Delta (1951), Dalray (1952), Wodalla (1953), Rising Fast (1954), Toparoa (1955), Evening Peal (1956), Straight Draw (1957), Baystone (1958), and Macdougal (1959)​



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Last Modified: June 4, 2015

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