Model of a section of spiral staircase, constructed from Australian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon). Made by a student at the Working Men's College, Melbourne, between October 1887, when a class in 'hand railing and staircase building' was first introduced at the Working Men's College and 22 February 1917, when the model was donated to the Museum.

The architectural design of the staircase suggests that it was most likely built around 1910.

There is some uncertainty as to who made the model. Likely candidates are:
- Henry August Klemke, instructor and examiner at the college from 1922-1945 and a well known artisan in the Williamstown area.
- Otto Yuncken, who was a student at the college and trained and worked at Clements Langford before co-founding the building firm Hansen Yuncken with Lauritz Hansen in 1918.

Founded with funds provided by the prominent Scottish immigrant and philanthropist Francis Ormond and the Victorian Trades Hall, the Working Men's College opened on 4 June 1887 and within months had over 600 students enrolled in part-time vocation and trades related courses ranging from mechanics, physics, bookkeeping, elocution and arithmetic, to cookery, carpentry and dressmaking. Despite its name, both male and female students were welcomed from the outset under the motto 'perita manus, mens exculta' - 'a skilled hand, a cultivated mind'.

At the College Council meeting held on 24 October 1887 a decision was made to introduce a class in 'hand railing and staircase building' with Mr. Storer as instructor, the fee being fixed at £1 per term for one lesson of two hours per week. A second lesson per week was added in May 1888. (The Argus, 25 Oct 1887, p.6 & 22 May 1888, p.5)

By March 1889, courses in 'Hand-railing and Staircase Work' were being advertised, with theory and practise classes at 9 pm Tuesdays and 7:30 pm Wednesdays, for a fee of 10 shillings per term. (The Argus, 4 Mar 1889, p.12)

The first prizes for student pieces in staircase work were awarded to F.J. Bearley and James Bruce in February 1889. (The Argus 26 Feb 1889, p5)

The inaugural exhibition of student's work held in August 1892, included 'Models of work in carpentry, constructed mostly to half scale, show[ing] the thorough knowledge which the students have acquired in the most difficult branches of that trade.' Most of the students undertaking the three-year course it was observed were 'connected with the building trade and find it to their advantage to attend the college workshop to receive advanced instruction' although 'there are also amateurs who derive much pleasure from following up the details of the builder's art'. The third year of the course was devoted to 'circular complex work' involved in making 'doors, staircases etc.' with examples of work exhibited including 'a complete staircase … of cedar and pine, with convenient turnings and a spiral staircase'. (The Argus, 2 Aug 1892, p.6)

Physical Description

Wooden model of a section of spiral staircase.

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