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School of Arts (1910) & Commercial Bank (1931)

 24 Railway St

 

View of Railway Street in 1929View of Railway Street in 1929In 1910 the Walloon Divisional Board (based in Marburg), which was Lowood's local council at that time, provided a site in Railway Street for the Lowood School of Arts, which originated in 1898 but had lacked a permanent home.

Also known as literary, railway or workingmen's institutes, Schools of Arts were designed to educate working men through lectures, reading and discussions about science, industry and politics.

The new hall at 24 Railway Street was paid for by public subscription and built in between two of John Walters' buildings - the ABC Cash Store and his butcher shop.

Lowood School of Arts was also used for public meetings. When Lowood Shire Council was formed in 1912 it held its inaugural meeting here on 27th March. Recruitment and 'patriotic' meetings were held there during World War 1. 


1931 Railway Street fire1931 Railway Street fireIn 1919 the School of Arts hall became a branch of the Commercial Bank of Australia, the third bank to open in Lowood.

In the early hours of 11 January 1931, the Commercial Bank, John Walters' ABC Cash Store, his butchery and solicitor Alfred Lilley's office were destroyed in the second major fire in Railway Street in six years. 

The current building replaced the burnt-out bank on the same site, but less than two years later it only narrowly avoided a similar fate.         


1933 Railway Street fire1933 Railway Street fireIn December 1933, Railway Street was struck by its third major fire in eight years that was described in The Courier Mail as "the most disastrous in the history of the district".

It destroyed a two storey retail and residential building that included the town's movie theatre, plus a row of shops owned by C.H.D. Lindemann, where the fire had started.

During the fire drums of petrol, tins of kerosene and other flammable liquids exploded but no one was injured. The fire scorched the new bank but the volunteer bucket brigade managed to save it.


 

Lowood HubLowood HubIn 1961 the Commercial Bank relocated to Main Street. (The CBA later became Westpac.)
 
This building was acquired by Esk Shire Council for use as Lowood's first Public Library before the new library opened in Main Street. 

Now owned by Somerset Regional Council for community services the building now houses the Lowood Hub..