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Two Wells-Port Gawler Institute

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Fast Facts
Type of organisation: Community Service
Also known as: Two Wells Institute
Street name: Old Port Wakefield Rd
Town or locality: Two Wells
Date established: 1862
Ceased operation: 1984
Established by: Two Wells Community
Business or purpose: To circulate books and educate adults.
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As the community began to develop around Two Wells, so the urge grew among the people to increase their knowledge. One way to do this in the growing community was to form an Institute Committee and join the Institutes Association in Adelaide,  where boxes of books could be obtained for a month at a time. 

This Institutes Association had its beginnings in London in September 1835 when the South Australian Literary and Scientific Association was formed. Its aim was "Cultivation and diffusion of knowledge throughout the proposed new colony" As a result of this a small library of 117 books was shipped to South Australia on the Tam O'Shanter.

A group of citizens of Two Wells called a meeting in 1862 and the Two Wells-Port Gawler Institute was born with Mr William McCord chairman and Mr H.P. Ashton secretary. In 1864 Sam Griggs was chairman and Alfred Gray secretary and these two gentlemen signed an agreement with the South Australian Institutes Association regarding the circulation of boxes of books.

The aim to educate was clearly kept in mind. Books were purchased where possible, private libraries donated, and the system of borrowing boxes of books adhered to. 

Difficult times beset the community and in 1874 Mr Grigg wrote a letter suggesting "the officers should change and that might help the public apathy". This might account for the letter received by the District Council from the Institute's Board asking them to take charge of the books and other property belonging to the Two Wells Institute.  This had the desired effect and the District Council began negotiating with the Commissioner of Crown lands to grant them a piece of land next to the police barracks for the purpose of building a council building and an institute.

A public meeting was held in October 1876 and the following resolutions were carried:

1. That it is desirable to re-establish the Institute in Two Wells

2. That immediate steps be taken to raise subscriptions for the purpose of erecting a suitable building for an Institute.

3.  A committee consisting of Messrs John Cowan Jnr, James Cowan, L.C. Wells, T.Hastwell Jnr, Ina Kirkland, S. Cordon and Y.C. Fowler was appointed to carry out the resolutions.

The foundation stone was laid on 27 November 1877 by Thomas Cowan Esq M.P.

The Two Wells Institute was formally opened on 18 November 1878 by Mr. W. Cavanagh M.P.

Related Articles


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Memories of Two Wells-Port Gawler Institute

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