Letter 10 - Burnley Horticultural College

The Royal Horticultural School, Burnley was established in 1891 by the Victorian Department of Agriculture and the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria. It was Australia's first school of horticulture, and remained the only such school for many decades.  It commenced with an initial enrolment of 14 male students. 

Although females were invited to attend lectures, they were not permitted to actually study or graduate. This changed in 1903 when the principal, Charles Bogue Luffman, allowed the opportunity for women to attend. This later led to the teaching of many female students who had subsequently had a profound impact on the development of garden design in Australia, including:

  • Olive Holttum
  • Emily Gibson
  • Edna Walling
  • Mervyn Davis
  • Margaret Hendry
  • Grace Fraser
  • Marion Mahoney Griffin

In 1945, the Government funded a new campus building, designed in the Functionalist style by Percy Everett, the chief architect of the Public Works Department.  The hall and buildings still retain many original fixtures and fittings.

The school was renamed to Burnley College of Horticulture in 1958.

In 1983, Burnley Horticultural College merged with regional agricultural colleges to form the Victorian College of Agriculture and Horticulture (VCAH). In 1997, VCAH merged with the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry & Horticulture, leading to the creation of the Institute of Land and Food Resources (ILFR).

The site is now known as Burnley College, managed by the University of Melbourne through its Melbourne School of Land & Environment.


References and Further Reading