Trinitytoday 30 Trinitytoday 30 Art & Archives CLARKE: A BRIEF HISTORY As students packed their bags and emptied the College for the approaching summer holidays last November, teams of tradesmen almost simultaneously replaced them. Phoenix-like, the Clarke Building was being ‘revitalised’ through a major renovation, the first since the 1960s. The Clarke Building – also known as Clarke’s and the Clarke Buildings – is the second-last of the residential wings to undergo such a transformation, being part of a rolling capital works program that has become an annual summer occurrence over recent years as our heritage buildings are renewed and brought into the 21st century. Trinity College opened in 1872, and that same year admitted its first residential student. As the student population grew, so did demand for accommodation, which quickly outstripped available beds. The College decided to build a dedicated student residence, and the 23-room Bishops’ Building opened in 1878. It filled almost immediately. Such was the demand that some students were given lodgings in College-owned properties along Royal Parade. Once again, the College Council faced an urgent need to provide additional student accommodation. It was decided that a new residential wing would be built. Fundraising for the new wing commenced in April 1881, with Melbourne businessman Richard Grice pledging £250. An anonymous donor committed a similar amount at a public meeting held at the end of the month to further the cause. Delighted at this promising start, the Argus newspaper on 30 April 1881 reported that ‘a good beginning has been made in the work of raising the funds required for the enlargement of Trinity College’. It was estimated the project would cost £5,000, but the College Council was intent on first removing an outstanding debt of £4,000 from the construction of the Bishops’ Building. However, in June 1881, the College’s fortune changed sharply. Pastoralist Joseph Clarke, younger son of the renowned colonial pastoralist and land baron William ‘Big’ Clarke, pledged £5,000 to Trinity, the largest gift yet presented to the College. The funds were directed towards the new residential building. Sydney architect Edmund Blacket (1817–1883), already well-known for designing that city’s St Andrew’s Cathedral and the University of Sydney’s main quad and St Paul’s College, was commissioned to design the new residential block. Set at right angles to Bishops’, the new two-storey building was conceived in a similar neo-Gothic style of Hawthorn brick with decorative Waurn Ponds sandstone features. A south-facing cloister runs the length of the building, intended to form the northern wing of an enclosed ‘Great Quadrangle’ of Leonard Terry’s original 1869 master plan for the College. Construction of the building’s first stage commenced in late 1882 according to Blacket’s design, under the supervision of Melbourne architect William Pritchard (Blacket died only months into the construction). By July the following year, the first students moved in. In recognition of Joseph Clarke’s munificence, the College Council determined to name the new wing the Clarke Building, also acknowledging his brother Sir William’s past support of Trinity. Visiting Trinity to inspect the results of his brother’s philanthropy in 1883, Sir William himself now committed £3,000 towards the building’s cost, reinforcing the Council’s earlier decision to acknowledge both brothers. Joseph then promised a further £1,000 to the building fund, which almost covered the The project would cost £5,000, but the College Council was intent on first removing an outstanding debt of £4,000. BY BENJAMIN THOMAS Looking towards Bishops’ Building from the Clarke cloisters, c. 1900 – 1909, Trinity College Archives, MM 000119.