Perth Technical School

Technical education began in Western Australia in May 1900 when the Perth Technical School opened in St Georges’ Terrace, Perth.

Perth Technical School

The school, which would later be renamed Perth Technical College offered voluntary classes for trade apprentices and others possessing an occupational qualification. The school also provided university courses under licence from the University of Adelaide until the University of Western Australia was established in 1914.

The early fortunes of technical education in Western Australia had ebbed and flowed. During the Great Depression years, staffing issues and overcrowding had been major problems. By 1943 it was expected demand for technical training would dramatically increase in the post-war period and so the idea of creating an institute of technology began to be promoted to handle the expected influx of students as it was clear that Perth Technical College, along with other technical institutions, would struggle to meet that demand. As expected, by 1956 space issues had reached crisis point. Thus the idea of creating the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT) was born.

It wasn’t until the late 1950s that things started to happen. It was during this period that the three main forces behind the creation of WAIT, William George Hayman, Dr Thomas Logan (TL) Robertson and Dr Haydn Stanley Williams, ensured the important groundwork between the State and Commonwealth was progressing. These three men, who would later be commemorated in the naming of key buildings on campus, worked tirelessly to make the dream of WAIT a reality. A key figure in State politics at this time was (later Sir) Charles Court. Court was minister for industrial development and had been tasked with the ambitious development projects promised by the newly elected Liberal-Country Party Coalition. Robertson had taken the initiative before the election and privately met with Court. Robertson convinced Court that the massive mining and infrastructure projects planned by the State government would require a wide base of skilled and professional personnel to complete, and the best way to do this would be to invest in a new technical institution.

Finally, in June 1960, the State Government approved the establishment of the new institute. One hurdle had been overcome – the next was finding a place to build.