The Humffray Room
The Humffray Room, a beautifully restored heritage room, (1869) on the second level overlooking Sturt Street, can hold up to 100 seated theatre-style, 60 seated dinner-style and standing capacity for 180 guests.
The room is ideal for conference and training, forums, small wedding ceremonies and receptions, parties and recitals. The room has a bar/servery, carpeted floor with small dance floor, projection facilities, Wi-Fi access plus a professional JBL PA system.
It can also be utilised as a breakout room for the larger Minerva Space for catering or pre-function food and drinks.
Who was John Humffray?
Politician John Basson Humffray (1824-1891) was born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales. He was articled to a solicitor but abandoned his studies to seek adventure on the Victorian goldfields. He arrived at Melbourne in the Star of the East on 19 September 1853.
Humffray soon settled at Ballarat and made his first public speech in November 1854. He saw the diggers’ grievances as symptomatic of an essentially unrepresentative political system for which he demanded reform by moral persuasion. As secretary of the Ballarat Reform League he worked tirelessly to bring the diggers’ needs before Governor Hotham, the public and an official inquiry. As a pacifist, Humffray dissociated himself from the Eureka rebellion but soon resumed his ‘moral force’ campaign. He was elected the first of three miners’ representatives appearing before the commission of inquiry into discontent on the goldfields. He cited maladministration, lack of political representation and difficulty in obtaining land as the diggers’ grievances.
In 1855 Humffray initiated the Victorian Reform League with little success. However, along with Peter Lalor he was elected unopposed to represent Ballarat in the Legislative Council between 1856 and 1874.
Together John Humffray and Peter Lalor secured the land grant in Sturt Street for the Crown Land on which the BMI still stands.
Humffray lost money in mining speculations and in his last years was dependent on charity. After a long illness he died aged 66 on 18 March 1891. At his own request he was buried near the diggers who fell at Eureka.
What is now the Humffray Room was formerly the Institute’s library from 1871 – 1935. In 2000 it was named after JB Humffray as he was the Institute’s first president.
Following the transfer of the library in 1935 the room was leased as a ballet studio and was also used for badminton and art classes until finally it was closed to the public in the late 1980s due to water damage to the ceiling plasterwork. As a result of a grant of $257,000 from Heritage Victoria the room was faithfully restored during 2004 to its former grandeur.