It seems there may have been at least three grand pianos in the BMI, some were hired for a particular event or performance, but the main problem was getting such a large and heavy object up and down the stairs to the hall, as well as getting the piano from Melbourne to Ballarat, especially before the railway in 1862.
1861 Letter to Mr. Charles Fanshawe, theatrical agent, from Mr. Batten of the BMI, explaining that the Mechanics’ Institute is most certainly the best place in Ballarat for a concert performance. 18-02-1861
“Your note dated 13 July reached me this morning. In reply I beg to say that our lecture hall is the largest in the colony and will comfortably accommodate 800 to 900 persons. The terms are for one night four pounds for two nights seven pounds inclusive of gas which will cost from 12/- to 15/- per night. The hall is situated exactly in the centre of Ballaarat; and with the exception of the theatres and one or two concert rooms ( not the most respectable) there is no room capable of accommodating more than 200 persons. Nor do I think that there is any likelihood of success for Miss Marryatt’s entertainment except in the Mechanics’ Hall. We have no piano but one can be hired, as there are two or three on Ballaarat for hire.”
1861 Mr. Weber to play piano at German Ball. theatre events 25-3-1861#117
1861 Advert for concert Bianchi Grand Opera. theatre events #86
1861 E R weber has piano for sale for 100 pound, used for concert by Signor Burich and still in hall. 12-1-1861 A814 (1) 814 (2)
1864 From Anderson & Co. 57 Collins st. East. Order from BMI for bass string unable to supply. (This was a 2D damper wired string) 19-9-1864, A2000
1870 Receipt from Ballarat Early Closing
association for 10 pound paid for tuning piano 12-8-70 A2734
1871 Erard piano for sale newspaper advert 19-10-71 (see Courier extract)
1871 Claxton Auctioneers advise Erard grand piano withdrawn from sale. 1-10-1871 #1502
1874 A2078 BMI declines use of piano for hire. (it is still in the hall but it seems ownership is disputed)
1876 Nicholson & Ascherbery were paid 45 pound by Mr. Batten (BMI) for a grand piano, please advise when to dispatch A2326. 19-5-1876
1876 Letter to Mr. Batten from Nicholson & Ascherbery Pianoforte Music Wharehouse 45 Collins st. East, that they will be forwarding grand piano tomorrow. ?-5-1876 A2302
1876 Letter to BMI from Nicholson & Ascherbery. The piano was delivered to the wrong place. The Academy Of Music (Her Majesty’s Theatre, Lydiard St.) is asking the BMI to get it from their premises. 13-6-1876 A2371
1879 A second grand piano is to be put from stage into orchestra pit for opera. 17-12-1879 A3131
1886 The Christ Church Parochial Society paid for repair to 1 caster of the grand piano. 1-11-1886 A3235
1910 Suttons Music House requesting testimonial for piano repair. 21-5-1910 A5217
1925 A Player Piano in use for silent movies in the theatre.
2014 A 1925 R. Lipp & Sohn Upright piano is situated on the theatre stage.
2016 Bechstein Grand piano donated to BMI by member Eileen Anderson is now in the Humffray room.