Thomas H. TRENGROVE
Ballarat Technical Art School
Thomas Trengrove was a student of Grenville College before attending the Ballarat East Art School. In 1900, at the age of 21, he was appointed a junior art teacher at the Ballarat School of Mines (SMB). He was an art assistant when Trengrove left for Stawell in 1908 where he was the Technical School art master for 14 years.
Tregrove returned to Ballarat in 1922 as senior instructor in modelling and ceramics, a position he held until his retirement in 1945. The SMB Students Magazine reported: 'From Stawell we welcome as a member of the Art School staff, Mr Trengrove, who is deeply interested in pottery experiments.'
In 1924 the Courier reported a distinction for the School: 'The Victorian Education Department is bearing the cost of the erection of a school at Villers Bretonneux, in France, out of the funds raised by Victorian State Schools. The design provides for a pilastern on each side of the Assembly Hall, each of these is to bear a carving of an Australian bird or animal, while a dado of Australian wood is to be placed round the hall. The work has been entrusted to the Ballarat Technical Art school, and will be carried out in Queensland maple from drawings by the chief architect. The selection of the school is another of the proofs constantly being given of the esteem in which the school is held by the Department.' By January 1925 the progress was outlined: 'Mr Trengrove, of the staff of the Ballarat Technical Art School, is engaged on the carving of ornamentations for the school at Villers-Bretonneux, in France, ... The carvings represent Australian flora and fauna, one of which Mr Trengrove has nearly completed representing a kookaburra, gum leaves, and fruit.'
Interestingly John E. Grant from Daylesford Technical School is accredited with completing twelve of the carved panels. It is believed that Grant carved the first twelve images depicted, with Trengrove being responsible for the last four.
The building of the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial School was made possible by the donation of 12,500 pounds from the Education Department's War Relief Fund. It came about after the 1921 decision that citizens of Melbourne adopt the town of Villers-Bretonneux and provide money to rebuild the ruined houses after World War one, one of which was the schoolhouse. The Assembly Hall interior was panelled in Victorian blackwood, the design including 16 pilasters, each of which was surmounted with a carved cap representing Australian flora and fauna. The timber is beech with a frame of blackwood. The school was seen as a permanent memorial to the valour and devotion of the Australians who fell in defence of Villers-Bretonneux in 1918.
(Are you able to help us with photographs of Thomas Trengrove's work at Villers Bretonneux? If so please contact the Curator firstname.lastname@example.org)
This biography researched by Clare Gervasoni, November 2006.
Caption: Thomas Trengrove's pilasters at the Villers Bretonneux School, 1925. (Cat.No. 7105.7)