James Oddie (1824 – 1911) banker, benefactor, goldminer, councillor
In 1875 James Oddie campaigned for greater lay representation in the Methodist Church. Sabbatarian and a lifelong abstainer, he was once described as ‘the Dick Whittington of Ballarat’. Being a devout Christian (Wesleyan Methodist), in 1866 he was the largest benefactor for the setting up of the Bible and Tract Society. He was a member of the Benevolent Asylum Board, vice-president of the Alfred Hospital and founder and patron of the Ballarat Art Gallery.
As first chairman of the Ballarat Municipal Council in 1856-58 he helped despite opposition to pioneer a scheme for piping water from Yuille’s swamp to the city centre; his arguments for an improved water supply were reflected in the Corn Stalk, a monthly of which he and Thomas were proprietors. He also helped to secure land and a government grant for the Botanical Gardens. In January 1859 he failed by one vote to win re-election as a councillor for Ballarat West. Overwhelmed by defeat, he announced his retirement from public life but later took an important part in municipal affairs. He campaigned for increasing local government powers, was a member of the Benevolent Asylum Board in 1860-91, vice-president of the Alfred Hospital in 1869 and founder and patron of the Art Gallery in 1884.
A fellow of the Royal Geographical and Geological Societies of London, Oddie was zealous for technical education and science. A trustee of the School of Mines and vice-president of its council in 1881, he founded an associateship course. At his own cost he built and equipped the Mount Pleasant Observatory. He studied developments in the use of gas and electricity and was especially interested in the invention of the telephone. A Wesleyan Methodist, he helped to finance the building of the Lydiard Street Church, where he was Sunday school superintendent and a circuit steward. Favouring the National system of education, he was president of the managing committee of the Dana Street National school in the late 1850s and president of the Ballarat Anti-State Aid League. In 1875 he campaigned for greater lay representation in the Methodist Church and resigned from his local church, but later resumed active connexion with its affairs. Sabbatarian and lifelong abstainer, he was once described as ‘the Dick Whittington of Ballarat’.
James Oddie was a friend and admirer of Peter Lalor and later erected the Sturt Street statue of Lalor at a cost of £2200. He helped secure land and a government grant for the Ballarat Botanic Gardens, and was a trustee of the Ballarat School of Mines, being vice-president of SMB Council in 1881.
Being a devout Christian (Wesleyan Methodist), in 1866 he was the largest benefactor for the setting up of the Bible and Tract Society which was formed to attack widespread drunkeness, profligacy, licentiousness and agnosticism in Ballarat. From 1860-1891 he served on the Benevolent Asylum Board, and was founder and patron of the Art Gallery in 1884. In 1896 he was one of those responsible for the formation of the Ballarat Historical Records Society, possibly the first historical society in Australia.
The Oddie telescope at Mt Stromlo Observatory, Canberra
Saturday 24 September 2011 was the launch of the new Oddie telescope (Oddie II), a reconstruction that replaces the original Howard Grubb 9” (23–cm) refractor (lens) telescope (Oddie I), severely damaged in the January 2003 fires. Exactly 100 years ago the Oddie telescope was hauled up the mountain that lies on the outskirts of what is now the city of Canberra. It was the first research telescope on the Commonwealth-granted site, a bequest from Mr James Oddie of Ballarat.
The Oddie telescope at Mt Stromlo ACT http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/act/ 25 Nov 2011
Peter Lalor (1827 – 1889) gold miner and politician https://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/peter-lalor/
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