What was it like to work at Rippon Lea over 120 years ago? What is it like to work there now? How have people's jobs and working life changed over 4 generations?

This series of videos compares the experience of work in the past at Rippon Lea with comparable occupations and people working today.  

Film maker Catherine Gough Brady researched the stories of the gardeners, cooks, housekeepers, chauffeur and grooms who worked at Rippon Lea and then found people working in similar jobs today in the local community. 

This project was funded by the Commonwealth Government Department of Environment as a Community Heritage grant. 

The Gardener

Head Gardener, Mr. Adam Anderson 1882 - 1903

Rippon Lea's Victorian gardens are a legacy of the experience and vision of Adam Anderson.


2017 Head of Horticulture, Justin Buckley

Keeping Rippon Lea's period garden in good order means managing changes to climate, organising a tree replacement program to replace aging tree stock and running a huge garden with many fewer gardeners than Mr. Anderson.


1890 - Putting up with Peacocks

Head Gardener, Mr. Adam Anderson 1882 - 1903 discusses a morning of problems he experienced once at Rippon Lea.


2017 - Managing the Water Supply

Head of Horticulture, Justin Buckley tells about the issues of managing Rippon Lea's water supply using the system established over a century ago.


The School Teacher

1870 - 1878 Governess, Mrs Ferguson

Mrs Ferguson was the Governess for the Sargood family in the late 19th Century and in charge of the children;s schooling. (Actor: Kristina Benton)


2017 Teacher, Louisa Di Pietro

Louisa Di Pietro is a local primary school teacher and has to manage a large class of young students.


1890 - A Dark Day at Rippon Lea

Mrs Ferguson discusses the day she had to help the family through the grief of a still birth.


2017 - The changing way we learn

Encouraging individual learning in the classroom is very different from the rote learning of the past.


The Groom

1893 Groomsman, Charles Pitman

Charles Pitman tells about his discovery of an intruder in the Rippon Lea stables.


2017 Barn Manager, Karen Ussherr

Looking after racehorses at Caulfield racecourse requires a lot of patience and an ability to get on with horses.


1893 - Fight on the Stables

Charles Pitman talks about the fight and aftermath after finding horse thieves in the Rippon Lea stables.


2017 - Tools of the Trade

The work a strapper, groom and rider have to do today has changed little over 100 years.


The Housekeeper

1930 - 1960 Housekeeper, Lily Lees

Lily Lees had had not only to run the Jones family household but manage the evacuation of the children the Polio epidemic of the 1930s. (Actor: Amanda McKay)


2017 House Manager, Justin Smith

Running a heritage tourist destination and managing public interaction requires lots of skill and patience.


1930 - The missing broach

Lily Lees has to search everywhere because Mrs Jones lost broach has become her responsibility.


2017 - Being the last to leave

Managing a house, a collection and volunteers means as house manager you are last to leave and do a similar job in a way to past housekeepers.


The Cook

1930 - 1940 Cook, Sarah Ward

Sarah reflects on her new electrical appliances like a refrigerator that make Rippon Lea a state of the art place to work.


2017 - John Melemens, Ripponlea Fish Supply

John describes his early days setting up the first shop to grill fish in the area.


1930 - How to make the perfect scone

Sarah Ward gives the secrets to making the perfect scone.


2017 - How to grill fish

John explains the simplest way to grill fish.

The Coachman

1880, Coachman, Mr. Whybrew

Mr. Whybrew worked in London in many odd jobs with horses before coming to Melbourne and being the Sargoods Coachman.


2017 - Chauffeur, Geoffrey May

Geoffrey May professionally drives his sixty year old Rolls Royce, Lady Penelope. He chose to work in service for the respect and enjoyment of the job.


1890 - A Melbourne evening for a coachman

Mr. Whybrew describes the tricks of the trade as he manages to collect the Sargoods from an evening soirree.


2017 - How to close a car door.

A real chauffeur trained by Rolls Royce knows how to the little things like close a car door properly.


Activity Ideas and Suggestions

After watching the video clips, students could complete the following activities to cement their learning.

Then vs Now: 

Make a list of the equipment and tools used then for the job and now for the modern job. Are there any tools that are still the same? What challenges did people have then when working, compared to now? 


When I grow up… 

What job would you like when you grow up? 

What do you think this job existed in the past? 


Future filming 

As you will have seen, a lot has changed in the world of work in the past 100+ years!  

Select one of the jobs introduced and imagine it is the year 2100 and you need to create a third film representing that job and how it looks 100 years into the future. How do you think the job  would have changed from now to then? 

Students could film an interview, like the ones shown here, create a storyboard/comic strip or write about their job. 


Lost Jobs 

With changes in society over time and the advancements in technology some jobs are no longer required.  

For example: Streetlamp lighters. Can you find a job that is no longer required? What year in the past could you have worked in this job? Why do you think this type of work ceased? What type of work was involved? 

What kind of jobs do you think will no longer be required in the future? Why? 

Curriculum links for Foundation to Level 2
HistoryHistorical Concepts and SkillsHistorical Sources as EvidenceIdentify perspectives about changes to daily life from people in the past or present (VCHHC055)
Historical KnowledgePersonal HistoriesHow the present, past and future are signified by terms indicating and describing time (VCHHK060)
Community HistoriesThe effect of changing technology on people’s lives and their perspectives on the significance of that change (VCHHK065)

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