Thursday, 20 February 2020

Dutch Family - Van Benbroek family of Clyde

I came across this article about the Van Benbroek family of Clyde in The Advocate, the Catholic newspaper, of July 26, 1951. It's an interesting look at the life of one of the many families that migrated from Europe after the Second World War.  You can read the original on Trove, here, and it is transcribed below.  I believe the family was known as Van Den Broek, so either they changed the spelling or the Advocate had the spelling wrong, but I will leave the name as Van Benbroek in te transcription.

The Advocate July 26, 1951

Dutch Family

This introduces the Van Benbroek family, from Braband, Holland, who have settled in Berwick, some 30 miles from Melbourne. There's mum and dad and thirteen children. They have transferred their lives from a five-acre farm in Holland to one of 300 acres in Victoria. From hand-milking three or four cows in a little lean-to adjoining the 200-year-old house at Braband, they have taken to milking some 57 cows (later it will be 75) with modern machinery and in a well-lit and newly-renovated dairy, situated in close proximity to their neat weatherboard dwelling.

Although only a few weeks in Victoria the Van Benbroeks have really settled in and are working the farm to a well-set plan. Tractors, harvesters, reapers, chaff-cutters and other agricultural equipment were all new to them, but they are getting the best use out of them.

Last Sunday - strictly kept as a day of rest by Dutch Catholics - was a real family reunion, with relatives and friends visiting to attend Mass in the sitting-cum-bed room and to join in the family dinner. With Rev. L. Maas, S.V.D., chaplain to Dutch migrants in Victoria, our representative went to Berwick just to see how the Van Benbroeks spent the day. For Mass at 10, more than 24 men, women and children crowded into the little room. Two of the lads - Joseph (13) and Louis (14) acted as altar servers. The Gospel, the sermon and the prayers after Mass were all said in Dutch. The Van Benbroek family reached Victoria this July and they have just the barest smattering of English.

The Van Benbroek family. 
The Advocate July 26, 1951
The original caption of the photo is On this page is a picture of the Van Benbroek family—father, mother and thirteen children—who arrived from Holland on July 15 and are now settled in Berwick. From a five-acre farm in their native land they transferred to 300 acres in Victoria. Sunday was a real day of rest and a day of reunion. Mr. Van Benbroek came to Australia with his family because he was attracted by this great southern land, which, he considers, affords many opportunities for starting life anew.

During dinner - consisting mainly of food cooked in the Dutch manner - there were two sittings. Most of the elders (12, sat down at once) were accommodated at the first session and the youngsters at the latter. When the meal was over there was the usual after-dinner talk with guests and members of the family discussing crops and such everyday matters. Music was supplied by a harmonica and the male folk smoked their Dutch cigars about the fire.

What prompted Mr. Van Banbroek to come to Australia? His considered view, he told our representative, was that Australia was a young country and there were more chances of settling and starting life anew here. He had considered America, but the great southern land attracted him more. In his home at Braband, Mr. Van Benbroek found it extremely hard to get sufficient food for his large family. Work, too, was not plentiful and memories of the wars not pleasant. They sold everything they had and with their savings embarked on a Dutch ship last May and reached Melbourne on July 15. It cost Mr. Van Benbroek 20,000 guildens (£2200 Australian currency) to bring his family and their furniture and goods to the country. Happily they were fortunate in finding a home immediately on arrival. The Dutch chaplain had prepared in advance for them and there was no delay in transporting them by truck from the ship to Berwick.

The family has not visited Melbourne or Dandenong yet. Transportation costs would be tremendous. However, they hope to make a shopping excursion one of these days. The family brought seven bicycles with them, and on free days the youngsters ride about the countryside. When there is no Mass at the farm, they go to Cranbourne and Berwick Catholic churches in the utility truck made available for their use on Sundays by Col. Neill (owner of the property they are living on).

The article was embellished by these stereotypical illustrations of traditional Dutch life.

Four of the Van Benbroeks (including one who is studying carpentry) are working on the farm for wages. They hope later to have their own farm. Two other lads are working in the neighbourhood and a third has secured a position as gardener in Melbourne. The girls help mother about the house. The four youngest boys - Gerard (10), Leo (12), Joseph (13) and Louis (14) - are attending school at Clyde, some 10 minutes' walking distance from their home. Incidentally, most of the family attend at the Clyde school - two nights a week for English lessons with many other New Australians who are working in the neighbourhood.

The Catholic Migration authorities appeal to Catholics to nominate Dutch settlers who wish to settle in Victoria. Nominators are obliged to provide accommodation but not necessarily employment. Those wishing to come to this country include young married couples and families with three to ten children. Many wish to engage in farm work and some are tradesmen.

This is an excellent opportunity for farmers to obtain competent help. Parish migration committees can also assist in the work of welcoming and assimilating these New Australians. Some Dutch families are prepared to bring out their own pre-fabricated houses. For this scheme land is required, and suggestions and help in this regard will be most welcome. Applications from those willing to sponsor Catholic Dutch migrants can, in the first instance, be made with Rev. L. Maas, S.V.D., Dutch Hostel, 276 Cotham-road, Kew (WA 3391).

Sadly, the family met with tragedy a few years after their arrival in Australia when Mrs Van Den Broek died of burns received after an accident in the home.

The report of Mrs Van Den Broek's accident
Dandenong Journal July 7, 1954

Mrs Van Den Broek's death notice. She was buried at the Berwick cemetery.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Maryknoll buildings designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock.

Maryknoll was established in 1949 by Father Wilfred Pooley (1912-1969) as a Catholic community based on the principals of faith, family life and co-operative enterprise. You can read more about the establishment of the town, here. I came across the following images of early buildings at Maryknoll (or St Mary's as it was originally called) designed by the architectural firm Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock. 

You can read about the firm on the website, Built Heritage in the Dictionary of Unsung Architects section -  This is the introduction to the article - Smith & Tracey was formed in 1949 by recent graduates Smith & Tracey was formed in 1949 by recent graduates Des Smith (1918-2003) and Dan Tracey (1916-1992).  Shortly afterwards, they were joined by Eric "Ric" Lyon (1918-2006) and Les Brock (1920-2006), and the firm re-branded as Smith, Tracey, Lyon & Brock.  It operated as such until Lyon and Brock both left around 1960, whereupon it reverted to its original name.  The article on the website also has a list of the firm's works. 

Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock worked on many projects for the Catholic Church including Christian Brothers College in Warnambool in 1950; St Joseph's School in Springvale in 1952; St Joseph's Benalla in 1953 and  St Vincent de Paul's Homeless Men's shelter on Flemington Road (Ozanam House) in 1954.  They also designed the Holy Family Church at Maryknoll.

 The Advocate, September 14 1950

This photo (above) and report of the opening of  Holy Family Church at Maryknoll appeared in The AdvocateThis is Holy Family Church-School, opened by Archbishop Mannix of St. Marys Rural Settlement, Tynong North, on September 3. The building was erected from a design by Smith and Tracey, architects, Sydney-road, Brunswick, who also prepared the large-scale map of the settlement which appeared last week. The erection of the first seven permanent homes is now being undertaken and these will be occupied by settlers, at present housed in temporary quarters in the vicinity. (The Advocate, September 14 1950, see here)  

This is the  large-scale map of the settlement prepared by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock, referred to in the paragraph, above. It was in The Advocate of  September 7, 1950, see here.

Presentation Convent St Mary's North Convent at Maryknoll designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock.
The Advocate, March 20, 1952.

In March 1952, The Advocate, published this image (above) of the proposed convent for the Presentation Sisters to be built at Maryknoll. It was never built.

Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock also designed houses for the Maryknoll settlement.  One of these designs was written up in The Argus of November 1, 1954.

House designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock  for Maryknoll
Image: The Argus, November 1, 1954

This is the transcription of the article about the Maryknoll house - 

 Home for County - by Harry Perrott Argus Property Writer

Until comparatively recent years, it was not unusual to see a house, originally planned for a suburban allotment, built on a farm or in a rural setting. Many country people evidently thought they could not have the convenience of "town" living without using a "town" house plan. This, of course, is not so, and the small house illustrated here has all the conveniences of modern planning, but is essentially rural in character.

The plan is a simple rectangle in shape and has a low pitched roof, covered with corrugated asbestos
cement sheets. External walls are of 10in. Baltic weatherboards. Provision has been made for another bedroom and a verandah to be added. The door into the third bedroom will be in the space now used for a cupboard between the bathroom and bedroom. The two bedrooms are 11ft. x 10ft. and 13½ft. x 10ft. and both are fitted with built-in wardrobes.

The kitchen, 13½ x 10ft., is divided by a fitment so that one section can be used for meals or other purposes. For economy, the kitchen and living room fireplaces have been combined in a common chimney stack. The sun room, 10½ x 10ft., is another interesting and useful feature of this part of the house. The living room, 15 x 12ft., has deep windows and double doors opening on to a 6ft. wide verandah. There is a service hatch from this room into the kitchen.

The house is one of a series of low cost houses designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock, architects, for a rural community at St. Mary's, via Nar Nar Goon, in Gippsland.  (The Argus, November 1, 1954, see here

Plan  of the house, described and shown above, designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock  for Maryknoll
Image: The Argus, November 1, 1954

I have created a short list of newspaper articles from Trove that mention the firm of Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock, you can access it here.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Elizabeth Parsons (1831 - 1897) - artist

Elizabeth Parsons (1831 - 1897) was a professional artist, who created many delightful landscapes in water-colour, oil and drawings. The State Library of Victoria has around thirty of her works on-line, many of the St Kilda area (1) however Elizabeth also has a number of works of Berwick.

View from Wilson's Hill, Berwick, 1878 by Elizabeth Parsons.
Image: National Gallery of Victoria A35-1976

This is a very short history of her life and works, most of which I have summarised from the book More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons by Veronica Filmer.  This is the catalogue of an exhibition of Elizabeth Parson's work held at the Geelong Gallery in 2004. The exhibition was also curated by Veronica Filmer. It's a lovely book, I found a copy at an on-line second-hand book seller and it is well worth tracking down, however the Geelong Galley has recently digitised the book and it is available on their website, here

Elizabeth was born to William and Elizabeth (nee Keens) Warren on November 27, 1831.  The Keens were market gardeners and William and Elizabeth and their children lived on the family property after their marriage in 1820. Elizabeth (the younger) found employment as a governess and in the late 1850s began art lessons with instructors including Thomas Miles Richardson and James Duffield Harding.

Her mother, who died in March 1867, left Elizabeth an annuity as long as she remained unmarried and this gave her some freedom to travel around England on sketching trips. It was on one of these trips that she met George Parsons (1830 - 1920) who was the manager of the Lizard Serpentine Marble Works.  George had trained as a surveyor and was a widower with two sons, George and Cecil. Elizabeth and George married on October 28, 1868. Elizabeth gave birth to  a daughter, Adeline, in August 1869. 1869 was also significant for Elizabeth as she exhibited seven works in the Society of Female Artists exhibition, her first major exhibition. Elizabeth exhibited under the name of Mrs George Parsons.

In 1870 the family decided to migrate to Australia and they arrived in Melbourne on May 20, 1870 and their son Henry was born the same year. In 1872 another son, Warren, was born followed by two more sons, Noel in 1875, Jonathon in 1876 and a still-born baby in 1879.   Elizabeth lost no time in establishing herself as an artist in her new country and she exhibited in the Victorian Academy of Art exhibition in November 1870. The Argus had a two part review of this exhibition, which you can read here and here. The Argus said that there were three water-colour landscapes of conspicuous merit by Mrs G. Parsons.

Report on Elizabeth Parson's work at the Victorian Academy of Art exhibition
The Argus December 1, 1870

There was also a more detailed review of Elizabeth Parson's work in The Argus of  December 26, 1870, which Ms Filmer quoted in her book (2) and I have reproduced, below.

Praise for Elizabeth Parson's work.
The Argus December 26, 1870

Elizabeth commenced teaching in the early 1870s as well as continuing to exhibit works  depicting local landmarks such as the Carlton Gardens and Melbourne University. Around 1873, Elizabeth rented a studio in Flinders Lane and the next year the family moved to a house in Neptune Street, St Kilda. They later moved to Charnwood Road in the same suburb and then to 249 Carlisle Street in Balaclava.

The family also toured the State and scenes from areas such as Mornington, Geelong, Woodend and Berwick featured in Elizabeth's work. Ms Filmer writes that the family spent many summers in Berwick, where they had either leased or brought  a small holiday house. From here Elizabeth could make sketching trips into the surrounding district. (3)  The picture, below, shows  the back of the holiday house in Wilson lane (or Wilson Street as it was actually called). Ms Filmer also writes that from the Berwick house popular locations such as Harkaway and Koo Wee Rup were easily accessed (4) I checked the Shire of Berwick Rate books and neither George or Elizabeth are listed as owning property at Berwick,  so they must have rented a house in Berwick. 

Wilson lane, Berwick, c. 1876 by Elizabeth Parsons.
Image: More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons by Veronica Filmer (Geelong Gallery, 2004) 

Elizabeth's standing as an artist continued to grow and in December 1874, she was elected to the Victorian Academy of Art Council, which is all the more remarkable as there was much opposition to women taking up public positions of any kind and also that she had the responsibility of a  young family to care for and George was often away due to his job as inspector and auditor of the Seymour to Avenel section of the North Eastern railway line. Elizabeth also continued to exhibit and began painting in oils.

In the early 1880s, Elizabeth became more enterprising and published three books - the Drawing book of Australian Landscape - book one covered buildings, book two trees and book three landscapes. Books one and two have been disgitised by the State Library of Victoria, here and here and Ms Filmer writes that no trace has been found of the third book, Landscapes (5) 

At Berwick, 1882, by Elizabeth Parsons. This illustration was originally published in her book, Drawing book of Australian Landscape - Part 1 - buildings. 
Image: National Gallery of Australia Image NGA 86.1996. 

The 1880s saw Elizabeth continue to exhibit in the annual Victorian Academy of Arts shows, the Sydney Art Society exhibition, Victorian Jubilee Exhibition of 1884, amongst other shows. In 1886 she joined the newly formed Australian Artist's Association along with other artists such as Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder. The first exhibition of this group was reported on in the Melbourne newspapers, see below and you can read Elizabeth's review, below.

Praise for Elizabeth Parson's work at the inaugural Australian Artist's Association exhibition.
The Argus September 7, 1886

Elizabeth was also a member of two social clubs - the Buonarotti Club, whose members were mainly young artists (6) and the Stray Leaves Club, which was active from 1889 to 1892 and often met at the Parson's home in Balaclava. Emma Minnie Boyd (1858 - 1936) was also a member of the Stray Leaves Club. Emma was an A'Beckett from The Grange at Harkaway. Ms Filmer writes that Emma Minnie Boyd and Elizabeth Parsons, exhibited together from the mid 1870s, had stylistic similarities and that Elizabeth may have been something of  a mentor to Emma. (7) As Berwick and Harkaway are neighbouring towns, it is likely that they also socialised when the Parsons were at Berwick.

At Berwick, 1882, by Elizabeth Parsons. This illustration was originally published in her book, Drawing book of Australian Landscape - Part 1 - buildings. 
Image: National Gallery of Australia Image NGA 86.2250

From 1889 Elizabeth decided to retire and sold many of her works at a sale in 1890 and she held another sale in 1896. You can read the coverage of the 1896 sale in The Age of  July 17, 1896, here.  By this time Elizabeth was suffering from breast cancer and she died May 28, 1897. She is buried in the St Kilda Cemetery, as is her husband, George, who died January 19, 1920.

There were periodic exhibitions of Elizabeth Parson's works after her death, mainly instigated by her daughter Adeline, and also one in 1920, which Ms Filmer said reignited interest in Elizabeth and her art (8).  The Herald reviewed this exhibition - it is partly quoted by Ms Filmer in her book (9) and you can read it here and see it below.

The review of Elizabeth Parson's 1920 retrospective exhibition. 
The Herald, March 15, 1920

We will finish this post on Elizabeth Parsons once again quoting Veronica Filmer - Through persistence and hard work Elizabeth Parsons reached a prominent position in the Victorian art world and was an inspiration to many around her who aspired to do the same. (10)

Nearly all this post I have summarised from Veronica Filmer's essay on the life and work of Elizabeth  Parsons, which was published in More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons (Geelong Gallery, 2004). It is of course a much more comprehensive, scholarly and detailed study of  Elizabeth's life and work than what you read here. Here is the link to the  work again from the Geelong Gallery website  Even though you can view it on-line, as I said before, if you ever come across a copy of the book, it is still worth buying. I've scanned the cover, so you will recognise it if you see it. It has 40 of her works reproduced, it's just a delight.  I found out about Elizabeth Parsons, her connection to Berwick and  Veronica Filmer's book, from my fellow historian,  Isaac Hermann.

(1)  As well as the Elizabeth Parson works which are on-line at the State Library of Victoria, you can view some of her works on the Geelong Gallery website, The National Gallery of Victoria has three of her works, on-line, The National Gallery of Australia has ten of her works on-line
(2) Filmer, Veronica More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons (Geelong Gallery, 2004) page 15.
(3) Filmer, page 17
(4) Filmer, page 28
(5) Filmer, page 24
(6) Filmer, page 33
(7) Filmer, page 33. Ms Filmer was alerted to the possible connections between Elizabeth Parsons and  Emma Minnie Boyd by Jennifer Phipps on the National Gallery of Victoria (footnote 79, page 33)
(8) Filmer, page 35
(9) Filmer, page 35
(10) Filmer, page 37

Friday, 17 January 2020

Clyde Road Berwick, November 19 1992

Back in November 1992, about 27 years ago, these photos were taken by the City of Berwick of Clyde Road - a single lane both ways. Now it is three lanes both ways and non-stop development from Berwick to Narre Warren-Cranbourne (the Sladen Street extension). The first photo was taken on the corner of Clyde Road and Homestead Road, so this will give you some idea of the general vicinity of the photos. The City of Berwick extended south to Grices Road / Pound Road and then it was the Shire of Cranbourne, thus the photos would be north of that.   Here's a look at the 'not so olden days' (well depending on how old you are, it only seems like yesterday to me). 

This is the corner of Clyde Road and Homestead Road, November 19, 1992
Casey Cardinia Libraries photo

Clyde Road, Berwick, November 19, 1992
Casey Cardinia Libraries photo

Clyde Road, Berwick, November 19, 1992
Casey Cardinia Libraries photo

Clyde Road, Berwick, November 19, 1992
Casey Cardinia Libraries photo

Clyde Road, Berwick, November 19, 1992
Casey Cardinia Libraries photo

Thursday, 9 January 2020

High Street Berwick - 1870s to 1950s.

This is a look at some photographs of High Street in Berwick, from the 1870s to the 1950s.

Berwick 1877.

This is the earliest image we have of High Street. It is from the book Early Days of Berwick and they describe it as 'From a woodcut, by courtesy of Mr Bert Luke, Beaconsfield'. The original image was published in the Australasian Sketcher of October 27, 1877. See it here.  The Berwick Inn also called the Border Hotel was built for Robert Bain in 1857 as a single storey building. The later two storey additions were added in 1877 (and can be seen in this image ) and 1887.

Berwick 1887 (28 miles from Melb.)
Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria photograph album, State Library of Victoria Image H2012.114/2

In the ten years since the woodcut, above, development had extended to the other side of High Street. That is St Andrews Presbyterian (now Uniting Church) at the top of the hill. This building was completed in 1879 or 1885, depending on which source you use.

Berwick,  1906.  This is looking up the hill form the Berwick Inn.
Casey Cardinia Libraries image.

Berwick, 1907. This is looking down the hill, towards the Berwick Inn.   The house on the hill was built in 1902 by William Wilson (1830 - 1907) the founder of the Wilson Quarry. The Wilson's called it Liskie Brae, it was renamed Rheanva and is now called Kilkirean.
Casey Cardinia Libraries image

High Street Berwick in the 1920s,  looking up from the Berwick Inn.
Casey Cardinia Libraries image. 

High Street Berwick in the 1920s,  looking to the Berwick Inn.
Casey Cardinia Libraries image. 

Berwick1930s. The building on the right hand side is the Berwick Picture Theatre which was built in 1928. 
Casey Cardinia Libraries image  

Berwick 1950s. The Berwick Inn is on the left.
Casey Cardinia Libraries image.

Berwick, 1950s. This postcard was purchased in 1955.  The Tudor style buildings were erected in the 1920s, by Sir Sidney Sewell. 
Casey Cardinia Libraries image.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

An Arcrostic Seasonal history of the Casey Cardinia region - Festive Season!

We take an acrostic, historic and eclectic look at the Casey Cardinia region looking at themes suggested by the letters in Festive Season. In 2018, we looked at Holidays, and in 2016, we did Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

F is for Females. Traditionally women were hidden from history, as many history books concentrated on public history - politicians, business owners, explorers etc - and they all tended to be men, while the women stayed in the background raising families, prevented from voting or standing for Council amongst other impediments to public life. Here are some of my favourite women - Sarah Fagan - hotel keeper and shipwreck survivor from Lyndhurst; Martha King - farmer from Clyde who was later granted the 15,00 acre Bunguyan run at Tyabb in her own right; Eliza Gooch another publican and ship wreck survivor; Elizabeth Andrews - a farmer from Hallam; Sister Hollis and Sister Lewis, Infant Welfare Centre Nurses at Pakenham and Kathleen Kinsella, Army Nurse.

Sarah Fagan

E is for Ewes and rams - or sheep as they are collectively known.  We don't really consider this a sheep growing area - it's more of a Western District activity - but we did have  an early sheep industry. The book Rural Industry in the Port Phillip Region, 1835 - 1880 by Lynnette J. Peel (Melbourne University Press, 1974) lists livestock numbers in selected areas. These are the sheep figures in the Berwick region - 1856/57 - 1,600; 1859/60 - 2,597; 1871 - 10, 994 and 1880/81 - 30,777. In comparison here are the cattle figures - 1856/57 - 4,212; 1859/60 - 15,438; 1871 - 20,406 and 1880/81 - 22,149. As you can see sheep farming in the area took off in the 1870s, however these sheep numbers were dwarfed by areas such as Sunbury and Bannockburn which in 1880 each had over 116,000 of the animals. Some of the early sheep farmers were William Lyall, who farmed Cotswald sheep in the 1850s at his Yallock and Tooradin properties; Duncan MacGregor breed Leicester sheep in the 1870s at his Dalmore property and Alexander McMillan who had Merinos at his Caldermeade property. Rural Industry in the Port Phillip Region, 1835 - 1880 is an interesting book, I will do a post on it one day

S is for Shows - Agricultural Shows. The earliest show society was the Mornington Farmers' Society (Mornington being the County of Mornington, the land administration area that covers this district) established in 1856. They held their first show, in the form of a ploughing match,  in 1857 at Mr Walton's farm at Narre Warren -  now the location of the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. The 1858 show was held at the farm of the Reverend Alexander Duff in Cranbourne. Read about these shows, here. The  Mornington Farmers' Society became the Berwick and District Agricultural and Horticultural Society in 1918.

T is for Trees - The first thing about trees that comes to mind is the notable tree grower, Carl Nobelius  Carl started the Gembrook Nursery at Emerald in 1886. Nobelius produced  a yearly catalogue and by 1903 Nobelius was advertising over one million trees for sale and this had increased to three million trees just before the First World War. The nursery concentrated on fruit and ornamental trees and supplied trees world wide, including to South Africa to replant their orchards after the Boer War. Read more about the Nursery on the Emerald Museum website, here. Another significant set of trees are the Oak trees that line the Princes Highway at Narre Warren, planted in 1890 by Sidney Webb. You can read about them here. The trees were supplied by the Nobelius Gembrook Nursery.The area also has some Avenues of Honor, planted in memory of Great War Soldiers. I have written about some of them here. The City of Casey have also published a booklet on their Avenues, Our Living Memorials, read it here.

The Nursery at Emerald. Photographer: Rose Stereograph Co.
State Library of Victoria Image H2001.88/10

I is for Infant Welfare Centres. The Baby Health Care movement began in Victoria in June 1917 when Dr Isabella Younger Ross opened a centre in Richmond. She was one of many experts who   emphasised the importance of teaching women hygiene, nutrition etc with the ultimate aim of lowering the child mortality rates. Infant Welfare Centres started a bit later in this area than in the City and the first mention I could find was in 1935 when both Garfield and Bunyip had a Centre. Read more here.  They are interesting because many of these buildings were established due to women organising local committees to fund raise for the buildings and once they were opened women were on the Committees to manage the operation of the service. One of the more unusual Infant Welfare Centres in the area is the one at Emerald. It was opened in March 13, 1940 and built in the Art Deco style.

V is for Volcanoes. On Wednesday, August 17, 1904, Mr J.H.L. Morgan gave  a lecture at the Berwick Mechanics' Institute on Geology. You can read the report in the South Bourke & Mornington Journal, here. This is part of Mr Morgan's talk - We had at least several distinct periods of volcanic activity, that latest being the great lava flows which spread over the whole of the south western part of the State. Berwick, Cranbourne, Flemington and Collingwood are instances of older volcanic periods. It was explained that Berwick hill was not an extinct volcano as is commonly supposed, but a dome of concretionary lava, the result of some plutonic force. From the hills here may be had a splendid view of the great valley of Victoria which extends from the far western boundary right through to the Gippsland Lakes. The southern boundary of this valley is almost worn away, probably as a result of the great subsidence which resulted in is Bass Strait. The Otway Ranges and the South Gippsland Ranges only remain. Striking evidence of volcanic activity existed in Narre Warren  North in the form of columnar basalt, part of an thick lava flow. You can read about this here.

E is for Entertainment - the Movies or Picture Theatres.  The 1920s was a boom time for Picture Theatres. The Garfield Picture Theatre opened with a Grand Ball on Monday, December 22, 1924. Apart from the Picture Theatre locals could also view movies at the Wattle Theatre at Koo Wee Rup, which opened July 1927 and King’s Picture Theatre at Pakenham which opened September 7, 1927. Harrington’s Electra Pictures had been shown at the Garfield Hall and films were shown at Tynong - there is still a bio box or projection room, which is currently inaccessible, at the Hall.  The original Bunyip Hall also showed movies however, when it burnt down in March 1940, the ‘picture plant’ was destroyed. The Garfield Theatre closed in the early 1960s although it did reopen weekends in 1970 and 1971. There was also a picture theatre at Berwick, it was built by the owners of the Pakenham Picture Theatre and opened September 5, 1928.

Garfield Picture Theatre, 1920s.
Image: Koo Wee Rup Swamp Historical Society

S is for Seaside resorts - Tooradin and Lang Lang. Not quite miles of golden sand beaches, more Western Port mudflats, but we used to to go to Tooradin for swimming and water skiing, when I was a girl in the 1960s and 1970s. The Lang Lang beach hosted the annual Sun newspaper Beach Girl contest in the 1950s, the winner of this and other local competitions then competed for the State title.  This competition was hotly contested and women came from everywhere to compete - the 1952 winners were Miss Joan McDonald, of Elwood, with Miss Vilma Rennell, of Glen Iris, and Miss Beth Clyno, of Loch, second and third respectively (Dandenong Journal, January 30, 1952). The Beach Girl competition was one of the ways the community raised money to construct the  Lang Lang swimming pool at the beach which opened on New Years Day in 1956. The local State Schools held their swimming carnivals there. The Lang Lang Pool was closed after the opening of the Koo Wee Rup pool in February 1975.

Lang Lang Beach Girl competition report
Weekly Times  January 23, 1952

E is for Explorers - and it is also for the book Early Days of Berwick, which is full of interesting information, including this - Mrs Fanny Hume Hutchinson, who was a resident in Peel Street, Berwick, for twenty-nine years, was the granddaughter of Hamilton Hume, the early explorer who came to Australia in 1790 and with Hovell made their memorable journey to Port Phillip in 1824Early Days of Berwick also tells us Mr James W. Ogilvy and his family lived on Buchanan's Road for many years. The son of one of Melbourne's earliest solicitors Mr Ogilvy .....witnessed the departure of Burke and Wills Expedition in 1860.

A is for Accouchement - or giving birth. A dangerous occupation in the past (and still is in many third world and war torn countries). Large families were the norm in the 1800s. For instance, Catherine Bourke, who with her husband Michael established the La Trobe Inn, on the Toomuc Creek in Pakenham  in 1849, had 14 children between 1839 and 1864. Susan Bain, who operated the Berwick Inn on High Street Berwick had eleven children between 1860 and 1880, of which eight pre-deceased her.  Australian figures show that  maternal mortality remains high at 500 to 600 per 100,000 live births until 1937. In 1937, the maternal mortality drops, and continues to tumble in quite an extraordinary way to reach around 109/100,000 by 1950, and below 10/100,000 by 1975 (1). Those early figures mean five mothers would die for every 1,000 live births. According to recent Government figures the maternal mortality rate for 2012 - 2014 is now 6.8 per 100,000.

Even if the mother survived the birth process, the baby often didn't. Infant Mortality rates have dropped from an average of  120 from 1870 to 1910,  to an average of 70 in the 1910s, 31 in the 1940s and 13 in the 1970s. It is now around 3.  The Infant Mortality rate is the number of infant deaths in a year per thousand births registered that year. So in the 1870s to the 1890s - each year on average 120 babies under the age of one would die out of every 1,000 born (2).

Susan and Robert Bain and their family in the 1880s, showing their nine surviving children. 
Image:  Berwick Mechanics' Institute and Free Library by Richard Meyers. 

S is for Stones - gem stones. The most obvious place you might search for gems would be Gembrook. Gembrook was named by Albert Le Souef who was a member of  a mining syndicate searching for gemstones in a creek, four miles west of William Wallace Creek, in the 1870s. Le Souef named this creek Gem brook. Emeralds, garnets and sapphires were apparently found in these creeks. This information comes from the history of Gembrook, written by Genseric Parker, Forest to Farming.  All sorts of gemstones can still be found in the creeks - Cardinia Creek and Wallace Creek, west and east, of Gembrook respectively, are known sources of sapphires, topaz, amethysts, agates and pebbles of variously coloured chalcedony....Zircon and cassiterite are also reported in the Gembrook area... sapphires, zircons, tourmaline and agate are reported at Berwick. This is according to the book How and where to find Gemstones in Australia and New Zealand edited by Bill Myatt (Lansdown Press, 1987). Happy fossicking, but before you go and seek your fortune in the local creeks - you will need a permit - all the details on 'Recreational fossicking' are here.

Zircon gems found in the Bunyip River (eastern branch), 17 km north of Longwarry. Photographer: Frank Coffa.

O is for On the Beach - the book and the film. On the beach was  a novel written by Nevil Shute when he was living at Langwarrin, then part of the Shire of Cranbourne. It was published in 1957. It was later made into a film, some of which was filmed at George Wilson's property in Berwick. Shute Avenue and Kramer Drive in Berwick are permanent reminders of this filming - Shute being named after the author and Kramer, after Stanley Kramer, the Producer. The filming in Berwick took place in January 1959 in very hot conditions - it was over 40 degrees. You can read more about Nevil Shute and the filming, here.  You can read about the making of the film in this account written by Philip Davey, here  Philip Davey is the author of the book When Hollywood came to Melbourne : the story of the making of Stanley Kramer's On the beach, published in 2005.

Filming On the Beach at the Wilson property in Berwick, January 1959.
Image: donated to the Casey Cardinia Library Archive by the Wilson family.

N is for Florence Nightingale. We return to Early Days of Berwick for this link to Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910) - nursing pioneer who formalised nursing education and established standards of care for patients and standards of hygiene for hospitals. From Early Days of Berwick - Two Crimean War Veterans, Mr Drummond and Mr Adams, resided in High Street, Berwick. These two old gentlemen wearing their Crimean War medals, could often be observed sitting in the Boulevard, enjoying the sunshine. It was said that Mrs Drummond was contemporary with and associated with Florence Nightingale, nursing at the Crimea. A report in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of August 10, 1911 said that Tom Drummond celebrated his golden wedding anniversary on Friday evening and Private Tom wears a couple of Crimean medals of which he is justly proud (see article here) So, now we know Mrs Drummond's husband was called Tom and according to the Electoral Roll, her name was Mary, however that is all I know about this couple - what interesting stories they would have to tell.

Have  a wonderful FESTIVE SEASON

Footnotes for A is for Accouchement
(1) The Australian mortality decline: all-cause mortality 1788 - 1990 by Richard Taylor and Milton Lewis - Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Sydney and John Powles - Institute of Public Health, Department of Community Medicine, University of Cambridge, England. Published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health -  1998 Vol. 22 No. 1

(2) Australians: Historical Statistics edited by Wray Vamplew (Fairfax, Syme and Weldon, 1987) These are the Victorian figures. Interesting they vary quite  a bit within each decade - for instance the figures for Victoria for the 1890s are - 1890 - 117.4; 1891- 126.2; 1892 - 106.8; 1893 - 117.7; 1894 - 104.1; 1895 - 102.4; 1896 - 110.0; 1897 - 103.3; 1898 - 134.4; 1899 -114.2.  In 1959, the year I was born, the rate in Victoria was 21.2

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Mrs Edgar Walker, Pen Bryn, Beaconsfield Upper

On December 27, 1904, according to the post mark,  this postcard was sent from Torquay, in England,  to Mrs Edgar Walker, Pen Bryn, Beaconsfield Upper. It is  a delightful postcard -  a self-portrait of Elisabeth Lebrun. Elisabeth (1755 - 1842) was  a popular French portrait artist who painted Marie Antionette over 20 times.

The card reads - Torquay 1st January 1905 - "A bright and Happy New Year to you" - the initials appear to be FMW.  

So who is Mrs Edgar Walker and what is Pen Bryn? We will start with Pen Bryn (Welsh for top of the hill) - it is the name of a house. The original building on the site was  Beaconsfield House which was built by William Brisbane (1842 - 1910) in 1877, on the highest point in the town on what was to become St Georges Parade and Salisbury Road. Most of the building was destroyed by fire on the night of May 30, 1893. Beaconsfield House was where the journalist, The Vagabond, based himself when he visited and wrote about Beaconsfield Upper in 1885, you can read about this here.

In 1902, David John Davies Bevan (1873 - 1954) built  Pen Bryn on the site. David Bevan was a barrister and appointed as a judge in the Northern Territory in 1913. In 1924 he married Doris Reed and they had two children.  He was the son of the Reverend Doctor Llewellyn David Bevan (1842 - 1918) and his wife Louisa Jane (nee Willett, 1844 - 1933).  Llewellyn was a Congregational minister and a leader of Protestant intellectual life in Melbourne, according to his Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) entry, written by Niel Gunson,  which you can read here. The entry also includes information on Louisa.

Louisa was just as interesting, she wrote and illustrated hymns and was also involved in the National Council of Women.  The National Council of  Women in Victoria was formed in November 1901 at Clivenden in East Melbourne, the home of Janet Lady Clarke. Louisa Bevan was a foundation member. There was an interesting report of the founding of this branch in the Arena on November 28, 1901you can read it here.  Amongst other things the article tells us what the women were wearing -  Mrs Bevan was a most picturesque figure in black with Maltese lace draping her head and soldiers.  It's a shame it didn't actually tell us what the aims and activities of the Council were, but they included the education and health of women and the suffrage issue.

In 1904, Louisa Bevan was the Vice-President, and Evelyn Gough was the International secretary. Evelyn Gough, has an indirect connection to the area in that her daughter, Doris, married Merric Boyd, the potter. Merric was the son of Arthur Merric Boyd (1862 - 1940) and Emma Minnie A'Beckett (1858 - 1936).  Emma was the daughter of William Arthur Callandar A'Beckett, M.L.C., J.P. (1833-1901) and his wife Emma Mills (1838 - 1906) who built The Grange at Harkaway.

Back to the Bevans  - Llewllyn and Louisa had seven children - the aforementioned  David, who built Pen Byrn,  and three other sons, all with an abundance of given names -  Hopkin Llewellyn Willett (1871 - 1933),  Louis Rhys Oxley (1874 - 1946) and Penry Vaughan Bevan (1875 - 1913).  There were also three daughters  -  Sibyl Ceredwyn (1879 - 1962), Hester Gwladys (1870 - 1968)  and Muriel Eliza Marienne (1876 - 1955),  and an adopted daughter Dorothy Leigh Wilkins (1893 - 1970).

The Bevan family in 1909.
Image: Upper Beaconsfield: an early history by Charles W. Wilson (Upper Beaconsfield Association, 2013)

It is Muriel who is the Mrs Edgar Walker to whom the post card is addressed. Muriel  married Edgar William Walker (1879 - 1942) on  December 4, 1901. The service was conducted by her father, at the Independent  Church in Collins Street. Hester, Sibyl and Dorothy were the bridesmaids.The bride wore ivory crepe de chine, set off with a very handsome train of silvery brocade, the Church was beautifully decorated with an array of flowers and the reception was held at the Independent Hall. You can read reports of the wedding here and here.  The couple lived in Camberwell according to the Electoral Rolls and Edgar's occupation was listed as a commercial traveller. They had three children - Janet, David and Lois.

Sources -
The information about Pen Bryn comes from Upper Beaconsfield: an early history by Charles W. Wilson (Upper Beaconsfield Association, 2013)

The information on the Bevan family comes mainly from Marianne Rocke's Residents of Upper Beaconsfield website

The lovely post card was given to me by my post card collecting friend, Isaac.