Friday, 16 April 2010

Narre Warren - the early years

The first township of Narree Warren was surveyed in 1860, and is now known as Narre Warren North and the township which developed around the Railway Station became Narre Warren Railway Station and later just Narre Warren. When the large squatting runs were broken up and sold off, farmers moved into the area, some of the earliest being Thomas & Eliza Walton who arrived in 1852 and built Holly Green, where Fountain Gate Shopping Centre is now located. Walton held ploughing competitions, grew tobacco, flax and grapes – he had 2 acres of vineyards and made a ‘good dry wine”. Around 1855 the Mornington Hotel was built on the Walton’s property, you can read more about this, here.

Holly Green, built by the Waltons, was demolished in 1937, by John Lloyd who built Brechin on the site.

In 1853, Daniel & Kathleen Crowley purchased 632 acres around Prospect Hill Road and built their home where the Fountain Gate Primary School is now located. They also had 160 acres, called Granite Hills, due to the Granite outcrop. This was sold to Cornelius Killeen then to Anthony and Mary Kent who arrived around 1875. Other early settlers were John & Daniel Sweeney who arrived around 1860.

Kent's General Store, situated on the north east corner of the Princes Highway and Webb Street. The photograph was taken around 1912.
Image: Oak Trees and Hedges: a pictorial  history of Narre Warren, Narre Warren North and Harkaway

In 1877 the Railway line went through to Bunyip and, by 1879, all the way to Sale, but the seminal event in the development of Narre Warren, was the arrival of Sidney and Ann Webb. Webb is listed as owning “house and land” in the 1876 Rate books and in 1880 they purchased Holly Green. Sidney Webb (1844-1920) was a Newsagent, who founded the Victorian Authorised Newsagents Association. One book says When he retired from business he purchased Holly Green, which would have made him 36 years old. Webb agitated for a Railway Station at Narre Warren, which opened in 1882 and he collected money to purchase land for a road to connect the town to the Station. According to the Shire of Berwick Rate Books, in 1888 and1889 a number of businesses were established in Narre Warren. Albert Raduchel, a blacksmith; Thomas Woodley, a baker; Thomas Stones, a butcher and James Middleton, a storekeeper. They all leased their premised from Sidney Webb. By 1891, Richardson’s, who also had a business in Berwick, had taken over the Butchery. Later on, Alfred and Alice Kent had a General Store. Alfred was the son of Anthony and Mary Kent and Alice was the daughter of Sidney and Ann Webb. These families had a double connection as Ada Kent married Harry Webb. The Webb’s had also married into another prominent local family, the Baileys. William & Fanny Bailey settled in Narre Warren North in 1894 established the first orchard in the area on Bayview Farm. Their son James married Lucy Webb and their eldest son, George had a General store in Narre Warren. George was first listed as a Storekeeper in the Rate Books in 1914 and it was operated by family members until the 1970s.

This photograph also shows Kent's General Store, and Thomas Woodley's bakery. The sign on the fence says "High class pastry cook" and "Hygenic bread factory". Further down the hill is Raduchel's Blacksmiths and also shown are the oak trees planted by Sidney Webb in 1890.
Image: Oak Trees and Hedges: a pictorial  history of Narre Warren, Narre Warren North and Harkaway

Narre Warren further consolidated as a town with when Sidney Webb donated land for the School which opened in 1889 and the Mechanics' Institute which opened in 1891. Sidney Webb’s lasting legacy is the row of oak trees along the Princes Highway which he planted in 1890 and of course, Webb Street.

The Webb Family, taken around 1890.
Image: Oak Trees and Hedges: a pictorial  history of Narre Warren, Narre Warren North and Harkaway

Before we end, Sidney Webb gets a lot of well deserved credit for the development of Narre Warren but in the back ground was his wife Ann Hart. They married in 1866 and she bore him fourteen children from 1866 to 1886. Ann died in 1914, aged 70.

Here is  a list of their children and any information I know about them -

  • Sidney - born 1866, married Lilias McKenzie Blackwood in 1893, died 1933. You can read his short obituary from The Argus of October 14, 1933, here.
  • Annie Ellen - born 1868, married William Davison Oliver in 1902, died 1955.
  • Amelia Mary - born and died 1870
  • Howard - born and died 1871
  • Alice Isabella - born 1872,  married Alfred Ernest Kent in 1898, died 1951.
  • Edith Hannah - born 1873, married Charles James Dellar in 1908. 
  • Jessie Maria - born 1874, died 1875.
  • Lucy Agnes - born 1877, married James William Bailey in 1903, died 1945.
  • Florence Emily - born 1878, never married,  died 1947.
  • Henry Liston - born 1880, married Ada Evelyn Kent in 1903, died 1964.
  • Robert - born  1881, died 1957.
  • Bertha Eliza - born 1883, married Alexander Moran in 1911, died 1958.
  • Walter Edwin - born 1885, died 1897.
  • Percy John - born 1886, married Muriel Amy Isabel Heywood in 1911. 

The photographs in this post come from the book Oak Trees and Hedges: a pictorial  history of Narre Warren, Narre Warren North and Harkaway. It is published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society. They operate a Museum, open on Sundays, from 2.00pm until 4.00pm, in the Old Shire Offices, corner of McGregor Road and Main Street in Pakenham (enter from the Highway service road off James Street)

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