Thursday, 2 December 2010

Devon Meadows

The Devon Meadows area was part of the Sherwood run, until it was sub-divided by the owner Benjamin Cox in 1912. According to the Shire of Cranbourne Rate Books, Cox purchased 1191 acres (480 hectares) consisting of Allotments 31, 32, 33, 40 & 41 from John Brown (I presume Browns Road was named after him) in 1911 and the next year he purchased the 640 acre Carnmallum Pre Emptive Right. This land is clearly seen in the extract from the Sherwood Parish Plan shown below. A Parish Plan, shows the owners of land after the Crown - the original owner of Allotments 32, 33, 40 & 41 was J.Bruce and Allotment 31 was owned by G.Poole. Cox named his estate Devon Meadows. Cox was from Melbourne and would be described as a developer today, however his occupation was listed in the Rate Books as 'gentleman'



There were many advertisements in The Argus from 1913 advertising the Devon Meadows Estate, including this one shown on the left from September 17 1913 (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7289816) If you click on the image to enlarge it, you will see that Devon Meadows was advertised to Men of small capital to purchase the one, five, ten or twenty acres for an annual payment less than a rental. According to the advertisement Devon Meadows was also specially suited to French farming. French farmers apparently know that small farms pay best. Other selling points of the land was that is was a good start for new arrivals and even a good birthday investment for the members of your family. The reality was not quite as rosy as the advertisements would have you believe. Rhoda Rawlins*, who we met in the last post, said that many people paid a deposit on the land but couldn't keep up with the payments so the same land was sold over again. Rhoda also said the roads were just winding tracks through the bush and that water was was obtained from the public well near the Hall. In spite of the grandiose advertising if appears that many of the Devon Meadows farms were too small to support a family and many of the men had to find employment in the Cranbourne Sand pits, the Mayfield dairy at Cranbourne and local farms.

However a community soon developed. In 1916 the school was established with an enrolment of 46 pupils. Harriet Bury was the first teacher and by 1932 there were three teachers working in the one room, so an extension was added, another extension was added in 1955 and the school was divided into two rooms. In July 1917, the School held a bazaar and social to raise money for the Red Cross. At times, the Mechanics' Institute was leased to provide additional space for students. This Hall was opened on October 1, 1925 on five acres donated by Benjamin Cox. Funds to repay the debt on the Hall were raised by Sports Days, Balls, Bazaars and Exhibitions. The Sherwood Dramatic and Musical Society of Devon Meadows not only entertained the locals but also raised money for Hall. In 1925 a public telephone was erected at the Five Way store. The phone was connected to the Clyde Exchange.
In the 1930s Devon Meadows also had a Horticultural and Agricultural Society, which as we found out in the last post, ran the local flower show.

The Argus, Friday July 26, 1935, p.3
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11751638

Devon Meadows has long had a connection to the horticultural industry with the establishment in 1959 of Faceys Nursery by Rex Trimble. In 1971, the Wood family moved Woodlyn Nursery which had been established in Clayton in 1937 to Five Ways. Devon Meadows is also home to the Schruers Vegetable Farm, a major producer of vegetables including leeks, lettuce, celery and endive. Peter Schreurs had started growing vegetables on his 20 acre (8 hectare) farm in Thompsons Road in Cranbourne in 1958. He purchased the 500 acre (202 hectare) Royston Park in Devons Meadows in 1989. With their farms at Devon Meadows, Clyde and Cora Lynn the family grow vegetables on a scale that most of the original Devon Meadows small farmers could only dream of. There are some interesting videos on the history of the Schreurs Farm and also of vegetable production on their website www.leeks.com.au

*Rhoda was interviewed for the book Uncovering Devon Meadows: a collection of local lives. Published by the Devon Meadows Primary School, 1985.