Friday, 16 August 2013

Pakenham Gardens or Dr Bruce Cox Gardens at Pakenham

I have recently been scanning some slides, from our Archive, that were taken by the Shire of Pakenham in the early 1980s. Some of them show the construction of the carpark behind Main Street in Pakenham and what was Pakenham Gardens or Dr Bruce Cox Gardens. The Pakenham Library was later built in this area, but the Library, the car park and the Dr Cox Gardens were demolished in 2009 to make  way for a shopping centre.

Dr Cox, and his wife Kath, arrived in Pakenham in 1956, when Pakenham was just a country town. He joined the practice of  Dr George Farrell, who died in April 1962. Dr Cox, like many country doctors at the time, carried out a medical practice as well as working in the Bush Nursing Hospital, undertaking surgery, general health care and delivering babies. In fact, Dr Cox was the first Doctor in Pakenham to allow husbands to stay with their wives during labour. Dr Cox was also the Shire of Berwick Medical Officer*.  Dr Cox passed away in August 1988 and the Pakenham Gardens were renamed the Dr Bruce Cox Gardens in honour of the contribution he had made to the community.

In June 2012, a new memorial garden was opened to honour Dr Cox. near the new Hall and Library complex.

Construction of the car park, circa 1980.

The Pakenham Gardens, taken after the car park was finished, 1980 or 1981.

This slide, above, was developed in August 1982, but I suspect that it was taken a bit earlier as it doesn't show the toilet block, which is shown below, in slides developed in October 1981. 

There were at least 15 slides of this toilet block, it was obviously a source of civic pride, and if you remember what the old toilet block was like in Pakenham, then you would know that it is well worth a photograph (or 15). The old toilet block was in John Street, when it was a dead end, before Safeways was built in the early 1980s. I  remember it was a dark, clinker brick building that smelt of disinfectant blocks. 

The car park after the construction of the toilet block, most likely taken 1981.

The gardens are still called the Pakenham Gardens. This photograph is from a series of Shire of Pakenham photographs that we have, taken in the mid to late 1980s.

The construction of the previous Pakenham library in John Street, which was opened officially May 19,  1991 and demolished in 2009. The gardens have been renamed Dr Bruce Cox Gardens.

*Information from Somebody's baby: history of Pakenham & District Hospital 1926-92 by Heather Shallard (published by The Hospital, 1992)

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