Monday, 1 September 2014

North of the Line: a pictorial record and a short history of Officer and Garfield

The Berwick Pakenham Historical Society published North of the Line:  a pictorial record in 1996 and it still provides us today with a great source of photographs of the area in Cardinia which is 'north of the line' i.e the Gippsland Railway line. The photographs cover Beaconsfield and Beaconsfield Upper, Guys Hill, Officer, Pakenham and Pakenham Upper, Cockatoo, Gembrook, Nar Nar Goon North, Tynong and North Tynong, Garfield and Bunyip.


The Gippsland Railway line was the seminal event in establishment of  many of these towns - Beaconsfield, Officer, Pakenham, Nar Nar Goon, Tynong, Garfield and Bunyip. The line had opened in stages -  Sale to Morwell June 1877, Oakleigh to Bunyip October 1877, Moe to Morwell December 1877, Moe to Bunyip March 1878 and the last stretch from South Yarra to Oakleigh in 1879. As well, the Puffing Billy Railway line contributed to the development of Cockatoo and Gembrook. We will now look at Officer and  Garfield as they both developed in similar ways around a timber sliding and then both towns became a centre for the brick making trade.

Officer began as Officer's Wood Siding, as a siding was constructed to take timber from land owned by the Officer family to Melbourne. The Officer family had a fairly illustrious background - Sir Robert Officer (1800-1879) a medical doctor, had arrived in Tasmania in 1822. He married Jamina Patterson  in 1823 and she bore him six sons and seven daughters. In spite of this Jamina lived to be 77 years old and died in 1881. Sir Robert  was at one time the Health Officer for Hobart and a member of the Legislative Council. He was Knighted in 1869.  In the early 1840s he moved some of his interests to the Port Phillip District (Victoria), with the Mount Talbot, Lingmer and Yat Nat Runs in  the Western District, with  his sons Charles Myles and Seutonious Henry. Another son, William, had acquired the Zara Station, near Deniliquin in New South Wales in 1860. The Zara Run was 68, 000 acres and was a sheep stud and remained with the Officer family until it was sold for 250,000 pounds in 1927,  fourteen years after the death of William Officer in 1913. You can read about Sir Robert Officer in The Australian Dictionary of Biography here.


Pakenham Parish Plan, dated 1926 - showing location of land owned by the Officer family at Officer.
Click on the map to enlarge it.

 In the Wake of the Pack Tracks  implies that is was William Officer who acquired the Mount Misery run, near Beaconsfield, and after the railway line was opened he used to rail his sheep from Deniliquin to Officer in times of drought. However, the  Pakenham Parish Plan  (see above) which covers Officer, lists an M. Officer as owning 314 acres and 313 acres, north of Browns Road and in between Starling Road and Whiteside Roads ( if we imagine they extended northwards over Browns Road) and south of Payne Road, thus covering where the G.W.S. Anderson Scout Camp is today. Another edition of the Parish Plan has both an M Officer and an R. Officer as owning the land, I presume that is Robert Officer. Regardless of which member of the Officer family owned the land,  it would be interesting to know whether they actually lived in Officer, but I don't believe they did. For instance, when William died was was living at Zara, and his son Ernest, who managed Zara after his father's death, was living at Toorak when he died. In the Wake of the Pack Tracks says that there was a wattle and daub house on the property, to accomodate the men in charge of the sheep and this stood for some seventy to eighty years at Officer. 


Tivendale's Store at Officer
Source: North of the Line: a  pictorial record

The Railway also opened up another business in Officer - brick works. At one time there were five brick yards in Officer.  In the Wake of the Pack Tracks lists them as Fry's in Starling Road; Holt's near the Railway Station; Reece's on Whiteside Road; Tivendale's near Hick's pipes work (I presume this is north side of Highway)  and Morey's where the Tile Works are (I presume this is on the south side of the Highway).  Both the timber and brick industry were no doubt boosted by the 1880s boom period in Melbourne and the growth of new suburbs. Garfield had  a similar history to Officer as the Railway lead to the establishment of two early industries, Jefferson’s Saw Mill and brick works and the Cannibal Creek Saw Mill Company.

Joseph Jefferson established a saw mill in 1877 on the site of what was to become his clay pit, off Railway Avenue. He sent this timber out via Bunyip Station until a local siding, the Cannibal Creek Siding, was built in 1885 to accommodate the timber tramline which was constructed by William Brisbane, a contractor on behalf of Francis Stewart.  This tramline run for about 8 kilometres, to the Two Mile Creek,  the Garfield North road basically follows this tramway.  In the same year, Cannibal Creek Saw Mill Company Limited was registered in October by the Stewart family, with William Brisbane being a minority shareholder. Stewart had already obtained the saw milling rights to 2,000 acres of forest in 1883. Both Stewart and Brisbane had been involved separately and jointly in other mills and tramlines at Berwick, Beaconsfield and Nar Nar Goon.  The Cannibal Creek Saw Mill Company sounds like a very grand enterprise but apparently the Company was in trouble by December 1885, the tramline was disbanded in 1887 and the Company was placed in liquidation in 1888, however it deserves it’s place in Garfield’s history as the Cannibal Creek Siding, became the Garfield Railway Station.

Garfield Railway Station, c.1910
Source: North of the line: a pictorial record

Getting back to Joseph Jefferson, his was a very successful business, as well as producing timber products such as fence posts and rails and firewood, he also mined the sand on his property to be used in the building industry in Melbourne and when he discovered clay on his property he began making clay bricks. Like the Officer brick works,  Jefferson benefited from the 1880s  boom time as he could produce over 50,000 bricks per week and fire 75,000 at a time in his kiln. The Depression of the 1890s saw a decline in the building industry which flowed onto his business and the brickworks eventually shut down in 1929.

This is a companion volume to Oak Trees and Hedges: a pictorial history of Narre Warren, Narre Warren North and Harkaway and Berwick Nostalgia:  a pictorial history of BerwickIt 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) The books are available at the Museum as is In the Wake of the Pack Tracks.

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