Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Captain Cook Statue at Endeavour Hills

A statue of Captain James Cook was unveiled in Endeavour Hills in November 1973 outside the first sales office on the corner of Joseph Banks Crescent and Heatherton Road (the building is now a medical centre).  The statue was created by Marc Clark. The community newsletter, the Endeavour Gazette of March 30, 1974 reported that it was unveiled by Norman Banks, a descendant of Sir Joseph Banks, the Botanist on Cook's ship, the Endeavour.   Mr Banks said that the 'face is modelled after the only two portraits for which Cook sat in person and there has been tremendous attention to detail in the uniform. His [Clark's] wife was the curator of costumes at the National Gallery of Victoria and had provided valuable aid to her husband in this respect'.  Mr Paul Day, the Project Manager of Endeavour Hills said that the statue was the symbol of Endeavour Hills and he hoped that it would help develop a strong sense of local identity.


The statue was used on early sales brochures - this is from 1974

A new sales office opened around July 1979 on the corner of Matthew Flinders Avenue and Monkhouse Drive. The statue was then moved from the original location to the new sales office in Matthew Flinders Drive. The Endeavour Hills Gazette of July 1979 reported that 'The statue of Captain James Cook has been moved to the new location and has been sited in a commanding position on a large area of undulating ground which has been sown to lawn'.

The statue remained outside the sales office building, even though it ceased being a sales office around 1993 and was leased out to a Radiology group. In March 1996,  the building and the statue went up for auction. The statue is now located in the Fitzroy Gardens, near Cook's Cottage. The Melbourne Encyclopedia http://www.emelbourne.net.au/ says it was donated to the City of Melbourne and installed in July 1997. It would be interesting to know who purchased the sculpture at the auction (if anyone) and who donated it as it was a generous thing to do.



Sales flyer for the statue


Sales flyer for the building, showing the statue in situ

The artist who created the sculpture was Marc Clark. On the back of the sales flyer for the sculpture, there are some biographical details of Mr Clark. He was born in London in 1923, studied at the Canterbury School of Art, served in the 9th Queens's Royal Lancers from 1942 to 1947 and then studied sculpture at the Royal Collage of Arts in London.  After various jobs he arrived in Australia in 1962 and lectured at the Caulfield Institute of Technology, was Drawing and Sculpture Master at the National Gallery Art School and later lectured at the Victorian College of the Arts. Other works he was commissioned for include  a statue of the late Queen of Tonga; a statue of the first Australian  Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton in Canberra; a  statue of Governor Bligh in Sydney and  a statue of Matthew Flinders in Mornington.  

Friday, 7 July 2017

Miss Beatrice Thomas - Berwick Shire Secretary

The Dandenong Journal reported on January 23, 1952 that Miss Beatrice (Trixie) Thomas had been appointed as the Berwick Shire Secretary. Miss Thomas (1901- 1997) had been employed by the Shire for 27 years and had been acting as the Assistant Secretary for 'some time'  Miss Thomas was the daughter of Albert Thomas, who founded  the Pakenham Gazette in 1909 and the sister of Herb Thomas, who took over the paper from his father. Miss Thomas followed Mr K. A. McKay in the role, who had served  for four years and resigned in December 1951. Keith McKay had taken over from the long serving James Joseph Ahern who was in the role from 1906 until he retired December 1947.

Dandenong Journal January  23 1952

Clearly, Miss Thomas was well qualified for the position,  however the Returned Soldiers League (RSL) and the Pakenham Upper Progress Association protested against the appointment as the newspaper article from the Dandenong Journal of  February 27, 1952 reported (see below). I have transcribed some of the article - the full article can be read here.


Dandenong Journal  February 27, 1952
CHALLENGED FROM TWO QUARTERS over its failure to give preference to returned servicemen in its recent appointment of a new Shire Secretary, Berwick Shire Council last week replied that the appointment had been made in the best interests of returned soldiers. Chief defendant of council’s action was Cr. C. Greaves, himself a returned man, who said he was very happy over the appointment, but he did compliment the two organisations who had raised the matter, because it showed their vigilance - and vigilance was necessary if preference was to be preserved.
EMPHATIC PROTEST
Pakenham Upper Progress Association forwarded an emphatic protest against the departure from the principle of preference to ex-servicemen in the appointment of Shire Secretary.
R.S.L. ASKS FOR REASONS
Pakenham Branch R.S.L. asked that council inform them of its reasons for departure from the
established policy of extending preference to returned service men in the recent appointment. Members of the branch desired to know how many returned service men made application for the
position, and, if any, what were their qualifications and experience in municipal administration. Click here to read the rest of the article.

One month later, the R.S.L. requested more information from the Council about the appointment. Read the full article in the Dandenong Journal of March 26, 1952 here.


Dandenong Journal  March 26 1952

PAKENHAM RSL PERSISTS IN PREFERENCE PROBE
Feeling that the Berwick Council had not given the information it asked for at its last meeting over
the appointment of a non-returned service secretary, Pakenham R.S.L. last week repeated its request for this information: “How many returned servicemen applied for the position? What were
their qualifications?”, it asked. It is getting the information it sought, but not before several brushes between councillors not over any desire to withhold the information but over the claim of some councillors that they had been in favor of giving the information in the first place, but couldn’t get support. This was challenged.  
Cr Houlihan said he felt the R.S.L. was entitled to this information. Their purpose was to watch the interests of the returned servicemen and they couldn’t do this unless they had the information. When the advertisement  appeared one clause in it was “Preference to Returned Soldiers.” There were 22 applicants for the position, but no one outside the committee of the council knew whether any returned soldier was included or not. Pakenham R.S.L. had been placed in a very awkward position. They were responsible to the League to see that preference was given to returned soldiers in their district. “They do know”, proceeded Cr. Houlihan”, that the secretary who was appointed is not a returned soldier although our advertisement stated that preference would be given to returned soldiers. And while I’m in this council I hope to see that preference is given to returned servicemen, or an opinion voiced in support of that policy. ... I feel that the branch is entitled to this information so that they can take proper action. Cr. Houlihan moved that the information be supplied.
Seconding this motion, Cr. Greaves claimed that he had tried to get a more adequate reply in the first place.
There was some support for Miss Thomas -  Cr. Kinsella  said -  I feel this matter has gone far enough. I came to this council table with one purpose only - and that is to get  the best service  possible for the ratepayers. I took the action in moving as I did in furtherance of that policy and I was supported by 10 councillors. I  have nothing against telling the R.S.L. what it wants to know. Certainly tell them. I would say that ’when the position became vacant we should have appointed Miss Thomas there and then if that was our intention. We can’t appoint a member of the staff unless it is unanimous'. 'I may-be wrong', proceeded Cr. Kinsella, but I believe that for a returned soldier to serve this council he would have to have qualities at least equal with one who has given this council long and loyal service and who has nothing against them. I would always support the appointment of one whom I believe, rightly or wrongly, has served this shire well. ... I do object to councillors now getting up and saying they said things they definitely did not say when this matter first came before council.
Read the full article here

The controversy was still raging a month later when the Dandenong Journal had  a 'vox pop' on the issue.


Dandenong Journal  April 22 1952

The dispute that has thrown Berwick and Pakenham into two camps - whether Miss Beatrice Thomas should be Shire Secretary was settled at the Berwick Shire Council meeting yesterday. But the result is a closely guarded secret. Cr. A. G. Robinson, Shire President, said 'Miss Thomas's appointment was made with the full approval of council' 
Mr. Vernon Clark, Pakenham R. S. L. branch honorary secretary,who wants an ex-serviceman appointed, was not admitted to the meeting. Mr Clark will seek the advice of a Queen's Counsel on whether the Council violated it's agreement to grant preference to returned servicemen. 
Shire residents yesterday supported Mr Clark's protest.
Mr. L. C. Futcher, Pakenham shopkeeper, said:  'Rejection of the promises made to returned servicemen is a thing that should be stopped before it spreads to other Councils and other employees'.
Miss Alma Lang of Berwick:  'I have two brothers who went right through the War, so I'll always stick up for servicemen'.
Miss Joyce Berry, cook, at Berwick Hospital: 'How can we  expect men to join up for the next War if those who fought in the last one aren't given a fair go'.
Misses Evande Trebilen and Pat Fritzlaff, Berwick dressmakers:  'The Shire Secretary's job is a man's job whether he's a returned soldier or not'.

The Dandenong Journal of May 21, 1952 published another article on the issue, this time reporting on some support Miss Thomas was receiving from a number of high profile women's groups.


Dandenong Journal  May 21 1952 


WOMEN RALLY TO DEFENCE OF BERWICK'S SHIRE SECRETARY
Counterblast To R.S.L.'s Protest.
The women are not taking the R.S.L’s. protest against the appointment of Miss Beatrice Thomas, as Berwick Shire Secretary in preference to an ex-serviceman, lying down. At Monday’s meeting, no less than five letters were received by council, congratulating it on having appointed Miss Thomas, and urging it to stand its ground.
The National Council of Women wrote: 'We desire to express to the President and the members of council our appreciation of your action in not allowing any discrimination on the grounds of sex to
prevent you from appointing the most suitable applicant for the position'.
Dr Janet P. Cooper of Albert Park, wrote: 'Having read of your selecting Miss Thomas as Shire Secretary, I am pleased to congratulate you on recognising her service and ability. While fully appreciating and remembering what we all owe to the ex-service people, there are situations when the ratepayers are entitled to the most efficient service'.
'The League of Women Voters of Victoria congratulate your Shire Council on having appointed as Shire Secretary, your very experienced officer, Miss Thomas’ wrote the president of that organisation. 'The officers and members hope that, in spite of any protests that may be made you will continue to employ Miss Thomas in that position, and to enjoy her services, which after 25 years experience, must be entirely adequate'.
Expressing concern at the press statement made by an R.S.L. representative, 'That we will oppose the appointment of a woman as Shire Secretary', the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Victoria, wrote: 'We feel that the appointment would not have been made unless the council is assured that the best interests of the shire would be served by this officer, and trust that your council will adhere to
the decision to make qualifications rather than sex, or other issues the basis of the appointment'.
Voicing their congratulations on the appointment the Business Professional Women’s Club
of Melbourne stated: 'This club considers that in the interests of the community, appointments
should made having regard only for the ability and experience of the candidates, and without discrimination because of sex'.



So what happened in the end? Miss Thomas retained her appointment and served the Shire of Berwick until she retired in 1966. She is pictured, above, with the 1965 Shire of Berwick Councillors and staff.


Miss Thomas (pictured)  was an inaugural member of the Historical Society of the Berwick Shire, formed in 1962 (now called the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society) - this is the original headquarters in John Street, Pakenham, built on land donated by Les Futcher, who was one of the locals who opposed Miss Thomas' appointment as Shire Secretary in 1952 (see 'vox pop' article, above)