Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Webb Street, Narre Warren - 1990s

These are photographs of Webb Street Narre Warren, taken in the 1990s, by the City of Berwick (when Councils focused on the traditional 3 Rs - Roads, Rates and Rubbish) Back in the days before large shopping centres such as Fountain Gate, which opened in March 1980, and Centro at Cranbourne, which opened in 1979, were built, people used to do all their shopping at strip shopping centres such as Webb Street or High Street in Cranbourne or Main Street in Pakenham. If you wanted something special you went to Dandenong to the shops or the market or even 'into town' i.e. Melbourne.


This is Webb Street in 1992. You can see the Signal box from the Narre Warren Railway Station in the back ground. The Signal box is now at Myuna Farm. The Railway Station moved from original location (west of Webb Street) to current location (east of Webb Street) in 1995. 


Almost the same view as above, but a better view of the Signal box, early 1990s.


Webb Street, early 1990s. If the sign is accurate then this must have been taken before November 1992 as this was when the Narre Warren Library moved from Malcolm Court to next to the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. 


This is Bailey's supermarket, taken in 1992


This is a bit earlier than the other photos but shows, on the right, Bailey's supermarket, being constructed. The main building is the old cool store, which is being demolished. Some car fans have dated some of the cars in this photo -  a 1977 Torana Sunbird, a post 1978 Datsun 200B and possibly a 1977 Corolla and the green car in the centre is a HG Monaro - now apparently worth $100,000! Anyway, these identifications date this photo to late 1970s. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Columnar Basalt at Narre Warren North

Max Thomson, published this photograph of Columnar Basalt at Narre Warren North,  in his book Little Hills 1839-1977. Sadly, these impressive and interesting basalt columns have been destroyed, but I have found some information about them


Columnar Basalt, north of A'Beckett Road, 1960'
Image: Little Hills 1839-1977 compiled by Max Thomson


Information from Little Hills 1839-1977 compiled by Max Thomson on behalf of the State School No.1901 Centenary Committee (Narre Warren North State School Centenary Committee, 1977) pages 45 & 46.

Mr Thomson wrote this about the basalt columns - 

On the north side of a'Beckett Road was once a fine example of columnar basalt. The late Mr Crsobie Morrison a well known field naturalist and also editor of "Wild Life and Outdoors' visited the area in 1943. An illustrated article appeared in the magazine later.

Mr Morrison wrote as follows: "On a peaceful dairy farm we found a hole in the hillside by  a clump of gum trees and wild cherry, and  a wall remaining in parts as true as any mason ever dressed a stone. At the end of the wall was a pillar - an absolutely regular six-sided pillar built in sections as any pillar might be: part of it still standing in its original position, but other sections which fitted accurately and were dressed to the same regular outline lay strewn about the floor of the depression"

"The remains of the wall were particulary striking. The rectangular stone which composed it were enormous; probably it would require half  a dozen men to lift one of them. And instead of being laid horizontally, their greatest dimension was vertical.  Between them was a mortar almost as hard as the rocks themselves. Whoever said that these were ancient ruins could scarcely be blamed for his conclusion.The similarity to  human handiwork is most convincing."

"In spite of their convincing resemblance to the handiwork of man these relics, it seem are examples of Natures' craftsmanship. The rock of which they are composed was once molten lava pouring from some ancient volcano long extinct."

"Their form is sufficient evidence in itself that this was once a thick lava flow, which extended over Narre Warren North and away beyond Berwick."

"Then there is the puzzling 'mortar'. This does not seem to be a general feature of columnar basalt formations. In the case of these ruins it is probably due to the weathering and cementation over very long ages."

"The Sydenham Organ Pipes are a comparatively recent formation - they belong to the Newer Basalt series in Victoria, or Pleistocene age.  The Narre Warren North example is Older Basalt, of the Lower Tertiary. Much more time has elapsed here to permit the washing of  minerals into cracks between the columns, and the deposition of the minerals out of  solution to form a secondary rock that serves as a 'mortar.' It  is just what was needed to give the final touch of realism to the spectacular natural phenomenon."

Information from Early Days of Berwick, 3rd edition, pages 101 & 102

The book Early Days of Berwick, first  published in 1948, has this to say about the columnar basalt -

To geologists, and also of general interest, is the spectacular natural phenomenon which occurs in Cr. George Rae's property, of columnar basalt. This was the subject of a very interesting illustrated article on "Wild Life' magazine of  June 1943 , by Mr Crosbie Morrison. "Dr A.V.G James, the recognised authority on the volcanic rock formations of Victoria, sets out that the rock of which this is composed was once molten lava pouring from some ancient volcano, long extinct. Volcanic lavas, on cooling, assume many different forms, and sometimes the flow of lava has remained intact and very thick. The evidence is that this was once a thick lava flow which extended over Narre Warren and away beyond Berwick. As it cooled it formed  a solid crust above, beneath, and at the sides and ends of the mass. Solid rock being  a poor conductor of heat, the interior cools slowly, once the initial crust has been formed. The outer crust, as it cools, tends to contract, but is not flexible. As it contracts, something has to give way, and the rock, being fine grained and homogeneous, the stresses are distributed evenly through it, so that when it finally gives way, the cracks occur at regular distances in every direction, the final result being, when all the rock is hardened and cooled, a series of hexagonal columns, not all vertical,  but extending from the periphery of the molten mass and meeting at the centre."

The Narre Warren North example belongs to the older basalt series of formation in Victoria of the Lower Tertiary Age. The same formation occurs at the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, the Tesselated Pavement and Organ Pipes of Southern Tasmania, and the Organ Pipes of Sydenham, Victoria - thus Narre Warren North has a formation of uncommon interest.

Information from Volcanoes: An Introduction to Systematic Geomorphology Volume 6 by Cliff Ollier (Australian National University, 1969) Available on-line at https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/115134/2/b1032284x.pdf

The only other reference I could find regarding Columnar Basalt in the Narre Warren area, was this photograph from the book, above. I don't believe these are the same columns as in the photo above - so there must have been more than one example of the phenomenon in the area. Do any still remain?


The top photo is captioned 'Lava Flow at Narre Warren, Victoria, showing lower colonnade with vertical columns, a central entablature, with curved columns and an upper scoriaccous  zone without columns (A.A. Baker)'  The photo at the bottom is The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, as mentioned in the Early Days of Berwick article.
Image: Volcanoes: An Introduction to Systematic Geomorphology Volume 6 by Cliff Ollier 


When were they destroyed?
Mr Thomson's book, published in 1977,  says there was once a fine example of columnar basalt. The photo in his book is dated 1960, so the destruction date range would be sometime between 1960 and 1977.  What of the example published in Mr Ollier's book in 1969?  I don't know if they still exist, but I doubt it, or when they were destroyed.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Algernon Darge - photographer

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Main Street, Lang Lang, c. 1930s, Photographer: Algernon Darge.

This great photo of Main Street in Lang Lang was taken by Algernon  Darge.  Mr Darge operated as a photographer from 1903 and his office was in the same building as The Herald and The Argus newspapers at 175 Collins Street.  His company  had the concession to take photographs at the Broadmeadows and Seymour army camps during the First World War. In the 1930s, the Australian War Memorial purchased the original glass negatives from Algernon Darge, along with the photographers' notebooks. The notebooks contain brief details, usually a surname or unit name, for each negative (Australian War Memorial website)

There is an interesting article by Joanne Smedley - 19,000 glass plate negatives: Algernon Darge’s First World War legacy*, which you can access here, about his World War One collection and the acquisition of it by the War Memorial. It was not a straight forward process and the War Memorial rejected early offers from Darge and it wasn't until 1938 that the collection arrived at the War Memorial.  It's  a great collection, it's a shame that it is very difficult finding photos on the War Memorial's less than user-friendly website.  Some of Mr Darge's photos were published in The Argus when they were reporting on the deaths of soldiers, such as the one below of Private A'Beckett.


Private Frank Leigh A'Beckett, a farmer from Upper Beaconsfiled, enlisted on February 10, 1915 and was Killed in Action at Gallipoli on August 7, 1915. His portrait by Darge appeared in The Argus on September 17, 1915. 


Algernon Darge was born Algernon Charles Gordon Sharp in 1878 and Joanna Smedley writes it was under the name of Algy Sharp that he initially operated “Darge.” Photographers. In 1913 he changed his name by Deed Poll to Algernon Darge, perhaps to overcome the confusion of a different surname to his studio’s name or possibly because he had become synonymous with his studio. 

Mr Darge died on January 24, 1941 and his ashes were scattered at Mount Matlock, near Woods Point. His obituary in The Argus of February 3, 1941 (read it here) described him as a pioneer of commercial photography in Melbourne and reported that his  collection includes many scenes of early Melbourne life, photographs of notable events in the city's history, of the first motor-cars to chug and rattle along its streets- Mr Darge himself was one of the first to use a car for commercial purposes. The obituary also reported on the contents of his will - he left his unique pictorial record of half a century of Melbourne's history, the carefully preserved collection of photographic plates to The Argus.....The residue of his estate is to be held in trust for 21 years, during which the income is to be used for the electrical engineering and mechanical engineering departments of the Melbourne Technical College, where Mr. Darge was formerly an assistant Instructor. The residue will become the property of the college after 21 years. Sadly, for us, according to Joanna Smedley, it seems his formal offer of negatives to The Argus was not taken up. 

The State Library of Victoria holds about 350 of his photographs, though not the one of Lang Lang and I can't find any other local photos in the collection.  

*Joanne Smedley - 19,000 glass plate negatives: Algernon Darge’s First World War legacy  Joanne Smedley. In: A Cultural Cacophony: Museum Perspectives and Projects Online Version (2016), pp. 165-175 https://www.museumsaustralia.org.au/ma2015-sydney  Published by the NSW branch of Museums Galleries Australia

Thursday, 4 April 2019

The Opening of the Devon Meadows State School March 30, 1916

The South Bourke and Mornington Journal of April 13, 1916 reported on the opening of the Devon Meadows State School on March 30, 1916. It's an interesting account and also tells us a little something of the history of the area, some farming advice and the names of some early settlers. You can read the article, here, on Trove and it is transcribed, below. Sadly, I do not have a historic photo of the school.

Devon Meadows State School.
The Opening Ceremony.

Some two years ago when an area of land, comprising about 1200 acres, and now known as Devon Meadows, was subdivided by Mr Cox and placed in the hands of Messrs Birtchnell Bros. and Porter in order that the land could be disposed of in small holdings (which has already been accomplished to a very great extent), it could hardly have been expected that at the present day the locality would have an up-to-date State school building, although of small dimensions but such is the case, and all credit to the people who assisted in the movement and thus secured educational advantages for the children in the locality. The school is situate half way between the Hastings road and Fisheries road, on Worthing road, and occupies a most commanding position. The site is comprised in a six acre block, reserved for public purposes. 

The building is of neat and attractive design, and the interior is fitted up in modern fashion, with dual desks, lunch cupboard, blackboards, book cupboard, and is well ventilated, the outlay being £400. A substantial fence has been erected, enclosing the school and about an acre of the reserve. There is convincing evidence to show that the school and consequent expenditure was justified, for there are already 34 names on the roll, although seating accommodation has been provided for 32 only. Miss Bury is in charge of the school, and members of the committee are Messrs Huckson, Peterson, L. McDonald, Young, Ryland and Alphey.

The official opening was fixed for the 30th ult., and arrangements were made accordingly by the committee, who were ably assisted by the parents, the mothers having a busy time preparing tempting
eatables, of which there was an abundance on the afternoon of the date mentioned, when there was a representative gathering present. The refreshments were enjoyed by adults and the children, and a
pleasant half hour was spent in.a social manner.

Mr T. A. Twyford, who recently retired from the Education department, and was for many years head teacher at the Clyde school, was appropriately selected as chairman for the occasion. Having briefly
explained the purpose of the gathering, Mr Twyford called upon Mr L. A. Birtchnell to perform the opening ceremony.Mr Birtchnell said that it was hardly necessary to state how pleased he was to be present, but he regretted the absence of Mr Tate, who was in every way the proper man to declare the school open on behalf of the Education department. In the first place he had to make brief reference to the sad death of Mrs Newbury, who had been an energetic and respected resident, and to the bereaved family he desired to extend his heartfelt sympathy in their sad loss.

In regard to the school, some two years ago the parents were informed that the proposal to erect a school could not be entertained until there were 20 scholars, and there was even some opposition. However, leading residents had successfully worn down the various obetacles, and although it might be invidious to mention names, he felt that he should refer to the good work accomplished by Mr Ryland and Mr Twyford. The advantages of free education were apt to be overlooked, and he desired to point out that such should be fully availed of in the present day. He well knew the difficulties attached to pioneer settlement, and the help children were called upon to render their parents on the farm, but he hoped the fathers and mothers would do all in their power to enable their children to obtain the benefits resulting from education, for there was every reason to feel proud of the school as it stood to-day.

Even on the opening day the building was hardly sufficient, but as time went on extensions could be made. He could assure them that Mr Cox and Mr Horsful would have been delighted to be present if it were possible, both of whom had the welfare of the community at heart, and he wished to impress upon those present that if there was anything further required they had only to present themselves at the firm's office and the matter would receive careful consideration. Mr Birtchnell enjoined upon the children the necessity for attending school regularly, paying attention to their studies, respecting their parents and teacher, and thus grow up in such a way as to prove a credit to Devon Meadows and he hoped they would always look back with pleasant recollections to the day upon which the school was opened. 

He also wished to tell them that during the past few months he had (with his motor car) met 25 hospital ships with soldiers aboard, who had been fighting for them, and related a pathetic story concerning a returned soldier, who had been a ward of the State, whose first expressed wish upon landing was to go and visit the Sister who had cared for him in his childhood days. In conclusion, he desired to state that he intended offering two prizes for competition, to be awarded on points, to be won by the boy and girl gaining the highest number of marks, (Applause) Previous to formally declaring the school open, Mr Birtchnell also spoke in recognition of the good work accomplished by members of the progress association.

Mr Ryland, on behalf of the school committee, expressed his pleasure at being present at the opening of the school, and intimated that the sum of £7 5/ had been collected towards defraying expenses in
connection therewith. 

Mr Porter referred to the successful and well-organised work carried out by the ladies, and then spoke of the hard tasks successfully accomplished by the early pioneers, afterwards speaking in prophetic terms of the possibilities of Devon Meadows. After the war, said Mr Porter, thousands of people in Europe would undoubtedly decide to come to Australia, for it would never be forgotten how Australia had fought for the Empire. The people from overseas would be seeking land where there was a good rainfall, and possibly would pass 82 Swanston street and see the produce exhibited there, and later on visit Devon Meadows, where it had been grown. Eventually, Devon Meadows would have cool stores, and up-to-date shops, larger even than those at Cranbourne. 

The estate was adapted for growing strawberries, poultry raising, and pigs; would grow mangolds [a member of the beet family]  to perfection one block had produced 88 tons to the acre. He recommended lime and bonedust as the best manure to be used, which would last for seven years. In regard to potatoes, they were at a great advantage compared with Warnambool, where the freight was £1 per ton as against 3/. He advised them to consider the advisability of planting fruit trees in June for, although the prices were low now, they would improve later on. It would be well to form a society for the purpose of controlling prices and the supply, for organisation was required amongst farmers just as much as in other interests. To the boys and girls he said -help your fathers and mothers on the farm, working early and late, for every acre cleared meant prosperity. He hoped, in conclusion, to see them all again in December, when the prizes donated would be presented. (Applause.)


Advertisement in The Age of October 4, 1913 for the sale of the Devon Meadows Estate.

Mr Twyford said that, after listening to the glowing prophesy by Mr Porter, he felt that there was indeed very little left for him to say. He wished to thank them for the invitation he had received, and had to congratulate them upon the splendid school that had been opened that day, which was a credit to the Education department. All joined heartily in singing the National Anthem, after which sweets and fruits were handed to the children including a gift from Mr Birtchnell of "something special" in the lolly line for each scholar. The afternoon function was followed by evening tea, and later, an enjoyable dance was held, interspersed with solos, including an item rendered by the four juvenile Peterson's. A tempting supper was partaken of, and the efforts of Mr Twiss, of Dandenong, were highly appreciated in the catering department.

It is pleasing to state that a credit balance remains after expenses have been met, and it is intended to augment this fund, which will be devoted towards the erection of a shelter shed in the school grounds. The function was thoroughly enjoyed, and proved quite an event at Devon Meadows.