Thursday, 20 February 2020

Dutch Family - Van Benbroek family of Clyde

I came across this article about the Van Benbroek family of Clyde in The Advocate, the Catholic newspaper, of July 26, 1951. It's an interesting look at the life of one of the many families that migrated from Europe after the Second World War.  You can read the original on Trove, here, and it is transcribed below.  I believe the family was known as Van Den Broek, so either they changed the spelling or the Advocate had the spelling wrong, but I will leave the name as Van Benbroek in te transcription.

The Advocate July 26, 1951

Dutch Family

This introduces the Van Benbroek family, from Braband, Holland, who have settled in Berwick, some 30 miles from Melbourne. There's mum and dad and thirteen children. They have transferred their lives from a five-acre farm in Holland to one of 300 acres in Victoria. From hand-milking three or four cows in a little lean-to adjoining the 200-year-old house at Braband, they have taken to milking some 57 cows (later it will be 75) with modern machinery and in a well-lit and newly-renovated dairy, situated in close proximity to their neat weatherboard dwelling.

Although only a few weeks in Victoria the Van Benbroeks have really settled in and are working the farm to a well-set plan. Tractors, harvesters, reapers, chaff-cutters and other agricultural equipment were all new to them, but they are getting the best use out of them.

Last Sunday - strictly kept as a day of rest by Dutch Catholics - was a real family reunion, with relatives and friends visiting to attend Mass in the sitting-cum-bed room and to join in the family dinner. With Rev. L. Maas, S.V.D., chaplain to Dutch migrants in Victoria, our representative went to Berwick just to see how the Van Benbroeks spent the day. For Mass at 10, more than 24 men, women and children crowded into the little room. Two of the lads - Joseph (13) and Louis (14) acted as altar servers. The Gospel, the sermon and the prayers after Mass were all said in Dutch. The Van Benbroek family reached Victoria this July and they have just the barest smattering of English.

The Van Benbroek family. 
The Advocate July 26, 1951
The original caption of the photo is On this page is a picture of the Van Benbroek family—father, mother and thirteen children—who arrived from Holland on July 15 and are now settled in Berwick. From a five-acre farm in their native land they transferred to 300 acres in Victoria. Sunday was a real day of rest and a day of reunion. Mr. Van Benbroek came to Australia with his family because he was attracted by this great southern land, which, he considers, affords many opportunities for starting life anew.

During dinner - consisting mainly of food cooked in the Dutch manner - there were two sittings. Most of the elders (12, sat down at once) were accommodated at the first session and the youngsters at the latter. When the meal was over there was the usual after-dinner talk with guests and members of the family discussing crops and such everyday matters. Music was supplied by a harmonica and the male folk smoked their Dutch cigars about the fire.

What prompted Mr. Van Banbroek to come to Australia? His considered view, he told our representative, was that Australia was a young country and there were more chances of settling and starting life anew here. He had considered America, but the great southern land attracted him more. In his home at Braband, Mr. Van Benbroek found it extremely hard to get sufficient food for his large family. Work, too, was not plentiful and memories of the wars not pleasant. They sold everything they had and with their savings embarked on a Dutch ship last May and reached Melbourne on July 15. It cost Mr. Van Benbroek 20,000 guildens (£2200 Australian currency) to bring his family and their furniture and goods to the country. Happily they were fortunate in finding a home immediately on arrival. The Dutch chaplain had prepared in advance for them and there was no delay in transporting them by truck from the ship to Berwick.

The family has not visited Melbourne or Dandenong yet. Transportation costs would be tremendous. However, they hope to make a shopping excursion one of these days. The family brought seven bicycles with them, and on free days the youngsters ride about the countryside. When there is no Mass at the farm, they go to Cranbourne and Berwick Catholic churches in the utility truck made available for their use on Sundays by Col. Neill (owner of the property they are living on).

The article was embellished by these stereotypical illustrations of traditional Dutch life.

Four of the Van Benbroeks (including one who is studying carpentry) are working on the farm for wages. They hope later to have their own farm. Two other lads are working in the neighbourhood and a third has secured a position as gardener in Melbourne. The girls help mother about the house. The four youngest boys - Gerard (10), Leo (12), Joseph (13) and Louis (14) - are attending school at Clyde, some 10 minutes' walking distance from their home. Incidentally, most of the family attend at the Clyde school - two nights a week for English lessons with many other New Australians who are working in the neighbourhood.

The Catholic Migration authorities appeal to Catholics to nominate Dutch settlers who wish to settle in Victoria. Nominators are obliged to provide accommodation but not necessarily employment. Those wishing to come to this country include young married couples and families with three to ten children. Many wish to engage in farm work and some are tradesmen.

This is an excellent opportunity for farmers to obtain competent help. Parish migration committees can also assist in the work of welcoming and assimilating these New Australians. Some Dutch families are prepared to bring out their own pre-fabricated houses. For this scheme land is required, and suggestions and help in this regard will be most welcome. Applications from those willing to sponsor Catholic Dutch migrants can, in the first instance, be made with Rev. L. Maas, S.V.D., Dutch Hostel, 276 Cotham-road, Kew (WA 3391).

Sadly, the family met with tragedy a few years after their arrival in Australia when Mrs Van Den Broek died of burns received after an accident in the home.

The report of Mrs Van Den Broek's accident
Dandenong Journal July 7, 1954

Mrs Van Den Broek's death notice. She was buried at the Berwick cemetery.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Maryknoll buildings designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock.

Maryknoll was established in 1949 by Father Wilfred Pooley (1912-1969) as a Catholic community based on the principals of faith, family life and co-operative enterprise. You can read more about the establishment of the town, here. I came across the following images of early buildings at Maryknoll (or St Mary's as it was originally called) designed by the architectural firm Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock. 

You can read about the firm on the website, Built Heritage in the Dictionary of Unsung Architects section -  This is the introduction to the article - Smith & Tracey was formed in 1949 by recent graduates Smith & Tracey was formed in 1949 by recent graduates Des Smith (1918-2003) and Dan Tracey (1916-1992).  Shortly afterwards, they were joined by Eric "Ric" Lyon (1918-2006) and Les Brock (1920-2006), and the firm re-branded as Smith, Tracey, Lyon & Brock.  It operated as such until Lyon and Brock both left around 1960, whereupon it reverted to its original name.  The article on the website also has a list of the firm's works. 

Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock worked on many projects for the Catholic Church including Christian Brothers College in Warnambool in 1950; St Joseph's School in Springvale in 1952; St Joseph's Benalla in 1953 and  St Vincent de Paul's Homeless Men's shelter on Flemington Road (Ozanam House) in 1954.  They also designed the Holy Family Church at Maryknoll.

 The Advocate, September 14 1950

This photo (above) and report of the opening of  Holy Family Church at Maryknoll appeared in The AdvocateThis is Holy Family Church-School, opened by Archbishop Mannix of St. Marys Rural Settlement, Tynong North, on September 3. The building was erected from a design by Smith and Tracey, architects, Sydney-road, Brunswick, who also prepared the large-scale map of the settlement which appeared last week. The erection of the first seven permanent homes is now being undertaken and these will be occupied by settlers, at present housed in temporary quarters in the vicinity. (The Advocate, September 14 1950, see here)  

This is the  large-scale map of the settlement prepared by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock, referred to in the paragraph, above. It was in The Advocate of  September 7, 1950, see here.

Presentation Convent St Mary's North Convent at Maryknoll designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock.
The Advocate, March 20, 1952.

In March 1952, The Advocate, published this image (above) of the proposed convent for the Presentation Sisters to be built at Maryknoll. It was never built.

Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock also designed houses for the Maryknoll settlement.  One of these designs was written up in The Argus of November 1, 1954.

House designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock  for Maryknoll
Image: The Argus, November 1, 1954

This is the transcription of the article about the Maryknoll house - 

 Home for County - by Harry Perrott Argus Property Writer

Until comparatively recent years, it was not unusual to see a house, originally planned for a suburban allotment, built on a farm or in a rural setting. Many country people evidently thought they could not have the convenience of "town" living without using a "town" house plan. This, of course, is not so, and the small house illustrated here has all the conveniences of modern planning, but is essentially rural in character.

The plan is a simple rectangle in shape and has a low pitched roof, covered with corrugated asbestos
cement sheets. External walls are of 10in. Baltic weatherboards. Provision has been made for another bedroom and a verandah to be added. The door into the third bedroom will be in the space now used for a cupboard between the bathroom and bedroom. The two bedrooms are 11ft. x 10ft. and 13½ft. x 10ft. and both are fitted with built-in wardrobes.

The kitchen, 13½ x 10ft., is divided by a fitment so that one section can be used for meals or other purposes. For economy, the kitchen and living room fireplaces have been combined in a common chimney stack. The sun room, 10½ x 10ft., is another interesting and useful feature of this part of the house. The living room, 15 x 12ft., has deep windows and double doors opening on to a 6ft. wide verandah. There is a service hatch from this room into the kitchen.

The house is one of a series of low cost houses designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock, architects, for a rural community at St. Mary's, via Nar Nar Goon, in Gippsland.  (The Argus, November 1, 1954, see here

Plan  of the house, described and shown above, designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock  for Maryknoll
Image: The Argus, November 1, 1954

I have created a short list of newspaper articles from Trove that mention the firm of Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock, you can access it here.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Elizabeth Parsons (1831 - 1897) - artist

Elizabeth Parsons (1831 - 1897) was a professional artist, who created many delightful landscapes in water-colour, oil and drawings. The State Library of Victoria has around thirty of her works on-line, many of the St Kilda area (1) however Elizabeth also has a number of works of Berwick.

View from Wilson's Hill, Berwick, 1878 by Elizabeth Parsons.
Image: National Gallery of Victoria A35-1976

This is a very short history of her life and works, most of which I have summarised from the book More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons by Veronica Filmer.  This is the catalogue of an exhibition of Elizabeth Parson's work held at the Geelong Gallery in 2004. The exhibition was also curated by Veronica Filmer. It's a lovely book, I found a copy at an on-line second-hand book seller and it is well worth tracking down, however the Geelong Galley has recently digitised the book and it is available on their website, here

Elizabeth was born to William and Elizabeth (nee Keens) Warren on November 27, 1831.  The Keens were market gardeners and William and Elizabeth and their children lived on the family property after their marriage in 1820. Elizabeth (the younger) found employment as a governess and in the late 1850s began art lessons with instructors including Thomas Miles Richardson and James Duffield Harding.

Her mother, who died in March 1867, left Elizabeth an annuity as long as she remained unmarried and this gave her some freedom to travel around England on sketching trips. It was on one of these trips that she met George Parsons (1830 - 1920) who was the manager of the Lizard Serpentine Marble Works.  George had trained as a surveyor and was a widower with two sons, George and Cecil. Elizabeth and George married on October 28, 1868. Elizabeth gave birth to  a daughter, Adeline, in August 1869. 1869 was also significant for Elizabeth as she exhibited seven works in the Society of Female Artists exhibition, her first major exhibition. Elizabeth exhibited under the name of Mrs George Parsons.

In 1870 the family decided to migrate to Australia and they arrived in Melbourne on May 20, 1870 and their son Henry was born the same year. In 1872 another son, Warren, was born followed by two more sons, Noel in 1875, Jonathon in 1876 and a still-born baby in 1879.   Elizabeth lost no time in establishing herself as an artist in her new country and she exhibited in the Victorian Academy of Art exhibition in November 1870. The Argus had a two part review of this exhibition, which you can read here and here. The Argus said that there were three water-colour landscapes of conspicuous merit by Mrs G. Parsons.

Report on Elizabeth Parson's work at the Victorian Academy of Art exhibition
The Argus December 1, 1870

There was also a more detailed review of Elizabeth Parson's work in The Argus of  December 26, 1870, which Ms Filmer quoted in her book (2) and I have reproduced, below.

Praise for Elizabeth Parson's work.
The Argus December 26, 1870

Elizabeth commenced teaching in the early 1870s as well as continuing to exhibit works  depicting local landmarks such as the Carlton Gardens and Melbourne University. Around 1873, Elizabeth rented a studio in Flinders Lane and the next year the family moved to a house in Neptune Street, St Kilda. They later moved to Charnwood Road in the same suburb and then to 249 Carlisle Street in Balaclava.

The family also toured the State and scenes from areas such as Mornington, Geelong, Woodend and Berwick featured in Elizabeth's work. Ms Filmer writes that the family spent many summers in Berwick, where they had either leased or brought  a small holiday house. From here Elizabeth could make sketching trips into the surrounding district. (3)  The picture, below, shows  the back of the holiday house in Wilson lane (or Wilson Street as it was actually called). Ms Filmer also writes that from the Berwick house popular locations such as Harkaway and Koo Wee Rup were easily accessed (4) I checked the Shire of Berwick Rate books and neither George or Elizabeth are listed as owning property at Berwick,  so they must have rented a house in Berwick. 

Wilson lane, Berwick, c. 1876 by Elizabeth Parsons.
Image: More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons by Veronica Filmer (Geelong Gallery, 2004) 

Elizabeth's standing as an artist continued to grow and in December 1874, she was elected to the Victorian Academy of Art Council, which is all the more remarkable as there was much opposition to women taking up public positions of any kind and also that she had the responsibility of a  young family to care for and George was often away due to his job as inspector and auditor of the Seymour to Avenel section of the North Eastern railway line. Elizabeth also continued to exhibit and began painting in oils.

In the early 1880s, Elizabeth became more enterprising and published three books - the Drawing book of Australian Landscape - book one covered buildings, book two trees and book three landscapes. Books one and two have been disgitised by the State Library of Victoria, here and here and Ms Filmer writes that no trace has been found of the third book, Landscapes (5) 

At Berwick, 1882, by Elizabeth Parsons. This illustration was originally published in her book, Drawing book of Australian Landscape - Part 1 - buildings. 
Image: National Gallery of Australia Image NGA 86.1996. 

The 1880s saw Elizabeth continue to exhibit in the annual Victorian Academy of Arts shows, the Sydney Art Society exhibition, Victorian Jubilee Exhibition of 1884, amongst other shows. In 1886 she joined the newly formed Australian Artist's Association along with other artists such as Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder. The first exhibition of this group was reported on in the Melbourne newspapers, see below and you can read Elizabeth's review, below.

Praise for Elizabeth Parson's work at the inaugural Australian Artist's Association exhibition.
The Argus September 7, 1886

Elizabeth was also a member of two social clubs - the Buonarotti Club, whose members were mainly young artists (6) and the Stray Leaves Club, which was active from 1889 to 1892 and often met at the Parson's home in Balaclava. Emma Minnie Boyd (1858 - 1936) was also a member of the Stray Leaves Club. Emma was an A'Beckett from The Grange at Harkaway. Ms Filmer writes that Emma Minnie Boyd and Elizabeth Parsons, exhibited together from the mid 1870s, had stylistic similarities and that Elizabeth may have been something of  a mentor to Emma. (7) As Berwick and Harkaway are neighbouring towns, it is likely that they also socialised when the Parsons were at Berwick.

At Berwick, 1882, by Elizabeth Parsons. This illustration was originally published in her book, Drawing book of Australian Landscape - Part 1 - buildings. 
Image: National Gallery of Australia Image NGA 86.2250

From 1889 Elizabeth decided to retire and sold many of her works at a sale in 1890 and she held another sale in 1896. You can read the coverage of the 1896 sale in The Age of  July 17, 1896, here.  By this time Elizabeth was suffering from breast cancer and she died May 28, 1897. She is buried in the St Kilda Cemetery, as is her husband, George, who died January 19, 1920.

There were periodic exhibitions of Elizabeth Parson's works after her death, mainly instigated by her daughter Adeline, and also one in 1920, which Ms Filmer said reignited interest in Elizabeth and her art (8).  The Herald reviewed this exhibition - it is partly quoted by Ms Filmer in her book (9) and you can read it here and see it below.

The review of Elizabeth Parson's 1920 retrospective exhibition. 
The Herald, March 15, 1920

We will finish this post on Elizabeth Parsons once again quoting Veronica Filmer - Through persistence and hard work Elizabeth Parsons reached a prominent position in the Victorian art world and was an inspiration to many around her who aspired to do the same. (10)

Nearly all this post I have summarised from Veronica Filmer's essay on the life and work of Elizabeth  Parsons, which was published in More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons (Geelong Gallery, 2004). It is of course a much more comprehensive, scholarly and detailed study of  Elizabeth's life and work than what you read here. Here is the link to the  work again from the Geelong Gallery website  Even though you can view it on-line, as I said before, if you ever come across a copy of the book, it is still worth buying. I've scanned the cover, so you will recognise it if you see it. It has 40 of her works reproduced, it's just a delight.  I found out about Elizabeth Parsons, her connection to Berwick and  Veronica Filmer's book, from my fellow historian,  Isaac Hermann.

(1)  As well as the Elizabeth Parson works which are on-line at the State Library of Victoria, you can view some of her works on the Geelong Gallery website, The National Gallery of Victoria has three of her works, on-line, The National Gallery of Australia has ten of her works on-line
(2) Filmer, Veronica More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons (Geelong Gallery, 2004) page 15.
(3) Filmer, page 17
(4) Filmer, page 28
(5) Filmer, page 24
(6) Filmer, page 33
(7) Filmer, page 33. Ms Filmer was alerted to the possible connections between Elizabeth Parsons and  Emma Minnie Boyd by Jennifer Phipps on the National Gallery of Victoria (footnote 79, page 33)
(8) Filmer, page 35
(9) Filmer, page 35
(10) Filmer, page 37

Friday, 17 January 2020

Clyde Road Berwick, November 19 1992

Back in November 1992, about 27 years ago, these photos were taken by the City of Berwick of Clyde Road - a single lane both ways. Now it is three lanes both ways and non-stop development from Berwick to Narre Warren-Cranbourne (the Sladen Street extension). The first photo was taken on the corner of Clyde Road and Homestead Road, so this will give you some idea of the general vicinity of the photos. The City of Berwick extended south to Grices Road / Pound Road and then it was the Shire of Cranbourne, thus the photos would be north of that.   Here's a look at the 'not so olden days' (well depending on how old you are, it only seems like yesterday to me). 

This is the corner of Clyde Road and Homestead Road, November 19, 1992
Casey Cardinia Libraries photo

Clyde Road, Berwick, November 19, 1992
Casey Cardinia Libraries photo

Clyde Road, Berwick, November 19, 1992
Casey Cardinia Libraries photo

Clyde Road, Berwick, November 19, 1992
Casey Cardinia Libraries photo

Clyde Road, Berwick, November 19, 1992
Casey Cardinia Libraries photo

Thursday, 9 January 2020

High Street Berwick - 1870s to 1950s.

This is a look at some photographs of High Street in Berwick, from the 1870s to the 1950s.

Berwick 1877.

This is the earliest image we have of High Street. It is from the book Early Days of Berwick and they describe it as 'From a woodcut, by courtesy of Mr Bert Luke, Beaconsfield'. The original image was published in the Australasian Sketcher of October 27, 1877. See it here.  The Berwick Inn also called the Border Hotel was built for Robert Bain in 1857 as a single storey building. The later two storey additions were added in 1877 (and can be seen in this image ) and 1887.

Berwick 1887 (28 miles from Melb.)
Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria photograph album, State Library of Victoria Image H2012.114/2

In the ten years since the woodcut, above, development had extended to the other side of High Street. That is St Andrews Presbyterian (now Uniting Church) at the top of the hill. This building was completed in 1879 or 1885, depending on which source you use.

Berwick,  1906.  This is looking up the hill form the Berwick Inn.
Casey Cardinia Libraries image.

Berwick, 1907. This is looking down the hill, towards the Berwick Inn.   The house on the hill was built in 1902 by William Wilson (1830 - 1907) the founder of the Wilson Quarry. The Wilson's called it Liskie Brae, it was renamed Rheanva and is now called Kilkirean.
Casey Cardinia Libraries image

High Street Berwick in the 1920s,  looking up from the Berwick Inn.
Casey Cardinia Libraries image. 

High Street Berwick in the 1920s,  looking to the Berwick Inn.
Casey Cardinia Libraries image. 

Berwick1930s. The building on the right hand side is the Berwick Picture Theatre which was built in 1928. 
Casey Cardinia Libraries image  

Berwick 1950s. The Berwick Inn is on the left.
Casey Cardinia Libraries image.

Berwick, 1950s. This postcard was purchased in 1955.  The Tudor style buildings were erected in the 1920s, by Sir Sidney Sewell. 
Casey Cardinia Libraries image.