Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Station Street in Berwick becomes Gloucester Avenue

Station Street in Berwick was changed to Gloucester Avenue after the visit of the Duke of Gloucester (1900 - 1974) to Victoria in 1934 for Victoria’s centenary. The celebrations were held between October 1934 and June 1935; the Centenary firstly commemorated Edward Henty's Portland settlement in November 1834 as Victoria's founding, then John Batman's pronouncement of Port Phillip as 'the place for a village', and thus the city's foundation, in June 1835.

The Duke of Gloucester in 1934. 
Photographer: Raphael Tuck & Sons, London.
State Library of Victoria Image H10577

The Duke of Gloucester was the brother of Edward VIII - the Duke of Windsor - and George VI, who is the Queen's father. In 1935 he married Lady Alice Christabel Montagu-Douglas-Scott (1901 - 2004, she was 102 when she died), daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch. They had two children- Prince William (1941-1972) and Prince Richard (1944-), who is the current Duke of Gloucester.

The Duke arrived in Victoria on the H.M.S Sussex on October 18 and departed November 19, 1934. He travelled all over Victoria and called in on Berwick on  October 27. The original plan was for the Duke to attend the Berwick Show which was scheduled for that day, he would arrive at 5.20pm on the train, after having visited Yallourn. The Duke would be gracefully welcomed  (1) and he would view the exhibit of prize winning horses and cattle (2).

However, things did not go to plan as the show had to be postponed due to excessive flooding (3) of the grounds and the Duke was instead welcomed at the Railway Station. The Dandenong Journal reported on the occasion -
A large gathering assembled on Saturday at the Berwick railway station, to take part in the welcome to H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester. The committee of the Agricultural Society, under the leadership of the president (Cr. D. N. McBride), who was ably assisted by Mr. C. F. Greaves, past president, and Mr. W. Gamble, parade superintendent; had made complete arrangements, and a suitable area adjoining the station ground had been allotted for various bodies, including shire councillors
from Berwick, Dandenong, Cranbourne and Ferntree Gully, Justices of the Peace, Returned Soldiers, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, St. Margaret’s Girls’ School, Berwick, and all State schools within a radius of 10 miles.

Early visitors began to arrive, and prior to the arrival of the Royal train several hundred people were in waiting. The rain had ceased, and the sun shone brightly. The train, drawn by two engines, steamed in on time at 5.20, the Royal visitor immediately stepped out on to the platform, where he was received by the president of the Agricultural Society (Cr. D. N. McBride), and escorted into the Royal enclosure. Cr. McBride then conveyed the thanks of the Berwick Agricultural Society to H.R.H. for the honor conferred upon the society and the district for the Royal visit, and for the acceptance by the Duke of an honorary life membership of the society. He also assured the Royal visitor of the loyalty of all to His Majesty the King.

Cr. McBride then presented the President of the Berwick Shire (Cr. Kinsella) to His Royal Highness, who expressed the people’s loyalty to Throne and appreciation of the honor conferred by the Royal visitor, which were such as to cement the bonds of Empire. That welcome, his Royal Highness acknowledged, and expressed his pleasure at visiting Berwick.

Before departing the Duke was shown a wombat. He was delighted, and when he took his departure, amid great enthusiasm, all were delighted at the success which had attended his reception. (Dandenong Journal, November 1, 1934, see here)

Caption from The Age - At Berwick a small dog joined in the welcome to the Duke just as he began his inspection of the guard of honor of Girl Guides.

There was a less reverent account of the Duke's visit in Labour Call or to give its full title The Labor Call: the official organ of the Political Labor Council of Victoria. The head line was

Naturally, the National Anthem was the tune most heard on this tour. It has been played with the dignity and the color of the Grenadier Guards; it has been played melodiously, off the key, fast time and slow time. At Berwick it was played on a gramophone which was in a car and amplified through a box attached to a tree. This was the most unique representation of the anthem heard on the tour. Berwick's was a pretty welcome. In a rich paddock just outside the station an area was roped off. Some hundreds of people assembled outside the ropes, and beyond them were a score of girls on ponies. The crowd cheered when the Duke accepted life membership of the Berwick Agricultural Society. Founded in 1848, the society is the oldest in the State. The Duke is the eleventh life member.
A tame wombat was on exhibition here in a cage. (Labour Call November 8, 1934, see here)

At the Berwick Shire Council meeting held on August 21, 1936 a petition was presented asking that Station Street be renamed Gloucester Avenue as a memento of the Duke's visit. The Council agreed.

Dandenong Journal August 27, 1936

The Duke of Gloucester was the Governor General of Australia from January 1945 to January 1947 and visited Berwick privately during that time (4). He was invited to the 1945 Berwick Show, but was unable to attend but sent a message that  he well remembers his previous visit to Berwick in 1934, which he enjoyed very much (5).

Trove list - I have created a short list of  articles on Trove connected to the visit of the Duke of Gloucester to Berwick, access it here.

(1) Dandenong Journal October 25, 1934, see here.
(2) Dandenong Journal October 25, 1934, see here.
(3) Dandenong Journal  November 1, 1934, see here.
(4) Early Days of Berwick, 3rd edition, pages 63 and 64.
(5) Dandenong Journal November 21, 1945, see here.

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