Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Land sales in the new township of Beaconsfield

On November 3, 1879 G. W. Robinson, C.E., Surveyor completed this plan of a subdivision of land owned by Charles Souter of the Gipplsland Hotel, for the new township of Beaconsfield. 

Advertising poster for the land sale at Beaconsfield on May 14, 1881. 
The map is signed by G. W. Robinson and dated November 3, 1879.
State Library of Victoria,

The sale was scheduled to take place on December 6, 1879. It included the Gippsland Hotel and 44 acres, plus 36 allotments of land varying in size from half an acre to 2 acres, near the new railway station; 10 allotments of two to five acres and one block of 35 acres and one of 60 acres. For some reason this sale did not take place and another sale was scheduled for January 10, 1880.

The first advertised sale of Charles Souter's land in East Berwick, as Beaconsfield was known at the time. The sale was scheduled for December 6, 1879.
South Bourke and Mornington Journal November 26, 1879. 

The land was advertised again this time the auction was to be held on January 10, 1880. An almost identical advertisement as the one above, appeared in the papers, including the South Bourke and Mornington  Journal of January 7, 1880, which you can see here

Advertising poster for the land sale in township of Beaconsfield or East Berwick. 
The sale was scheduled for December 6, 1879 and this was crossed out and January 10, 1880 written in pencil, see detail below.

Detail of the plan, immediately above.
State Library of Victoria

I am unsure if the January 1880 sale took place and only some blocks were sold, or if the sale did not take place.  However, Mr Robinson's subdivision plan did not go to waste and the land was advertised again to be auctioned on May 14, 1881 and as we saw, his 1879 plan was used in the advertising poster.

Part of the 1881 advertising flyer for the land sale at Beaconsfield on May 14, 1881. 
State Library of Victoria,

The May 14, 1881 auction used the original 1879 plan (the plan at the top of this post) which  has 38 small blocks facing Woods Street and the Highway and 23 blocks east of what became Railway Avenue.This does not tally with the 1879 advertisement or the 1881 advertisement (below) which advertised the Hotel on 44 acres; 13 allotments of one half to 2 acres and 22 allotments of three to five acres. I feel that we can conclude that some of the block were sold in January 1880 and the May 1881 was held to sell the remaining allotments. 

Advertisement for the May 14, 1881 auction of land in the new township of Beaconsfield.

A report of the sale in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of May 18, 1881,  read it here, said that the auction sale by Mr J. B. Patterson at, Beaconsfield on Saturday was fairly successful, and altogether fifteen township lots in Beaconsfield close to the railway station were disposed of at satisfactory prices. The attendance at the sale was good, but was composed chiefly of local people, who did not seem disposed to buy, the purchasers being principally city people. There is little doubt but that, had a special train been chartered from Melbourne, it would have induced a large number of people to visit the locality, and, very likely, to become owners of some of the blocks offered. The lots varied in size from half-an-acre to one acre, and realised from £23 to £50 per block, or about £46 per acre. A genuine offer of £1750 was made for the Gippsland hotel, with paddocks, &c., adjoining, but was not accepted.

Of interest is the fact that sometime between January 1880 and May 1881 the name of the town changed from East Berwick (I have also seen it referred to as Little Berwick and Lower Beaconsfield) and became Beaconsfield, named for  Benjamin Disraeli, the Earl of Beaconsfield. Disraeli was the British Prime Minister on two occasions in 1868 and from 1874 to 1880. On the subject of names it is also interesting that Souter Street on the subdivision plan is now called Beaconsfield Avenue. Beaconsfield Avenue was proclaimed on July 30, 1888 (1). The unnamed road next to Woods Street is  Railway Avenue. A new Souter Street, which is to the right of Railway Avenue, was created at some later time, I presume in 1921 when the Beaconsfield Station Estate was sold (2)

Charles Souter, who owned the land that became the new township of Beaconsfield took over the Gippsland Hotel from the Bowman family, who had established the Hotel in 1855.  The earliest date I can find of his ownership of the Hotel is 1869 (3). After he left the hotel he moved to Frankston. During his time there Charles became involved with the  Community - he was elected to the Frankston Council and took an interest in the Mechanics' Institute, the Anglican Church and was also the Worshipful Master at the Frankston Masonic Lodge. The Souters left Frankston in November 1891 and at a farewell function held at the Pier Hotel, he was presented with a handsome illuminated address from the residents (4).  Charles returned to the Beaconsfield region and lived at Norwood in Gembrook (5) where he died on July 9, 1895 at only 65 years of age (6). His wife Sophie (nee Newland) died at Berwick on August 15, 1937 at the age of  96 (7)

G. W. Washington's signature on the Beacosnfield subdivison plan
State Library of Victoria,

G. W. Washington, C.E., Surveyor, who drew the plan was George Washington Robinson (1843 - 1928) He came to Narre Warren North in 1856 with his mother, Hannah, who had purchased 107 acres. George later named the property, Hillsley. George was a Civil Engineer and Surveyor and was the Shire Engineer and Secretary at the Shire of Berwick from 1876 to 1890 and then the Shire Engineer from 1894 to 1904 (8). He married Eliza Walton in 1867 and they had six children (9). Eliza's parents, Thomas and Eliza Walton, moved to Narre Warren in 1852 and built Holly Green. This property was sold to Sidney Webb in 1880, it was later renamed Brechin and is  now the site of the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre (10)

(1) Beaconsfield Avenue was proclaimed July 30, 1888.
State Government Gazette August 3, 1888 page 2472, see here.

(2) Beaconsfield Station Estate sale was held on Saturday, April 30, 1921. The land had frontages to three main roads - Main Gippsland, Beaconsfield Avenue and Woods Street - all made roads. The other streets were Souter Street, Railway Avenue, Horner Street and Goff Street.

Beaconsfield Station Estate advertisement 
The Argus April 30, 1921

(3) I have written about the Bowmans and the Gippsland Hotel, here.
(4) The report of Charles Souter's farewell at the Pier Hotel in Frankston in 1891 can  be read in the Mornington Standard of November 5, 1891, see here
(5) Norwood  was listed as Gembrook in Charles' death notice. Charles' Will had Norwood at Upper Beaconsfield.
(6) Charles' death notice was in The Argus, July 10, 1895, see here.
(7) Sophie Souter's death notice was in The Age, August 16, 1937, see here. Her age is listed as 94. On the Victoria Index to Births, Deaths and Marriages her age is listed as 96.
(8)  In the Wake of the Pack Tracks: a history of the Shire of Berwick, now the City of Berwick and the Shire of Pakenham, published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society in 1982. 
(9) The information about G. W. Washington's arrival in the area and his marriage and children comes from Early settlers of the Casey-Cardinia district published by the Narre Warren & District Family History Group in 2010 and Early days of Berwick and its surrounding districts - Beaconsfield, Upper Beaconsfield, Harkaway, Narre Warren and Narre Warren North, complied by Norman Beaumont, James Curran and R.H Hughes (Berwick Pakenham Historical Society).
(10)  You can read more about Holly Green, the Waltons and the Webbs, here.

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