Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Narre Warren East wants to change its name

Narre Warren East is just over the border from the City of Casey in the Shire of Yarra Ranges. It was previously part of the Shire of Fern Tree Gully / Sherbrooke (1). Narre Warren East is located off Wellington Road in the Berwick Road and Mountain Flat, Edebohls and Haysey Roads vicinity. In the late 1950s, Helen Coulson, in her book Story of the Dandenongs (2) wrote the following about Narre Warren East -

Narre Warren East, known originally as Muddy Creek, is a rural hamlet boasting only a school, hall, sports ground and store. The Muddy Creek, a stream of crystal clear water which traverses the area, derived its name from the fact that in the early days horses crossing the stream in winter were often covered in mud up to their bellies, Few changes - except in ownership - have occurred in the district since 1839, when cattle from the Monbulk run roamed the poor-type scrubby country, in the vicinity of Mountain Flat Road. In the early days one or two well defined tracks run through the district, the best known of these being the old road to the Emerald Diggings, which crossed the Eumemmerring, Muddy and Cardinia Creeks en route to Emerald, following roughly the route of present Old Emerald (Westland) Road.

Some 55 years ago Muddy Creek boasted a post office, which was located at the home of E. Cunningham. It remained in service for only two or three years and letters were then delivered by the contractor carrying mail from Narre Warren to Macclesfield. The district once possessed a church (3), which was erected about 1907 and remained in use for 20 years. The small Church of England congregation was served by the clergyman stationed at Emerald and today the arbitrary manner in which the district was deprived of its church still rankles with some old-timers. Almost overnight the building was sold for £35 and spirited away to Springvale. About 1921 (4) the Muddy Creek (now Narre Warren East) School was erected on a site adjoining the church. [School had previously operated in the Church Hall]

The Narre Warren East hall was erected in 1926 (5) and compulsorily acquired by the Council at the request of the committee in 1951.

A picnic ground of two acres, adjoining the Muddy Creek, was purchased by the Council in 1924 and named Kerr Park in honour of R.H. Kerr
(6). In 1947 A.R. A'Beckett (7) gave to the Narre Warren East Progress Association a lease in perpetuity of some 7 acres of Kalora Park for use as a sports ground, in a fulfilment of a promise made to that body by his father, W.G. A'Beckett. In 1949, under threat of compulsory acquisition, A.R. A'Beckett sold this land and the adjoining three acres to the Fern Tree Gully Shire Council, which was anxious to secure tenure for all time by outright ownership, and the area is known as A'Beckett Park in honour of this pioneer family (8).

As Mrs Coulson has written, Narre Warren East began life as Muddy Creek. In 1946 the name of the town was again an issue for discussion. A meeting of residents was held was held on October 11, 1946. They apparently felt that there were too many Narre Warrens and they were too far from Narre Warren proper - the town at the Railway Station.

Meeting to change the name of Narre Warren East

The meeting decided that Melville, Pendrill or Lyndisfarme were better alternatives to Narre Warren East. I cannot find any connection between these names and the local area. None of them are listed in Mrs Coulson's extensive index as either surnames or property names. The names were submitted to the Post Office for approval, according to this article from the Dandenong Journal, below. Either the names were not approved or the residents went cold on the idea, because it is still called Narre Warren East today.

New names for Narre Warren East
Dandenong Journal October 23, 1946  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article214796145

(1) In 1963 the Shire of Fern Tree Gully split and the Shire of Knox was formed on  November 16 (it became a City on July 4, 1969)  The remains of the Shire of Fern Tree Gully were renamed Shire of Sherbrooke and this was announced in the Victorian Government Gazette of  December 23, 1964.  
(2) Coulson, Helen Story of the Dandenongs, 1838-1958 (Cheshire 1959), p. 246-247
(3) The Church was called St Mungos.
(4) The State School No. 3719, opened in February 1912, in the Anglican Church Hall. It initially operated half time with Menzies Creek, No. 2457, but they both became full-time in 1914. In February 1921, a new school building was erected. Source: Vision & Realisation
(5) The Hall was opened on November 30, 1928, by Sir George Knox, M.L.A.

Opening of the Narre Warren East Hall
Dandenong Journal November 29, 1928  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article200678402

(6) R.H. Kerr - Robert Hart Kerr. His father, Hamill Kerr arrived in the area around 1869, his property was called Aura and was adjacent to Kerr's Lane (source: Coulson Story of the Dandenongs) Robert Kerr was a Councillor of the Fern Tree Gully Council for over 30 years and was also a Councilor at Dandenong Shire. He died October 1944, read his obituary in The Argus of October 27, 1944, here.
(7) A.R. A'Beckett - Arthur Richard  Walstab A'Beckett (1914 - 2004) was the son of  William Gilbert A'Beckett (1864 -1941) and his wife Gertrude Walstab (1880 - 1962). William Gilbert A'Beckett was the son of William Arthur Callandar A'Beckett, M.L.C., J.P. (1833-1901). 
(8) Coulson, op. cit pp 246-247

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