Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Port Melbourne's early aviation history

Kevin O'Reilly, aviation historian, shared his astonishing collection of photographs and deep knowledge of his subject with members. What follows is not an account of Kevin's wide ranging talk - just some observations arising from it.
The Shaw-Ross aerodrome was the first to be licensed. The proximity of the aerodrome to Princes Pier and to the bay was a surprise to me. As described in The Argus: 'From the New Pier Port Melbourne to the aerodrome of the Shaw-Ross Company is only a few hundred yards westward. Behind, where the aerodrome is built, the ground is sandy and flat, and makes a good landing place for aeroplanes' - as shown in the picture below.

'Flyers of Time' collection - Kevin O'Reilly
Sadly this adventurous aviator crashed close to the aerodrome on 22 May 1921. It is poignant that Shaw should have survived the war only to crash into 'a small cottage, half hidden in the sand rises between the aerodrome and the pier.'  The Argus of Monday 23 May 1921 gives a detailed account of the causes and circumstances of the crash.
Kevin's current research interest is Charles Daniel Pratt, aerial photographer. Pratt's output was so prolific that its hard to know where to begin exploring his body of work. Starting with the Society's current interest in Kitchens, there are seven amazing pictures of great clarity of the complex from various angles, showing sites of interest such as the football ground.

Sources and more information - search by Charles Pratt

Thursday, April 18, 2013

ANZAC Day 2013

25 April 2013
Was it the beautiful sunny day or the growing pull of the ANZAC tradition that led to this year's record crowd at the Port Melbourne ANZAC service?
Commander Mike Lovell once again gave a memorable address - all without notes. His theme was the evolution of Australian society from a time when white males ruled at home and in all areas of decision making to a more inclusive Australian society. He urged those who are impatient for more rapid change to be patient while old attitudes die out and 'and give way to the fresh ideas of a new generation'. He challenged everybody to contribute personally to a more equitable Australia.
Martin Foley MLA reflected on the declining number of veterans and the closure of RSL venues around the state. He saw the future of ANZAC commemorations being 're-interpreted respectfully in an appropriate way' along the lines of the Port Melbourne service - local and participatory, and supported by engagement with schools, community and civic leaders. Perhaps its a return to where such commemorations began as expressed in the inscription below.

Cllr Bernadene Voss acknowledged the community organisers of the event, especially Geoff Jackson who passed away just a few weeks ago. She spoke of her family's history at Gallipoli and ANZAC Day's unique power to bring about such a large gathering of Port Melbourne people - old and new, young and old.
For the first time, our civic leaders were accompanied by children when laying their wreaths.

ANZAC Day is next Thursday.
It will be commemorated in Port Melbourne at the Memorial Fountain at 9.45 am.
The commemoration has taken place faithfully every year. The foreshore and waterfront setting has changed over time, as this picture shows.

Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society collection
Rosemary is flowering now throughout Port Melbourne as it did on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Funds for a project to protect, restore and re-discover Avenues of Honor are being raised through the sale of Rosemary plants* cultivated from cuttings brought back from Gallipoli after the First World War. Three hundred and sixteen avenues are known to have been planted in Victoria. Many survive - not always in the best of health - and some have been lost to neglect and road widening projects.

sources and more information
Avenues of Honour Project
* will be available by Remembrance Day

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Where plaques lead

Talking of plaques, and their near neighbour, foundation stones, I noticed that the memorial stone on the Holy Trinity Church Hall has recently been re-pointed and is now a deep smooth grey.

The stone marks the opening of the Holy Trinity Church Hall by F. T. Derham in 1886. As you may know, Derham was Thomas Swallow's son in law.  He was appointed partner and managing director of Swallow and Ariell in 1877, a position held by several generations of his descendants - not unlike Kitchens, the subject of the previous post. Derham was an extremely influential person in Victoria: first as member and later mayor of the Sandridge Municipal Council and later as MLA for Port Melbourne and postmaster-general in the Gillies-Deakin ministry. He introduced the penny and parcel post to Victoria - significant communications innovations of the time.  The Age of January 30, 1930 said of Derham 
A man to do things and get things done. One who could speak. And one who could write logically and lucidly. 
Holy Trinity Church Hall has been undergoing extensive refurbishment under the energetic guidance of Father Noel Whale who came out of retirement to bring new life into the church community. The church hall is becoming a fully fledged church. The original prefabricated church blew down in a storm in 1908. The replacement brick church became apartments in the late '90s in what remains a controversial treatment of this locally significant heritage place.
Holy Trinity is important to the Society because so many Sandridge and later Port Melbourne residents marked the important life moments there - births, marriages and deaths. The PMHPS holds these records and many people investigating their family history find a connection to Holy Trinity.

sources and further reading: 
Australian Dictionary of Biography
Historic Port Melbourne Calendar 2010

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Kitchen candles

Just in case you've missed the excitement of the Society's fabulous acquisition of photographs and artefacts from Symex (formerly Kitchens), they are on display upstairs at the Port Melbourne Town Hall, 333 Bay St, Port Melbourne. (enter via Spring St south)
The very large photographs show not only Kitchens but the wider context of Dunlops, the Port Melbourne Football ground and other local landmarks. There is a photographic array of former proprietors of the firm over generations, showing changing fashions in facial hair, which is instructive. The generous donation of their display case has made possible the fine display of evocative products from an earlier age. My favourite is a  photograph, featured in the Society's calendar a few years back, showing the industrial production of candles on a huge scale.

Symex is the last of Port Melbourne's major industries and employers to close to make way for residential development.

25 April 2013
Pat Grainger's piece on the history of Kitchen and Sons, published in the Society's newsletter, is available here.

Lagoon tales

There are endless stories to tell about the former Sandridge Lagoon and environs. And there will be many more to come on the PMHPS blog. But you've got to begin somewhere.
I am infatuated with this account by Josephine Liardet, daughter of Wilbraham Liardet, who recalled that in the early days* 
“The lagoon was covered witsth wild ducks and in the trees were cockatoos, plovers, pigeons. Hector and Jack used to get up between 3 and 4 in the morning and would return in two or three hours with as much game as they could carry. We often had a game breakfast. The sea was full of fish for there was no traffic to frighten either the game or the fish away. It was indeed a lovely place in those early days, just fresh from the hands of God.” 
The photograph below shows the bridge over the lagoon at Graham St# some fifty years later with the Gasworks in the background. It well expresses Town Clerk Crockford's sentiments - that 'when the tide was out, the effluvia arising from this little spot was something abominable'. (1895)

Charles Nettleton
reproduced from a copy held by the Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society
* looking back on the 1840s
#from a vantage point approximately on the corner of the footpath outside the Graham Hotel