Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's heritage, isn't it?

This is not the place to tell the tale of Farams because it has been done with so much care by Kevin Anderson in his film The Last of the Independents. People often mention having seen it when you say you come from Port.
'Farams' has become the word that seems to capture the feeling about the changes in Port over recent times.
The re-development looks curiously modest to Port eyes grown used to bigger buildings.
In Farams final years, people might have said that it could have done with a coat of paint. Someone told me the other day that when he asked Doug Faram why he didn't paint the outside of the shop, Doug responded 'Its heritage'. Doug said the original paint was an attention grabbing red. Perhaps like this?

The planning history of the development is told more fully here. The VCAT member said in making his decision:
'The front facade and verandah of the existing shop premises are the key elements of the heritage fabric and these are to be retained in the proposed development.'
Here we see this direction implemented. 'Its heritage, isn't it?'

What are your thoughts on this approach?

The site (could you say its still the same building?) has undergone many changes since the first shop and dwelling were built in 1859. As you can see, the shop originally had a second storey where the family lived. It was demolished in the 1970s. The verandahs were added around 1920 to the Council design. More about verandahs another day.

PMHPS Collection
Sources and further information
They Can Carry Me Out: Memories of Port Melbourne
Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society calendar 2001 (month of September)
The Last of the Independents can be purchased directly from Kevin Anderson at 

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Edwards Park

The layout of Edwards Park has adapted to a range of activities over time. The radial paths meeting in the centre create a setting that lends itself well to Port's current preoccupation with exercise, health and fitness. A playground for children has been a part of Edwards Park from the beginning.
Edwards Park, of course, was once part of the tapering Sandridge Lagoon. The Lagoon has been such a profound shaper of Port's history, leaving its trace even today in the street layout of the Esplanades East and West.
A landscape plan for Edwards Park prepared for the City of Port Phillip in 2001 describes the history of Edwards Park in so far as it can be gleaned from Council records. Unlike neighbouring St Vincents Gardens and the St Kilda Botanic Gardens, there is no single designer of Edwards Park.
The land, having recently been reclaimed from the Lagoon was not suitable for housing. Establishing jurisdiction over the land in the first instance took many years of protracted argument with authorities. Pressure for a children's playground came early from the Guild of Play reflecting the need for such opportunities for children in Port at that time.
The Canary Island palm trees appear to have been planted some time between 1923 and 1931 - though the exact number and date is not established.
The palm trees have now attained some stature and are a defining feature of the Park. There is concern for their health. It's hard to imagine a time when the palms were not so tall but this great photograph gives some idea.
image courtesy of Fred Nicholson
Edwards Park is named after Herbert Charles Edwards who was Mayor of Port Melbourne several times during his long service as a Councillor from 1920 to 1959. He was involved in planning the Park.
Recently his son visited Port and was made welcome by members Helen, Don and Margaret. The visit triggered many memories of growing up in Port.
Mr and Mrs Edwards visit Edwards Park, named after his father

Sources and further information
Statement of significance for Heritage Overlay 448: Edwards Park 
Edwards Park: Conservation Analysis and Masterplan: City of Port Phillip November 2001
A History of Port Melbourne Nancy U'Ren and Noel Turnbull

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jack's journeys

Journey no 2
Here is an account of some research member Jack Bolt recently completed. 
Jack says in summary:
'Read a book, find an item interesting, go to the book's references and web, do more personal research closer to home, find the some more information/data, and inadvertently meet a PMHPS member who is part of the story. It only took about a week. 

It starts with a book . . . 
As a Dutch born Australian who came here with my family in May 1951 and disembarked at Station Pier, I'm interested in Australian history and any Dutch connection.
Recently I bought a copy of the The Dutch Down Under (2006) from the Brotherhood of St Laurence book siteThe book, edited by Nonja Petrs, is a collection of essays by different authors. Petres was at that time the Director of the Migration, Refugees and Citizenship Research Centre at the Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia. Chapter 7 headed 'Evacuations into Australia from the Netherlands East Indies, 1922-1948'^, contains a reference to 77 Javanese 'boat people': men, women and children, who had been living in Sumatra and trying to return to Java and eventually arrived in Port Melbourne in 1942.
The Rev John Freeman was the minister of the Port Melbourne Methodist Church at that time as well as the Chaplain to the Royal Australian Naval Reserve at  HMAS Lonsdale. The large Sunday school hall next to the Graham Street Church* was converted to accommodation and the Javanese stayed there to the end of the War.
What a difference to the present sentiment/attitude to new arrivals!
I went onto the web to search for more and found the newspaper The following week, I went to the PMHPS rooms and mentioned the story about the Javanese.
With the assistance of Lex Johnson, I found a letter in the file written in August 1995 by Mr W E Freeman, son of the Methodist minister, detailing his recollections of the events. The file also included a copy of some photos, published in the Sun newspaper on June 12,1943. Maree Chalmers copied the letter and photo page. I asked Suzy Milburn whether it was the Sun. Terry Keenan, also in the room, with no prompting and without even seeing the page with the photos said “it is the Sun and I'm in it!" Sure enough. On close inspection it was Terry with some Javanese boys taken at Nott St Primary.

The moral of the story is that with a bit of work there is a wealth of data available to us all.Thanks to members of the Society for the organisation of the files which enabled such ready access to the information in the Society's collection.
Journey no 1
The ship on which we, as a family - my parents, two brothers and a sister - traveled  was the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt. Originally the vessel was built for regular voyages from Holland to Indonesia carrying Dutch to and fro. It was very similar to the English vessels travelling between Australia and England. During the war it was used as a troop ship between England and America. To increase the carrying capacity of troops all the cabins were converted to large holds/dormitories for about 200-250 persons. The beds were metal frames with springs and in long rows and 3 - 4 beds high. Men and boys were separated and my mother and sister, aged 10 in different hold (zaals) to ours. We met at meal times and of course during the day. For a youngster it was an exiting time. More about the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, known as the JvO, and the experiences of those who sailed in her can be found here at the Museum Victoria website.'
Do you have any other information about these events?
Notes and further information
^The author of the story is Jan Lingard in Inside Indonesia, still in business, in the Oct- Dec 2001 issue
*A picture of the church can be found on p107 of The Borough and Its People

Friday, May 10, 2013

Coat of paint

The off shore beacon is being painted.

The beacons are a much loved and defining feature of Port Melbourne. Wide Beacon Vista with its generous front setbacks reflects the historic need to maintain a line of sight and clearance between the beacons. Until Princes Pier was refurbished the off shore beacon was  probably the most photographed structure in Port Melbourne.
I prefer the more evocative proper name: 'The Leading Lights' which is how they are listed in the Victorian Heritage Register. Constructed by the Melbourne Harbor Trust in 1924 to a Trinity House design, the beacons define the centre line of the Port Melbourne Channel. The light was visible for 14 nautical miles. Until superseded by more recent technology, the beacons guided vessels safely to the piers. Originally the in water beacon was connected to the shore with a narrow footbridge - the remnants of which can be seen in the photograph below.
Prior to the development of the area now known as Beacon Cove, Port residents fought hard for the protection for Port Melbourne's heritage structures. Dianne Reilly Drury prepared a submission to The Historic Buildings Council in support of heritage listing for the beacons. The Leading Lights were finally recommended for inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register in 1993.
The beacons remain but Centenary Bridge and the Missions to Seamen were demolished to make way for the development of the Beacon Cove estate.
This image is reproduced on a postcard available for sale from the PMHPS.

Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society
Sources and further information
Victorian Heritage Register

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Beards have perhaps not made as much of a come back in Port as in some suburbs north of the river.  Nevertheless, I thought to have a look at some of our former Port leaders from a beard perspective.
Thomas Swallow, founder of the Swallow and Ariell biscuit company, sported a neat and trim sort of beard.
Thomas Swallow
Swallow went from his birthplace of Reading in England, to California and to Ballarat before he started the biscuit company that has left such a significant footprint in Port Melbourne. Swallow was an entrepreneur and an innovator as well as being involved in every facet of early municipal and community life. He invested in sugar plantations in Cairns. Swallows had contracts with fruit growers in the Goubourn Valley - interesting to note in a week when SP Ardoma are reviewing their relationships with fruit growers because of the ongoing decline in sales of Australian packaged fruit.

George Sangter's portrait in Terry Keenan's interesting publication In Safe Hands: Presidents of the Port Melbourne Football Club shows a really wild beard, though it is more modest in the photograph from the Port Phillip City collection.
George Sangster

George Sangster's contribution to Port Melbourne is perhaps less well known than Swallow's. He was a foundation member of the Seamen's Union  from 1872 as well as representing Port Melbourne in state parliament for 20 years until 1915. He was a dedicated socialist with strongly held views. Sangster opposed the Boer War and Federation. Sangster Reserve, behind the Port Melbourne Bowling Club, is an important place of reflection on the Whittaker walk conducted over the past few years.

Edward Clark was the first Town Clerk of Port Melbourne - in the job from 1860 until his retirement in 1882. Imagine his work - setting up the basic administration of Sandridge, dealing with sand drift and wandering pigs and goats.  Of course, Clark St was named after him - the only street in Port Melbourne to be lined with plane trees - which is a blessing according to some and a curse to others. Housing only started creeping onto the other side of the Railway Line in the 1870s. Until the construction of the Bank Houses, only the Bend stretched far away.
Edward Clark

Beware, it will be moustaches in Movember.

sources and further information
Terry Keenan: In Safe Hands: Presidents of the Port Melbourne Football Club available from the Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society
City of Port Phillip Heritage website
The Beginnings of the Borough: a City of Port Phillip Exhibition