Friday, August 30, 2013

Port Melbourne's History On Display

In one week, The Borough and Its People: Port Melbourne 1839 to 1939, by members Margaret and Graham Bride has been spotted on display at the State Library of Victoria, the Port Melbourne Library and the Prahran Mechanics Institute Victorian History Library. Congratulations!
At the State Library
At the Port Melbourne Library
At the Prahran Mechanics Institute Victorian History Library

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Great White Fleet and Port Melbourne

In Melbourne from 29 August to 5 September 1908
President Roosevelt commissioned 16 new battleships between 1904 and 1907. He sent them on a 15 month goodwill visit around the world. Prime Minister Deakin invited them to visit Australia. The young Australia was feeling exposed following the defeat of the Russian Navy by Japan in 1905. The British Navy had withdrawn their warships from the Pacific. The visit was a formative step in the relationship between the US and Australia. The popular support and the excitement generated by the visit gave an impetus to the subsequent establishment of the Royal Australian Navy in 1911.
The ships' hulls were painted white, except for the gilded scrollwork with a red white and blue banner on their bows. Fourteen thousand sailors came to town. Melbourne was in a fever of excitement. The sailors made their entrance to Melbourne via Port Melbourne's Town Pier. Crowds lined the entrance to the Pier as the sailors set off to parade to Melbourne for the week long celebrations.

The Bride's write: 'They arrived in Port Melbourne, where they were greeted with great enthusiasm and given a formal Entry to the City at the Town Pier. The ships were anchored in the Bay. On the day of their arrival, thousands of people crowded around the foreshore to watch. The Standard considered this to be a truly wonderful day:
'Last Saturday was no doubt one of the greatest days in the history of Port Melbourne, and proved once again that whatever the desire of those in high places to treat this town with contempt, the general public recognise that it is a favourite place of resort, when anything of interest in the maritime world stirs the great heart of the people.' (1)
There is much much more of this story to explore via the links below.
Town Pier was built in 1849, where Liardet's jetty had been, at the southern end of Bay St.
(1) M and G Bride The Borough and Its People: Port Melbourne 1839 to 1939, p239
Links to further information

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society celebrates 20 years

Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society AGM 
What tales have been told, what stories recorded in that time! A chronicle of the work packed into those twenty years and the companionship enjoyed along the way will be documented in the Annual Report. The impressive number of publications created over the time are available for sale from the PMHPS website. 
Those publications weave into the larger Victorian and Australian story. Members Margaret and Graham Bride's recent publication The Borough and Its People: Port Melbourne 1839 to 1939 was observed today on display under the dome at the State Library of Victoria.

Dr Miles Lewis is the guest at Monday's AGM. Dr Lewis was a sub-consultant on the 1979 Port Melbourne Conservation Study commissioned by the Port Melbourne City Council and the Australian Heritage Commission which laid the foundation for the protection of heritage areas in Port Melbourne. Dr Lewis is an architectural historian and Professor in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne. The breadth and depth of is his research interests and publications is revealed on his website.

The Annual General Meeting will be held upstairs at the his Melbourne Town Hall at 333 Bay St on Monday 26 August from 7.30 pm followed by supper.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

For National Science Week: The CSIRO in Port Melbourne

This post is a fragment of a huge story. Fishermans Bend has a very strong association with science and innovation and their application to industry and manufacturing. CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, was a very significant presence in Port until the eighties.
In 1938, CSIR as it was then known, leased 5.9 hectares of land at Fishermans Bend from the Government. At one time, CSIRO employed over 600 people at Fishermans Bend. Even though CSIRO acquired the Clayton site in 1959, the move from Port Melbourne was gradual. With the Fishermans Bend site too small to accommodate CSIRO's range of research activities, from 1964 the CSIRO Minerals Division moved to the former BALM Paint factory at 399 Williamstown Road. It was only vacated in 1989.
former BALM Paint Factory
399 Williamstown Road, formerly the Minerals Divison of CSIRO
'The research of the Minerals Division was directed towards assisting the development of new, and the improvement of existing methods of mineral processing through the application of continually developing expertise in physical and inorganic chemistry related to minerals. This scientific base enabled it to advance to to technology in areas such as environment and energy.' (Commonwealth Government Directory, Vol 2, 1985)
Tantalising snippets of discoveries, innovation and scientific leadership have been gleaned from casual web searches such as 'The 1990 system, a Cray Research Supercomputer Y-MP 2/216, was housed in Port Melbourne and managed by Leading Edge Technologies, which used a share of the system for seismic data processing.' 
It was also a local employer. Just this morning, taking these photos on Williamstown Road I met a man whose father used to be a carpenter at CSIRO. His father never owned a car, since work was just over the road. 
There must be many people who worked for  CSIRO in Port Melbourne and it would be great to hear from them.
Sources and further information search by BALM 
Encyclopedia of Australian Science

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Corner Shop

Calling those with stories to share
Port Phillip Council is inviting contributions to the Seniors Writing Awards - due by 2 September. Successful pieces are included in a publication. Here is a small excerpt from a delightful longer poem from the 2010 competition. Its about a corner shop in the Wimmera but it sounds as though it would also describe some of Port's corner shops
"From the levelled drawers behind him would the grocer ladle spice,
With his fingers form a "poke" and tuck it in;
The same for sage or pepper. It was neat, it was precise,
It was never in a packet or a tin!
The paper "poke"!
And when we paid the weekly bill, a poke of peppermints
Or sugar drops or wine gums came our way!"
with permission from George Hall
Only the other day, a Port resident spoke of a 'poke' (and not in a facebook kind of way) and how everyone settled bills on a weekly basis - no matter how much money they had.
This shop was called Bulloughs. John May recalls: 'They sold small goods. I loved going there, thought it was wonderful. It had steps going up to the door, and the counters were all of scrubbed timber.'
Bulloughs, cnr Dow and Graham St
Any shop stories out there?
Sources and further information
Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society Calendar 2001
Port Phillip Writes: Tales and Stories 2010: City of Port Phillip (available from the Port Phillip Library Service)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Maskell and McNab

What is a monument to railwaymen doing on the foreshore so far away from trains?

The monument commemorates engine driver Frederick William Maskell and fireman James McNab who, along with three passengers, were killed in a rail accident at Windsor in May 1887. Maskell was 46, McNab 21. One hundred and fifty four people were injured. Mr Maskell was driving an express train when it ploughed into the back of an ordinary train which had broken down just before Windsor Station. Only his presence of mind in pulling on the steam brake of his engine seconds before he was crushed prevented the accident from being much worse. At the subsequent inquest, it was revealed that an untrained station hand was left to apply the steam brake before he and his fireman were killed.
The loss of the two Port Melbourne citizens galvanised a strong local response and fundraising for a memorial soon began.  On Wednesday 16 July 1890, around 350 people, including Mayor Plummer and Councillors, gathered at the unveiling of the monument in Graham St near the the intersection of Station and Princes St.
The monument was re-located to the foreshore when the Graham Street overpass was built. Along with the monument went a mini-community of shops and pubs centred on the rockeries, see image below, which shows that the monument once had decorative features that have since been lost.
The Maskell and McNab memorial fountain was designed by architect J B Grut. His hand can also be seen in the second storey addition to Chequers/Bay & Bridge as well as the former South Suburban Building Society (currently occupied by SAM Sales and Marketing in Bay St)

Sources and further information
Monument Australia lists all monuments in Australia
Railway Rockeries: Tales of the Melbourne and Hobsons Bay Railway Reserves - a Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society publication