Tuesday, 30 June 2020

We've faced a pandemic before. Influenza. 1919

The Influenza crisis made its presence felt in Australia from the time troops returned home from the war in Europe at the end of 1918. 

Our local area was not immune. 

In Brunswick, the Albert Street State School was used as an emergency hospital to begin with, but then, as the crisis deepened, the hospital moved to Broadmeadows where it was managed by the Brunswick Council.

Broadmeadows Influenza Hospital, No. 2 Ward, 1919. 
Courtesy Moreland City Libraries. Image O3.4.

Horse and drag transporting staff from the Emergency Influenza Hospital at Broadmeadows to Bell Street, Coburg, 1919. Courtesy Moreland City Libraries. Image O3.1.

I've written about the influenza epidemic in Coburg before and you can read about that here and here and here

As you can imagine, there were many deaths among returned servicemen and some were given an official military burial at Coburg Cemetery, even though they were not from the local area.

They were:

Died October 1918
4675 Pte William Henry Bullivant
2134 Pte John Burrell
5655 Pte Henry Matson
2893 Sgt R.W. Saunders
5199 Pte Francis Edward Sandie

Died January/February 1919
2913 Pte William Alfred Bushby
5658 Pte Albert Roy Butler
6382 Gnr Kevin McAloon
2536 Pte Wm G. Hefford

Died March/April 1919
2810 Sgt Robert Moore
4790 Pte Thomas F. Donnelly
3755 Cpl Henry Fitzpatrick
1399 Pte Percy Harold Ostler

Died in May/June 1919
2276 Pte Arthur O’Dell Lowes
24420 Driver Christopher M. McKinstry
506 Driver John Sandy

Died in July/August 1919
4559 Sgt Thomas Jones
5450 Pte James Joseph Cleary
367 Cpl Edgar Alfred Bell
3809 Cpl William Robert Fuller
2060 Tpr Athelstane Thomas Rowland
11815 Driver William Ness Law
6286 Pte George John Johnson
Sgt Charles Curtis Dedman (died Sep-Dec 1919)
2536 Pte William G. Hefford

Thursday, 25 June 2020

The faces behind the naming of Harding Street, Coburg

This street was made in the very earliest days of Coburg (when it was still called Pentridge) but was first listed in a Sands and McDougall Street Directory as Harding Road in 1872. By 1911 it was known as Harding Street.

Street Names of Coburg tells us that the street was named for John Harding, listed in the 1868 Directory as a Sydney Road farmer located where the street began, so it's likely that it was an access road to his property in its very earliest days.

John Harding was a devout Methodist and a very early Sunday School teacher (as early as the mid-1840s, according to Richard Broome in his comprehensive history of Coburg).

I came across a photograph of this early Coburg pioneer taken in old age in a 1904 Jubilee History of the Methodist Church in Victoria and Tasmania. 

The volume also included photos of John's son Thomas and his wife Parysatis (nee Kendall), also stalwarts of the Coburg Methodist Church scene of the day.

At first I assumed that all three Harding family members were alive in 1904 when the church history was published, but this was not so.

John Harding died in December 1894 and is buried at Coburg Cemetery with his wife Elizabeth, who predeceased him. (She died in 1877.) They are buried in Methodist Section A, Grave 157.

Their son Thomas died in 1900 aged 69. He, too, is buried in the Methodist Section A (Grave 272) at Coburg Cemetery with his wife Parysatis, who died in 1910.

Parysatis Harding's unusual given name is spelled many different ways in the Victorian birth, death and marriage indexes. I can imagine that this was a constant cause of frustration for her. Parysatis was the name of a Queen of Ancient Persia. There were two of them - one was the mother of Cyrus the Younger and the other married Alexander the Great. I don't suppose there was anyone else in Coburg with that name, although the couple did call one of their daughters Parysatis and the name carried on for at least another generation.

Parysatis Harding was the daughter of another Coburg pioneer and member of the Coburg Methodist Church, John Buck Kendall, of whom I will write in a later blog entry.


Even though I was looking through the Jubilee history for completely different reasons, I now have a gallery of photos of early residents of both Brunswick and Coburg. It is worth remembering that church attendance was almost universal in the 19th and early 20th centuries and that much rich local history material can be gleaned from the pages of church newsletters, histories such as this one and in newspaper articles.

I'll share some of my finds with you over the next few months and hopefully some of you reading this will recognise names and faces and can add to the stories of their lives.


Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Selling fish in Sydney Road, around 1914

Fish market, Coburg, ca 1914 – ca 1916. Accession number H2002.198/69. Courtesy Radley Collection, State Library of Victoria.

The photographer is identified as G.G.M. This is the second photograph taken in the Coburg area that I’ve found by this photographer, but it appears he wasn’t local – the State Library of Victoria has over a hundred of his photographs in its collection and they come from all over the wider Melbourne area. They’re all taken in much the same time period, though, and they’re mostly of scenery, although there are a few portraits as well.
This photograph of a fish market has been identified by the State Library as being in Coburg so at first I thought it might have been at the Coburg Market site, which seems a logical place to be selling fresh produce.
However, the fishmongers are displaying their wares out on the street in wooden carts. There are no buildings in the background, which makes it unlikely to be in Sydney Road, Coburg, which by then was much more built up than appears to be the case in the photograph.
There is only one connection to Coburg that is certain - the covered van in the background has Sydney Road, Coburg printed on it. But there is nothing to say that the location is actually Coburg. So I’m wondering whether it was actually taken at the Melbourne Fish Market.
There was an open air fish market on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets from the 1860s. (It’s the site where Flinders Street Station is now located.) But by the time this photo was taken it had moved from there to a five acre site stretching along Flinders Street as far as Spencer Street and as you can see from the photo below.

Flinders Street with old fish market, ca 1910 – ca 1914. Looking east down Flinders Street with the old fish market (demolished in 1956) in right foreground, showing spire and clock tower. Image H2008.105/31. Courtesy State Library of Victoria.

If you’re interested, you can read a little more about the history of the various Melbourne fish markets here.

In the meantime, the location of this photograph remains  a mystery! Any suggestions anyone?

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Land of Promise Estate, Moreland Road, West Brunswick

In 1839 the first ‘suburban’ lots were surveyed. The Brunswick area was laid out – two straight lines marking south and north (later Park Street and Moreland Road) then Moonee Ponds Creek in the west to Merri Creek in the east. Coburg began where Brunswick left off – at Moreland Road.
Speculators have been buying land and subdividing in Brunswick and Coburg since the first land sales in 1839. In February 1840, the Port Phillip Gazette brought out its slickest Biblical rhetoric: ‘Moreland-road West Brunswick! The Land of Promise!’ it cried. ‘A paradise in miniature, verily, verily! Eden resuscitated! A Home for the Chosen People!’
In that time there were large estates that might well be considered ‘paradise in miniature’ dotted around both Brunswick and Coburg. The wealthy did not spurn the northern suburbs then. E.J. Moorehead, writing in the Age in 1931, noted that ‘the large blocks of land running back to the two creeks, after their original service as agricultural holdings, attracted persons of wealth and leisure, who began to establish country homes there.’
Back in 1914 long-term resident Benjamin Cooke commented on the subdivision of the old estates, saying that ‘it seems that in the near future all the old homes with acreages will become a thing of the past.’ He was almost right – the acreages have certainly disappeared, but scattered throughout the district you can still find a mansion or two, among them Moreland Hall, Sherwood and Fleming House.
The Biblical rhetoric that appeared first in 1840 was brought out again in 1888 when the ‘Land of Promise’ Estate was carved up into 164 allotments and put on the market.
The auctioneer’s poster tells it all.

The Land of Promise, Moreland Road, West Brunswick, auction plan, 1888. Dyer collection, Map collection, State Library of Victoria. 

And here are some details from this beautiful poster.

I’ve included the full text of the advertising material here. It’s well worth a read. Some of it's very politically incorrect these days and would never make it to print, but it appeared day after day in the lead-up to the sale on 20 October 1888. Just a pity the auction wasn’t more successul on the day – the news reports in the following week tell us that only a few Moreland Road frontages were sold and that the culprit was the 'interference' of the races at Caulfield – bad timing, indeed.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Grace and Strength - athlete Joan Morrison of Coburg Harriers Club

              Joan Morrison of Coburg at the Women's Athletics Championships at Royal Park, 
Argus, 4 March 1946

Sporting Globe, 11 January 1947

The caption reads 'Joan Morrison of Coburg in the junior discus throw at today's women's athletics meeting.'

Age, Monday 6 January 1947

The Age newspaper provides a different photograph of Joan Morrison and adds that the event was the Victorian Women's Athletic Association Meeting at Royal Park held on Saturday 4 January 1947 and that Joan was second off scratch.

Argus, 8 January 1951

Four years later and Joan Morrison is still competing at elite level. The Argus tells us that this is Women's Athletics, held at Royal Park. Joan is limbering up before competing in the high jump. She won - jumped 4 foot 11 1/4 inches - her best jump to date. Two weeks later and the same newspaper reported that she jumped 5 foot 0 1/2 inches in a 'graceful leap' at Prahran Cricket Ground.

Not long afterwards, in a feature on Victorian women in sport, the Argus newspaper (23 February 1951) featured Joan. The headline read 'Three Inches from Helsinki' and the subheading was 'Joan Morrison, like all every good high jumper, thinks of the next Olympics in terms of inches.'

We are told that she's from West Coburg and that her father, W.G. (Billy) Morrison, formerly a member of the Footscray Harriers, is her coach. Her life revolves around sport. She even works for the sports manufacturers A.G. Spalding & Bros, we are told.

By then she had represented Australia overseas in the 1950 Empire Games in Auckland, New Zealand (as a 19 year old alongside eight other women including Marjorie Jackson and Shirley Strickland). 

Joan Morrison was a shot putter, threw discus and excelled at the high jump. 

In 1952 she competed at the Helskinki Olympic Games. 

And as Mrs Maurice Brophy, she appeared in a Herald newspaper article dated 19 July 1952 modelling the team uniform.

With marriage, her athletics career ended. Maurice and Joan Brophy brought up their family in the northern suburbs. Maurice, a solicitor, died in 2012 and Joan, the former champion athlete, died in 2016. They are buried at Northern Memorial Park.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Annie Beauchamp takes her first aeroplane ride aged 93

Herald, 16 November 1951

The newspaper article that goes with this photo tells us that this was Annie Beauchamp's first trip in an aeroplane and that she was travelling to Bathurst. It also tells us that 'in her early days Mrs Beauchamp travelled from Pentridge (now Coburg) to the city by horse bus. This probably took longer than today's air trip,' said the newspaper.

Annie as a younger woman. Image courtesy Louise Ruzic.

Annie Beauchamp’s father, Thomas Watts was seven years old when he arrived in Victoria with his family from his home town of Worle in Somerset.
Ten years later, aged 17, he married Sarah Banwell and the couple settled at Pentridge where their first child Annie (later Annie Beauchamp) was born in 1859.
Soon after her birth, Sarah took baby Annie home to visit her family in Somerset, because they are both recorded on the 1861 Census at Weston Super Mare. So Annie’s journey to visit family at the start of her life is mirrored by the aeroplane trip to Bathurst that she made at the other end of her life.
Annie was one of 9 children born to Thomas and Sarah Watts, although three of them died as infants. She was the only surviving girl. The first children's births were registered in either Pentridge or Newlands but from the early 1870s their children were born in either Moonee Ponds or Essendon.
In 1890, when she was 31 (quite old to be a first-time bride in those times), Annie Watts married William Beauchamp and settled in the Moonee Ponds area. The couple had two children – Eva born in 1891 and Arthur born in 1893.
After her husband’s death in 1905, Annie remained in Moonee Ponds until the mid-1920s when she moved to nearby Essendon.
Annie's daughter Eva divorced her first husband in 1936, remarried and moved to Bathurst in New South Wales.
The photo you see here is of Annie aged 93, taking her first ever plane trip to visit her daughter, now Eva Sutherland.
Annie died a year later, on 23 November 1952 and is buried at the Bathurst Cemetery. Her daughter Eva died in 1962 and her son Arthur in 1965.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Fun at the Coburg Fair - Sports Carnival, February 1925

Argus, 2 February 1925

The annual Sporting Carnival, held on what is now known as Bridges Reserve, raised money to improve the City's playgrounds and reserves. You see here a 'swan pond', provided by the Coburg Horticultural Society. The aim was to try use the rods (and rings) to ensnare miniature water fowl (toys, of course, not the real thing).

The Carnivals were well patronised annual events and for many years drew huge crowds. 

Athletics and cross country running may not have stood up against footy and cricket as must-do and must-see activities, but they were still very popular. 

Coburg Harriers Athletics Club was founded in 1896 and is still going, so it has long history in the area. If you'd like to read more about the Club's history in Coburg, you can do so here.