Friday, 9 January 2015

Railways - some interesting resources

I have written about railways quite a few times in this blog  - my interest doesn't lie in  rolling stock, signalling or railway memorabilia,  I am interested in the social history of railways,  the influence of railways in the development of settlement patterns (you can read about the influence of the railways in the Casey Cardinia area here) and the Victorian Railways (VR) as a government department or institution.

This paragraph, taken from the Victorian Museum website tells you the extent of the railways in Victoria - The construction of Victoria's railway system has required one of the State's largest and most sustained investments in public infrastructure. Flushed with the tremendous wealth generated by the goldfields, the Victorian government invested £9 million over the first decade of railway development between 1854 and 1864 to build just 254 miles (409 km) of railway, while private railway companies invested another £1.8 million. Over the next sixty years the railway system continued to expand rapidly reaching 2,900 route miles (4,670 km) by 1891 and 4,700 miles (7,565 km) in 1931, representing a total investment of almost £50 million. By this time, every town in Victoria with a population of over 500 boasted its own railway station.  



The number of people that were employed by the Railways was huge - and it is no wonder that they built such a grand headquarters in Spencer Street  in 1893 (shown in the photograph* left) and later, in 1909, the equally wonderful Flinders Street Station.  However, Railway Station staff and other rail workers were employed all throughout Victoria and these people played a real role in the life of the towns that they were appointed to.

If you haven't read Patsy Adam Smith's book Hear the train blow then you should borrow it from your local library! Her mother was the Station Mistress and Post Mistress at various stations, including Monomeith where they lived in the station house, and her father was a fettler. There are no signs of the railway buildings at Monomeith anymore, but Patsy makes the small town and the other towns she lived in, come alive.

I have done some research on the 29 men listed on the Narre Warren War Memorial and seven of them had lived in Narre Warren as their fathers were railway employees. Only one of the seven were living in the area when they enlisted as their dads had been appointed to other towns and yet they were all remembered fondly enough by the Narre Warren Community that they were honoured by having their name on the War Memorial.

Interesting Railway websites
One of the interesting Railway websites is Victorian Railway Resources website - www.vrhistory.com  It has a history of some Railway Stations (the only two from this area are Pakenham and Nar Nar Goon) and it has a great section on Victorian Railway maps from 1860 to 2000 - there is a map every decade showing the extent of railways in Victoria. It's  a great resource

This is part of the 1930 map - showing the railway lines and stations in this area and further on to Gippsland and The Dandenongs.
Source: Victorian Railway resources website www.vrhistory.com

Another interesting railway website is vicsig.net  www.vicsig.net. This has lots of current railway information and it also includes a very short history of Railway Stations (Under Infrastructure, then locations) So if we look up Pakenham we find that it opened on October 8, 1877, the line was electrified on July 21, 1954 and duplicated on February 25, 1955; there is also information about signals.


This is the Pakenham Railway Station in 1912


The Victorian Museum website also has a section on railways. It looks at the tracks, the stations, staff,  rolling stock and disasters. It also has photographs.     http://museumvictoria.com.au/railways/

Photograph sources
As well as the Victoria Museum website (mentioned above) another good source of railway photographs is the Public Records Office of Victoria -  Photographic Collection of Railway Negatives. It is available on the Public Records Office of Victoria website www.prov.vic.gov.au. Click here to search this collection. You can see some of local photographs here.
The State Library of Victoria www.slv.vic.gov.au also has an extensive photograph collection  and has many railway related photographs.

I must tell you that apart from travelling on trains, my only personal connection to the Victorian Railways was that my grandma had the same initials, VR and she was always thrilled, as a girl, that every train and carriage had her initials on the side!

*  The Photograph of the Spencer Street Railway building is from the State Library of Victoria, www.slv.vic.gov.au   Image H29753/71. 

Monday, 29 December 2014

Thompsons Road and Patrick Thompson

Thompsons Road runs from Patterson Lakes, through Carrum Downs, Cranbourne and Clyde nearly to the Cardinia Creek, so essentially all the way east to west across the old Shire of Cranbourne. It was named for Patrick Thompson, early land owner and member of the Cranbourne Road Board.  

According to the Cranbourne Shire Rate Books, Patrick Thompson owned 308 acres, Lots 19 and 22 in the Parish of Lyndhurst – the land was on either side of what is now Thompson’s Road. The land was originally owned by members of the Wedge Brothers. Various of the Wedge Brothers, John, Charles, Richard and Henry Wedge held the Banyan Waterholes Run (based around the Carrum Swamp) from 1839 to 1852 and the Corhanwarrabul Run near Dandenong from 1845, plus they had obviously purchased land after the Government land sales of the early 1850s as you can see from the Lyndhurst Parish Plan, below.

Part of the Parish Plan of Lyndhurst. The Thompson Property, Lots 19 & 22, is outlined in red. 
On the map it was still owned by C & R Wedge. Click on image to enlarge it.

I don't know very much about Patrick, I know nothing about his personal life at all and this is what I have found out about his public life.

In 1856, Thompson was listed in the State Government  Gazette as being appointed a Trustee of  the land set aside for the Presbyterian Church. 



Thompson was also appointed as a Trustee of the Cranbourne Cemetery on December 11, 1857. This was also listed in the State Government Gazette.



From 1860 to 1863,  Thompson was a member of the Cranbourne Road Board. Gunson in The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire book says that his property was called Oaklands.

Thompson left the area in 1863 according to this advertisement (below) which appeared in The Argus of April 8, 1863. I have no information as to where he went to.



The Argus April 8, 1863


Another advertisement appeared in The Argus of May 22, 1863, leasing Oaklands.


1863 is the first  year we have of the Cranbourne Shire Rate Books and James Sloan is listed as leasing Lots 19 and 22 from Patrick Thompson. This is the only mention of Thompson in the Rate Books, though James Sloan is listed until 1867. From 1864 to 1866 there is no owner listed – so we can’t tell if Sloan actually is leasing the farm or owns it. In 1867, Sloan is still listed as the Rate payer, however the owner is listed as Atkinson. There is an advertisement in The Argus of April 18, 1868 advising that Sloan is selling all his dairy stock and farm produce.  

Also in 1868, William Cameron is listed as the Rate Payer of Lots 19 and 22 and the owner is still listed as Atkinson. There is an advertisement in The Argus of October 5, 1868 from William Cameron of Oaklands in Lyndhurst requesting that some horses be removed from his paddock, so this confirms again that Lots 19 and 22 were the same property as Thompson's Oaklands.

Incidentally, also in The Argus of April 18, 1868 directly underneath the Sloan advertisement is another, advertising the sale of a Mr Thompson’s property Mt Tabor at Lyndhurst. Is this the same Mr Thompson? If so it doesn’t tally with the information in the 1863 advertisement that he had left the district. It may be a completely different person.

 I cannot tell exactly where his house was – his block bordered Evans Road as well as being either side of Thompson Road, so it would be interesting to know which road he was on. He had a ‘whole of the household of furniture’ which he sold at the sale advertised in The Argus of April 8, 1863 – so you would have to assume it was more than just a one room shack. 

If you are related to Patrick Thompson, then I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Berwick Nostalgia: a pictorial history of Berwick

One of my main sources of photographs for Berwick is the book Berwick Nostalgia: a pictorial history of Berwick. It was published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society in 2001, It really is a great book and is the first place to go for historical photographs of Berwick.

The book is a companion volume to North of the Line and Oak Trees and Hedges: a pictorial history of Narre Warren, Narre Warren North and Harkaway.

It is available from the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society and the National Trust Shop in Pioneer Park.  Here are three of my favourite photographs from Berwick Nostalgia.


Hay stacks at The Springs, Greaves Road, Berwick.


Original members of the Berwick Red Cross Unit, 1914.


Richardson's Abattoirs - boiling down works

Friday, 12 December 2014

Cardinia Shire and the City of Casey turn 20 - Local Government Timeline

Congratulations to the Cardinia Shire and the City of  Casey - they both turned 20 on December 15, 2014 at 4.00pm!

Here is a time line of local government in this area -

1842 -  The Town of Melbourne created - the first local government body in Victoria.

1860 - Cranbourne Road Board proclaimed June 19.  The first members of the Cranbourne Road Board were Dr James Smith Adams, Chairman, who owned Balla Balla Estate ; James Bruce, owner of Sherwood Park ; Richard Burgh Chomley, owner of Tongola at Lyndhurst ; James Lecky, Cranbourne land-owner who also owned the Cardinia Creek property ; Edward Malloy, owner of Mayune property ; Alexander Patterson, owner of St Germains Estate ; Christopher Bond Peed, owner of Springmount ; Patrick Thompson, owner of Oaklands and John Wedge, owner of Johnswood at Lyndhurst. Populaton of the Road Board area was 857. The Road Board met at the Mornington Hotel.

1861 - The town of Berwick and the town of Cranbourne proclaimed on February 25.

1862 - Berwick Road Board proclaimed September 29.  The first members of the Berwick Road Board were John Brisbane (Chairman), early Berwick landowner ; Robert Bain, the owner of the Border Hotel (Berwick Inn) in Berwick ; Francis Barr, a Berwick land owner ; Michael Bourke, owner of the La Trobe Inn, later known as Bourke’s Hotel, at Pakenham; James Buchanan, owner of Ardblair, who later went on to be a Member of the Legislative Council ; David Connor, licensee of the New Bunyip Hotel on the Bunyip River ; John Pitman, Pakenham landowner ; John Startup of Mount Ararat Station ; John Troup, land owner at Narre Warren North and Gotlieb Wanke, a land owner at Harkaway. The Road Board met at the Border Hotel (Berwick Inn)

1865 - Shire of Berwick Council chambers built in High Street.

1868 - Shire of Cranbourne proclaimed  February 24

1868 - Shire of Berwick proclaimed, May 5

1875 - Cranbourne Shire Offices opened March 6

1889 - The Scoresby Ward of the Shire of Berwick, including Scoresby, Fern Tree Gully,  Clematis, parts of Emerald and Avonsleigh was severed from Berwick and became the Shire of Fern Tree Gully on May 23.

1893 - Yannathan and Lang Lang East annexed from the Shire of Buln Buln  to the Shire of Cranbourne on January  23.

1902 - Shire of Berwick Offices move to Pakenham Mechanics’ Institute.

1912 - Shire of Berwick Offices open in Main Street Pakenham, corner of John Street.

1963 - 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 on December 23, 1964.

1973 - The City of Berwick and the Shire of Pakenham were formed on October 1,  when the Shire of Berwick split. The Shire of Pakenham continued to use the Main Street Offices and the City of Berwick used temporary buildings in Kays Avenue, Hallam until the Civic Centre opened in 1978.

1978 - Cranbourne Shire Offices officially opened in Sladen Street, April 22

1978 - Civic Centre at Narre Warren opened December 8

1979 - Cr Jeune Matthews first female Shire President of the Shire of Pakenham.

1980 - Cr Jan Bateman, City of Berwick’s first female Mayor of the City of Berwick

1983 - Shire of Pakenham Offices opened July 28 in Henty Way

1988 - Cr Judy Elso, first female Shire President of the Shire of Cranbourne

1994 - City of Cranbourne created on April 22

1994 - The City of Casey and the Cardinia Shire officially came into being on the December 15 at 4.00pm.

The City of Casey was created from the western section of the short-lived City of Cranbourne (Cranbourne, Tooradin, Pearcedale, Devon Meadows, Hampton Park etc) and the entire City of Berwick.

The Cardinia Shire was created from the Shire of Pakenham, the eastern end of the City of Cranbourne (Koo-Wee-Rup, Lang Lang, Yannathan, Bayles, Catani etc) plus Emerald, Clematis and Avonsleigh which were annexed from the Shire of Sherbrooke.  Langwarrin and Carrum Downs went to the City of Frankston from the City of Cranbourne.

The City of Cranbourne, Shire of Pakenham and City of Berwick ceased to exist on December 15.

2014 - Cardinia Shire Offices opened on November 17 in Officer.

2014 - Cardinia and Casey  both turn 20 on December 15.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Papers Past

Many families have  a New Zealand connection - it was not uncommon in the 1800s for family members to migrate from England to New Zealand, then Australia or vice versa or for one family member to come to Australia, one to New Zealand or Canada or some other corner of the British Empire. Papers Past http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ is a great source of New Zealand history  - it's similar to the digitised newspaper collection on Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper, which I use all the time.

According to their website,  Papers Past contains more than three million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 92 publications from all regions of New Zealand.

I have selected three articles with  a local Casey Cardinia connection,  to show you the range of information you can discover on Papers Past and of course, if you come from New Zealand then it would be an especially valuable resource for family and local history.


The Press  November 18, 1905

This is a report of the marriage in Christchurch, of  George Hobbs and Muriel Simcox, and there is a double Casey Cardinia connection as George had  a connection to Berwick and Muriel to Officer. George is the son of John and Alice Hobbs, of Berwick, who both lived to the grand age of 90, John dying in 1940 and Alice in 1945, they are buried at Berwick Cemetery. Muriel died in Christchurch in 1948, aged 64 and she is buried in the same grave as her father, Samuel James Simcox who died in 1916 and I believe that George died in 1912, aged 32. I haven't found out the Simcox/Officer connection but will keep trying.


Mataura Ensign February 10, 1908

The Kerr family had large land holdings in Tynong; in 1903  five years before Edmund's death, they had around 1000 acres - north of the Highway around Fogarty Road; south of the railway line where Kerrs Road is, land closer toward Garfield plus some Tynong Township allotments.  I found another interesting reference to Edmund Kerr, I assume he is the same Edmund Kerr as above, in Table Talk newspaper on Trove which says that John Kerr of Tynong discovered the Kimberley mines in South Africa and they then fell into the hands of Cecil Rhodes, who went onto establish Rhodesia.  The Kerr family is thus a perfect example of the reach and influence of the British Empire in the Victorian era. 


Table Talk February 8, 1900



New Zealand Herald  September 23, 1933

This is an interesting article for two reasons, Mr C.D Lloyd  is Charles Duplan Lloyd (1863-1937) who purchased the Holly Green property (where Fountain Gate Shopping centre is) in 1924, from the Webb Family, and moved his Glen Iris jersey cattle stud from Glen Iris to Holly Green. The other reason it is interesting is that it shows how important rural industry was at the time, in both Australia and New Zealand, that farming matters were reported in the daily papers. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Officer - aerial photographs

The Cardinia Shire has recently moved their offices and Council Chambers from Pakenham to Officer, November 17 2014 was the first official day of business. The Shire had been in their 'old' building since it was opened  on  July 28, 1983 and you can read about that building here. As well as the new Council buildings, Officer has recently seen a lot of development with  housing estates so I thought it was time to see how the area has changed in the past 20 years. These are some aerials from 1994 and 1996, not really that long ago, but they show Officer when it was still a country town.


This is Officer  May 4, 1994, starting from the far right is the Recreation Reserve on the corner of the Princes Highway and Starling Road. The next intersection is Officer South Road and Tivendale Road. The small patch of remnant bush is in the vicinity of the new Council Offices. The intersection on the left is the Highway with Brunt Road and Whiteside Road.


The same view as above but shows Beaconsfield in the distance. The photograph is undated but I believe it is October 1996.


This is a continuation of the photograph above, it is dated October 31, 1996. The intersection at the bottom is that of the Princes Highway and Brunt Road and Whiteside Road.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Railways and their contribution to the developement of the Casey Cardinia region

I have written about railways before in this blog, as I have an interest in railways, because of the influence they had on the growth of towns and settlement patterns. When I was at High School at Koo-Wee-Rup in the 1970s the school bus used to run out to Bayles and followed the path of the old railway line and if I could go back in time I would love to have seen the trains chuffing along this line to Bayles, Catani and beyond.  I wrote this article for the book Pages from the past: snapshot histories of people, places and public life in Casey and Cardinia.

The photographs are from the Public Transport Corporation: Photographic Collection of Railway Negatives available on the Public Records Office of Victoria website www.prov.vic.gov.au. Click here to search this collection.

Railways have been pivotal in the development of the Casey Cardinia Region. The Railways have always been used for personal travel - to go to work, to go into Dandenong or Melbourne for reasons such as shopping or to access medical services - but they have also influenced the location and growth of towns, transported produce to markets and tourists to holiday destinations. We have had four railway lines traversing the region and three are still operating. The earliest line is the Gippsland line to Sale which was opened from Oakleigh to Bunyip in October 1877 and fully opened in 1879. The Great Southern line commenced construction in 1887 and was fully operational from Dandenong to Korumburra by June 1891. It was later extended to Port Albert. It now only goes as far as Cranbourne. The famous Puffing Billy line, officially called the Fern Tree Gully to Gembrook line, opened in December 1900. Finally the Strzelecki line from Koo-Wee-Rup to Strzelecki opened on June 29, 1922 and closed in stages until it was completely closed in February 1959.


Pakenham Up End Level crossing and Signal Bridge
VPRS 12800/P5, item S 1376

The Railways effected settlement patterns in the region. Early towns, such as Cranbourne, Berwick or Pakenham, were established on roads or coach routes. Other towns, such as Gembrook or Emerald, developed around the nucleus of people who stayed in the area after the mining activities ceased. Some towns, such as Iona and Yallock, were part of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Village Settlement Scheme. When the Railways came they sometimes passed through the existing towns but often by-passed the town so new settlements developed around the Railway Station or Siding. For example, Pakenham East developed around the Railway Station, initially in opposition to the ‘old’ town of Pakenham which had developed around the La Trobe Inn (also known as Bourke’s Hotel) on the Gippsland Road, near the Toomuc Creek. Lang Lang grew around the Railway Station and superceded the original town of Tobin Yallock, on the South Gippsland Highway, to such an extent that by 1894 most of the businesses and public buildings had transferred to the new Lang Lang near the Railway Station. Finally, the Village Settlement of Yallock declined after the establishment of the Railway Station about a kilometre away. The Station was called Bayles and gave its name to the new settlement.


Cranbourne, South Gippsland Highway level Crossing
VPRS 12800/P1, item H 5224


Cranbourne, South Gippsland Highway level crossing, 
R class steam locomotive departing left side including derm and trailer
VPRS 12800/P1, item H 5222A

The Railways also opened up the area to industry. The Sale Line opened up the timber industry from Berwick to Bunyip. Officer’s Wood Siding opened in 1881 to enable firewood to be sent to Melbourne from William Officer’s property. The Cannibal Creek Siding was created in 1885 to accommodate Cannibal Creek Saw Mill Company. The townships which developed around these Sidings became Officer and Garfield. From the 1890s orchards were planted in the hills from Narre Warren North to Garfield and this produce was railed to Melbourne to be exported interstate and overseas.  Milk, livestock, and potatoes grown on the newly drained Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp were sent to market on trains from Catani, Bayles and Koo-Wee-Rup on the Strzelecki line and Garfield, Tynong and Nar Nar Goon on the Gippsland Line.  Timber products and potatoes were loaded at the Gembrook Station on the Puffing Billy line. Carl Nobelius, the founder of the Gembrook Nurseries at Emerald sent his trees sixteen miles to the Narre Warren Station by dray but when the Puffing Billy line was established he had his own Siding erected. At is peak, before the start of World War One; Nobelius had over three millions trees in various stages of cultivation for sale.



Berwick Station, Platform and Goods Shed
VPRS 12903/P1, item Box 027/08

We tend to think of this area as only producing agricultural and horticultural products but the rail had a key role in the expansion of the Wilson Quarry at Berwick as the Quarry supplied the ballast for the Sale line. The trains transported bricks to Melbourne in the 1880s from the five brick works at Officer and Jefferson’s brick works at Garfield. Later on, sand from Sidings near Bayles was also transported by rail in the 1920s and 1930s and in Cranbourne, two spur lines were built to the sand mines around the town.

The third influence of the Railways had on this region was on the Tourist Industry.  An 1899 Guide Book to Upper Beaconsfield tells its readers of 'the reviving and restoring virtues of the Ranges' and talks about the scenic Gullies and Drives.  There is also railway timetable information for trains to the Beaconsfield Railway Station and a note that trains are met daily by coach to transport holiday makers to the Hills.

Tooradin was known as a “Sportsman’s Paradise” in the 1880s due to the fishing, quail shooting on Quail Island, deer shooting and other typical pursuits of the time. Sadly, for Tooradin, the Tooradin Station was built some kilometres out of the town which was on the South Gippsland Highway. But visitors were once again met by a coach at the Station to take them to their “Sportsman’s Paradise” at Tooradin.

Finally, the most obvious connection that Railways had to the Tourist Industry is the Puffing Billy train. The train was popular with the locals from the start and also opened up the area to holiday makers and week-enders. Due to declining revenue the line was recommended for closure in 1936 however a public outcry kept the line open for goods. A landslide near Menzies Creek, in August 1953, blocked the line and it was announced that it would close permanently in mid 1954, but once again the public rallied. The Puffing Billy Preservation Society (P.B.P.S) was formed in 1955 and operated Puffing Billy trains between Upper Ferntree Gully and Belgrave until this part of the line was electrified. Work began to re-open the line beyond Belgrave by by-passing the land slide and laying new track and the Puffing Billy tourist line was officially opened to Menzies Creek in July 1962. Three years later in July 1965 Puffing Billy returned to Emerald, ten years later in 1975 to Lakeside and finally in October 1998 it returned to Gembrook. Puffing Billy has carried 8 million passengers since it re-opened in 1962 and is now a tourist destination in its own right.



Train narrow gauge, to excursion, Paradise , Gembrook
VPRS 12800/P1, item H 3075

The Casey Cardinia region would have developed without the Railways but settlement patterns would have been different, the region may not have been a leading producer of apples or dairy product or potatoes due to the problems in the early days of transporting these goods to market and even tourists would have found it more difficult to visit our natural features such as the hills and the coast without the Railway.