Monday, 27 November 2017

City of Berwick celebrates the sesquicentenary of Victoria in 1984

When Victoria commemorated 150 years of European settlement in 1984 many local councils and towns celebrated by holding street parades and other festivities. The City of Berwick had a parade on November 24, 1984 and here are some photographs.

Lady Murray (in the pink hat), the wife of the Governor of Victoria, Rear Admiral Sir Brian Murray with the Hon. Robert Maclellan, M.L.A.,  the Member for Berwick. 

The Mayor of the City of Berwick, Cr Doug Miles, with the Governor of Victoria, Rear Admiral Sir Brian Murray. The man on the left is the City Manager, Patrick Northeast, in his Town Clerk robes.

The official party in front of the Post Office.

City of Berwick, Cheese Factory float.

The Cheese Factory Arts & Crafts project float 

The Brownies

This could be the Scouts

Berwick Show Society float

Home Pride Bakeries carts

Horse riders 

Vintage cars

A line up in a back street of fire engines

Monday, 20 November 2017

The Davy family, Kippenross / Brentwood and the Presbyterian Girls School at Berwick by Elsie Hoare

I  came across this letter the other day from the Pakenham Gazette of May 6, 1998. It was written by Elsie Hoare of Berwick about the Davy family who lived at  Kippenross, later renamed Brentwood , property in Clyde Road and the establishment of the Berwick Presbyterian Girls School in 1920. The letter is about an interesting part of Berwick's history.  It's a bit hard to read so I have transcribed it.

I wonder if you would be interested in the following story.

In recent months it must have been obvious to anyone driving along Clyde Road in Berwick that the land behind the great cypress pine trees at No. 121 is being cut up for development.

Unfortunately the lovely old weatherboard home, built around the turn of the century and known as Brentwood is to be demolished and another little piece of Berwick's history will slip away unnoticed.

Tucked away at the end of its long driveway, Brentwood is not visible from the  road and has largely escaped attention, although the adjacent housing estate has been called  by the same name.

In 1912, however, the property at 121 Clyde Road was called Kippenross - distinct from Kippenross House which is part of St Margaret's complex,  and was occupied by the Davy family  newly arrived  from drought stricken Balranald in New South Wales.

Humphry Davy, a distant relative of Sir Humphry Davy, inventor of the miner's lamp, his wife Mercy and their nine children looked forward to the opportunities offered by Berwick's greener pastures and soon settled into their new life here.

While the Davy boys, Humphry junior, Cyril and Arthur began the task of planting the many trees that still line the property and driveway today, Humphry senior set about stocking his paddocks with sheep with the intention of building up a sheep station  like Glen Dee, the station the family had left behind in Baranald and which is still in operation today.  As Berwick had no public hall, Humphry Davy planned to build one and had plans drawn up in readiness.

However the winter that year was one of the wettest on record and within ten short months before Humphry could put his plans info action  he fell victim of pneumonia from which he did not recover.

Left to carry on,  Mercy Davy was naturally anxious to keep her young family about her and while the younger children were still being taught by the governess  who had come down from Balranald with them, Mercy began plans for their secondary education.

With her boys established as borders at Brighton Grammar School it seemed logical for the two youngest girls Myrtle and Cynthia,  to follow their oldest sister (also named Mercy and later to become Mrs Charles Greaves) to board at Presbyterian Ladies College, then in East Melbourne.

However Mrs Davy was reluctant to send any more of her girls away. It was time Berwick had a college for young ladies, and a branch of PLC would be very suitable. With this object in mind Mercy Davy canvassed other mothers in the area to discuss the idea and in due course a founding committee was formed with Mrs Davy one of the six mothers.

As  a result of their efforts, in 1920 the Berwick Branch of the Presbyterian Ladies College, named Presbyterian Girls School,was opened, on the site where St Margaret's now stands.

Presbyterian Girls School,  Berwick c. 1924.
published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society in 2001.

Mrs Myrtle Martyn (nee Davy) second youngest of the Davy girls and now 95 years old, is still living in Berwick and remembers well being one of the first 'day girls' to attend one of Berwick's brand new girls schools.

Although no formal recognition has ever been made of the Davy name, Mrs Martyn is justly proud of her mother's part in the school's beginning.

Mrs Martyn is saddened to know that her childhood home must yield to the demands of progress. In its grander days Kippenross/Brentwood supported servant's quarters and a workmen's dining room as well as the usual quota of stables and out buildings. The interior of the house, with its timber panelling and marble fireplaces with carved overmantles was a fine example of its type and it is ironic to note that while the genuine article is being demolished, the federation style has never been more popular, with copies in various sizes popping up wherever new estates are being established.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Isador Magid and Narre Warren

The City of Berwick Civic Centre was opened in December 1978 on land donated by the developer, Isodor Magid, whose Overland Construction Corporation built the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, which opened in March 1980  (you can see where Magid Drive and Overland Drive at Fountain Gate got their name.) Mr Magid also developed the innovative Fountain Gate Housing Estate off Tinks Road, in the mid 1960s.  The Civic Centre became the City of Casey Civic Centre and has now become redundant due to the construction of Bunjil Place, which opened in October 2017.

In my mind, there are two people who had a profound influence on the development and direction of the town of Narre Warren - Sidney Webb in the nineteenth century and Isador Magid in the twentieth century. I have written about Sidney Webb before - around 1888, he built the first shops in Narre Warren, he agitated for the Narre Warren Railway Station to be built, which opened 1882 and he donated land for the school and the Mechanics' Institute.  Fast forward 90 or so years and another force  hit Narre Warren when Mr Magid opened the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, which had a major effect on how we shopped - traditional local shopping strips began to decline as people flocked to Fountain Gate (and still do).  The Shopping Centre also encouraged other development - such as new housing estates, new businesses  and new transport links.  Even though Sidney Webb's Webb Street shopping has declined in importance as a shopping strip in the face of Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, I fully believe that Sidney Webb would approve of  Isador Magid's shopping centre as both men obviously had the same  entrepreneurial flair and vision. 

Before Fountain Gate, Isador Magid developed, amongst other things, the  Princes Domain housing estate in Hallam in the early 1960s and the Mountain Gate Shopping Centre at Ferntree Gully in 1961 (perhaps inspiring the name for Fountain Gate). He donated land for the Alexander Magit Memorial Infant Welfare and Preschool Centre in Harwell Street in Ferntree Gully, which was established in 1967 and has just celebrated it's 50th anniversary. The Centre was named in honour of his father, Alexander Magit (the family surname was later changed to Magid). You can read about the Centre's 50th anniversary on the City of Knox's website here. Another development was the  Brandon Park Shopping Centre at Wheelers Hills which opened in 1970. 

Isador Magid received the Key to the City of Berwick at a ceremony held May 20, 1993. This was the highest award the City could bestow, according to the Mayor, Cr Trevor Smith.
Berwick Journal  May 31, 1993

Apart from his property company Mr Magid was involved in many philanthropic activities however there is an interesting 'twist' to his story and that is, he was responsible along with his business partners George Shannon and Henry Korbritz, for introducing Twisties (that gastronomic delight!) into Australia. According to Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia that is an interesting (but sometimes not always accurate) source of information for popular culture -  In the early 1950s Melbourne businessman Isador Magid imported a rotary head extruder from the United States which initially did not work. After bringing out a technical expert from the USA as well as receiving valuable advice from the CSIRO, Magid started producing Twisties. The product was popular but large scale distribution was difficult so Magid decided to sell the machine and the brand in 1955 to Monty Lea from Darrell Lea for £12,000. Monty and his brother Harris experimented with the machine further using rice and various flavourings. Twisties became popular in Australia - some of its early success is attributed to promotional activity that included advertising the product on Graham Kennedy and Bert Newton's TV show In Melbourne Tonight, making it one of the earliest products advertised on that program. After an unsuccessful attempt to launch Twisties in the UK and competition for shelf space in Australia the Lea brothers agreed to sell the Twisties brand to the Smith's Snackfood Company.

Isador and his wife Ira, had arrived in Australia from Shanghai in 1948. They had four children  of which two pre-deceased them. In the 1986 Queen's Birthday Honours list Isador received an A.M. 'for service to the Community, particularly the Jewish community'.  He died in November 2004 at the age of 91.