About this blog

This blog is about the history of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and neighbouring areas, such as Pakenham, Cranbourne and Garfield, and any other historical subjects I feel like writing about. It's my own original research and writing and if you live in the area you may have read some of the stories before in the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society newsletter or the Koo-Wee-Rup township newsletter, The Blackfish, or the Garfield township newsletter, The Spectator.
Heather Arnold.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Les O’Riordan’s recollections - early township buildings

In 1968, Dave Mickle interviewed seventy-six year old Les O’Riordan. John Leslie O’Riordan was born on August 26, 1892 and is said to be the first white child born in the Koo-Wee-Rup Village settlement. His father, John O’Riordan, opened a store in the town in 1890 - it was a tin shed at the rear of what is now Light’s garage.

Les married Margaret Colvin in August 1918 and they lived at Mallow, the head quarters of the Historical Society.  Margaret’s brother, A.C Colvin (Andrew) opened a cycle shop in the town in 1911 and later became an Agent for Ford Cars. Les died in 1978 and Margaret in 1955.

Some of the interview with Les is published in Dave’s book Mickle Memories, but we also have the notes from the interview at the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp  Historical Society, so what follows is a combination of both.

This is the map that Dave Mickle drew up  whilst talking to Les O'Riordan.

Rossiter Road
From the corner store going northwards (or down towards Bayles) On the left there was Thomson’s butchers shop, Ross the saddler, Bergin the bootmaker and Turner’s sweets shop, which was  just before Jack Gray’s house. Next was Keighery’s bootmakers and saddlery.  Still going north there was a timber building housing the London Bank (later moved to its current location – the ANZ bank). When the bank moved, Ben Darlington operated his radio shop from the site (where the car yard was).  Just over Gardiner Street was Mrs Greys’ shop,  then the Presbyterian Church and the Memorial Hall.

Station Street
Back to the Rossiter Road/Station street corner - the corner store was built for Bullocks, then owned by Finnigan, Battersby, Malouf, W.A Stephenson, Ernest Cougal and Ernest Williams. Along Station Street was the new London Bank, then a small paddock and Joe Morrison’s black smiths shop.  Next to Joe Morrison was Colvin’s cycle works and his Swastika café which he leased to the Misses Gallagher in 1922.  The swastika was originally a symbol representing well being and was used by many cultures until the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1930s. In the 1920s in Koo-Wee-Rup it was just a symbol of good luck, nothing sinister.

Station Street in Koo-Wee-Pup - the small building on the left is the Post Office. Next to it is the Swastika cafe.

Molly O’Riordan’s post office was next - it was described by Les as a small square building under a large pine tree, clearly seen in the picture, above.  This little post office was removed and Colvin’s built a garage (Albons).  At the rear of this site, the O’Riordans had built a coffee palace some years previously. It burnt down on the late 1920s/ early 1930s.  O’Riordan’s residence and store were next, on the corner of Moody Street.  A room at the back of the store was used as the first hall.  Behind the hotel was Wilkins (later Johnson) bakery and Johnson Brothers (later De Vries) butchery.

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