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.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Garfield Progress Association

This post looks at the activities of the Garfield Progress Association (GPA) and its forerunner, the Garfield Progressive Association, mainly through the correspondence it had with the Berwick Shire. The minutes of the Shire meetings were extensively reported in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal and later the Dandenong Journal. You can find these papers on Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper

The first mention I can find is in 1901 where the Progressive Association was complaining about the state of local roads - a sign of things to come as roads and drains were the usual source of complaints right up to the 1950s. For instance, in September 1901 the Association wanted ‘the scrub on the road from the Station to the State School to be cut as there was no room for traffic’ (this was when the school was located up the hill on Garfield Road) In December of that year the the GPA had written a letter to The Age newspaper asking why the Department of Public Works ‘cannot do its works properly instead of wasting public money’ - a question many people still ask today of  the Government.

In August 1903, the South Bourke and Mornington Journal had a tongue in cheek look at the town of Garfield.  The reporter interviewed an unnamed local who, amongst other things, thought that Garfield was progressing so much and the Railway station was so busy that it needed to have a station master instead of a station mistress. He went on to say that Garfield had a strong political body in the town (the Progressive Association) and that they had lots of trouble with the Iona (Ward) Councillors so they were going to ‘put  a man into council so he will do what they want him to do’.  The local would not be surprised if the GPA was the cause of the agitation to get the Federal site (Canberra) shifted from NSW to Victoria and if it was then Garfield would stand a chance of being chosen!

I can’t find many reports in the 1910s, probably because the community was pre-occupied with the war effort, but it appears that by the mid 1920s the Association was up and running again and they were obviously convinced that Canberra would remain as the Federal Capital and not be shifted to Garfield so they were back complaining to the Council about the state of local roads, especially the North Garfield Road. In February 1928, the GPA was asking for a rubbish tip to be established at Garfield. And later that same year they asked the Council to ‘guarantee’ 15 street lights.

In 1932, the GPA asked the Bills Estate for a trough for Garfield - it was at one stage located outside the hotel. These troughs were funded from a bequest from the will of George Bills, who died in 1927. His will left various bequests and the bulk of his Estate was to be made available by his Executors to Societies for the protection of animals, such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and for the construction of horse troughs for the relief of horses or other ‘dumb animals’. These troughs were to be inscribed with the names of George and his wife Annis.

In 1944, the GPA asked for a street light opposite the west railway crossing (sort of where the 13 Mile Road comes into town) and, of course, more road improvements. In 1945, they had turned their attention to parks. The GPA had written to the council asking how their negotiations were going with the Railways regarding the proposed extension of the park facing Main Street. ‘There is keen local interest in the beautification of this town and the additional park area would be an asset in this direction’  They later (July 1945) asked permission to plant two ash trees in front of the Baby Health Centre -  whether that was  a priority for the mothers attending the  Health Centre is another matter as in August 1943 Sister Spence had reported to the Council that ‘we are looking forward to the improvement of the old baby Health Centre at Garfield which at present is a  fine sieve for rain’

In 1946 there were the usual complaints about drains - especially the unsatisfactory drainage on the steep Garfield hill and also a complaint  was made to the Council about ‘the cattle and horses  which are permitted to wander  in streets and roads around Garfield, constituting a constant menace to householder’s gardens and trees’. The Council Ranger was instructed to ‘make a raid’

In April 1947, the GPA made advances to have the Ballarat Starch Company start a factory in Garfield - the factory would obtain starch from potatoes and the establishment of the factory would ‘provide a profitable outlet of unsaleable rejects and rubbishy potatoes’.

In August 1950, the GPA asked the Council to convene a public meeting to consider the erection of a memorial to those who had paid the supreme sacrifice in World War One and Two.  In 1953, the GPA was once again on a political bent when they supported the election of Reg Sykes to the Berwick Council. Reg was described as a ‘young man who served the the RAAF as a member of the Air Crew in the south west Pacific’. He also had a 300 acre property on the Princes Highway at Tynong.  Reg had also owned 540 acres in Tynong North which he sold in 1949 for £4,500 to the Catholic Church for the establishment of township of Maryknoll.

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