Monday, December 31, 2018

Local Progress Associations as reported in the Dandenong Journal

This post looks at the activities of local Progress Associations mainly through the correspondence they wrote to the local Council - the Dandenong Journal reported on these Council meetings. Many towns had Progress Associations from the late 1920s to the 1950s - Bayles, Koo-Wee-Rup, Dalmore, Lang Lang, Hampton Park, Lyndhurst South, Pakenham South, Warneet and Tooradin to name some. Like many community organisations which rely on volunteers some formed, then were disbanded and then reformed years later. There was naturally less reporting on the Associations during the Second World War – I guess complaints about road conditions and drainage issues seemed trivial at the time, plus the community was involved with supporting the War effort. Sadly for all of us, the issues raised by these groups are not much different from the issues raised by Township Committees 70 or so years later!

Warneet Progress Association formed in December 1945 and one of their  activities in December 1947 was to fill the vacancies on the Warneet Foreshore Committee and to have  a site set aside for  a Public Hall (the hall still hasn’t been built). In 1953 the Progress Association asked for the construction of two ‘public conveniences’ (one at each jetty)  as even though the town had only five permanent resident families there was a big weekend population, with 40 to 50 car loads of visitors. The town had already received a grant of £1280 from the Tourist Resorts Fund but wanted the Council to put in the remaining 25 per cent and to take responsibility for the buildings. The Council was happy to subsidise one building but felt that the Warneet Foreshore Committee should be responsible for the upkeep.

In another coastal town, the Tooradin Progress Association asked for assistance in 1928 to carry out works on the Tooradin picnic grounds but the Cranbourne Shire said no funds were available. In the same year, they complained about the state of the ‘main coast road’ - the South Gippsland Highway and also complained about the action of the Koo Wee Rup Progress Association in diverting traffic from Koo Wee Rup along to Pakenham (so thus avoiding Tooradin). Fast forward 80 or so years later and Koo Wee Rup was doing all they could to get traffic out of the town!

Camping Ground at Tooradin, c. 1940s. Is this the same as the picnic grounds that the Tooradin Progress Association requested funding for in 1928? I'd say so.

Dalmore Progress Association was established before the War and it re-formed in 1953 with 60 members attending the first meeting. Some of their first activities included holding a Ball, entering a float in the Coronation day procession at Koo Wee Rup, forming a badminton Club and notifying Council about the state of local roads and drains. In 1953 the Pakenham South Progress Association complained to the Council about Ballarto Road; they wanted it graded and the drains cleared out.

The Bayles Progress Association in 1928 asked the Council for four lamps that they had promised them for street lighting. The same year they said that ‘approximately 20 services would be required in the sanitary area at Bayles’  -  as this would require the Council  ‘night man’ to empty the toilet pans at these properties, the Council decided that the service would be too costly. A year later they wanted a bridge built to give access to the Recreation Reserve; I am not sure where this Recreation Reserve actually was.  In 1947, they asked the Council to fence off the local bridges to assist farmers and drovers with cattle. They also asked the Council if they could take over some adjoining railway land to extend the park at Bayles, described by one Councillor as ‘a nice little park’ which had been established by the Association.

The Koo Wee Rup Progress Association in 1928 wanted permission from the Council to plant trees in Rossiter Road from Denham’s Road to Henry Street. A year later they were complaining about the state of Moody Street and they also wanted the Council to erect a danger sign at the School - not sure what that was about, presumably the state of the roads and not feral students.

In June 1944, the Association put in ‘numerous requests’ to the Council - the Dandenong Journal uses this head line on more than one occasion.  ‘No less than seven requests’ were before the Council - amongst the requests they wanted a foot bridge over the Station Street drain for use of the flax mill employees; they wanted a section of Sybella Avenue sealed and they wanted Boundary Road put into a ‘serviceable condition’ The next month they put another long list of requests in including some repeat numbers from the last time, because they regarded the replies to the original list as not being satisfactory. In 1947, the Progress Association agitated for the re-location of the Shire Offices from Cranbourne to Koo Wee Rup which was ‘a more central situation’. There was bit of discussion about this issue and a Councillor complained that the Progress Association was always late with their correspondence (thus presumably this could not be read before the meeting) and had to be put into extra correspondence and that the ‘Association was very critical of the Council and what the Council doesn’t do’ and ‘it’s time they woke up to themselves’

Finally, this didn’t come from a Progress Association but from the Country Roads Board in 1939 asking whether the Koo Wee Rup - Pakenham Road ‘is fit to be used as a public highway’ - still a question that people are asking.

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