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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Dandenong Light Horse Brigade, undated.

The ghosts of Lighthorsemen past ride on at Dandenong High School, their memory preserved in the school’s official colours – dark blue, light blue and red. The colours – representing loyalty, faith and courage – pay homage to the school’s founding principal Percy Langford, a member of the 4th Light Horse Regiment and a veteran of the horrors of the battle for Gallipoli.

Percival Langford was a 30-year-old teacher at University High School when he enlisted for war on 18 August 1914 joining the A Squadron of the 4th Light Horse as a private. The regiment sailed from Melbourne on 19 October 1914 disembarking in Egypt on 10 December.

According the Australian War Memorial the Light Horse was considered unsuitable for the initial operations at Gallipoli, but was subsequently deployed without their horses to reinforce the infantry. The regiment landed in May and its squadrons were scattered to reinforce the infantry battalions already fighting the Turks.

The regiment was not reunited until 11 June. Much of the regiment’s time at Gallipoli was spent defending the precarious Anzac position, most frequently around Ryrie’s Post. In a letter written home to his University High School students Private Langford writes that he could hear the boom of guns as his boat approached the Gallipoli shore.

“The flash of the guns followed by the heavy boom gave out the impressions of continuous thunderstorm,“ he wrote. “That night we dug in, but before we had done it three of our men were hit, one of them fatally. “Three of us dug a hole about two feet deep and sufficiently long to enable us to lie down.

“However, it was only wide enough to allow us to lie on our sides. Before morning we were very stiff. “We dug four separate ’dug-outs’ during the day and were heartily sick of the task before night. “We were nicely and finally settled for the night, having returned with blistered hands and very tired bodies, we got work to prepare for the support trenches.

“We moved into trenches themselves about 8am and relieved troops who had been in them for a considerable time. “One trench in front of us was completely filled with their dead bodies, but I do not wish to give you harrowing details of the state of affairs. “You will be able to form some idea of the number of dead lying in front when I tell you that we collected 185 rifles from dead men on half the ground between us and the Turks.

“It was estimated that 7000 Turks lay dead in front of our trenches.“ On 24 May and by now a Lance Corporal Langford witnessed the truce brokered between the warring sides to allow the dead to be buried. “Midway between the trenches… men of either side stood with, on one side, the Red Cross flag and on the Turks the Red Crescent. They formed the dividing line between the two forces.

“Burial operations occupied the Turks until late in the afternoon. As soon as it was over a perfect hail of bullets of was fired by the enemy. “During my stay in the trenches… I did not shave, washed once in half a cup of water, observed and slept. “The first swim in the sea after coming out, was, as the girls would say ’heavenly’. “I wallowed, regardless of shrapnel, which was bursting at the other end of the beach. Never have I had such a swim before.“

The 4th Light Horse didn’t leave the peninsula until 11 December. For Percy Langford active service was over. He was discharged as medically unfit and returned to Australia on 29 January 1916. He saw out the rest of the war at the Melbourne Recruiting Centre, where he was promoted to Lieutenant. After the armistice was declared, Percy returned to the education department and was given the task of setting up a new high school at Dandenong.

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Dandenong Contingent of 1915

Nurses were often the unsung heroes of the Gallipoli campaign. Behind the front lines they patched up wounded soldiers and comforted men who were destined to die of their wounds and never to return to loved ones in Australia. More than 3000 Australian civilian nurses volunteered for active service during World War I. One was Milicent Miller.

In July 1915 the Journal reported on a letter Miss Miller sent to friends in Dandenong from the Australian military hospital at Heliopolis, Cairo. The grand Heliopolis Palace Hotel, built in 1910, was used to treat evacuated soliders. Famous pictures of it show a sea of hospital tents erected in the grounds of the hotel.

According to Miss Miller, the hospital had space for 1000 beds which made it a huge medical facility for its time. “Our brave Australian lads are conveyed to hospital after having acquitted themselves in such a glorious manner at Gallipoli in upholding the prestige of the British Empire,“ stated the Journal.

“Fighting against the best soldiers in the world and beating them too.
“Their deeds of heroism and dash in attack must make Australians feel proud of their countrymen in arms at war."

From Nurse Miller’s letter an idea can be formed of the magnitude of the task so cheerfully carried out by the surgeons, nurses, stretcher bearers and all engaged in attending to the wounded men who have been in the firing line. “It is good to read also of the brave manner in which the Australian soldier conducts himself when sticken with his battle wounds.“

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Corner of Lonsdale and Scott Streets, Dandenong, undated.

This main stay of Dandenong had many names over the years and saw a lot of changes to Dandenong, Can you place the building, its original occupant or it's original name?

The original hotel to grace this corner was the Shamrock Hotel, Later replaced by The Club Hotel and the Pub, The later was demolished to make way for the NAB building, now occupied by Chisholm.

Image provided by Russell Stredwick

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Aerial Shot, Gladstone Road, Dandenong, 1950s.

This 1950s aerial shot shows Gladstone road, with Princes highway running up the centre-right. Westminster carpet is visible on the corner of Gladstone road and Princes highway, David street running up the top of Westminster from the highway is still a dirt road past James street.

The Dandenong High School can be seen in the top centre-right of the image. Duplication of the highway had still no happened at this time, with a lot of vacant land still visible in the area. Westminster would last for a few more decades before being struct by fire.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

1st Scout Hall, 61 Princes Highway, Dandenong, undated.

The 1st Dandenong Scout Group (Armytage’s Own) was formed in March, 1928 by Mr Ted Swords, the first scout master. Apparently a prior group existed for some time in 1917, before their scout master was sent off to serve in the A. I. F. The scout troop called themselves Armytage’s Own, as a tribute to Miss Ada Armytage of Holm Park, 
country house) and Como House, South Yarra.

She was the benefactress of the troop. The Armytage sisters were strong supporters of the scouting movement, providing the Dandenong troop with a permanent camping ground on their Beaconsfield property and financial support. This association was formed when Lord Baden-Powell stayed with the Armytage sisters when he came for the World Jamboree at Frankston.

In 1933, the crenellated scout hall on the present site was built at the extravagant cost of £3000. The hall was paid for by Ada Armytage by a direct donation of £2000 and a loan of £1400. Ivan Dimant was the architect. It contained three patrol rooms, an office for the scout master, club room, Rover’s den, kitchenette, and troop assembly hall.

It had an overall floor space of 40,000 square feet. 93 It is still considered to be one of the finest and most distinctive of Melbourne’s early scout halls. A comparable contemporary example is at Footscray but it is far less imposing externally: that hall is on the Victorian Heritage Register. A broader comparison would be with the former Moondah gate house (1888) at Mt Eliza and the forestry school at Creswick.

The building is erected on the eastern corner of what was once known as Anzac Park (now Hemmings park) bequeathed by the late John Hemmings. The Hemmings family was well known in Dandenong as the owner of the brickworks which utilized Dandenong’s excellent clays and timber resources. The Brickyards on the Melbourne Road (now Princes Highway) functioned until the 1930s when the vacant land was taken
over by the Dandenong Shire Council.

In 1933 the Boy Scouts Association shared the 8 acre site with the Council and built their hall fronting the Highway. 94 Once the brickworks closed in 1929, the Council began to use the land as a rubbish dump; students from the High School can remember there being huge rats in the area. The scout hall would have initially been in a very insalubrious environment.

During the war the scout hall and the park, which must have been partially cleared, was used by the American Armed Forces as a hospital base, associated with their encampment at Rowville. The hall was partitioned and servicemen were treated in the hall and five other huts erected around it.

After the War the High School utilised the hospital huts as classrooms, gymnasium and for school social functions. All but one of the huts were later moved across the road to the school grounds. The wider community also made good use of the hall for meetings, dances, exhibitions and community events.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lonsdale Street, Dandenong, 1937

A view looking up Lonsdale Street in 1937, looking towards where it intersects with Scott street, There were a few interesting shops in this section, one remembered more than others by locals who would frequent it for a tasty bite, or one of the lesser mentioned services, Can you name it?

Bellow is an excerpt from Reminiscences of the early days of Dandenong published in the Journal during the 1930s.

From about 1S58 coaches were the main link between Melbourne and
Dandenong, prior to the railway opening, coach was the method
cf travelling. There were many vehicles eventually on the road, in fact
each hotel ran a line at one time in the very early days. One connected with "Dunbar’s” Hotel, another with the “Bridge,” and so on. Dave
Bowden drove one coach, Thomas Dallimore another, and “Old George” drove for Cobb & Co.

There were coaches running from Dandenong to Cranbourne and the Bass; others to Berwick, and so on. These latter ran after the main road was made, as before that time horsemen carried the mail, the driving of a trap being an impossibility. Tom Murray, Tom McMahon, and other drivers, drove coaches, but they did not properly come within the range of the early-day drivers.

In 185S Messrs. Cobb & Co. built stables and offices at the corner of
the main and Pultney streets, and the large underground tank still remained in 1930 as a memento of the old coaching days. When Mr. Peter Evans bought the building, which he converted into a boot-making shop, it was often remarked upon why such a small establishment required such a large tank, but those who inquired were not aware that that large tank was not more than sufficiently large to water a big string of horses required for the coaches.

The coach from Dandenong to Bass ran three times weekly. Its original driver was George Wright ("Old George.”) He was followed by J. Moorehouse, after whom came W. Smiley, and the last driver of that line was Charlie Wilson. In 1S73 Cobb & Co’s coach left the Albion Hotel, Bourke street, for Dandenong, the fare each way being four shillings. Mrs. Dunbar ran a line cf coaches between Melbourne and Brandy Creek, and also between Melbourne and Tooradin, in 1876,

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Aerial shot of Sandown Park, 1945-2010s

The area to the north side of the railway line was owned by William C. Cullen, a Brighton publican who had used the area for horse races from December 1888. He was encouraged by horse racing enthusiasts to lay out a saddling paddock and grandstand enclosure as planting flower beds and trees.

He called it Oakleigh Park. In 1888 tenders were called by Richard Speight for the construction of a wooden grandstand called Springvale Racecourse but this has since been demolished. The total racecourse area was 134 acres with the remaining acreage left for grazing.

In 1891 the course was leased to Samuel Willis, David Boyd and Charles Heape, who ran the Victorian Trotting Club, for the cost of £20,000. This course was to be used as their meeting place after their lease at Elsternwick Park had expired. They renamed it Sandown Park, after the fashionable racecourse adjoining the railway station of Esher, about 15 miles south west of London, in Surrey England. They retained the lease of the course until 1932.

The Sandown course consisted of a racing course of almost 12 furlongs and a steeplechase course of almost two miles. The spectators watched from two stands tiered in ramps; one could hold 500 and the other 2000 people.

In the late 1920s, the Select Committee investigating Victoria’s races and racecourses decided that privately run clubs run for profits should be closed. Sandown Park had been managed by Michael Patrick Considine since 1895 and the children of the late Henry Skinner for a 20% profit. In April 1929, the owners thought they should try to sell the course but it was passed in at £65,000 and they decided to lease the site for grazing. Sandown closed in May 1931.

In 1934 the Springvale and District Coursing Club was encouraged by a few locals to organise some races. Roy Maidmont of the National Coursing Club organised the Sandown Greyhound Racing and Coursing Club, leasing the racecourse for £150 a year. They sought to obtain a licence to organise formal speed coursing but their plans were temporarily delayed when in 1942, the Government took over Sandown Park for army training and all coursing racing was stopped.

In 1944, the Sandown Coursing Club began to race at Sandown but, in 1947, their plans had to be shelved again when they had to seek another meeting venue. The course was advertised for sale but the Coursing Club was unable to raise sufficient funds. The Victorian Trotting and Racing Association in association with the Williamstown Racing Club (with whom they had amalgamated to form the Melbourne Racing Club) bought the course for £41,000.

In 1950 the course was cleared of all trees to make space for a motor racing track. In July 1957 a contract for £154,000 was let for the construction of the new track. In 1959 a total of £400,000 was spent on the construction and grassing of the race track drainage, fencing, water mains, levelling and filling, provision of running rails and on other improvements.

In 1962 the motor racing track was officially opened by Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss and Bob Stillwell. In 1963 the Melbourne Racing Club merged with the Victorian Amateur Turf Club (VATC) to facilitate the opening of new horse racing facilities. The racecourse was designed by Mr H. J Wagstaff, a track engineer, it had two straight runs and two turns at each end, 9 furlongs and four chains long. To lengthen this for different races there were legs or ‘chutes’ leading into the oval track. It was also about this time that a new grandstand was required to meet the increasing patronage of the course.

The new grandstand was cantilevered to provide an unrestricted view, bars, totalisator windows, dining rooms and most services undercover. In 1965, an overpass, opened by Cr F. Wachter of the Springvale Council, was constructed to facilitate access to the course. Its use was restricted to days of horse or motor racing. It was financed by the Victorian Amateur Turf Club and built by the Country Roads Board for £90,000. The site was designed to accommodate 12,000 cars with room for expansion and a train station was built on the railway side of the property to cater for rail travellers.

The new VATC Sandown Racecourse was opened by the Victorian Premier, Mr Henry Bolte on 19 June 1965. The Sandown Racecourse has a close association with the Sandown Cup, originally known as the Williamstown Cup, which was first run in 1888 and staged in Williamstown until 1936. Flemington became its host from 1940 to 1950 and Caulfield from 1951 to 1964. In 1965, when the new Sandown
track was opened the race was renamed the Sandown Cup.

In March 1999 the VATC proposed to re-vamp the Sandown Cup, including a name change to Sandown Classic and the introduction of weight-for-age conditions (replacing handicap conditions). In 1997, an Equine Quarantine Centre was used for the first time and, in 1999, the racecourse was renovated and reopened on the 10 October.

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Corner of Mason amd Walker Streets, Dandenong, late 1980s

The Church of Christ was still located in the building on the left (as their first timber building had been on Robinson Street). Nowadays this is the Cornerstone Contact Centre, offering regular meals and a variety of other services to the areas homeless and those in need.

Photos kindly supplied to page by Brad Farrell

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Train Station, Foster Street, Dandenong, 1970s

Looking across some of the old station buildings towards the Southern Aurora hotel, This wonderful colour photo gives an eye catching glimpse into the area. Looking a little run down at this point.

A few new hotels appeared in more modern times. The Southern Hotel-Motel was built in the 1960s,next to the Dandenong Railway station,at an estimated cost of half-a million dollars. Strategically placed to capture the passing trade, it was later remembered for its nightclub atmosphere. In the mid 1990s,just before the new railway station was built, it was demolished, except for the drive-in Foster Street Bottle Shop.

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1934 Floods, Lonsdale Street from Foster Street, Dandenong.

Looking down Lonsdale Street from Foster Street towards Dandenong Park during the 1934 floods, It can be hard to imagine such a wide area of Dandenong being under water.

In Dandenong's early days, the creek was always a problem. It was just a shallow meandering stream that would always flood the southern part of the town. It is hard to believe that from this point all the way down to the Cranbourne turn-off could at times be up to five feet under water.

The original crossing point of the creek was a further 50 to 60 feet towards the town centre, about in-line where the (Former) Dandenong Bowling Club is located. The area south of Walker Street was once very swampy and it took a lot of effort and cost to rectify it. The amount of filling needed on both sides was enormous.

Crossing the creek back in the early 1840's was at first negotiated by foot passengers by means of piles driven well into the ground, topped with a single plank and guarded by a hand rail. A primitive type wooden bridge was soon constructed and only lasted to the end of the decade. A new wooden bridge was built of more grander proportions but this too was destroyed by flooding waters.

A new stone bridge with two single arches was constructed in 1866 and lasted until 1919, also undermined by floods. This bridge was located at today's present bridge site. By this time the Dandenong Creek south of Clow Street had been converted in parts into a more drain like appearance.

This allowed water to flow more freely and quickly through the southern part of the township but it didn't stop the disastrous floods back in December 1934. Today, the Dandenong Creek through this area has been straightened and channeled as an urban stream and flooding is a rare occurrence.

Above text quoted from a Past 2 Present post:

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