Tag Archives: Portland

Portland’s History House

HISTORY HOUSE, PORTLAND

History House in Portland is the place to go to search for your ancestors who lived or arrived in the harbour town.  Located in the former Portland Town Hall, History House offers research facilities and a small museum.

The museum has many reminders of Portland’s early history, in particular the Henty family.

It is not easy taking a photo of a long plough in a narrow room with a fairly ordinary camera, but  I had to give it a go as this in the one and only Henty plough.  While it is famous for it being the first plough used in Victoria, its journey since those early days is interesting.

HENTYS PLOUGH

Maybe this picture does the plough more justice than my own.

THE FIRST PLOUGH USED IN VICTORIA, BY THE HENTY BROTHERS, OF PORTLAND. (1910, September 10). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 10. Retrieved July 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38361343

This article from the Portland Guardian of November 18, 1935 describes what happened to the plough after it left the Henty’s possession

HENTY’S PLOUGH. (1935, November 18). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64290884

Hugh Lennon, who had the plough on display at his factory in Spotswood, was the manufacturer of the Lennon plough.  This was the plough of choice of James Harman in  local ploughing matches.  It was also the plough of choice for the Kelly gang when making armour.

The plough eventually returned to Portland in 1970.

The next photo is of a model of the house lived in by Joseph Henry Porter and his wife, Sarah Herbertson, in Gawler Street, Portland.  Joseph constructed the house and Sarah furnished it.  I like the detail, even down to  pickets missing off the fence.

The obituary of Joseph Porter was in the June Passing of the Pioneers.  It mentioned he was known for his fine craftsmanship.

MODEL OF 42 GAWLER STREET, PORTLAND

While this isn’t the best photo, I had to share it.  It depicts the meeting of Major Thomas Mitchell and the Henty brothers, a significant time in the history of the Western District.  My post “Ghosts of Yesteryear” tells the story of this chance meeting.

MAJOR MITCHELL AND THE HENTY BROTHERS

Mary McKillop spent some time in Portland and an exhibit commemorates this, complete with the spires from the original Roman Catholic church in Portland.

MARY MacKILLOP DISPLAY

The Portland Rocket Shed is next to History House.  The shed was built in 1886 by George Sedgewick who was the gg grandfather of Ann, a follower of this blog.  Fully restored, the shed has a display inside which includes a rocket launcher  used to fire ropes to boats in distress.

ROCKET SHED

For more photos, better than my own, check out ABC South West Victoria’s report  on History House’s renovation in 2010 http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/02/17/2822431.htm.  There was also a report at the time of Mary MacKillop’s canonization http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/10/12/3035824.htm


Old Portland Cemetery – Part 2

“The Cemetery is the first object to greet the ascending tourist.  

This is charmingly situated on the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean

This quote is not from one of the tourist guides I collected while in Portland earlier this year.  Rather, it was written 155 years earlier by James Bonwick in his book  “Western Victoria: It’s Geography, Geology and Social Condition”: the Narrative of an Educational Tour in 1857″  (p.98)

One of the older graves in the cemetery is that of William Wheeler who was born in 1776.

HEADSTONE OF WILLIAM WHEELER (1776-1848)

The grave of James Fawthrop was of interest to us.  Earlier in the day we had visited Portland’s Maritime Discovery Centre which houses the Portland Lifeboat captained by James Fawthrop.   Fawthrop and his crew were part of the rescue of the steamer “Admella” in 1859.  His heroics are a legendary part of the maritime history of the stretch of coast from the south-west of Victoria to the south-east of South Australia.

After a search of the Victorian Death Index, I found that James Ward was Fawthrop’s stepson.  Fawthrop’s wife, Jane Rosevear, was previously married to James Ward senior who drowned in Tasmania in 1838.

GRAVES OF JAMES FAWTHROP AND HIS STEPSON JAMES WARD

The following is Captain Fawthrop’s obituary from the “Border Watch” of November 20, 1878.

TheDEATH OF CAPT. FAWTHROP. (1878, November 20). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 10, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77564021

THE PORTLAND LIFEBOAT CAPTAINED BY JAMES FAWTHROP

William and Sarah Rosevear were the parents of Jane, wife of James Fawthrop and grandparents of James Ward.  William Rosevear was the coxswain aboard the Portland lifeboat with his son-in-law during the “Admella” rescue.

ROSEVEAR FAMILY GRAVE

The largest grave in the cemetery belongs to the Trangmar family.  James Trangmar died in 1888 and was a leading Portland identity.  He had been Mayor, a Lieutenant Colonal in the Western Region Artillery and owned the stations “Morgiana”, “Bochara”, and “Violet Creek” all  near Hamilton.  His home in Portland was “Burswood” bought from Edward Henty

TRANGMAR FAMILY GRAVE


Old Portland Cemetery – Part 1

During our holiday to Portland in January, we visited the North Portland Cemetery also known as the Old Portland Cemetery.  Thanks to a handy brochure I picked up at the Tourist Information Centre (also available online) it was something we could do as a family.

The guide outlines some of the more notable graves in the cemetery. Each of those graves have a number marker.  There are also arrows pointing to the next grave of interest.  This made visiting the cemetery fun and educational for the small research assistant.  Finding each of the numbered graves and reading the corresponding information in the brochure kept his interest on our circumnavigation of the cemetery.

The number one grave is the Robb family memorial.  William was a local stonemason.

Robb Family Grave

Despite fires in the past, the wooden fence around the Rankin grave still stands, the last of its kind in the cemetery.  The grave belongs to Agnes, Margaret and Charles Rankin

Agnes died from blood poisoning in 1875.

UNIVERSITY LAW EXAMINATIONS. (1875, March 17). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 7. Retrieved May 21, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11513825

 

 

GRAVE OF AGNES, MARGARET AND CHARLES RANKIN

Several members of the Haggestton family lie in the Haggestton plot.  Frederick, Sara, Joseph and John Haggestton, the children of Joseph and Mary Haggestton and Joseph and Mary themselves are all buried here. At the time of Joseph senior’s death in 1907, he owned several properties around Portland.  Nineteen properties, including The Royal Hotel, were auctioned on February 20, 1908.   The Haggestton headstone was vandalised, along with others, in 1986.  It was restored by Parker & Sons, a Portland stonemason.

HAGGESTTON FAMILY GRAVE

The graves face out over Portland Bay where many of those buried first entered Victoria.

This unusual headstone dates back to 1841, before the cemetery opened.  It belongs to six-year-old Henrietta Earls.  Her mother Harriet was also buried in the plot in 1854.

EARLS FAMILY GRAVE

I have several more photos to share which I will save for a later post.


The Sultan of Shelly Beach

The Walk to Shelly Beach

This was going to be a post about our visit to Shelly Beach in January, a trip to rekindle childhood memories of visits there.  Along with photos and an article which described the beauty of the beach,  I had it covered.

However,  as is usually the case, I could not settle at that.  I had to search Trove for more information on Shelly Beach and what I found has given the post a twist.  You will still see photos and the article about the beach, but I will introduce you to a wonderful character who had a link to Shelly Beach in the 1930s.

Firstly, here is part of the article “Beautiful Shelly Beach” that was going to feature.

Beautiful Shelly Beach. (1939, March 30). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64392283

When I returned to Trove, I was keen to find a photo of Shelly Beach.   What I found was beyond my expectations.

No title. (1933, June 24). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 5. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4744401

The caption reads:  “These camels are employed in removing grit from Shelly Beach, near Portland.  Each carries two bags each weighing 2cwt. each and makes 15 trips daily over the sandhills.   The owner is over 70 years old and has four wives”.

On Shelly Beach looking toward Bridgewater

Well I couldn’t leave it there.  Back to the Portland Guardian I went to search “camels Shelly Beach”.  From that I discovered a lot more about the mysterious man with the camels.  Jumping ahead two years from the original picture I found the following “Letter to the Editor” from the man himself:

Camels at Portland. (1935, January 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64287962

From one letter, so much is learnt.   Sultan Aziz, it seems, was giving rides to tourists on the North beach at Portland during the summer and carting shell grit at Shelly Beach during the winter.  He was working for Mr Vivian Jennings, a local carrier.  Why were the camels being used to cart the shell grit?  The next article explains:

CARTING SHELL GRIT. (1933, May 16). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72660392

Sultan Aziz appears to have been in Portland from at least 1933, but he did travel around the south-west and into South Australia.  In 1934, he and his camels were the star attraction of the Mt. Gambier Tourist Promotion Association parade on February 21, 1934.  Sultan Aziz arrived the day before after travelling along the coast from Portland.

T.P.A. CARNIVAL. (1934, February 20). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77960150

From this, we now know that the Sultan had a son, Abdul.

Mt. Gambier embraced Aziz, if the front page of the Border Watch on February 22, 1934 was any indication.  My favourite photo was that of the mayor, dressed in cameleers robes, riding one of  Sultan Aziz’s camels.

MAYOR LEADS CARNIVAL PROCESSION ASTRIDE CAMEL. (1934, February 22). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77960232

There were five photos on the front page that day, all of which included the camels!

Sultan Aziz  spent at least a month in South Australia selling camel rides at the Mt. Gambier Showgrounds.   It was not a profitable exercise as discussed at a meeting of the Mt. Gambier A & H Society in March 1934.

MOUNT GAMBIER A. & H. SOCIETY. (1934, March 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77960562

On his way back to Portland, Aziz called in at Allendale East, south of  Mt. Gambier.  The camels were once again a source of excitement.

REPORTS FROM RURAL CENTRES. (1934, March 20). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), p. 19. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47544800

In October 1934, the Sultan applied to the Portland Council to have his camels on the South Beach over the summer, however it Council decided he should stay on the North Beach.

Borough Council. (1934, October 4). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64286951

This takes us to the time of  the “Letter to the Editor” of January 1935.  The Sultan only stayed in Portland another six months, leaving just as another southern winter hit.  He returned home to Broken Hill.  It may well have been a combination of cold weather and the discontent over his camels he spoke of in his letter.  His trip to Portland made  news in Broken Hill’s “Barrier Miner”.

Long Trek On Camels. (1935, October 5). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 7 Edition: SPORTS EDITION. Retrieved March 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46707350

An interesting part of this story is Sultan Aziz’s age.  The photo I found from 1933, gives his age as over 70.  Eight years later in 1941, he was claiming he was 112 which would have made him 104 when the photo on Shelly Beach was taken! I don’t know about that.

"God Is Good" Says Sultan Aziz. (1941, May 16). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 1 Edition: HOME EDITION. Retrieved March 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48407504

A year later he was back in the news, claiming he, at 113 was the oldest person in the Commonwealth.

SULTAN AZIZ CLAIMS TO BE OLDEST MAN IN THE COMMONWEALTH; 113 YEARS AND IS STILL GOING STRONG. (1942, August 13). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved March 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48401748

Sadly, age did catch up with Sultan Aziz.  He passed away in 1950.  His age was given as 105.

AFGHAN DIES AT 105. (1950, August 16). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved March 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49578554

Summarizing Sultan Aziz’s life in Australia through the newspaper articles,  I found he was born in Afghanistan and arrived in Albany, Western Australia via India,  around 1885.  His memories from that time included organising a camel race for His Royal Highness, The Duke of York and Cornwall who would, in 1910, become King George V.

An article from the “Northern Times” , Carnarvan , Western Australia on March 23, 1912, sees Aziz still in W.A. However he was selling his camels and then sailing for South Australia to take camels back overland to Carnarvan.  I don’t think he made it all the way back as he ends up in Broken Hill with a carting contract  around that time. Many other cameleers from Afghanistan were camped at Broken Hill.  He carted goods into central Australia with his camels, working for Sir Sidney Kidman.  At one time he claims to have owned up to 200 camels.  In the 65 years he was in Australia, he must have racked up some miles on his camels.  The trip from Broken Hill to Portland alone was over 900 kilometres.

He had a least one son, Abdul Aziz, who accompanied his father on his trip to Victoria.  Abdul attended school while in Portland and went on to serve in WW2.

In his later years, Sultan Aziz was the caretaker of the mosque in Broken Hill and tended his fowls.

Of course, this is mostly information  provided by Sultan Aziz himself and is still to be supported by other sources.

I also did a search for marriages for Sultan Aziz, because I had to know if he did have up to four wives.  However, I did not find a harem, rather a marriage in 1923 to Bigham Kahn at Broken Hill.  This could be Abdul Aziz’s mother.  It is possible that Sultan Aziz had wives he left in Afganistan, which was not unusual for the cameleers.

It really is a great story of another colourful character to find his way into the Western District of Victoria.  I wonder if any of my relatives saw their first camel or paid a penny for a ride on the North Portland Beach.

Further Reading:

If you would like to learn more about the cameleers who helped explorers and pastoralists venture into inland Australia, the website Australia’s Muslim Cameleers is worth a visit.  There is so much information about the Muslim cameleers, including biographies. Yes, Sultan Aziz’s biography is among them.  One interesting fact is that at least 2000 cameleers arrived in Australia during the fifty years from 1870 to 1920 and 20,000 camels!  Most Australians would know Central Australia today has a lot of camels,but would have no idea how and why they are there.

There is also a book  by Phillip Jones and Anna Kenny, Australia’s Muslim Cameleers.  It includes a biographical listing of over 1200 cameleers.

The Age, on January 3, 2012, published an article entitled Afghans, cameleers and the massacre of Broken Hill.  It includes photos of cameleers and a mining registration form belonging to Sultan Aziz.  This was from 1939 and according to his own calculations at the time, he would have been around 110!  There is a photo, so see what you think.

I also located the WW2 service record of Abdul Aziz.  This was sad to read.  Abdul, born in 1923, enlisted in the Australian Military Service in 1942, aged 18 and later the A.I.F. in 1944.  He was sent to Bougainville in 1945 and after only four months, he received life threatening wounds to his leg, thanks to a shell.  He returned to Australia.

Further on in the service record,  I found a letter from 1958 of Thora Aziz’s application to buy a home with help from Legacy.  Her husband Abdul had died in 1951.  He would have been only 28.  Such a short life for the son of a centenarian.

Shelly Beach


St. Patrick’s Day in Western Victoria

There is plenty of Irish blood flowing through the veins of the people of the  Western District, particularly the south-west of Victoria.  Port Fairy (formally Belfast), Koroit and Killarney in particular saw the settlement of large Irish families.

The earliest Western District  St. Patrick’s Day reference I found was from the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, from March 4, 1843.  Enthusiastic preparations were underway for a dinner on March 17th.

LOCAL INTELLIGENCE. (1843, March 4). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 3. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71569103

St Patrick’s Day was a public holiday and races were  popular, both horse and human.

HAMILTON. (1858, March 19). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64570752

In 1869 at Portland, the Rechabite Society fete for the Band of Hope children was a feature of the day.

ST. PATRICK'S DAY. (1869, March 18). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64691997

The Horsham Times of March 20, 1903, explains the reason behind the wearing of a green ribbon on St. Patrick’s Day and the story of St Patrick.  The people of Horsham went to the races on March 17, 1903.

ST. PATRICK'S DAY. (1903, March 20). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72838336

At Warrnambool, in 1914, plans were underway for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration which included a parade in the afternoon and a concert in the evening.

ST. PATRICK'S DAY. (1914, March 14). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73467140

Finally, a reporter for the  “Star” in Ballarat in 1858, observed that while the English barely remembered St. George’s day and the Scots were not interested in Halloween, the Irish would never let St Patrick’s Day be forgotten.  The Irish miners from those time would be pleased to see St. Patrick’s day is still celebrated today, minus the public holiday.

Local and General News. (1858, March 18). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), p. 3. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66047115
MLA citation


In The News – February 8 – February 13, 1901

I have an interest in the weather, not just today or on the weekend,  but also historically.  I  participated in Melbourne University’s Climate History newspaper tagging project which involved tagging newspaper articles at Trove  which reported weather events.  This was an  interesting exercise and what did became obvious was the cyclical nature of the weather.  If it has happened before it will happen again, droughts, floods and storms.

Taking it further, I also have an interest in how such weather events effected my ancestors. That is why the Victorian bushfires of 1901 are of interest.  The weather was very similar to two days in my lifetime,  Ash Wednesday February 16, 1983 and  Black Saturday February 7, 2010 and in each case, fires spread across Victoria.  When I look at the  Department of Sustainability Bushfire history of Victoria, I am surprised the fires of 1901 are not mentioned.

The first reports came through on February 8, 1901 of the destruction.  The following article from The Argus describes the weather of February 7, 1901.  The descriptive language used takes the reader to that day.  The heat was oppressive, the wind was strong and dust storms crossed the state, causing an unnatural darkness.

HEAT AND GALES. (1901, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 5. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10533956

Fires had sprung up in the Western District.  Early reports from Branxholme were tragic with one death, stock killed and houses lost.  I have family links with three of the families who lost their homes, the Millers, Storers and Addinsalls.  George Miller, a racehorse trainer, lost his house and stables and no doubt his horses.

HEAT AND GALES. (1901, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 5. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10533956

The two-day race meeting at Ararat was held under stifling conditions.   A fire started at the course on the second day and horses were burnt.  Later the wind picked up and ripped iron off the grandstand roof, sending the ladies within running for shelter.

HEAT AND GALES. (1901, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 5. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10533956

Fires spread across Victoria including Warrnambool, Alexandra, Wangaratta, Buninyong, Yea and Castlemaine

DESTRUCTIVE BUSH FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1901, February 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved January 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14337694

Reading the following article about the fires at Byaduk , it really hit home how my Harman and Bishop families may have been impacted.  Even if they were lucky enought not to lose their homes, the scenes would have been unforgettable.

TERRIBLE BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 9). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 7. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4818069

In 1901, my great-grandmother Sarah Elizabeth Harman, gg grandfather Reuben James Harman and his parents James Harman and Susan Read were all living at Byaduk.  Not to mention various gg uncles and aunts and cousins, both Bishops and Harmans.  I wonder how they coped.  Did 18 year old Sarah take refuge in a dam or creek with her Grandmother Susan?  Was 70 year James Harman still fit enough to help fight the fires?  These are questions that I will never know the answer to. All I know is they were lucky enough to escape with their lives.

DESTRUCTIVE BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 9). Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 - 1904), p. 2. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64452557

The Australian Town and Country Journal accounts for 10 homes lost at Byaduk.  The Free Presbyterian Church was lost and the hotel caught alight but it seems it was saved.  The homestead of Richard Thomas Carty at “Brisbane Hill”, a large property at Byaduk, was destroyed.  The Cartys rebuilt and the replacement homestead “Dunroe” still stands.

THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 23). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 38. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71463761

This photograph gives us some idea of the devastation.

THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 23). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 38. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71463761

Portland was also under threat with fire circling the town.  The fire did not stop until it met the sea.

VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 11). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 5. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4818536

Buninyong near Ballarat was one of the worst areas hit as was Euroa and district.

BUSH FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1901, February 9). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23853766

THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 23). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 38. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71463761

By January 11, aid for the homeless was on the agenda and at  Branxholme a public meeting was held to discuss such matters.  Authorities discovered the fire near Branxholme, which was possibly the same fire that hit Byaduk, was started by a travelling tinsmith fixing a trough at Ardachy Estate.

THE BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 5. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10534297

Nearby Macarthur also had losses as did Princetown on the south coast.  At Timboon, bullock teams from the local sawmill were lost.

FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1901, February 12). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 6. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article54558042

The fire was so strong and relentless that old residents were drawing comparisons to Black Thursday of 1851.

TELEGRAPHIC. (1901, February 12). Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 - 1916), p. 32. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32205605

Today and for the past few days, the temperature has struggled to reach 20 degrees. Three years ago the temperature was more than twice that.  The weather will be like today during future summers, but I also know there will be days again like February 7, 1901, February 16, 1983 and February 7, 2009.  It is the nature of the weather.  Let us hope the devastation of each of these past events are never repeated.


St Stephen’s Church, Portland

During our recent trip to Portland, while the fish were biting, I managed to sneak away for a walk around the town of Portland.

One building I visited was St Stephen’s Anglican Church on the corner of  Julia and Percy Streets.

St Stephens Church Portland

The foundation stone was laid on March 24, 1855.

St Stephens Church Foundation Stone

The Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser reported on the laying of the foundation stone.

Local Intelligence. (1855, March 26). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71571938

I wonder if the reporter still had a job after overlooking the lunch that followed the ceremony.

I was impressed that the organisers of the day were able to secure Lieutenant Governor of the Colony, Sir Charles Hotham for the event.  However, after reading some articles about Hotham at Trove, and fitting the Portland visit into his timeline, I realised then he probably was trying to get as far away from Melbourne as possible.  The heat was on.  I would also imagine the Henty brothers’ connection to the church may have also been a factor.  Incidentally, Hotham was dead by the year’s end, having caught a chill, which exacerbated his already failing health.  This extract was published in the Empire (Sydney 1850-1875) on the same day as the report on the foundation stone ceremony and the tone is similar to other reports on Hotham at the time.

VICTORIA,. (1855, March 26). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875), p. 5. Retrieved February 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60180148

Despite the church receiving a bell in 1864 from Stephen Henty, it was not until 1907 that the bell was hung.

St. Stephens' Church Bell. (1907, July 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63966019

Some histories of the bell may tell a different story of the bell’s origins as local historian Noel F. Learmonth had to admit in his article of October 29, 1951.  After reconfirming the story from 1907 article, he went on to say:

ST. STEPHEN'S BELL. (1951, October 29). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 4 Edition: MIDDAY.. Retrieved February 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64429927

Entrance of St Stephen's Church, Portland

A SHORT HISTORY OF ST STEPHEN'S CHURCH FROM 1869 TO THE PRESENT DAY. (1943, August 30). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64386337

I wish I had read this article before I visited.  I would have like to have seen Stephen Henty’s stained glass window.

Interior of St Stephen's Church

The organ on the wall of the altar has been in place since 1882.

In 1953, the church celebrated its 97th anniversary.  The Portland Guardian of May 14, reported on the event and included an extract from one of Noel Learmonth’s books  “The Portland Bay Settlement”.  A nice touch was when the congregation sang “Happy Birthday” to the church.

St. Stephen's Church 97th Anniversary celebrated. (1953, May 14). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: MIDDAY. Retrieved February 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64434755

If you are interested in more history of the St Stephen’s Church, an article from the Portland Guardian of August 30, 1943, “A Short History of St Stephen’s Church from 1869 to Present Day” is worth a look.  It also includes a list of the 1943 members of the Ladies Guild.


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