Cemeteries: Tower Hill

Tower Hill Cemetery lies between Port Fairy and Warrnambool in Western Victoria.

img_9230Tower Hill itself is a former volcano not far from Port Fairy and about 3 hours drive west of Melbourne. You can see the view looking over the remains of the Tower Hill crater and looking out towards the sea from the top of Tower Hill in the photos below.

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Tower hill itself is not really a town, though there are a few houses around it. Tower Hill was first sighted by Europeans in 1802, the sighting was made by the Frenchmen in the ship the Geographe, but it wasn’t surveyed until 1846. In the surveys conducted between 1846 and 1850 it is described as heavily wooded, with descriptions of ferns and large trees. It was also a favourite site of settler James Dawson of the near by Kangatong station. He had it painted in oils in 1855 so he could show others how beautiful it was. The painting was done by Eugene Von Guerard and you can see the view from the lookout point he painted it from below.

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However between 1857 and 1860 the hill itself and the surrounding area was heavily deforested, mainly for the use of the timber but also for grazing. This use of the land continued until 1961 when Tower Hill was proclaimed Victoria’s seventh state wildlife reserve. There has been significant re planting done since.

I would like to pause in the ongoing narrative of Tower Hill at this point to discuss its pre-European importance. When Tower Hill was first sighted by Europeans it was certainly not an unknown hill. For the local Koroitgundij people it is a site of great importance and their ancestors undoubtably would have witnessed the eruption that created the funnel shaped crater 30 000 years ago. Today there is the Worn Gundidj  visitor’s centre in the middle of Tower Hill which tells the indigenous history of the site.  You can see the visitor’s centre in the picture below.

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The cemetery at Tower Hill stands at the base of the hill’s slope. It was established in 1856 and contains some of the most impressive monuments for a cemetery of its size that I’ve ever seen.

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The monuments range from small, such as the heart shaped stone below.

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To the significantly more dramatic

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There are a number of interesting people buried at Tower Hill, but I thought I’d briefly discuss a man whose death was a key part of Australian labour history. William John Mclean was the first person to die for the union movement in Australia. Known as Billy Mclean he was born in 1869 and lived in Koroit, a small town very near Tower Hill. In the late 1800s the nearby town Port Fairy was one of Australia’s most important international ports, though you certainly wouldn’t know it now.

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Port Fairy

As an important port much of the wool shorn in areas as far away as southern NSW was taken by the river system and bullock drays to Port Fairy for transportation. Shearers would hitch rides with the bullock drays back in the opposite direction for the shearing season. Billy Mclean was one such shearer. The shearers often endured awful conditions and pretty terrible pay at the same time as being forced to pay exorbitant prices for food from stores that were owned by the stations. As such there were a number of shearer strikes. On the 26th of August 1894 in NSW the paddle steamer Rodney was transporting a non union labor force up the Darling River to work at the near by station of Tolarno. Many of the river captains refused to support the pastoralists by bringing in non union labour to try to break the strikes. Captain Dickson of the Rodney was not one of them. The paddle steamer was set upon by striking shearers and after the non union labour and the crew had been removed from the boat, the shearers doused it in kerosene and burnt to the water line.

The afternoon of the same day, a little further up river, Billy Mclean was one of about fifty shearers who were headed for Grassmere station near Willcannia where it was believed that non union workers from New Zealand had been brought in. Mclean was one of the first to enter the shearing shed and he was shot in the lung, one of his mates Jack Murphy was also shot. Neither died on the scene and they were arrested by the police on the way back to the strike camp. There is definite argument that the shooting was retaliation for the burning of the Rodney earlier that morning.

Mclean was tried and convicted of unlawful assembly, sentenced to 3 years hard labour and sent to Goulburn gaol. In the cold of the prison and never having recovered from his injury Mclean developed tuberculosis of the lung and was sent home to his mother to die, so it couldn’t be said he died in gaol. He died in 1896. He was 26. The man who shot him was never tried and was given a medal by the pastoralists association.

The other shearers rallied round Mclean’s mother and raised 90 pounds for the erection of the monument over his grave. It still stands in Tower Hill Cemetery today and is 14 feet high. You can see it in the photos below.

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img_9210The epitaph reads

ERECTED BY

HIS FELLOW UNIONISTS

AND ADMIRERS

IN MEMORY OF THEIR COMRADE,

WILLIAM JOHN McLEAN WHO WAS SHOT BY A NON-UNIONIST

AT GRASSMERE STATION, N.S.W.,

DURING THE STRUGGLE OF 1894,

AND WHO DIED 22nd MARCH, 1896,

AGED 26 YEARS,

A GOOD SON, A FAITHFUL MATE, AND A DEVOTED UNIONIST, UNION IS STRENGTH.

Donald MacDonald, the general secretary of the AWU wrote to Henry Lawson asking him to compose the epitaph. It is not known if Lawson did or not.

For more information on Mclean and the shearers’ strikes see…

http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=unity

Billy Mclean is only one of a number of fascinating people buried at Tower Hill Cemetery. Alongside the outstanding individual monuments Tower Hill Cemetery also houses several groups of matching monuments such as those that you can see below. img_9220

As with many cemeteries of this era, there is a distressingly large number of young deaths and whole families. You see the same surnames repeated over and over, showing the long term connection to the area.

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My next post will be on the nearby Port Fairy Cemetery.

References

Billy Mclean: http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=unity

Tower Hill: Victoria’s heritage. http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/315547/Heritage-story-Tower-Hill-Reserve-history-and-heritage.pdf

Books:

Tower Hill: What happened at Tower Hill? Fisheries and Wildlife Dept 1960.

Tower Hill by M.C Downes.

Both books can be found at the Prahran Mechanics’ Institute Victorian History Library.

The photos are all mine.

Victorian History Crossword

NB: If it looks like you’ve seen this crossword before, you have. I put it up yesterday but there was a technical error so I had to take it down. There should be no problems with this version. The questions and answers are all the same as yesterday’s, the lay out is just a little different.

Have a shot, see how you go.  Click this link for a printable version of the crossword grid. Crossword Puzzle

Crossword Puzzle Maker_ Final Puzzle

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Major Mitchell and his trail

If you drive into mid-western Victoria in Australia it is impossible to escape the references to Major Thomas Mitchell and his trail

mitchell-front

http://www.majormitchellexpedition.com/

Major Mitchell was born in 1792 in Stirlingshire Scotland. He was a surveyor and in 1827 he took up the position of Surveyor-General of NSW. In 1836 Major Mitchell became the first European to travel across the plains of Western Victoria.

IMG_7565Just out of Dunkeld

The purpose his mission was to follow the Darling River to discover if it flowed into sea or into the Murray. He was then instructed to follow the most promising stream from the Murray and see in which direction it went. This resulted in him crossing Victoria’s western plains. Which is described in his diary thus:

“The scene was different from any I had seen in New South Wales or elsewhere. A land so inviting, and still without inhabitants. As I stood, the first European intruder of the sublime solitude of these verdant plains, as yet untouched by flocks and herds; I felt conscious of being the harbinger of mighty changes; and that our steps would soon be followed by the men and animals for which it seemed to have been prepared.” In fact he thought the land was so good he called it the Australian Felix

I would like to take this moment to point out that the land was far from uninhabited as it was home to several groups of indigenous Australians.  In fact Mitchell certainly encountered some of them because in “December 1836 the Executive Council conducted an inquiry into the killing of Aborigines near Mount Dispersion. It regretted that Mitchell had not made sufficient efforts to conciliate the natives, but in view of their numbers and threatening aspect the council could not severely blame ‘a want of coolness and presence of mind which it is the lot of few men to possess’.”[1] From records it seems that Major Mitchell’s group was followed by a group of Aboriginal people and they felt threatened so they planned an ambush in which 7Aboriginal people were killed. While he was acquitted by an enquiry, as explained above, the incident tarnished his reputation for the rest of his career.

Mitchell’s names for many of the places in the area are still used today and many of them still carry a certain Scottish flavour.

The Grampians

IMG_7542IMG_7596IMG_7588Grampians from a distance

IMG_7853IMG_7851Half way up one of The Grampians

Lake Linlithgow

IMG_7593IMG_7605IMG_7612IMG_7610A very dry Lake Linlithgow

Mount Rouse

IMG_7590The side of Mount Rouse
IMG_7570Mount Rouse from the road

Mount Abrupt

IMG_7552Mount Sturgeon and Mount Abrupt

Mitchell was also the first European to truly explore the Glenelg river.

IMG_7688IMG_7687The Glenelg in mid western Victoria near Harrow.

IMGP1460IMGP1461The Glenelg much further down stream near Nelson on the Sth Australian border

 

Mitchell surveyed the area as he went and this resulted in what was known as Major Mitchell’s trail. You can still follow the trail today, there are marked points and a map.

IMG_7562Monument just out of Dunkeld

IMG_7700Monument just out of Harrow

Other settlers soon followed Mitchell and the European colonisation of western Victoria had begun. Today it is still very much farming country with small towns often bearing very European names, as is true of much of Australia.IMG_7647Balmoral

IMG_7682Harrow

IMG_7793Avoca

IMG_7631Rail bridge over the Wannon in Cavendish

While Major Mitchell’s trek heralded the influx of European settlement to this part of Victoria, he was a skilled surveyor and his diaries give an extraordinary glimpse into what the country would have been like in the mid 1800s.

Resources

Australian Dictionary of Biography

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mitchell-sir-thomas-livingstone-2463

Major Mitchell Expedition

http://www.majormitchellexpedition.com/

Penshurst Portraits. ISBN: 9780646515939

The photos are all mine

 

[1] Major Mitchell ADB http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mitchell-sir-thomas-livingstone-2463

 

Vida Goldstein

I recently saw the movie Suffragette and while I did enjoy it and applaud the important story it is telling I couldn’t help but think that I wanted to write about some of the non violent members of the women’s suffrage movement. This idea crystallised when I talked to a few people and realised that even the leaders in Australia’s women’s suffrage movement remain largely unknown. As I began to look I found that Suffragette had prompted many others to write about the people involved with the women’s suffrage movement, which is one of the best outcomes the movie could possibly have had. An example is the Guardian article below about the fascinating Adela Pankhurst. She was one of the daughters of the celebrated Emmeline Pankhurst, who is played by Meryl Streep in the movie.

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/dec/24/wayward-suffragette-adela-pankhurst-and-her-remarkable-australian-life

I decided that I wanted to write about someone I knew a little about already and as I’d done some work on Vida Goldstein at high school, and too many people still haven’t heard of her, I thought she’d be a good place to start. I was intending to write a short biography of her role in the women’s suffrage movement but as I began to have a careful look I determined that this has been well and truly done. While I don’t belive that all writing has to be treading new ground I truly didn’t see the point in rehashing the Australian Dictionary of Biography article, which covers all the salient points.

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/goldstein-vida-jane-6418

It is absolutely worth reading though.

So I headed into the State Library of Victoria, not that I ever really need an excuse, and did some work using their manuscripts collection. With the information I found here I decided that I am going to focus on Vida’s first attempt at entering parliament in 1903.

First though, a very brief background on Vida and a look at the progression of women’s suffrage in Australia.

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Vida Goldstein

http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-136682563/view

Vida Goldstein was born in 1869 in Portland in Victoria and she was one of the leaders of Australia’s women’s suffrage movement. She died in Melbourne in South Yarra in 1949 and a lot more should be known about her by the general population. In other words read the ADB article.

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A young Vida Goldstein

http://goo.gl/5xcNik

Vida was also very much a part of the international suffrage movement as can be seen by the notes below from Susan B Anthony, who most people will have heard of. Susan B Anthony gave Vida the three volumes of her book called A History of Women’s Suffrage

In each volume she wrote an inscription to Vida and they are all dated to the 4th of July 1902.

To Miss Vida Goldstein

Melbourne Australia

From her disenfranchised friend, the city of Rochester, County of Monroe, State of New York, Country of the United States of America- the land of the free who has worked to the best of her ability, for fifty years and more to the get the right for women to vote- and will continue to battle for it to the end of her life-

affectionately.

Susan B Anthony

 

To Vida Goldstein

Melbourne Australia

Rejoicing that you have gained the national franchise- and hoping your other states will soon grant the local suffrage- while we of the United States of America struggle on-no one can tell how long to the the right to vote.

Sincerely yours

Susan B Anthony

 

Miss Vida Goldstein

(to be given to the public library- when she is done with it)

With the congratulations that the new world of Australia has given to her women all the rights of citizenship- equally with her men- and with love and esteem of her friend

Susan B Anthony.[1]

Vida also travelled to speak at suffrage events and meet other members of the suffrage movement, especially those who were still fighting for women’s suffrage. The photo below shows her with other women’s suffrage supporters at the Great Suffragette Demonstration in London in 1911. Vida is on the far right

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Great Suffragette Demonstration

http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-136683161/view?searchTerm=vida+goldstein#search/vida%20goldstein

Australia was one of the first countries to give the vote to women. It is complicated though by the fact that each state allowed women the vote at a different time and that it occurred federally as well, independent of the individual states. The result of a separate Federal right to vote, which was granted in 1902,  was that there were women from several states who could vote in federal elections but not in their state elections.

Below you can see when the vote was granted state by state

1894 South Australia

1899 Western Australia

1902 Federal

1902 New South Wales

1903 Tasmania

1905 Queensland

1908 Victoria[2]

Vida also described the mood in Australia which made it possible for the vote for women to become a reality far earlier than in countries like the UK.

The Broad Mindedness of Australian Men

One feature of the Suffrage Campaign in Australia makes it radically different from that in any other country- the readiness of our men to admit that our cause was a just one, and entitled to immediate recognition. We never had any difficulty in winning over the men of Australia to our side. Our real battle ground was the Upper House in each colony. The Lower Houses were elected practically on as basis of One Man One Vote and in the Lower Houses it was easy to get a suffrage bill through, but the Upper Houses, which represented only the propertied classes, who in Australia are always against reform, stood solid against us, and it was only when we got a strong Premier in each state that we could get a Suffrage Bill through the Upper Houses.[3]

Vida also described the hard work that went on to not only try to achieve the vote, but also to get male MPs to take notice of specific issues.

Through not having women in Parliament energy and valuable time have to be spent on the often Herculean task of educating members up to the point of seeing the injustice in certain measures affecting women, e.g the Federal Public Services Act. It bristled with discrepancies in pay for men and women doing exactly the same work. To get the principles of equal pay embodied in the bill some of us had to spend days at the House lobbying members, always hateful work- showing them the many injustices in the bill from the women’s point of view, and trying to get them to see them as we saw them. We had to tramp round getting petitions signed and write to the press. Had there been women in the House there would have been no need for such tactics because the injustices were so obvious they only had to be pointed out and most members promised to get them removed. Another example was the Naturalisation Bill which completely merged the individuality of a married woman with that of her husband. [4]

Even before she ran for parliament Vida herself had become vehemently against the two party system because she considered that parties sacrificed  principle to expediency and put their own interests before all else. She came to this conclusion in 1902 when, after women were allowed the vote federally, she started the group Women’s Federal Political Association. Unfortunately male politicians quickly began to use the Association for party purposes and when Vida reacted by moving the Association away from one party and to a non political basis the majority of the male members left.

So this was the background to Vida running for parliament in 1903. The election was in December of 1903 and she launched her campaign in October in her home town of Portland. But she began signalling she would be running earlier. Part of her campaign was a letter published in Reviews of Review in August entitled Should Women Enter Parliament?

She opened by, with what The Advertiser described as “a delightful touch of femininity”, immediately answering her own question

“Of course why not?”

She then went on to defend her supposition laying forth the usual key arguments against women’s suffrage, beginning with the idea that there was a lack of precedent. She refutes this by providing several examples from history and going on to discuss the disparity between men who happily accepted a female sovereign, Queen Victoria had died quite recently, but couldn’t accept women in parliament.[5] As her niece LM Henderson wrote Vida “never indulged in empty rhetoric, she always supported her arguments with facts, and could answer almost any question.”[6] Vida was the first woman to stand for parliament in the Empire and naturally enough there was both comment and opposition. The rural papers tended to be more sympathetic than the Melbourne papers.  For example The Avoca Standard ran this piece in November 1903.

“Miss Goldstein presented a very pleasing appearance on the platform at Avoca. She was graceful, pretilly gowned and wore a most becoming hat. During her address she toyed prettily with a beautiful La France rose- a move that added much to the effect. The lady became a favourite with all present almost at once. Her easy delivery of speech, charming voice, modest manner, and the absence of anything masculine, being the chief factors in her favour.”

This piece might be very condescending, but it isn’t hostile.

The Age and The Argus were generally dismissive, but not always. There was also extensive argument as to the legality of women in parliament. But it quickly became clear that even constitutionally there was no argument barring them running. [7]

The press commentary wasn’t limited to articles, there were also cartoons and poetry. An example of the cartoons can be seen below. In which Vida has to be accompanied to the Senate by a chaperone, and all the men dare not disobey her for fear of being seen as discourteous.

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Vida Goldstein Cartoon

from Punch http://goo.gl/wN04hH

There were headlines like “Sweet Skirted Senators” from the Sunday Times and this really quite interesting poem, also in the Sunday Times, on 9/08/1903

Vidi!-Vida!-Vinci!

What a theme

for the scheme

of a beautiful dream

to be there in the Senate with Vida!

What a foretaste of heaven

the Senate would seem

to the Senator sitting beside her.

They say tis a right which can not be denied her!

Let us give her a vote, for we’d gloat

and we’d dote

on a note 

from the throat

of Miss Vida!

You can see it would be very simple; 

for she wouldn’t want advisors to guide her!

And to all her proposals, of course they’d agree

it would be very rude to deride her!

All the House would have nous

to be meek as a mouse!

They would catch it if any defied her!

And it’s certain soft soap

couldn’t hope

to enrope

or to cope

with the scope

of Miss Vida. 

And I can’t

and I shan’t

see the reason we aren’t

to be ruled by good ladies like Vida.

If you vote for your Uncle

why not vote for you Aunt

if the requisite sense is supplied her.

And she

like a he

should be perfectly free

to engage in a sphere that is wider.

If the matter’s discussed,

then we must,

to be just,

give a thrust

to our trust

in Miss Vida.

Ah! but then

gentlemen

when it comes to the ken

of a Senator’s wife, could he chide her

if she kicked up a row with her tongue and a pen

on the boldness of brainy Miss Vida.

For a lass

is a lass

but alas, should it pass

there are ladies who’d call her a spider!

And although we may cheer

still I fear it is clear

we must bid you “Good Morning”

Miss Vida

W.T Goodge[8]

You can make of that what you will of the poem. I can’t decide if it’s derogatory, celebratory or both.

Media aside, Vida campaigned assiduously, but it is unlikely she ever expected to win. She chose to run for the Senate rather than the House of Representatives probably because it would allow her to campaign throughout Victoria rather than just for one seat. Thus spreading her message further. The election took place in December 1903 and Vida polled 51 497 which was surprisingly good considering voting wasn’t compulsory. It was not, however, enough to win the seat. She took defeat well, commenting on the process in January 1904 in Review of Reviews.

I found political sentiment best developed in the labour ranks, among women earning their own living, and among the country women in the leisure classes. Melbourne women are notoriously ignorant of politics. This difference between city and country was the only new fact my campaign taught me. The chief value of suffrage at present is its educational value, I would sooner see women educated in views diametrically opposed to mine than not educated at all… I had against me the combined power of the Morning and Labour papers, deliberate misrepresentation by two of them, lack of finance, and the prejudice of sex. I stood for the cause of women and children, as a protest against the dictation of the press, and against the creation of the ticket system of voting. From men I had most courteous treatment… The chief lesson to be learnt from this campaign was the need for organisation. The Labour Party had the best organisation and their success shows this. Labour seeks to reach its goal mainly by material means; women place a higher value on the spiritual, but (word missing, LMH) will someday see that is righteous alone that exalteth a nation.

She commented later to her niece Leslie M. Henderson that she was terrified of mice and was always afraid that some of her opponents would discover it and let loose some mice on the platform when she was speaking. Thankfully this never happened. [9]

And that was the end of Vida’s first attempt to join Australia’s parliament. She tried another four times to gain office but was ultimately never successful. This was most likely to do with the fact that she always ran as an Independent Woman Candidate. Despite her lack of electoral success Vida Goldstein was a pioneer for women’s rights around the world and she deserves to be as well know internationally as some of the other larger than life figures in the woman’s suffrage movement.

vida older

Vida Goldstein painted by Waterhouse

http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/26335720?q=vida+goldstein&c=picture&versionId=46453732

[1] State Library of VictoriaMS BOX 3097/5(a-c)

[2] From Vida Goldstein’s papers: State Library of Victoria MS MSM 118

[3] From Vida Goldstein’s papers: State Library of Victoria MS MSM 118

[4] From Vida Goldstein 1869-1949: Biographical notes by her niece, Leslie M. Henderson, 1966 January. MS BOX 332/14

[5] From Press cutting book presented to Edith How Morlyn for Women’s Service Library London by Vida Goldstein State Library of Victoria MS BOX 2493/ 5

[6] From Vida Goldstein 1869-1949: Biographical notes by her niece, Leslie M. Henderson, 1966 January. MS BOX 332/14

[7] From Press cutting book presented to Edith How Morlyn for Women’s Service Library London by Vida Goldstein

[8] From Press cutting book presented to Edith How Morlyn for Women’s Service Library London by Vida Goldstein

[9] From Vida Goldstein 1869-1949: Biographical notes by her niece, Leslie M. Henderson, 1966 January. MS BOX 332/14

 

St Mary of the Angels Basilica Geelong

I found this church by accident on a recent trip to Geelong and it’s a really lovely example of Victorian Gothic.

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Geelong is in Victoria Australia about an hour out of Melbourne. It was founded in 1838 when it was laid out and officially proclaimed. Its existence is due to the need for a depot for all the squatters who were pouring into Victoria. The first land sales were held in 1839 with the Wollpack Inn opened in the same year.

The current Basilica stands on what was known as Church Hill and commands the highpoint of Geelong.

The church that can be seen today has humble origins. To begin with Catholics in Geelong, or Corio as it was often known, did not even have a priest. Father Bonaventure Geoghegan became the first priest for the St Benedict’s District, of which Geelong was part, in 1839.

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Father Bonaventure Geoghegan

http://goo.gl/XbtQJJ

Geoghegan was born in Dublin and celebrated his first Mass in an open roofed building in Melbourne on May 19 1839. He baptised the children who had been born in the four years of Melbourne’s existence. He was the only priest to care for Catholics in the whole of the existing area of Victoria. As this was such a significant task Geoghegan was given an assistant, curate Richard Walsh. Then after 12 months, when Walsh was moved to Norfolk Island, Michael Ryan was assigned. He was described by Vicar General Murphy from Sydney as “a very well disposed young man although at times a little hasty & inclined to have too much of his own way.”

It was Ryan who was assigned officially to Geelong in September 1841. Two days after his arrival, on the 8th of September 1841, Ryan celebrated what would have been the first Mass in Geelong. Under Ryan’s watch a foundation stone was laid for the beginnings of a church for the Catholics, but it wasn’t to be for Ryan and Geelong as Ryan was recalled to Sydney in October. Even without Ryan there Geoghegan continued with the plans for a church for Geelong. However progress was slow especially because it wasn’t until 1842 that Geelong again had the benefit of the resident priest. On April 13 Father Michael Stephens celebrated the first catholic marriage in Geelong. Later in 1842 the first catholic chapel was finally completed. It was a modest building made of paling about 30 feet by 20 feet and covered by a shingle roof. A far cry from the current church.

By 1846 the need for a new church had become very apparent. The census of that year showed 1003 catholics in the County of Grant which the small church serviced. The priest at the time, Richard Walsh again, set out on a campaign for the building of a permanent church. After fundraising and other efforts the foundation stone was laid on the 19th of August 1856 by Father Geoghegan.This church was opened on October 6th 1847  it was called St Mary’s and was later described…

“It was a  pretty little church built of very bad Barrabool stone. It soon began to show signs of decay, and the weather side had to get three coats of thick paint in ’53 to preserve it from the effects of frost and rain”

By 1854 the capacity of St Mary’s was very strained,the census of that year showed 3797 catholics in Geelong, and it was resolved that a new church was needed.

The first stone of the present church was laid by the Most Reverend James Alipius Goold 1st Bishop of Melbourne on the 15th of June 1854.

A040300_246x550

Most Reverend James Alipius Goold

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/goold-james-alipius-3633

The nave was completed and  opened for worship, again by Bishop Goold,  on the 4th of February 1872. IMG_1299

The Nave

Daniel Mannix, Archbishop of Melbourne,  consecrated the completed church including spire, on the 16th of June 1937.

IMG_9718

Statue of Daniel Mannix outside St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

Even before the spire was completed the church was eliciting extravagant praise.

“It exhibits an edifice of colossal cathedral proportions, such as one might expect to find in the episcopal city of some ancient Catholic continental nation, but which excites astonishment when associated with an antipodean town of yesterday… Even in this incomplete condition, the building is the most conspicuous, commodious and elegant ecclesiastical edifice in the town.”

The church was based on the 13th century gothic style. The central tower rose to a height of 100 feet above the ground and was capped with 8 crocketed pinnacles. These formed the base of the spire which rose another 98 feet into the air before terminating with a 12 foot high cross. The top of the cross was 210 feet above ground. The spire was built from inside without the use of external scaffolding.

IMG_1297

Ceiling below the spire.

IMG_1292

The Spire, you can see the cross up the top.

The total length of the church was 220 feet, the distance between the transepts was 126 feet and the nave with side aisles was 14 feet 6 inches wide. The high altar was made of Verona marble. IMG_1298

The high altar, although this is modified from the original version.

Although it was without doubt a magnificent building the church ran into problems in the 1960s as it was already beginning to age. The foundations on the western end had to be underpinned to stop subsidence and 560 stone crockets had to be removed from the spire because they kept breaking off, damaging the slate roof, causing leaks and threatening anyone walking too close to the church. Major restoration work was also undertaken in the 1980s.

In 2004 the 150th anniversary of the church was celebrated and at the anniversary Mass Archbishop Dennis Hart of Melbourne announced that the Vatican had designated St Mary’s as a Minor Basilica. One of only five in Australia.

These are the conditions for the granting of Minor Basilica status according to The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“1. A church for which the title of basilica is proposed must have been dedicated to God by a liturgical rite and must stand out as a center of active and pastoral liturgy, especially through celebrations of the Most Holy Eucharist, of penance, and of the other sacraments, which celebrations set an example for others on account of their preparation and realization according to liturgical norms and with the active participation of the people of God.

2. To further the possibility of truly carrying out worthy and exemplary celebrations, the aforesaid church should be of an appropriate size and with a sufficiently large sanctuary. The various elements required for the liturgical celebration (altar, ambo [lectern], celebrant’s chair) must be placed according to the requirements of the restored liturgy (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, nos. 288-318).

3. The church may enjoy a certain renown throughout the diocese, for example, because it has been constructed and dedicated to God on the occasion of some particular historical and religious event, or because the body or significant relics of a saint are reserved in it, or because some sacred image is there venerated in a special way.

The historical value or importance of the church and the worthiness of its art are also be considered.

4. So that, as the liturgical year progresses, the celebrations of the various seasons may be carried out in a praiseworthy manner, a fitting number of priests is necessary; they are to be assigned to the liturgical and pastoral care of the church, especially for the celebration of the Eucharist and penance (there should also be an appropriate number of confessors who at stated hours are available to the faithful).

In addition, a sufficient number of ministers is required as well as an adequate schola cantorum, which is to encourage the participation of the faithful with sacred music and singing.”

So the awarding of this title to St Mary’s is very much an acknowledgement of its importance both to the history of Victoria and to the people of Geelong.

It is a really beautiful church. Even if you are completely non religious as I am, the majesty of St Mary’s must be appreciated.

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St Mary’s from the front.

References

Ian Wynd. St Mary of the Angels Basilica. ISBN: 9780975840702

Unless otherwise stated by links the photos are mine.

Surprising Horse Troughs

During a recent trip out to Western Victoria in the Wimmera region, to do some unrelated research, I noticed two horse troughs in separate towns that had the same inscription. It read that they had been donated by Annis and George Bills. I was intrigued so I did some research on Trove and I found there is actually a very interesting story behind them.

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Horse trough in Balmoral Victoria

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Horse trough in Edenhope Victoria

These horse troughs are the result of an interesting will and testament and can be found all over Victoria and New South Wales. George Bills made his money out of mattresses, first in making them and then in creating and patenting machinery to weave them. His father, who was a naturalist, came to Australia in the 1800s and, as the Horsham Times described it in 1935, “his heart ached to see the sufferings of dumb animals.” This was a concern that he passed on to his son George who also associated himself with the society for the protection of animals in England, New Zealand and Australia. George’s wife died before him and they had no children so he decided to make provision in his will for the future welfare of animals. The residue of his estate, after several personal bequests, was set aside to provide free memorial horse troughs the length and breadth of the British Empire. Towns applied for them to the trust and many such as Horsham actually have more than one. George died in 1927 and approximately 86 000 pounds was left for the provision of horse troughs. Each was made to the same design and carried the inscription ‘Donated by Annis and George Bills Australia.” By 1937, according the the Adelaide Advertiser, the trust had set up more than 400 horse troughs in Victoria and were expanding to New South Wales.

Sometimes they were for more than horses though and issues could arise, as Dubbo found in 1946. In this particular case dogs and humans were catered for as well as horses. Unfortunately the position of the human’s drinking fountain was problematic. As the Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate said.

“Unfortunately, lack of foresight was shown in the placing of the adjunct for the public. It is immediately over the small concrete basin for dogs, and at the end of the horse-trough. After drinking, horses have been seen slobbering over the faucet, and dogs licking it.”

The drinking faucet was thankfully moved.

The Dubbo paper also adds the interesting detail that the activities of the trust lapsed during the war period, but began again afterwards, which was when Dubbo applied for its second horse trough with the subsequent problems.

I just think this is a fascinating little piece of history. So far I’ve only found two of the troughs, as I wasn’t really looking for them, but if anyone else happens to see one that has survived in their town I’d love to know. I’d also be fascinated to find out if they are only present in Australia or whether George’s bequest did indeed cover the length and breadth of the British Empire.

The photos are mine.

Information from:

Horsham Times: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/72616702?searchTerm=annis%20and%20george%20bills&searchLimits=

Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate:

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/132963328?searchTerm=annis%20and%20george%20bills&searchLimits=

The Adelaide Advertiser: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/74356258?searchTerm=annis%20and%20george%20bills&searchLimits=

 

 

An update.

After a little more investigation I have found this wonderful blog that has lists of the horse troughs. These obviously aren’t as obscure as I thought.

https://billswatertroughs.wordpress.com/