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Monday, March 28, 2016

Train Station, Sandown Park, photo undated

Beginning in 1888, Sandown was at the time known as Oakleigh Park and was privately owned by William Cullen. Cullen was a Brighton publican who used it for horse races, he'd even erected stables, two grandstands,a saddling paddock and more, all of which was surrounded by trees and flower beds.

By 1891 the entire area was under the control of Samual Wills, David Boyd and Charles Heape who, between them, ran the Victorian Trotting Club, they then changed the name to Sandown in 1892. A railway station had been built at the current location and another short line ran through the north end of the property to the Springvale Crematorium.

During the 1900-1904 period, motor vehicles were becoming popular and the Automobile Club of Victoria was formed. The inaugural honorary secretary and founding father was one Harry James, regarded by many as the father of Australian Motor Sport and also Peter Brock's great uncle.

The Commercial Travelers' Association's annual picnic was scheduled for March 12th 1904 so their committee approached the Automobile Club to hold car races there as part of the activities on the day. The offer was accepted with Harry and other committee members checking the grounds, finding them suitable compared to other venues, this together with politicians and police being against racing on public roads ensured the picnic and supervised races went ahead at Sandown.

On March 12th 1904, some 1400 visitors traveled by rail to Sandown with a further 140 travelling by varying motor vehicle as part of the Automobile Club's Sandown activities from the corner of Alexandra Avenue and St Kilda Road for the 15 mile drive over various road surfaces to the venue, for three races and two motor vehicle displays.

Sandown celebrated it's 100 anniversary on March 12th 2004. 58 years after that first race event, racing again returned to Sandown on March 11th and 12th 1962, with horse racing also finally returning 3 years later in 1965 so that Sandown was once again complete.

Of interest is the fact that in the 1904 races Mr Otto Schumacher drove a 3.5hp De Dion while Mr Jas Moffat drove a 8hp De Dion to win first prize in the category for "cars most suitable for travelers not carrying samples". The Sandown that we know today is indeed rich in history.

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