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Saturday, June 3, 2017

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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Friday, June 2, 2017

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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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Town Hall, Lonsdale Street, Dandenong, undated.

There were poets in Dandenong in the very early times, and from an old “Journal” the following writing was taken. The author was at one time likely the licensee of Dunn’s Hotel, as the name fits in with several incidents connected with the friendly intercourse between the police and the publicans, when food, etc., was scarce, and in a neighbourly fashion they borrowed from each other.

"A township sweet and beautiful,
With homes pretty and neat;
Gardens decked with flowers rare,
And clean in every street.

With hills each side where we look,
Close by ranges rising high;
A running brook, so clear, so clear,
Continuously running by.

Where a forest large and wild once stood,
Where the black man lived for years;
Where the kangaroo so oft’ was killed,
With the long and pointed spears.

Where corrobboree so oft’ was held.
Around the blazing pile;
Where, when in battle stealthy crept,
The warriors in single file.

The white man camped long, long ago,
And Dunbar with the natives laid
A consultation with the then great men,
When he taught them good from bad.

Where children were kidnapped from homes,
But now all these have gone;
And reminding us of the days of yore,
Stands the township — Dandenong!"

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Dutch Reformed Church, Cleeland Street, Dandenong, Photo 1971.

The Dutch Reformed Church, Cleeland Street, Dandenong, Photo 1971.
During the 1950s and 1960s the Dutch along with many other nationalities emigrated from their countries to what was then the municipalities of Dandenong and Springvale. They soon made their mark on enriching the area in various ways, some went into the market garden and flower farm industry and others were butchers, bakers etc.
The brick church was built in the 1950s after those that belonged to the Reformed Church had bought a site on Cleeland Street. They were amongst the first of the new emigrants to purpose build their own church. Some Dutch Catholics joined St Mary's Choir, Dandenong during the late 1950s-early 1960s, later forming their own choir, the St Gregorius Choir.
There was great excitement amongst the local Dutch community when a continental shop opened on Lonsdale Street selling a favorite called 'Dropjes' (similar to licorice). A Dutch butcher also moved into Dandenong in the 1960s then in the 1970s the Dutch club started.
The Reformed Church congregation eventually sold their site in Cleeland Street, building a new church and resource centre in Outlook Drive, which then opened in 1983.
Photo kindly shared to page by Anna Veldman. (her fathers' VW Beetle is in the foreground of the photo).

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Public Restrooms/Toilets, Corner Lonsdale and Langhorne Streets, Dandenong, undated.

Do you remember when there used to be these unique Public Restrooms/Toilets at the intersection of Langhorne and Lonsdale Streets? With half of the building bellow ground level they were a sight not to be missed, This intersection has seen a few changes over the years.

Dandenong was the junction of the eastern and south-eastern road and railway systems that connected Gippsland with the metropolis 20 miles away. The district around Dandenong became one of the main sources of Melbourne’s milk supply and famous for its herds of pedigree dairy cattle (Argus, 21 December 1921).

Dandenong Market was important as ‘a great clearing centre of surplus stock from one of the most productive closer-settled districts in the state’ (Leader 23 July 1947). Some farmers came to buy store cattle to fatten them up and sell later at a profit. Others came to buy cattle at the
Dandenong market. At that time, most cattle trucks were horse-drawn.

Almost all of the cattle at the Dandenong Market were escorted through Dandenong by whip-cracking horsemen. Sometimes children would wag school to spend time at the market, which was then located on Main Street (now Lonsdale Street) from Clow Street to the rear of the Post Office. Cattle pens ran back from the footpath on the east side and the fresh produce section ran along the wide footpaths.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Dandenong Journal, 1 Scott Street, Dandenong, undated

We came across an alternate view of the Journals old building at 1 Scott Street. Where the Nu Hotel now stands. No date was provided, but the image does give a wonderful view/perspective on where the building was along with the neighbouring building, both of which were lost long before the construction of the Nu Hotel.

150 years since the first edition rolled off the press in August 1865, first published as the South Bourke and Mornington Journal, it is hard to image what Harvey Roulston would make of the Dandenong Journal 150 years after the first copy slid off his printing press in 1865. The full-colour publication, with its digital photographs, modern Futura masthead and Facebook feedback would certainly have been unimaginable to a newspaper man in the 19th century.

By 1865 barely 30 years had passed since the area’s first white settler Joseph Hawdon had arrived in 1834. Industry and enterprise were just taking root and 1865 saw a tannery built on Kidd’s Road and a whip making business open its doors. That year the municipal leaders borrowed £3000 to build a stone bridge across Dandenong Creek.

In 1861 there were 40 houses in the township and the population was 193. The year 1865 was also significant nationally because it was when Melbourne overtook Sydney as the country’s most populous city, brought on by the rush for Victorian gold, and America was embroiled in the civil war. Amid all this, Irish immigrant Harvey Roulston decided to found a new newspaper, which he called The South Bourke and Mornington Journal. Roulston had learned the newspaper game as an apprentice compositor on the Londonderry Sentinel.

After arriving in Melbourne in 1853 he found work at the Melbourne Argus. Twelve years later Roulston was his own boss when in August 1865 the first edition of the Journal rolled off his press in Richmond. The newspaper’s link with the Roulston family would last more than 70 years. By 1875, Roulston was feeling threatened enough by the Sword brothers who had launched a rival newspaper, the Dandenong Advertiser, the year before, that he moved the Journal to a building in Walker Street, Dandenong.

At that time the Journal covered an enormous geographical area presenting readers with news from Hawthorn, Boroondara, Templestowe, Nunawading, Berwick, Brandy Creek, Oakleigh, Moorabbin, Cheltenham and Frankston. Tragically, early copies of the Journal were destroyed by a devastating fire in the paper’s printing works in 1876 and the oldest existing edition is from 10 January 1877.

As was the custom in those days, the front page of that edition was devoted entirely to advertisements for, among other things, Dunbar’s Hotel in Dandenong, the Dandenong branch of the Commercial Bank of Australia and A. Griffith Shoe and General Blacksmith. Inside the newspaper carried advertisements for ‘Clarke’s world famed blood mixture’ which promised to cure a litany of ailments such as ‘ulcerated sores on the neck, blackheads or pimples on the face, scurvy sores and cancerous ulcers’ and Baker’s perplexing sounding ‘Anthelmintic nuts, or children’s worm cakes’.

Harvey Roulston had six children, all of whom were involved with the Journal at various times. In 1892 he transferred ownership to his two spinster daughters, Lilias and Florence, with his youngest child, William Fenton Roulston, as printer and publisher. On 14 February 1896 Harvey Roulston died suddenly at his home in Pultney Street of “exhaustion following upon anasarca”. He was 68.

His obituary in the Journal noted that “His last illness was a somewhat brief one, heart trouble tending to accelerate his end, which was of peaceful character”. “For a period of 30 years the deceased was closely identified with the affairs of this and the surrounding districts, but during the last few years of his life, did not take an active part in business matters.” Harvey Roulston’s remains were interred in Dandenong cemetery.

By 1900 the Journal had moved to “more commodious premises in Scott Street” and by then the Journal was printed on Dawon Wharfedale press. In 1910 the paper had expanded to six pages and proudly called itself the “best and largest penny paper in the district”. The newspaper continued to evolve and between March 1926 and August 1927 changed its masthead and became known as the Dandenong Journal.

When Harvey’s son Bill Roulston died in 1938 the Roulston family’s connection with the paper ended and ownership passed to William Bennett. Today Harvey Roulston’s grave lies neglected and largely forgotten in the Dandenong cemetery. We can be thankful that the newspaper he founded lives on, still as much a voice of the community as it was in 1865.

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