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A Railway Station at Bondi

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Steam Train with carriages on the Frankston line, c1910.

A deputation of residents and councillors from the Borough of Carrum met with the Railway Commissioners in October 1922 with the object of pressing their claim for the creation of a station between Chelsea and Carrum and the provision of booking facilities on ‘down’ side stations.

The deputation was introduced by Frank Groves, the local Member of Parliament, who suggested that a station would bring more permanent residents to the area which would in turn would increase in railway revenue. Currently, it was argued by a member of the delegation, residents of the area had a long walk to either the Chelsea or Carrum stations. Mr Clapp, speaking for the commissioners, said they were aware of the developments in the Borough but there were hundreds of requests demanding a huge capital expenditure which could not be met. They would just have to wait their turn but they would eventually get their station in a reasonable amount of time. [1]

Almost twelve months later when the council again raised the question of a station between Chelsea and Carrum the Commissioners responded that the annual revenue obtained from the proposed station would not cover the cost of the construction. Therefore they suggested if the council arranged for the residents who would benefit from the new facility were to contribute to the expected cost of £4500 they would be willing to give the matter further consideration. Cr Beardsworth expressed surprise at the Commissioners’ “stand and deliver attitude” given the fact that each new station on the Frankston line was shown to be a paying proposition. The district was not getting a fair deal from the Commissioners, in his view. [2] The council’s response was to seek another deputation.

In December 1923, the Railway Commissioners set out the conditions under which they would build a station at Bondi Road. Firstly the residents had to pay £1000 towards meeting the cost of £4500 to establish the station. However, it was to be understood that the station would only provide the bare necessities. Elaborate facilities were not under consideration. Secondly, the Commissioners had no money at present to commence construction but would include the costs in the Loan Bill for 1924/25 if money could not be found elsewhere before that date. The £1000 was to be paid prior to that date. Thirdly, if the financial context changed due to financial stringency, industrial disturbances or any other unforeseen circumstances the Commissioners were under no obligation to proceed even if the residents had paid the £1000. [3]

Three months later a deputation from the Carrum Council waited upon Commissioner Shannon in an effort to speed up decision-making on building a station at Bondi Road. W Oliver, the secretary of “The Bondi Railway Station League,” also attended. The deputation suggested the residents were prepared to contribute £250 but were unable provide the £1000 the Commissioners first demanded. The mayor, Cr Richardson, attempted to argue the case but the Commissioner interrupted and said “You can speak if you like but I know what you are all going to say.” He continued to interject and comment during the course of the presentation. After some consultation between the deputation members it was resolved to increase the offer of residents’ contribution to £500. The Commissioner thought this was a better sum but “£750 would be nearer the mark.” [4]

A public meeting was called by the Bondi Railway Station League Committee in August 1924 where it was explained that the Commissioners would not provide a station until the payment of £500 was received. While some individuals present indicated their opposition to such a payment in theory, in practice they realised they would have to pay because others were doing so. It was resolved to set a voluntary rate on all properties in the area bounded by the Carrum Creek and both sides of Broadway, and between the secondary drain and the foreshore. The committee also promised to look into the question of a name for the station.

Later there was some confusion as to how much individual land owners would have to pay. W Oliver made it clear that there would only be one payment; 17/6 for every £100 worth of land they owned based on the Borough’s valuations. He also informed members of the League that £306/0/5d was in hand and £50 had been promised. As an inducement to the tardy payers to get their money in quickly he invited members to visit the secretary’s office and see “if your neighbour has paid”. [5]

By April 1925 the £500 was available and plans were made to hand across the money to the Railway Commissioners. Cr Boyd in presenting the cheque to Commissioner Shannon pointed out that it had not been easy to raise the £500, and in fact some of those who would benefit from the station had not paid. Shannon, although refusing to set a definite date when the station construction would commence, did indicate that he thought it would be within six weeks to two months. [6]

At a meeting of the Railway League in September 1925 it was revealed that the name Bondi for the new station had been rejected by the Post Master General as it would cause difficulty as far as mail delivery was concerned. Heathdale was suggested as an alternative, as this embodied the name of a gentleman who had worked very hard for the movement. [7] The Borough Gazette invited its readers to use coupons printed in their paper to provide possible names for the new station and to place the completed coupons in boxes placed at Bowen’s Provision Store and Dent’s grocery establishment. [8]

In December 1925 the president of the Railway League, at the request of twenty members, convened a meeting to discuss the name of the new station. Mr Heath formally objected to the meeting as the name Bonheath had been selected by the deputy Postmaster General and “unanimously endorsed by a conference of accredited representatives.” Mr Oliver also objected to the meeting as he believed the meeting should have been restricted to those subscribers to the railway fund. The chairman overruled the objections and the meeting proceeded to an unruly conclusion. The name Bonbeach was put forward and received fifty supporting votes with thirty ‘nos’. The name Bonheath was called and “pandemonium reigned supreme.” The newspaper report said “uncomplimentary epithets were thrown about like bouquets.” The chairman, failing to restore order, mounted a table and declared the meeting closed. One creative but impractical solution suggested during the course of the meeting was that the name of the station should rotate so every person could have his name used at some time. [9]

Early in the New Year a meeting was called of all the contributors to the new station. Once the meeting commenced nominations of possible names were accepted. Bonbeach, Baybeach, and Bayside were proposed and it was agreed they should be forwarded to the council to select one and inform the Deputy Post Master General. [10] This meeting was followed up with a deputation to a special Council meeting. There the situation was reviewed by Mr Meier of the League. He explained when the name Bondi was rejected six names were submitted. To the astonishment of the League members Bonheath was accepted. This name received the majority support at a subsequent public meeting. At the next meeting three names were selected, (Bonbeach, Baybeach, Beachside) and together with Bonhealth were put in a plebiscite to contributors .One hundred and eighty five voting papers were distributed and one hundred and twenty one were returned. Nine were informal. The first preference of people was weighted heavily in favour of Bonbeach with eighty-seven votes. Bonheath came second with thirteen votes. The mayor, Cr Rigby, said he didn’t care what they called the station; “they could call it Squabbles,” if they liked because they had done nothing but squabble ever since the notion of a station between Chelsea and Carrum was canvassed. [11] The council subsequently gave its support to the name Bonbeach and directed the Town Clerk to inform the Deputy Postmaster General and the Railway Department. .

Finally the day arrived. The new station “Bonbeach” was opened to passenger traffic on Monday February 15, 1925 with the station being supervised by the Station Master at Carrum. Each day passengers were collected from and delivered to Bonbeach. The running time between the new station and Carrum and Chelsea was set at two minutes in each direction. [12] While there was no official opening ceremony of any kind there was a steady stream of people taking the opportunity to catch a train from Bonbeach. About £12 was taken in fares on that first day. But there was a quite murmur amongst the travellers at the “exorbitant fares”, an issue to be addressed in the future.

Author

Graham J Whitehead

Footnotes

  1. Borough of Carrum News, October 20, 1922.
  2. Moorabbin News, September 15, 1923.
  3. Carrum Borough Gazette, December 14, 1923.
  4. Carrum Borough Gazette, April 4, 1924.
  5. Carrum Borough Gazette, August 1, 1924.
  6. Moorabbin News, April 18, 1925.
  7. Carrum Borough Gazette, September 12, 1925.
  8. Carrum Borough Gazette, October 17, 1925.
  9. Carrum Borough Gazette, December 19, 1925.
  10. Carrum Borough Gazette, January 16, 1926.
  11. Carrum Borough Gazette, January 23, 1926.
  12. Carrum Borough Gazette, February 13, 1926.

Article Cat. Did You Know?
Article Ref. 405

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