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Heatherton Hall

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Cricketers’ Ball at Heatherton Hall 1936. Courtesy Damian Smith, Kingston Collection.

The site of the new Heatherton Recreation Reserve had been identified, purchase arranged and the word was that a possible hall had been found. O R Snowball, the local Member of Parliament, reported that the Education Department had agreed to provide new buildings for the Heatherton State School to cater for the expanding population. [1] As a consequence there were two buildings on the school site which would be surplus to school needs. One building was the original structure built to house the school known as the Kingston Common School. This school was established in 1868 due to the efforts of Thomas Attenborough and other local residents. [2] The school commenced with Rebecca Waugh as the teacher and an enrolment of twenty five children in a timber building, with an iron roof and lined walls and ceilings.

The Education Department asked for advice from the Public Works Department on the value of the two buildings and what should be done with them. The old building, with the iron roof was in the poorer condition of the two structures, and was valued at £15. The second newer building was valued at £22. While the recommendation was that the newer building be moved to another school, the original school building was to be sold and removed. It was this building that the Trustees of the Reserve purchased and had installed on the land in Ross Street where it was used for ten years for public meetings and entertainments. [3]

In December 1923 the trustees of the Reserve decided that a new hall was required to cater to the growing needs of the community. Their plan was to erect a 50 x 28 ft wooden hall using funds raised at carnivals together with a bank overdraft. [4] Eventually, money enough to construct the new hall was raised and the project completed with the original hall becoming the supper room. A busy day on 31 October 1924 was spent by a working bee using twenty drays and horses in levelling and filling the surround and approach to the new hall. An invitation was then extended to Moorabbin councillors to attend the official opening on 13 November 1924 at 8 p.m. O R Snowball, and F H Francis, the local members of parliament, completed the formalities and a concert and dance followed. Admission to these entertainments was free. [5]

At the time of the official opening over £900 had been expended on the hall and recreation ground leaving a debt of £510. It was hoped that with the profit from the carnival to be held on 22 November the debt would be considerably reduced. When this debt was announced many people contributed a total of £31 towards its reduction after an anonymous donor promised to contribute £5 if nineteen others would do the same – or 5 per cent of any amount collected. [6] [7]

The hall then became a permanent fixture of public life in the district with all manner of social events taking place there. In 1935 a ‘Queen Carnival and Coronation Ceremony’ was held in the hall with the winners being Dorothy Le Bon, Daphne Hough and Winifred Hawkes. A repeat of this event was held in 1949. On this occasion the aim was to raise money for Christ Church, Dingley. The Master of Ceremonies, C P Gartside, announced the winners were Jean Browne, Queen of Faith, Kathleen Gartside, Queen of Charity, and Ira Stooke as Queen of Hope. [8]

A popular venue for dances, the ‘Rec’ as it was often called, played host to the Heatherton Cricketers’ Ball in April 1936. Mary Chapman, who lived next door, said that ‘dances were held there and card players played in the supper room at the back’. [9] Catherine McCormick (Kelly) remembered it had ‘a lovely floor’ and being a ‘good place to meet people and learn to dance. Admission was one shilling and one penny, the penny being for tax.’ Frank Baguley recalled going there to dance when he was about fifteen. ‘There was nothing else in the area to do and we got quite keen on dancing.’ [10] Joe Souter also commented on the quality of the floor. ‘It was the best dance floor this side of Melbourne. It was a sort of silky oak. They held a lot of big balls there. [11]

It was at the Heatherton Hall where many people met their future spouses. Ted Smith, a Yorkshireman, who arrived in Melbourne in 1920 aged about 17, began working in the area and was soon taken by some of his workmates to a dance where he met his future bride Rosie Hallinan and her many relations among the local population; the Mackies, Kellys, Fitzgeralds and Desmonds.

Over many years the hall played an important role in the life of the community contributing to entertainments and providing a venue for meetings. Today the hall continues to serve the community.

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Heatherton Hall 2012. To the right what was the original school building now reclad and modified. Courtesy Kingston Collection.

Author

Damian Smith

Footnotes

  1. Moorabbin News, 24 October1914.
  2. See, Bennett, A., & Whitehead, G., Kingston Common School: Heatherton School No. 938, Kingston Historical Website.
  3. Standard News Supplement, 23 May 1963.
  4. Moorabbin News, 8 December 1923.
  5. Carrum Borough Gazette, 10 October 1924.
  6. Moorabbin News 15 November 1924.
  7. Contributors were Cr M Clements; Messrs Francis, Snowball, Souter, H Cullen, J Marriott, A Bunny, Kelly, A Hill, McKittrick, A Brown, C Horne, C Connelly, E Douigham, W Besant, H Armstrong, W Follett, R Kelly, ‘a Resident’, A S Castle, and Cr Audsley, Mrs Hambling, Mr and Mrs Le Bon, Messrs J Gartside, C Swallow, A Drysdale, H Elder, G Rae, and ‘Jam’.
  8. Bennett A Settlers to Sand Pits: Turnips to Tips p88.
  9. Turley, F. Talking with Frank 2001, p12.
  10. White, P. Frank Baguley, Talking with Piri 2001 p39.
  11. White, P. Talking with Piri, 2001 p143.

Category: Historical Features
Reference Number: 568
Date Created: 17/02/2013
Date Revised:

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