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Electric Sparks

Electric Sparks banner from Port Melbourne Standard newspaper

I’ve been reading a lot of newspapers recently but not the Leader or the Weekly Review that appear in our mailboxes each week these days, I’ve been reading the Port Melbourne Standard from the time of the First World War.  The National Library of Australia have digitised all the weekly editions of the Standard from those war years and added them to their wonderful Trove website.

My favourite section of the paper is a column on page 3 of the 4-page Standard called Electric Sparks.  It provides a snapshot of the week’s news giving a tantalising glimpse into Borough life at the time.

Here’s a small taste from this month 99 years ago.

Saturday, 5 August 1916

Thursday is municipal nomination day.

Port Council again opposes conscription.

“Her Great Price” at the Port Theatre tonight.

Will retiring Councillors, Cr Gill, Morris and Page be opposed?

Mr T Smith invites gentlemen to see him about hats, ties, and mercery.

Wyatt’s prices for framing soldiers’ certificates are 7/6 in oak with oak mount, and 6/9 in oak, without oak mount.

The Xmas scheme for gifts for the soldiers and sailors this year is to be “billies” supplied by the Lady Mayoress’ Patriotic League.

The Rev G M Thomas, on furlough from the China Mission, will conduct the service at the Graham Street Methodist Church tomorrow evening.

For failing to have their name put on the Federal roll, eight defendants were fined sums varying from 1/- to 5/- at the Port Melbourne Court on Monday morning.

The anniversary of the war will be marked by special intercession and thanksgiving at the Baptist Church, Ross Street on Sunday next. Preacher, Rev P J Masters.

An error in the transcription of an advertisement last week made advertiser, residing at 128 Clark Street, appear as wanting employment.  The advertiser wants it known that she requires a girl for light house work.

As well as seeking re-election to the Port Council, Cr Page aspires to a seat in the South Melbourne City Council.  He is opposing the return of Cr Baragwanath as representative of Beaconsfield Ward.

A report was read at the meeting of Port Council on Tuesday night by Constable L C Quail, reporting that on July 21, at 11.40 am, in Evans Street, he saw one man driving two horses and drays.  The Council ordered the prosecution of the offender.

Saturday, 12 August 1916

Loyal White Rose Lodge has subscribed £80 to the war loan.

By driving off one of the piers last Sunday morning, a girl won a bet of £1.

Mr F Winwood installed a set of footlights on Tuesday in the New Town Hall.

Benefit picture night for the widow and children of the late Edward Chapple will be held in the Town Hall Monday evening.

Port AWA girls are asked to bring their sweethearts to the next meeting of the branch, where a social evening will be held.

Mr Kellett (the well-known newsagent) and Mrs Kellett were blessed with twins this week. The mother and little ones are doing well.

Sgt-Major G W F Downer of Port has received the military medal for gallant conduct.  He is the son of Mrs W Downer, of 283 Ross Street.

Cr Morris informed the council on Tuesday night week that the department has plans prepared for a subway for pedestrians at Graham Street crossing.

Mr E May, ex-president of the dispensary, before he left for the front, thanked Mr Sanderson and other members of the dispensary for their presentation and good wishes. On the committee Mr May represented the PAFS.

Mr Winwood, municipal electrician, has installed thirteen 600 cp lamps in front of the council’s thirteen shops, and at night the row of shops are very brightly illuminated by these powerful lights. Each of these lamps costs only 1½d per hour and the council instals and maintains them for 2/6 per month.

The secretary (Miss Ward) of Port Melbourne Red Cross reports the despatching to Federal Government House this week of a large parcel of goods, including 38 pairs of knitted socks, 22 tussore silk shirts, grey flannel shirts, pillow slips, pyjamas, scarves, old linen and seven dozen hospital towels (medium and large size).

Saturday 19 August 1916

A King Competition is to be held in the Port.

Mrs Tom Smith jun, gave birth to a daughter this week.

Mr Claude Sinclair, son of Mr O Sinclair MLA, has enlisted.

Captain Harper praises Port police’s control of crowds at piers.

At Holy Trinity Church, tomorrow, the vicar will be preacher both morning and evening.

Cr Page, in effect, characterises as calumniators persons who – he says – have decried him as an atheist.

Scoring 67 off the rifle, R Sutcliffe topped the list in last Saturday’s shoot, 14 at 400, by the Port riflemen.

At their last meeting Port Good Templars deprecated what they termed “Killjoys” and “Drink Wowsers”.

A King Competition will be held in Port in connection with the forthcoming carnival which the Welcoming Committee is organising.

Mr Edmund Freame, of Rouse Street, has received a cable from London to tell him his son, Edmund, has been wounded again in France.

Cr Page offers a reward of £50 for the conviction of malefactors of persons, who – so he alleges – have been calumniating him during his campaign in the Beaconsfield Ward in South Melbourne.

Another contingent of wounded and invalid soldiers arrived on Monday.  The party consisted of 174 Victorians, 64 South Australians and 15 Tasmanians. Disembarkation took place at the old Town Pier, Port Melbourne.  The men were greeted by the Welcoming Committee with gifts of fruit, flowers and cigarettes.

Sunday 26 August 1916

Who will be King?

Cr Tucker hopes to be Mayor next year.

Cr Howe will probably be the next Mayor.

Turkish war curios are on view in Mr W N Power’s window.

Cr Bardgwanath defeats Cr Page in the Beaconsfield Ward election.

Port swimmers heartily welcome back three members returned from the front.

Port King Contest is going to be a keen competition. Interest in it is very wide.

Mr & Mrs Joyner of 221 Normanby Road, celebrated last Saturday the diamond anniversary of their wedding.

Rev J S Buntine, formerly of Port Melbourne, has been inducted to the charge of the Presbyterian Church, Collingwood.

Two youths appeared before the Port court last Monday, on a charge that that they did not move on when asked to by the police.

Cr Page is charged by the police with leaving his horse and buggy unattended in the street, and not one of the wheels chained or strapped.

Cr Tom Smith, his many friends will be pleased to know, is rapidly regaining his customary good health. His trouble was an affection of the heart, brought on by overwork.  He hopes to resume some of his public duties next week.

To an audience of one – a representative of The Standard – at noon on Thursday, in front of the Town Hall, the Mayor’s deputy Mr A V Heath (Town Clerk), declared re-elected without opposition to the Port Melbourne Council, Crs R H Gill, J H Morris and A L Page.  The declaration was purely a formal one.  Probably after the election of Mayor next Monday morning, in the council chamber, the councillors returned unopposed will deliver addresses in which they will return thanks to the ratepayers for the compliment of an unopposed return.


The case against Cr Page for leaving his horse and buggy unattended, after being adjourned so that witnesses necessary to Cr Page’s defence could be called, was upheld and a fine of 5/- imposed.

Cr Howe was indeed chosen as Mayor for 1916/17.

The King Competition held in conjunction with the Port Carnival on 30 September 1916 at Port Melbourne Cricket Ground organised by the Womens Welcoming Committee (WWC) drew the following nominations –

Major Campbell, King of the Automobile Club; Messrs Griffiths, Music; J Lahey, Irish National Foresters; A Downer, Ancient Order of Foresters; H Sanderson, Australian Natives’ Association; Captain Le Grew, Imperial Boy Scouts; Mr McDougall, Angling; Driver E Turnbull, Returned Soldiers; Messrs J F King, Patriots’ League; and W N Power, Sport.

The competition continued right through October and November with various functions and novelty nights held to raise money on behalf of the various Kings until Pte E Turnbull, King of Returned Soldiers was crowned at a coronation social held by the WWC on 30 November 1916.  The proceeds from the King Competition was £330.


1916 ‘ELECTRIC SPARKS.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 5 August, p. 3, viewed 27 August, 2015,
1916 ‘ELECTRIC SPARKS.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 12 August, p. 3, viewed 27 August, 2015,
1916 ‘ELECTRIC SPARKS.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 19 August, p. 3, viewed 27 August, 2015,
1916 ‘ELECTRIC SPARKS.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 26 August, p. 3, viewed 27 August, 2015,
1916 ‘Police v. Cr. Page.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 2 September, p. 2, viewed 27 August, 2015,
1916 ‘MAYOR OF PORT MELBOURNE.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 2 September, p. 3, viewed 27 August, 2015,
1916 ‘CR. PAGE’S UNATTENDED HORSE.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 9 September, p. 2, viewed 27 August, 2015,
1916 ‘KING COMPETITION.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 2 December, p. 2, viewed 27 August, 2015,
1916 ‘”CORONATION” SOCIAL.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 9 December, p. 2, viewed 27 August, 2015,

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We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet and work, the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation and pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.