Greater Port Melbourne – 1939 Centenary Celebrations
From October 28 to November 25, 1939 the City of Port Melbourne celebrated the landing of the Wilbraham and Caroline Liardet and their children on The Beach on November 15, 1839.
The Centenary Committee produced a souvenir booklet entitled Greater Port Melbourne and it gives a glimpse into the events and personalities that were part of the celebrations.
The credit for being the instigator of the centenary is given to Joe Nield. Born in Collins St, Melbourne he attended the Model School and then Scotch College. Before becoming a journalist with the South Melbourne Record, Nield had pursued a number of occupations including “a nine years’ career of vagabondage”.
Former MLA for Albert Park, Harold V Drew is listed as the organiser. Drew was heavily involved in the Australian Natives Association (ANA). The local Secretary of the ANA J P Burke filled the role of Secretary for the Centenary Celebrations.
The Mayor, Cr James Peter Crichton, served as President for the centenary events with the Town Clerk, Sydney Sims Anderson acting as the committee Treasurer. The immediate past Mayor, Cr Melville Henry Fennell also served on the executive committee.
As far as the official functions were concerned, there was a function each evening at 7.30pm from 28 October to 25 November and a monster carnival that included “a Merry-go-round, Aeroplane Boats, Side Shows, etc” each Saturday afternoon at 2.30pm.
The official opening took place outside the Town Hall at 2.30pm on Saturday 11 November followed by a reception by the Mayor to “which all present and past ratepayers are invited”. Visitors were asked to sign the “Doomsday Book”. At 3.00pm that afternoon a soap box derby was held at “bridge, over Station Pier”.
Special Civic Services were held at all the churches on Sunday 12 November and on the following Tuesday there were school visits where old pupils were invited to attend and view the special displays “arranged by the scholars”.
11.00am St Joseph’s College
1.45pm Nott Street State School
2.45pm Graham Street State School
On Wednesday 15 November a huge pageant including a re-enactment of the Liardet’s landing was organised by William Howey. As well as Mr & Mrs Liardet (portrayed at three different periods of their lives), the “historic group comprised the Liardet children, sailors and mariners, aborigines, and ladies and gentlemen in period costume”. Harold Drew gave a descriptive boardcast of the pageant.
On Saturday 18 November there was a procession from the corner of Bay & Ingles Streets via Bay Street and Graham Street to the Port Melbourne Cricket Ground where a Monster Sports Carnival was staged between 3.00pm and 7.30pm.
Sunday 19 November saw the Governor attend a Special Civic Service at Holy Trinity. AT 3.00pm that afternoon there was a regatta conducted by the Port Melbourne Yacht Club.
Former residents were especially invited to attend a Grand Plain and Fancy Dress Ball at 8.30pm on Monday 20 November.
All proceeds from the various functions were donated to local charities and patriotic funds. In the midst of the celebrations, Port Melbourne was preparing for another global conflict.
Greater Port Melbourne: Official Souvenir of the 1939 Port Melbourne Centenary Celebrations Committee
1939 ‘LIARDET’S LANDING ON BEACH RE-ENACTED’, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 18 November, p. 3. , viewed 24 Aug 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164489073