Saturday, August 10, 2019

Yarra River flood of July 1891

The Yarra River flood of July 12, 1891, left 1,000 people homeless. The Age of July 13, 1891 had a full report of the damage the flood caused (read it here) but here a few stories- a house in Cremorne Street, Richmond had water to within a few feet of the roof, in Dover street, the water was  within a foot of the top of the some of the street lamps..... The Johnston Street bridge.... as a rule is considerably over 50 feet clear of the flood level, but last night the water was within 14 feet of the decking.  The flood also submerged 207 houses in South Yarra - the worst streets being  Clara, River, Tivoli and Karlsberg (The Australasian July 18, 1891, read full report here)

Great flood of July 1891 -  Looking east from Princes Bridge
State Library of Victoria Image H12675

A Board of Inquiry into the Yarra River flood of  July 1891 was established.  The Inquiry was investigating  (1) the causes and extent of river floods in and about Melbourne, and the extent to which they are contributed to, or intensified by, artificial or preventable causes , and (2) the measures that might be adopted for controlling or mitigating the effects of such floods, and for preventing, future damage therefrom.

The Board members were Mr Clement Hodgkinson, chariman; Mr. W. Davidson, Inspector general of public works; Mr Stuart Murray, chief engineer Victorian Water Supply department; Mr A. C. Mountain, city surveyor of Melbourne; Mr William Thwaites, engineer in chief to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works; Mr P. J. Nolan, city surveyor of South Melbourne; Mr H. Tolhurst, city surveyor of Collingwood; Mr A Clayton, C. E., city surveyor of Richmond; Mr H.T. Haynes, city engineer of Hawthorn; Mr William Calder, city surveyor of Footscray; Mr A. V. Heath, borough surveyor of Port Melbourne and Mr. T. B Muntz, C. E., engineer of the shire of Malvern. (The Argus, October 14, 1891)

The Great Flood of 1891 - Punt Road Richmond.
State Library of Victoria Image H12674

The Inquiry heard from a number of expert witnesses - Carlo Catani, being one and his friend, Ettore Checchi being another. Ettore, Carlo and their friend Pietro Baracchi,  had journey from Italy to New Zealand then onto their new life in Victoria in 1876. The other evidence that was given by the expert witnesses can be read in The Argus of October, 14 1891, here.

Carlo and Ettore's evidence was reported in The Argus of October 21 (see here) Ettore's evidence is interesting as it shows the huge volume of water that swept down the Yarra during this flood.

Mr Ettore Checchi of the Victorian Water Supply department, the first witness examined submitted a number of plans showing the levels of the floods at different points of the river. At Warrandyte the volume of flood water was 1,650, 000 cubic feet per minute ; and at Dights Falls he estimated the volume to be 2,290,300 cubic feet per minute. Other authorities had formed different estimates as to the volume at the last-named and a mean average of 2,167,600 cubic feet per minute was given. At Gardiners Creek the mean average as to the volume of the flood water was 2,206,200. At Prince's-bridge the discharge would be practically the same at at Gardiner's Creek. The discharge of water at the St Kilda road was 495,800 cubic feet per minute, with a volume of 147ft per minute. The mean volume of water at the Saltwater River was 1,188,600 cubic feet per minute. The total discharge of water at the junction of the Saltwater River was 2,899,000 cubic feet per minute, with allowance for diversion at Prince's-bridge only. The total discharge of water into the bay was 3,395,000 cubic feet per minute. (The Argus of October 21, see here)

Mr. Catani of the Public Works department,  said there was a discrepancy between the levels supplied by him and those furnished by the officers of the Harbour Trust as to the flood waters at the Queen's-bridge. Above and below the bridge the same level of water he found obtained, the abutments of the bridge offering no obstruction to the continuous flow of the water. The levels he had marked on his plans were in agreement with those obtained by the Railway department. From his own observation he had fixed the levels of the flood of 1891. (The Argus of October 21, see here)

One of the solutions to stop the Yarra River flooding was to widen the river and straighten it's course and this work, between the Princes Bridge and the Cremorne Railway Bridge, was undertaken by Carlo Catani and the Public Works Department in 1896 and 1897, you can read more about it here. This work also led to the creation of Alexandra Avenue and the Alexandra Gardens, two other projects of Carlo's.

Kelso Street, Richmond, July 1891 flood. Photographer: Paul and Gerald Turner.
State Library of Victoria Image H96.160/1996

Twenty nine houses were 'rendered uninhabitable' by the flood, and you can see why by this photo.
Clara Street, Hawksburn, 1891 flood. Photographer: Cyril Robert Stainer.
State Library of Victoria Image  H2002.130/6

There are many photos of the 1891 flood on the State Library of Victoria website,

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Where did Elvira, Eugenia and Enid attend school?

We know that Carlo's sons attended Melbourne Grammar, but I wondered where his daughters went? Carlo and Catherine had three daughters - Elvira May, known as Vera, (born May 31, 1888), Eugenia Anastasia (born August 13, 1895) and Enid Marguerite (born November 3,  1899). I did some research on Trove and fortunately schools in the past often published reports of examinations and speech days, so I have found a few references.

Elvira attended the Strathclyde Ladies College. In December 1900, there was a report of  a Speech Day at the Strathclyde Ladies College and Elvira received a B for Conversational French. In October 1901, Elvira passed a French examination at the  Alliance Francaise of Victoria. The only other report I could find of Elvira's school days was in January 1902 when the examination results for the Strathclyde school were listed in The Australasian, and Elvira obtained  a D for French. In the 'Extra subjects' Elvira received a prize  for Drawing, a  prize for Conversational French and an Alliance Francaise Certificate. (The Australasian January 18, 1902)

The City of Stonnington has a history of  education in their area and it has this very short history of the Strathclyde Ladies College. In the 1880s, Daniel and Martha Connelly opened Cornelia College for Ladies in Horsburgh Grove, Armadale, which later moved to Albany Road.  The School was taken over by the Misses Rudd in the 1890s and renamed Strathclyde. You can read it, here.

Eugenie attended the Harborough Girls' School, which was a 61 Rose Street in Armadale. The fourth annual prize distribution of the Harborough Girls' School and Kindergarten took place on December 17 1903 and Eugenie, who was in Kindergarten,  received a First Class prize for writing. If this was the 'fourth annual' prize night, I presume the school only started in 1900. This is supported by a report of a function held at the school on December 10, 1914 to farewell the Misses Knights, who, are a period of fifteen years are retiring from the school. (The Argus, December 21, 1914) It was co-ed school and possibly just a primary school.

In 1910,  both Eugenie and Enid were at Lauriston Girls School - Enid was listed as receiving an Honour Certificate and Eugenie received an Honour certificate and the Scripture prize. (The Argus, December 19, 1910)  According to their website, Lauriston Girls' School was established in 1901 by Margaret and Lilian Irving, daughters of the eminent Victorian educator Professor Martin Howy Irving. 

In 1913, we find a report that both Eugenie and Enid were at the Melbourne Church of England Girls' Grammar School.  Enid was in Form IV and was awarded the '2nd standard prize' and also received a prize in the Intermediate Division of the Diocescan Divinity Examination. Eugenie received a hockey stick as a Games Trophy. (The Argus, December 20, 1913)  In their Speech Day report held December 15, 1915, they had the following, lovely tribute to Eugenie, who had been school captain,  after her tragic early death at the age of 19, on August 1,  1915. How brilliant she must have been  and how tragic it is that she died so young.

Melbourne Church of England Girls' Grammar School Speech Day report, December 1915
The Age, December 18 1915

I have created a short list of articles that refer to the school days of  Elvira, Eugenia and Enid Catani, you can see it here, on Trove.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Paolo Dattari - Architect, Silversmith, Entomologist, Cartographer and Inventor

Carlo Catani  came to Australia from Italy via New Zealand, with Pietro Baracchi and Ettore Checchi. They were joined in Melbourne by other Italians including Paolo Dattari. A.S. Kenyon, Engineer with the Department of Agriculture, a member of the Royal Society of Victoria and the Historical Society of Victoria, called the men, the Florentine Quartet (The Argus, April 15, 1939) I thought we would find out more about Paolo - who was an Architect, a silversmith, an entomologist, a cartographer and an inventor - he was extraordinarily talented and clever.

Paolo arrived in Melbourne in 1877, married Margaret Yeomans in 1881, they had three children and then in February 1894, the family leave Melbourne for Italy. That is the last trace of Paolo I can find, but I have discovered more about Margaret. This is a chronology of the Dattari family - there are a few gaps, I still don't know when Paola died, I wish I did.  I wish I knew more about what his life was like when he returned to Italy - did he indulge his passion for silversmithing or his passion for beetles? I just hope he was happy.  I do not know when Margaret died either, but I do know she went went to the United States, and she was still alive in 1935 when her son Luigi/Louis died. Anyway, here's what I know.

c. 1850 Paolo Dattari born in Leghorn (also known as Livorno) in Tuscany, Italy. His 1881 marriage certificate list his parents as Luigi Dattari, Gentleman, and Eurichetta Mareschia. 

1859  Margaret Elizabeth Victoria Yeomans is born, in Hagerstone, London. Her 1881 marriage certificate lists her parents as Charles Yeomans, hat maker and Charlotte Anne Prime. Charlotte died in 1869 at the age of 45.

1870  10 year old Margaret Yeomans and her father Charles, aged 45,  arrive in Melbourne on the Ninevah.

1877   Paolo arrives in Melbourne on the Somersetshire (1) and soon after starts work in the Department of Crown Lands and Survey.

1880 - Whilst at the Lands Department, one of Paolo's duties in his role as a draughtsman was the creation of Parish Plans -  I have found some on the State Library of Victoria website -  in January  1880, he compiled the Parish of Kapong plan - Port Fairy region (view this plan, here); in March 1880 the Parish of Glenelg Plan, counties of Follett and Normanby - near the Victorian/ South Australian border (view this plan, here)  and in 1882 the Parish of Tharanbegga Plan - near Tungamah (view this plan here

Paolo's attribution from the Kapong Parish Plan. 
State Library of Victoria

1880 June  Elected to the Field Naturalist Club of Victoria (2).  Club members were interested in and presented papers on all things connected to plants, birds, animals and insects. Paolo had an entomological interest. If you search Trove there are many mentions of his activities within the Club, for instance Mr. Dattari exhibited dynastes Hercules and two large buprestis (Australian Sketcher, September 4, 1880);  peculiar form of fungoid growth on the larva of the hepialus or large brown swift moth, by P. Dattari (The Argus, February 21, 1881);  A paper was contributed by Mr Dattari being, the first part of a series of papers "On the Locomotion of Coleopterous Insects." This described the anatomy and structure of the antennae of the different families of beetles. (The Argus, August 12, 1884) Paolo also had an interest in ferns, this is one example of a fern that he exhibited at a Club meeting by Mr. P. Dattari, a frond of Pteris tremula from near Drouin, 5ft. 9in. long (The Argus November 15, 1886)

1880 November  Poalo Dattari, along with Carlo Catani, Ettore Checchi and Pietro Baracchi were appointed Italian Jurors at the Melbourne International Exhibition. At the time they were all working for the Department of Crown Lands. Dattari was also appointed an International Juror in the Goldsmiths' and Silversmith's Work as well as the Jewellery and Precious Stones class.  You can read about this in Ruth Dwyer's article Paolo Dattari, Jeweller and the Italian Court at the Melbourne International Exhibition, 1880-81 (details in Sources)   The Melbourne International Exhibition opened on October 1, 1880 and closed April 30, 1881. The Exhibition attracted 1.3 million people. Read more on the Exhibition, here.

1881 April 7   Paolo marries Margaret Elizabeth Victoria Yeomans. The marriage certificate lists her age as 22, and his age as 31. His occupation is listed  as Architect, Margaret is listed as a 'Lady' The Marriage notice (below) describes her as the youngest daughter of C. Yeomans, Northamptonshire, late of London.  

Paolo and Margaret's marriage notice from The Age of April 23, 1881.
1881 May  Paolo creates one of the handsomest pieces of silversmith's work that has been turned out of a Melbourne workshop. It was a presentation casket, made for Captain Frederick Standish for his retirement from the Victorian Police Force. The casket is 16in. long by 8in. broad, and 9in. deep. It contains 165oz. of Victorian sterling silver and 18-carat gold. The design is handsome and very appropriate, and is the work of Mr. Dattari. You can read more about Paolo's fine work in The Australasian Sketcher of  May 28, 1881, here

Paolo's handsome silver casket, made for Captain Frederick Standish.
Australasian Sketcher, May 28 1881.

1881 November  City of Fitzroy Rate Books list the Dattari family living at living in 'North Brunswick' Street, in a 6-roomed house owned by William Thomas Hoskings. Paolo occupation is Architect. 

1881 December 4  Charles Yeomans dies, aged 58, in Melbourne. 

1882 January 1  birth of son Luigi Charles Richmond Dattari. The birth notice said they were living at Florence Cottage, Waltham Street, Richmond. 

1882 July 27   Paolo is granted a patent for  the Dattari's Parallel Goniometer

Victorian Government Gazette August 4, 1882

1882 October 2   Commences work at the Victorian Railways Department as a Draftsman (3)  

1882   City of Prahran Rate Books list the family living in Barry Street, South Yarra, in a six-roomed house,  owned by Arthur Hobday. 

1883 March 25   Birth of  daughter Eurichetta Charlotte Florence. The birth notice lists their address as Florence Cottage, Barry Street, South Yarra.

1883 September 5   Paolo is granted a patent for the 'Dattari and Edwards Electro-control'

Victorian Government Gazette  October 12, 1883

1883 December Paolo Dattari had five cases against him in the Petty Sessions Prahran Court from December 1883 to August 1885 and one case at the Carlton Court in December 1886.  In each case he owned money - once to Evans Bros, W.J. Hunt & Co., Mills & McInnes and one name I can't read and twice to R. G. Pollard - he owed them just over 13 pounds in July 1885 and just over 9 pounds in August 1885 - both of these cases were settled out of court. Was he having liquidity problems or was he just a bit lackadaisical about paying bills?

Victorian Petty Sessions Registers Carlton Court December 15, 1886
From Find My Past 

1884  Designed a two-storey extension to 33 Grey Street, East Melbourne. Read about this in Ruth Dwyer's article Paolo Dattari, Architect - a building (details in sources)

1885  City of Prahran Rate Books list the family still living at 12 Barry Street, South Yarra, in the house owned by Arthur Hobday.

1886 June   Paolo presents a paper to the Victorian Field Naturalist's Club of Victoria. The Argus of June 15, 1886 reported that A paper was read by Mr P. Dattari "Notes on the new Australian beetle, Phalacrognathus Muelleri." The author briefly reviewed the history of this splendid insect, and stated that in his opinion the specimens exhibited would probably be found to represent more than one species.  The paper was illustrated with enlarged coloured drawings of the mandibles, &c (Read article here)  The State Library of Victoria has a digitised copy of Paolo's paper - read it here.This was a significant paper, the Weekly Times of June 11, 1938 referred to it - More, than half a century ago - 1886 to be precise - members of the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria were presented, by P. Dattari, with a pamphlet on the "New Australian Beetle, Phalacrognathus Muelleri." (read the rest of the article, here)

One of the illustrations in Paolo's paper - Notes on the new Australian beetle, Phalacrognathus Muelleri. The paper does not list the illustrator.

State Library of Victoria

1886 December 1  Paolo served with a Supreme Court writ by William Thomas Clapham, Paolo had signed  a promissary note on August 4, 1886 promising to pay Clapham six pounds, fourteen shillings and ten pence by November 7 and had failed to do so. I don't know the outcome of this case. His address  was Station Street, North Carlton and his occupation was listed as draughtsman. (4)

1887  Birth of son Paolo Giovanni Carlton. I can't find a birth notice in the newspaper, so I don't know the exact date.

1887 October 11   Victorian Railway Department 'dispense with his services' (3)

1887 December   Family sails for London via Suez and Naples on the Ormuz

1891 March   family arrives back in Melbourne on the Oceana

1891 November   City of Prahran Rate Books - the family are back in Barry Street, South Yarra, this time at No. 47, in a five-roomed house owned by Elizabeth Suckling.

1892 December  City of Prahran Rate Books - they are living at 50 Barry Street, South Yarra,  a four-roomed house owned by Jane Wilson,

1894 February   Family leaves for London via Ports on the Austral. This is the last trace of Paolo Dattari that I can find, I presume he died in Italy sometime between 1894, when he left Australia and 1902 when Margaret leaves Italy for the United States.

1900 June 5   Luigi Dattari arrives in New York on the Hesperia, which sailed from Naples on May 17. He is listed as 18 years old, his occupation appears to be Chemist, but it is hard to decipher. His Nationality has been indexed as Austrian, but I believe that it is Australian. His American contact is a 'relative' is  Frank Healey of 88 Gold Street, New York. 

1900 August 15  Ernesto Sacchi, 29  years old, arrives in New York also on the Herperia on August 15, 1900, which sailed from Naples on July 28 June 1900. Ernesto is the future husband of Margaret Yeomans Dattari. Ernesto was Naturalised in 1906, his occupation then was listed as upholsterer. 

1902 July 17   Margaret (listed as Margherita) aged 43 and Eurichetta, 19, and  Paolo (15) arrive in New York on the Karmania, which left Naples June 28.  Their American contact is Luigi Dattari.

1904 November 30   Eurichetta marries Henry Stefanoty, in New York. Henry was born in Florence in 1879 and arrived in New York in March 1904. They had six children - Margaret (born 1905), Teresa (1906), Henry (1912), Evelyn (1914) and twins Eugene and Ernestine (1915) (5)

1909  May 13    Paolo, aged 22,  arrives in New York on the Konigin Luise, which had sailed from Naples on April 10. I can't dechiper his occupation and his American contact is Emilio Sacchi.  The Census record for Paolo said that he arrived in the United States in 1903, so did he visit Italy and return in 1909 or does this record refer to another Paolo Dattari?  I  feel that is unlikely given the contact is a Sacchi. I found this reference early, which led me to research other Sacchi/Dattari connections, which is how I found the 1910 Census Record, below, showing that Margaret Dattari had married Ernesto Sacchi. I cannot find a marriage record for them.

1910   United States Federal Census - Borough of Manhatten, New York. This record was 'enumerated' on April 16, 1910. 
Paolo junior, now known as Paul,  is listed twice - once with his Mum and once with his sister!
Sacchi, Ernest - 36 years old - occupation: upholsterer. Born in Italy, parents born in Italy. 
Sacchi, Margaret - 51 years old - occupation: none. Born in England, parents born in England.
Dattary, Paul - 23 years old - occupation: Collector in the Insurance Industry. His place of birth is listed as 'Ata English', as is his sister and his other entry, below. I presume this was the abbreviation for Australia. In other Census records they list birthplaces as Ire English, Scot English etc.  His father  is listed as Italian,  mother English. 

      Part of the Sacchi / Dattari entry from the 1910 United States Federal Census on Ancestry

1910   United States Federal Census - Newark City, New Jersey. This record was 'enumerated' on April 23, 1910. 

Stefanotti, Henry - 30 years old - occupation - Jeweller. Born in Italy, parents Italian. 
Stefanotti, Henrietta - 27 years old. Birth place 'Ata English', father Italian, mother English.
Stefanotti, Margaret - 4 years old. Father Italian - mother 'Ata English' 
Stefanotti, Teresa - 3 years old - as for Margaret. 
Hijeck, Annie - 18 years old - occupation - servant. Born in Austria Poland.
Dattari, Paul J - 25 year old  - occupation - Life Insurance. Birthplace 'Ata English', father Italian, mother English. 

1915   New Jersey State Census - Ernest born October 1874, in Italy, occupation: upholsterer. Age last birthday was 40. Margaret born March, 1877 in England, age last birthday was 38 - that is either a mistake or a lie, but that fact that he is listed as an upholsterer and she was born in England, suggests they are 'our' Margaret and Ernest.

1922 October 10   Louis Charles Richmond Dattari was naturalised in St Louis,  Missouri. His wife was listed as 22 year old Hazel of Chicago, no children. Louis died June 17, 1935. An application was made by his mother, Margaret Sachie (sic) of 500 Liberty Avenue, Hillside, New Jersey for a headstone to be erected by the US War Department. Louis had served from April 28, 1918 to January 17, 1919. As his mother applied for the headstone, it seems to indicate that Louis was no longer married.

1942 April 23   Eurichetta is naturalised under the name of  Henrietta Charlotte Stefanoty. It lists her birthplace as Melbourne March 23, 1883 and her arrival in the United States as July 17, 1902. The Naturalisation took place in California and lists the date of her marriage, birth date of her husband and children and where they were living in 1942. She died April 16, 1964 in Los Angeles.

Eurichetta Dattari, from the photo on her Naturalisation paper.

Source: California, Federal Naturalisation Record, on Ancestry. 

(1) Paolo's arrival in Melbourne - Ruth Dwyer lists this date in her article Paolo Dattari, Architect - a building. The passenger list for the Somersetshire is on Ancestry, and Dattari isn't listed, not saying its incorrect, just can't confirm this.

(2) Paolo's election to the Field Naturalist's Club - thanks again to Ruth Dwyer's article Paolo Dattari, Architect - a building.

(3) Paolo's commencement date and final date at the Victorian Railways is from Ruth Dwyer's Paolo Dattari, Jeweller and the Italian Court at the Melbourne International Exhibition, 1880-81

(4) Supreme Court Case Files, Public Records Office of Victoria - William Thomas Clapham v, P. Dattari - VPRS 267 Consignment number: P0007 Unit number: 680

(5)  Eurichetta's family details are listed on her Naturalisation papers, on Ancestry.


Paolo Dattari, Jeweller and the Italian Court at the Melbourne International Exhibition, 1880-81, by Ruth Dwyer published in the Italian Historical Society Journal, v.5, n. 2, July - December 1997 - read it here 

Paolo Dattari, Architect - a building by Ruth Dwyer published in the Italian Historical Society Journal, v.8, n.1, January - June 2000 - read it here  

Public Records Office of Victoria passenger lists.
Ancestry family History database - including US Census records, shipping records, Naturalisation records,  US Military Records and Victoria Rate Books

Find My Past

Friday, July 19, 2019

101 years since Carlo passed away

It's 101 years ago, today, that Carlo passed away, Saturday, July 20, 1918. The Age and The Argus both reported on this sad event on Monday, July 22, which was also the day his funeral was held.

From The Age - The news of the death of Mr. Carlo Catani; formerly Chief Inspector of Public Works, which occurred at his residence, 'Wyndham,' Blessington-street, St. Kilda, on Saturday, will be received with general regret. Mr. Catani retired from the public service a little over twelve months ago, and until recently had been enjoying good health. Ten days ago while standing on a scaffolding superintending the erection of additions to his home in St. Kilda, he was seized with sudden illness, from which he never recovered.   The article then lists his major works and achievements.  Mr. Catani had a long and distinguished career in the Public Works department as an engineer of  high attainments.  As a public officer he earned a high reputation, and was greatly esteemed in private life for his unfailing courtesy and kindly nature. (The Age, July 22, 1918, read the full report, here.)

From The ArgusThe intimation of the death of Mr. Carlo Catani, formerly chief engineer of the Public Works department of Victoria, which occurred on Saturday at his home at St. Kilda, will be received with regret by his many friends.  There is then a short account of his life and achievements.  His most important undertaking, however, was the improvement of the Yarra and the Alexander avenue development, whereby he transformed the unsightly swamp on the south bank of the Yarra into the beauty spot it is to-day. The whole of this work was carried out under his supervision. Mr.
Catani had recently been closely associated with the improvement work at St. Kilda and Brighton. (The Argus, July 22, 1918, read the full report, here)

Carlo's funeral left from his home, Wyndham, in Blessington Street, St. Kilda, for the Brighton Cemetery, at 3 o'clock on Monday, July 22.

As The Herald was an afternoon paper, they reported on the funeral -  Though it was the desire of the family of the late Mr Carlo Catani that his funeral should be a quiet one, such was the general esteem in which he was held that a very large number of people and a lengthy cortege followed the hearse to the grave. Public departments, both State and Federal, were represented, and the councillors of St. Kilda attended together. Mr Catani was one of the most widely known and best-respected men in the departmental public life of Victoria.....Mr Catani had been under medical care for some time, but his death was some-what sudden. His physicians bad been in consultation after leaving his bedside, and had just left the house between six and seven o'clock when the patient sank and expired......The service at the grave was read by the Rev. F. G. Masters, of Holy Trinity Church, St. Kilda, where Mr Catani and his family were regular attendants and church workers. Mr W. G. Apps conducted the funeral. (The Herald, July 22, 1918, read the full report, here)

The Catani grave was without a headstone until last year, you can read about the unveiling, here.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Unnamed street in St Kilda given the name Cavell Street.

There are a few landmarks named after  Carlo such as the town of Catani, Lake Catani at Mount Buffalo, Catani Gardens in St  Kilda; the Boulevard in Ivanhoe was for a short time called Via Catani and Meredith Park near Colac was for  a while known as Catani Park. The other day I wondered what else might been proposed to have been named after Carlo, so I put the search term 'named after Catani' into Trove and I came up with this article from the Malvern Standard of  March 28, 1914, entitled An unnamed street - from Upper to Lower Esplanade, you can read it here.

The light-hearted article starts thus by the erection of Luna Park and the Palais de Danse, a new street has been formed from the St. Kilda Esplanade towards the sea shore. It goes on  It hasn't a name, and therefore stands a chance of  having no lawful visible means of support! It is a vagrant amongst streets, and it is therefore up to the St. Kilda Council to do a kindly act by giving it a name at the earliest opportunity. A splendid chance is here given for one of the city fathers to have his name immortalised by having the street named after him. It is an honor that anyone should covet. 

The journalist offers few helpful suggestions - such as naming it after Cr Hewison (1), Cr Molesworth (2), or Cr Love (3).  In fact, "Love street" would sound particularly appropriate. Again, why not name the street after the Mayor (Cr O'Donnell (4))? As for Cr Barnet (5), he is so unassuming that he would be one of the first to commit an act of self-sacrifice by allowing the honor to fall thickly upon someone else! "Catani street" wouldn't sound too badly, either! 

So, what did they do? Well, nothing at all for close to two years, which is a bit surprising because in the past Councillors everywhere have been extraordinarily keen to name things after themselves. It wasn't until December 1915 that the St Kilda Council came to a decision. The Malvern Standard of December 11, 1915 reported the roadway from the junction of the Upper and Lower Esplanades, adjacent to Luna Park, be called "Cavell" street. The recommendation was adopted. Cr Barnet mentioned that the name was suggested by the Town Clerk in honor of Nurse Edith Cavell, who was so cruelly shot by the Germans. Nurse Cavell (added Cr Barnet) was noted for her fondness for children, and he trusted that in the near future they would name one of their public reserves after her.

Edith Cavell, was born in 1865. She was nurse, served in the Great War and joined the Belgium Resistance. Nurse Cavell was arrested by the Germans, found guilty of treason and executed  by firing squad on October 12, 1915. There is a website on her life, Edith Cavell 1865-1915, see here and an interesting post about her, on the History Press website, see here.

I thought there might have been more streets in Victoria named in honor of Nurse Cavell at the time, but it seems St Kilda was the only council to honor her. In  November 1915,  a councillor to Ararat Council put a motion to rename High Street in honour of Nurse Cavell, but the motion failed to find a seconder.  There was also a  report that Richmond wanted to rename Hamburg Street to Cavell Street in June 1916, this never went ahead, but in 1940 when anti-German feelings were strong again, it was renamed to Cotter Street. There is a memorial to Nurse Cavell that was erected in Kings Domain on November 11, 1926. You can read about the monument on the Monument Australia website, here. The sculptor was Margaret Baskerville. Her other works include the statue of Thomas Bent, Victorian Premier, which is in Brighton and the James Cuming memorial at Footscray. You can read about her in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, here.

So, even though I am a big fan of Carlo and would be happy to have streets named everywhere after him,  in the end naming the small street after Nurse Edith Cavell was a great and rare tribute to her.

Edith Cavell memorial, Kings Domain. 
Sculptor: Margaret Baskerville. Unveiled November 11, 1926.
State Library of Victoria Image H94.145/11

Biographical footnotes:
(1) Hewison, Joseph Henry. Elected to St Kilda Council in 1910 and Mayor 1914/1915. Died in 1923 aged 56.  You can read his obituary in the Prahran Telegraph, here.
(2) Molesworth, Robert Arthur.  Died 1920, aged 76. He was a serving Councillor when he died. There is an account of his funeral, here.
(3) Love,  John Jeremiah. Mayor of St Kilda 1915/1916.   Died 1937, aged 69.  You can read his obituary, here. I have a bit of an interest in Church Architecture and Cr Love's son Allan was an architect with the firm of Scarborough, Robertson and Love and they designed, amongst other buildings, the Presbyterian Church in Elwood which opened in 1939.*
(4) O'Donnell, Edward. Mayor of St Kilda six times. O'Donnell Gardens in St Kilda is named for him and Cr O'Donnell unveiled the bust of Carlo Catani on August 22, 1932, which is at the foot of the Catani Clock Tower on the Upper Esplanade. Died in 1933, aged 88. You can read his obituary, here, and a short account of his life, here, in the Friends of St Kilda Cemetery newsletter.
(5)  Barnet, Henry Florian. Mayor of St Kilda 1916/1917. Died 1933, aged 74. You can read his obituary, here.

* I have to thank my research colleague, Isaac, for telling me this interesting snippet of information.

I have created a short list of articles on Trove about the naming of Cavell Street, you can access it, here. All the articles referenced here, are on the list.

Friday, July 12, 2019

What Carlo thinks of rockeries and the issue of cows in the Albert Park

This was in the Bulletin, published August 22, 1912 and I think it is very amusing. You can see the original, on Trove, here.

Melbourne continues to burst into eruptions of street rockeries, which Carlo Catani, Victorian Public Works engineer, once described in his mellifluous Anglo-Italian as “the stone age of gardening.” Hardly a suburban street nowadays but is transformed into the semblance of a macadamised waistcoat with a row of stone buttons down the middle, all in the sacred name of municipal gardening.The City Council is expectorating on its hands (purely by proxy, in order not to offend against the by-law) and is trussing up its bowyangs preparatory to forming a plantation builded upon a rock at the intersection of Molesworth, Harris,and Curzon streets, West Melbourne. Meanwhile, the designers of that portion of the city, aware that this form of art will cost £300, want to know why some of the rocks that will make the city beautiful are not being pounded into road metal to repair the dreadful highway and low ways and middle ways in the same ward. Perhaps when a councillor returning home by a late windy moonlight, has been manhandled by one of the hoodlums that are beginning to infest these rockeries o’nights, much as the Great Auk frequented the Allaloneston in Kingsley's fairy story, the City Council will be sorry spoke.

The journalist quotes Carlo's comment that rockeries are the stone-age of gardening. He made that comment at a public meeting in April 1907 where the fate of the Albert Park speedway (a trotting track at the Albert Park) was being discussed. The Speedway at Albert Park was officially opened on September 1, 1903, by the Chief Justice and Lieutenant Governor, Sir John Madden. It was established by a group of well known business and professional men and all they wanted to do was to have a place to drive a horse along, it wasn't for racing.  It was to have two tracks - one a mile in length and one of six furlongs (furlong is 220 yards).

Albert Park Speedway, 1903
State Library of Victoria Image H96.28/2

Many locals objected to the Speedway. The Mayor of South Melbourne, Cr W.J. Mountain, who attended a meeting organised by the Albert Park Trust on the issue was against the idea as it was a public park, and should be kept so. There was a roadway already formed for those that wanted to drive through it. The 'speedway' would be a source of great danger to children. (The Age June 17, 1902)  However, the Albert Park Trust did allow it to go ahead. So, no change there in the past 117 years with governments at all levels still allowing the alienation of public land into private hands.

It was a short-lived enterprise and at a report of the meeting that Carlo attended in April 1907, the Emerald Hill Record said the club under whose auspices the Albert Park Speedway was opened with such success nearly four years ago has regretfully come to the conclusion that the speedway as such has served its turn. Though the club had at the outset 103 members, and although from £1000 to £1200 was spent in preparing and fencing the track, constructing rockeries, and planting young elm trees— almost the only deciduous tree which will flourish on that soil — the enterprise has had to be abandoned. Very soon the members began to lose interest in the track, which was never really popular with the general public, because there was little for them to see. (Emerald Hill Record, April 27, 1907).

The speedway area was handed back to the Albert Park Trust, who then wanted to improve or beautify the area. One of the issues was, according to the Recordat the present the casual visitor to the open spaces of Albert Park would be justified in the impression that it is the local cow which really counts. The depasturing of cows does not improve the park in any way. Naturally, when  a organisation wanted advice on the beautification of an area, they turned to Carlo for an opinion -

When questioned on the subject of the speedway, the chief engineer of the Public Works department (Mr. Catani) quickly demonstrated that there were difficulties in the way of beautifying the surrounding land, although he admitted that the speedway might be used as a drive. The presence of an existing road in the vicinity however, detracted to some extent from its value. "We might do something," he said; "the matter is open for consideration. Where ever possible we are taking down fences and planting flowers and shrubs, as in Alexandra-avenue, for our experience has shown that the public will respect their own property."

But you cannot expect a cow to learn the lesson of respect for property?

"Of course, where there are cows the fences will have to remain. Then as to the general  beautification of the park, the question of funds is an important one. The soil of Albert Park is, for the most part, sand, impregnated, except just at the surface, with salt. It could not support trees unless the surface were raised two or three feet. And as it would cost £10.000 or £12,000 to treat the whole of Albert Park, that is out of the question. It is not proposed to make any expenditure on the speed-way—we have too many claims on our limited funds. It will cost £70 to paint the fence every two years."

As to maintaining the rockeries?

"Rockeries are the stone age of gardening! I certainly would like marble balustrades, with nice caps and beautiful statuary, but we haven't the money! The purists say, ' You are doing monstrous things, but between nothing and rockeries there is a great gulf fixed. And even with rockeries it must be remembered that every improvement means maintenance, so that when a certain limit was reached the cost of maintenance would absorb all the money available from improvements. Cows? The Public Works department gets £350 a year from those cows, and it can't afford to lose it! It is a barbarous thing but we want the money. We can't do much with it, but we can do a little."  (Emerald Hill RecordApril 27, 1907)

Albert Park Speedway  
State Library of Victoria Image H96.28/1


People's Playground: a history of Albert Park by Jill Barnard and Jenny Keating (Chandos Publishing, 1996)
Article - Albert Park Speedway  Emerald Hill Record  April 27, 1907. Read full article, here.
Article -  Proposed Speedway at Albert Park  The Age June 17, 1902. Read full article, here.
Article -  Sporting Notions column The Bulletin  August 22, 1912. Link is here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The problem of weeds in Albert Park Lake - Carlo has a solution

On January 13, 1904 the South Melbourne Council discussed the interminable question of cleansing the Albert Park Lake of weeds (The Age January 15, 1904) Three suggestions were put to the Council to resolve the issue. One suggestion was a simple one - Cr. Strangward asked if hand-pulling had been tried, as he had seen a small amount of work done near the Yacht Club shed, and he thought it might be possible to do it by hand-pulling. (Emerald Hill Record January 16, 1904)

A second suggestion concerned swans.  Cr. Craine's idea was that a number of swans would keep the weeds down. He had got several down from Bairnsdale, but one was stolen, one had been killed, and two had gone over to the Botanical Gardens.....Cr. Craine said he would like to see the swans given a trial. During a trip to Gippsland he had seen them in the lakes, and had taken particular notice of them. They had the same weeds growing there, and the swans kept them clear. He would be prepared to get a further supply if they were looked after. So a nice idea, but it seems that some of the swans preferred the more up-market address of the Royal Botanic Gardens.  (Emerald Hill Record January 16, 1904)

The third suggestion was from Carlo Catani - a high-tech solution, with a dual purpose of being useful but also a source of pleasure to the locals. Mr. Catani had reported that it would be necessary to build a paddle steamer with a weed cutter at the rear to deal with the weed nuisance. It was proposed to use the steamer also for excursions, improve the island, and hold concerts and entertainments on it.  (Emerald Hill Record January 16, 1904)  A report in the  North Melbourne Courier of January 15, 1904 suggested the ways in which the Lake and Island could be improved - Steps will probably, be taken to make the Albert Park Lagoon a somewhat similar sheet of water to Lake Windouree [Wendouree], Ballarat. A scheme has been formulated by Mr. Catani of Public Works Department, for the eradication of the weeds, by means of a steamer, which would also take passengers for trip. There is also a plan in contemplation to erect kiosks on the island, and other attractions.

What did they decide? It was the Albert Park Lake Trust that made the decision and it was announced,  at a community meeting, by the South Melbourne Mayor, Cr. Baragwanath, who caused some surprise by announcing that the trust had, at its last meeting, authorised the sending of a cable message to England ordering a weed cutting steamer on six months' trial at a cost of about £300, with the proviso that if it proved unsuccessful the trust would take no responsibility. The steamer was not, however, as originally suggested, to be used for carrying passengers on the lagoon (The Age, April 19, 1904)

Other reports said that the cost of this steamer would be £270 to £300 and the annual cost for maintenance £80. There was a number of criticisms - it was too expensive, other methods had not  been tried and a question was asked why they were importing a machine when,  a local resident, Mr. Donald, had invented a machine which was fully capable of dealing with the weeds, and had proved itself by trials, at one of which the trust was represented. He asked why such invention had not been given consideration before accepting an offer from an English firm ?  (Emerald Hill Record, April 23, 1904)

Motor Weed Cutting Launch, Albert Park Lagoon
The Leader  April 29, 1905

The steamer from England arrived and  a trial was held. We will let The Argus of November 18, 1904 tell us how it went and how it worked  - A public trial was given yesterday on the Albert Park Lake of a new weed-cutting machine purchased by the committee of management to clear the lake of weeds which had grown to such an extent that aquatic sports were greatly hampered. Amongst those present were Mr Davidson inspector-general of public works, Mr Catani, engineer, members of the Albert park committee the South Melbourne and St Kilda councils. The boat, which is about the size of an ordinary ship's boat, has a stern wheel, which is driven by a low-speed oil engine. The engine also works two V shaped knives which are fixed on each side of the boat and work underneath it, clearing a space 10ft wide. Those present expressed themselves highly pleased with the result of the trial. The committee of management of Albert-park were so well satisfied with the test that they have decided to purchase the cutter and motor launch at a cost of about £275. 

There is a detailed technical description of the weed-cutting steamer in The Leader of  April 29, 1905. You can read it here. The same article says that the trustees of the Albert Park lagoon have found great difficulty in getting rid of the weeds, which grow more or less all over the lagoon. Much money has been fruitlessly spent upon this work, and many devices tried, amongst them being a steam dredge (costing about £2000, which was unsuccessful, and was, eventually sold at the price of old iron). £2000 - that was a lot of money, in those days. The article held higher hopes for the steam launch - The motor launch ... has in a very short space of time almost cleared the lagoon, and it, is claimed that it will in time stop the growth of these noxious weeds by keeping them cut, thus preventing the generating power of air and light having any stimulating effect, and weakening them to such an extent, that they will cause very little trouble.

The Age also had a report that suggested that the steam launch was a success. It reported on the Albert Park Easter Regatta - On Saturday the ten-mile course was sailed, for the first time in several years, over the whole length of the lagoon, an improvement due to the successful operations of the weed cutting steam launch imported by the Albert Park committee of management providing a clear sailing area. The improvement made in this fine sheet of water was greatly appreciated by contesting yachtsmen. (The Age April 24, 1905)

In the end, the weed-cutting steamer wasn't designed so it could also be used for excursions, as Carlo had proposed, but it does appear that it was a success in removing the weeds.

I have created a short list of articles on the weed-cutting steamer from 1904 and 1905 on Trove. You can access the list, here. All the articles referenced here are on the list.