Sport and Leisure
Halford was an able, charismatic person as well as a respected and experienced physician. He believed the area was particularly healthy. Being well away from city smoke, high in the hills with clean air, and set in eucalyptus forests, it seemed an ideal place for a health resort. Halford expressed his views freely, they were widely known, and many people agreed with him. Having leased his land and fenced it, Halford had a very attractive weatherboard house built on the ridge. His improvements entitled him to purchase his selection for £20. This sale was completed in August 1876, Halford becoming the first person to own freehold land in the district.
William Brisbane “The pioneer of the district”
In 1876 Snell sold his lease on the top of the ridge to William Brisbane, who subdivided the 320 acres of land into 49 lots. On the highest 40 acres, which he kept for himself, he built a large guesthouse, naming it “Beaconsfield House” to honour the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who became Lord Beaconsfield.
Beaconsfield House, known to the locals as the “Big House” was a large weatherboard building with a brick and concrete façade, and a dining room big enough to seat more than 100 people.
Realising the embryo
settlement needed a post office,
He became the first
postmaster, with an annual allowance of £6 for his
The settlement then
20-acre allotments for lease
In 1877, the
Government, probably as a result of urging by the
selectors, subdivided and surveyed local
In April 1877, the first of these allotments were made available to the public under the provisions of Section 49 of the 1869 Land Act.
The public responded very quickly. By October 1877, 150 of these allotments had been taken up, the remaining ones being selected over the following 12 months.
Once selected, most
allotments were fenced, fulfilling a condition of the
lease, but the growth of housing was slow, increasing a
little after the opening of the
An observer estimated in 1885 that there were about 100 good houses in the village.
Today, with the
exception of a few roads which have been subdivided in a
suburban fashion by developers, the majority of houses
in the village are on large blocks, ranging in size from
1 to 40 acres. This scattered housing helps to retain a
pleasant rural atmosphere, and is a reminder of the
early 20 acre subdivisions.
In October 1878
realised that without representation in Council,
improvements in roads and bridges would be unlikely.
Two councillors for
the new Riding of Beaconsfield were elected in August
At the first Council
The line was built
in sections, the final one being completed, and the line
opened to the public in April 1879. At that time the
nearest station to the village was Berwick. In December
of 1879, The
same year, the community hall in
school and a hall - later a church
When State School No.2560 opened at Beaconsfield North in 1884, there were 22 pupils; now there are more than 350 pupils.
same year, the community hall in
Enterprising Berwick carrier, George Craik, whose wife ran a successful boarding house on the hillside, present day “Guys Hill,” decided to provide this accommodation.
Salisbury House c1900
|In 1888, having bought the remaining acres of Commins ridge land, Craik built an elegant 32-roomed guest house, which he named “Kincraik.” It was an instant success. Set in 30 acres, it could accommodate 60 visitors, and was noted for its croquet lawn, the delightful views to the south, and the fern gully below it. In 1896 when the Misses Heddrick became the proprietors, they changed the name to “Salisbury House.” It continued to function as a guesthouse until 1957. In 1976, it was transformed to become a nursing home, more recently it has had significant additions making it an excellent facility.|
In 1912 there were six guesthouses and the Pine Grove Hotel, catering for weekend and holiday visitors; records show that in 1924 there was weekend accommodation for at least 133 visitors.
The guesthouses were an important source of income for the villagers, and also for the surrounding farms supplying the meat, milk, eggs, etc. needed by the guests.
Weekend guests arrived by train, and travelled up the hill in horse drawn drags or other horse drawn vehicles. Most of these vehicles were driven by members of the Shorthouse family, the largest local carriers.
In 1924 the Shorthouses were persuaded to introduce motor cars for this purpose. The fares were increased, and the romance and excitement of horse transport, so enjoyable for the city visitors was lost.
The number of
visitors declined and following the 1929 depression,
visitors were reduced to a trickle. In 1950 only four
guesthouses remained, Salisbury House, Kyogle,
Guest houses have
now gone but there are several excellent B & Bs in
The Pine Grove Hotel was built in timber by Hubert Lenne, who selected 20 acres in 1876, and probably planted the pines soon afterwards. In 1882, the Council Rate book, describes him as Hubert Lenne publican, suggesting the hotel was already functioning; certainly in 1885 a visiting journalist described it as “a pleasant hotel and a great stopping place.”
The hotel was totally destroyed by a house fire in 1918. Rebuilt in brick by Ferdinando Novello, it was again destroyed in 1983, by the Ash Wednesday wild fires.
Rebuilt by the Houghton family in 1984, it is now as always, a very popular meeting place.
House guesthouse was built by
When renamed the Beaconsfield House Hotel about 1887, it must have had a license, and may have had one earlier. It continued to be the post office. On 30th May 1893 this building was destroyed by fire.
The post office was
moved to James Kerwin’s General Store on the corner of
The post office remained as part of the store until 1914, when James Hopkins built the present Post Office, his daughter becoming the post mistress.
Erected in 1921, this memorial is a reminder of the many men from the district who gave their lives in Wartime.
On the north face carries the names of sixteen men who died in the 1914-1919 War. On the west face the names of six men who died in the 1939-1945 War.
The inscription on the west face –
“In memory of the
men of Beaconsfield Upper who gave their lives in
The first record of
a general store appears in 1888. Storekeeper, Joseph
Johnson owned 2 acres and a store on the corner of
About 1892 James Kerwin bought the business from Johnson, becoming both storekeeper and postmaster when Beaconsfield House Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1893.
This store had a series of owners until it was also destroyed by fire in 1920.
Storekeeper Paul Einseidel had another general store on the corner of A’Beckett and Salisbury Roads which was functioning in the early 1890s, but destroyed by a suspicious fire in 1895.
destruction of the
About 1930 Nathan
built a new store in
The present general
store, which opened in 1984, was built on the same site
as the old one. The extensive additional buildings were
built in the same style as the store soon afterwards.
Before cars and trucks became available good horse drawn carriers were a very important part of the economy. Everything had to be brought up the hill, passengers, building materials, liquor, mail, and food.
Craik, initially based in Berwick was a significant carrier until the mid 1890s, after that the men of the Shorthouse family, with some outside help, dominated the carrying business.
selected 20 acre allotment No.2 in April 1877. His
allotment included the corner with the present day
commercial centre, and extended down
On the corner site was the Shorthouse home, the booking office, livery stable, and a place for a blacksmith to work.
In 1919, the Shorthouse stable held up to 40 horses, required for wagons, drags, drays, and other wheeled vehicles.
The movement of the
large horse-drawn carrying fleet bringing guests up the
hill and then to their village destination, following
the arrival of the
Following the introduction of motor cars about 1924, business declined, Shorthouse going into liquidation in 1926.
Since then there
have been a number of other carriers, nearly all
motorised, the most important being the Harris Brothers.
Many early selectors
planted small orchards in their allotments. In 1892 a
Government expert, Mr. G. Neilson visited seven local
orchards, commenting “if properly managed and
systematically cultivated, the soil would grow several
fruits.” He also added the soil of Gembrook area will
always grow fruit “far superior to that of
Over the next 30 years many successful orchards were planted, most producing a variety of very good apples, readily sold to the domestic and the overseas market.
At one time there
were at least 40 orchards in the area, the planted area
extending from Dewhurst in the north to
With the outbreak of
World War 2, the Apple and Pear Board took control, and
continued after the war. In 1956 local prices dropped to
4 shillings a case, orchards were in trouble, and slowly
declined in numbers. There are no longer any commercial
A major disaster - The Ash Wednesday Fires: 16th February 1983
There was little rain in the spring of 1982, and the summer following, was dry and very hot. There were fourteen proclaimed “Total fire Ban “days between November 1982 and February 1983. Everyone in the village was aware of the high fire risk, and most had taken appropriate action.
About 3 p.m. on
Wednesday 16th February a fire was reported
The fire front was only about 2 kilometers wide at its widest part but was at least 15 kilometers long, forming a linear pattern.
About 9 p.m. the wind changed direction from north to southwest. Associated with this fairly sudden 90 degree wind change, there was a significant increase in wind speed. The linear fire now became a broad 15 kilometer long fire front.
Moving fairly rapidly as a result of the increase in wind force, the speed of the fire was further increased by the rising ground, and the plentiful ground fuel available.
The heat of the fire increased the wind velocity enormously. Near the top of the hill immediately east of the Critchley Parker Junior Reserve, it must have exceeded 100 Kilometers an hour, tearing a corrugated iron roof from the top of a building and throwing it 50 metres up the hill.
Two CFA vehicles, one from Panton Hill, and one from Narre Warren, working on a track in the Parker Reserve were caught in this sudden horrible inferno. Sadly all 12 crew of these vehicles perished.
towards the town centre, the fire burned many buildings
in its path. In the village it destroyed
In all 21 lives were
lost, six members of the Narre Warren CFA, five from the
Panton Hill CFA, a casual firefighter, and nine
It was truly a major disaster, with horrendous losses, but the residents responded magnificently, and were well supported by the Pakenham Council and the general community.
All the service clubs were very generous with both time and goods, making very welcome contributions.
Rebuilding was soon under way, the community whilst saddened by their losses, slowly returned to a normal life.
disastrous weather conditions, such an event could occur
The Milk Bar. This attractive building was erected in
Station of the Upper
Beaconsfield Rural Fire Brigade was commissioned and
opened in December 1992. $70,000 was raised by the CFA
Auxiliary and Brigade towards the cost of the building.
The first Rotunda was built by the Progressive League about 1905. The League was soon disbanded, a Progress Association taking its place. In 1916 this Association commissioned the present rotunda, which was showing signs of age until recently rebuilt by the Cardinia Shire Council.
Beaconsfield Association is virtually a town committee, providing a
forum for discussion of village matters, and providing
contact with the Council.
Bell a 20 page news
letter, first produced in 1978, is still printed
regularly and distributed to all residents by the
Association. Its content relates to local club
activities, Council reports, and any items of general
interest to the community; in addition it has a useful
Charles Wilson 2007