150 Years Stories

150 Years of Stories

Many people and events have made up OCAV's 150 years. We would like you to meet some of the people and find out about the events that helped shape the organisation.

Travel, travail, and tragedy- the story of Isabella Love, neé Ewart, encompasses all these elements in her life.

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On Saturday November 2, 1911, Sir Thomas A’Beckett, a distant relation of George and Harriet Hebden, using a silver trowel, laid memorial stones for the Hebden cottages.

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Over a hundred years after the start of OCAV, its success – and inflation- had caught up with the Association. With a four-year wait-list for places in its villages, in 1975 the Association opens a $500,000 appeal to build more cottages.

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Local Diamond Valley man Bruce Wadeson was an obvious choice to become the first manager of Leith Park. He was local and well connected.

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Percy Oakley was a giant in the architectural profession. He was appointed to design the Godfrey Cottages at Rushall Park in 1920. He set up the company Oakley and Parkes on his return from World War I, a firm which won many accolades for their work in Canberra, including designing the Prime Minister’s Lodge, as well as their designs for Melbourne-based Yule House, the cylindrical Brighton Municipal building and the semi-Saracenic Equity ...

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Like many other charities of the day, the Old Colonists’ Association was suffering from a lack of funds – not only to build new cottages but to maintain those in its aegis. A Grand National Carnival, including an art union and picturesque exhibition, was organised, and held in Exhibition Building on 21 May 1898.

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Joseph Crook was a man of many firsts. He followed George Wharton as architect for the Old Colonists’, completely changing the layout and look of the village in Fitzroy, he allegedly built the first house in Chapel Street in 1849, and was a member of the party which discovered the Eaglehawk goldfields. The party lost their packhorses for three days and were unable to claim the gold.

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George Wharton was the Association’s second architect, whose contribution to the village was three bluestone cottages, and the introduction of the verandah. Wharton was active in public life, president of the second Victorian Institute of Architects, and established a Chair and architecture course at the University of Melbourne.

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Architect and surveyor George Johnson drew inspiration from alms houses in England when he designed the layout of the ‘institution’ for old colonists or ‘inmates’ as the residents were then called. His design included a large hall in the centre, with four semidetached cottages on either side. Each cottage was designed to house two people.

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While women were becoming more evident in the committee rooms of charities in Melbourne, a bank of opposition was welling up among the old colonists.

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Model trains capture most little boys’ hearts and imaginations. But it seems grown men and a few grown women are just as interested.

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