Dramatic Homes and land transfers to the Old Colonists

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Dramatic Homes and land transfers to the Old Colonists

May 7, 2019

As a charitable cause, the ‘asylum for decayed actors’ was not popular with potential donors. After protracted legal negotiations, the land, three homes and five actors were transferred to the care of the Old Colonists’ Association. Nevertheless, Coppin’s vision to provide homes for actors, musicians and performers lives on today with broadcasters, musicians, actors, and artists living in Rushall Park and the other three villages.

The saga to wind up the Australasian Dramatic and Musical Association began in 1898 when Coppin suggested that the Old Colonists’ take over part or all the land in North Fitzroy. A year later, and negotiations began for a transfer on terms approved by the Council. Negotiations were unhurried. There was enough land on the Old Colonists’ land for 36 more cottages, and therefore no pressure to purchase new land. By 1901, Coppin offered to buy the land to a limit of 1500 pounds. The offer was accepted but first, an Act of Parliament had to be passed.

It is not until April 1904, when the Australasian Dramatic and Musical Association approached the Old Colonists wanting the 1500 pounds made available for the Distressed Actors Fund and to the Old Colonists to ‘agree to maintain in perpetuity four old actors as inmates at ten shillings a week each.’

Stalement continued until George Tallis, one of the Australian Dramatic and Musical Association’s trustees, took over the negotiations in 1905. Swiftly, agreement was reached to keep four old actors for 25 years which was later extended to 75 years and five actors.

The Act of Parliament passed on 16 December 1907, with Caroline Gladstone, John Riley, William Dibdin Bates, Joshua John Henwood and Thomas Holland remaining as residents.

CEO Phillip Wohlers has overseen some big changes at OCAV. But their model of personalised care and community building is something that won't change under his 'watch'.

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