Tag Archives: Beaumaris

Vale Raie Harding (14/10/24 – 1/2/20)

By Jill Hosken, Celebrant
(with contributions from Tim, Stephen and John Harding)

Being born in 1924, Raie Harding grew up in very different times and throughout her long life she has witnessed more technological, political, economic and social changes than are ever likely to be experienced in one lifetime.

Raie was an only daughter born to Tom and Ruby Purvis and the family initially lived in South Caulfield before moving to Middle Brighton.  With her Dad being an engineer and in regular work, despite the depression years Raie had a happy and settled childhood – nevertheless it is unlikely she could ever have envisaged the wonderful, rich experiences life had in store.

Raie aged about 20

Her secondary years were at the prestigious MacRobertson Girls’ High, a selective entry school but with the unfolding of WW2 she left early and after completing business studies attained work at the Victoria Hotel in Little Collins St.  In addition to her office duties, Raie helped organise events and tours to entertain the visiting US military officers (including swing bandleader Artie Shaw), many of whom were based in Melbourne – organisational skills which came to the fore later in life.

She’d known Bruce Harding, a local Brighton lad, since her early teens and when he returned from war service, they reconnected and ultimately married in the Melbourne Grammar School Chapel in 1948.  The newlyweds  bought a double block opposite Rickett’s Point, on the corner of Lang St and Point Ave surrounded by dirt tracks and ti-tree for the princely sum of £182/10.   Despite the shortage of building materials, with Bruce being a qualified builder, he was able to construct what was to become the family home. 

Bruce and Raie’s wedding day, 1948

Over the ensuing eight years, they were blessed with three sons Tim, Stephen and John and even though they were pretty good as boys go, Raie still had her hands full!!  Nevertheless, she relished her role as a mother and nurturer and always supported her three sons in their endeavours ensuring they had the best of opportunities and many wonderful experiences. 

With four active males under her roof, Raie craved some girl time and was known to occasionally “borrow” a neighbour’s daughter, Sue McGregor who shared on hearing of Raie’s passing, how as a young girl, she loved opportunities to be in Raie’s company, learning to cook and sew.

Beaumaris back then was very isolated – there were no local shops and before getting a car, Raie would catch a bus to Black Rock to do the weekly shop.  However, she was one of the first women in the neighbourhood to have a car, a Land Rover – probably the first SUV to be seen in the area! 

The neighbours were like extended family – the boys related how each afternoon, the Point Avenue mothers would gather at one another’s home on rotation, vegies in hand and join together over a sherry as they prepared their respective evening meals.  The neighbourhood kids enjoyed the freedom of playing in the bush or riding their bikes or going to the beach – the only condition being they were home by 6 for dinner.  

Raie aged about 30

Her sons appreciate the long leash they were given but also knew there were expectations such as good manners, respect and ethics which stood them all  in good stead for the future.

In 1956, the year John was born, Bruce and Raie purchased “Shady Acres” in Macclesfield – a farm at which they spent many a weekend or school holidays getting back to basics with no power and no mod cons.  Here they grew Angus beef cattle, Angora goats, pine trees and later on wine grapes – they also had horses which all the boys rode – a skill that Raie never quite  mastered, despite having lessons and so when friends visited, often after enjoying a BBQ lunch they’d all head off for a ride, Raie was very unimpressed to be left cleaning up!  

Raie holding Bruce’s horse at ‘Shady Acres’ in 1967

Later Raie and Bruce purchased a holiday home at Metung where sailing on the lakes and many happy times were enjoyed by all.  When “Shady Acres” underwent some remodelling in the 80’s, Raie, being a very gifted seamstress sewed all the drapes, bedspreads and even the new upholstery for the lounge suite.  

Raie rode a bicycle instead of a horse on the family farm

At home she also sewed, enjoyed creating a welcoming garden and for a time, having a neighbour who was a very talented artist and potter, Raie took up pottery.  Raie also was a wonderful support to Bruce in his business and many a dinner party was enjoyed at their Beaumaris home by colleagues and friends alike.  She was the consummate hostess and a gifted cook – she embraced cordon bleu cooking (very in vogue in the 70’s) and had all the fancy cookbooks of the era.  

The boys recalled how their Mum would do a practice dinner party dinner on a Tuesday – always a new taste sensation.   Raie also gave dedicated support in Bruce’s community work with the Beaumaris RSL and Legacy to which they gave a great deal of time supporting war widows and their children.

Perhaps it was through this that piqued Raie’s interest in Social Work – this together with her desire to prove, in the very male dominant world of the time, that despite limited education opportunities, women had a brain.  So, aged 46, Raie enrolled in an Arts Degree at Melbourne Uni and Tim related how he enjoyed sitting in Politics lectures next to his Mum.  In 1978 Raie proudly graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Social Work. 

Raie at her BSW graduation, March 1978

Over the years she and Bruce enjoyed a number of overseas trips and a well-remembered one was when she visited Steve whilst he was in London during the 70’s and they then toured Europe together.

After completing some extensive renovations (including electricity), Bruce and Raie moved to “Shady Acres” living there until Bruce died after a short illness in 1996.   After coming to terms with this new reality, Raie moved back to Middle Brighton where she enjoyed a full and active life.  She could often be found at Victoria Golf Club where through her 40 years of membership many strong friendships were forged

Playing golf into her early 80’s Raie then moved on to Bridge and enjoyed lunches and gatherings at Victoria with friends.  She loved any opportunity to go to the movies, enjoyed shopping – was always on the hunt for a bargain and loved hopping on the train to visit Steve, Susie and the girls in Adelaide!

Raie had a very loving relationship not only with her three sons Tim, Steve and John, but also with her daughters-in-law Lisa and Susie. She was very grateful for the help they gave her, especially towards the end of her long life.

Three years ago, acknowledging she needed support and after doing her own research Raie made the decision to move to Karinya Grove Aged Care in Sandringham where she has been well cared for. 

As she always had in the past, Raie continued to participate in and enjoy all the family gatherings and celebrations – birthdays, Christmases and retirements along with Carl and Jayne’s wedding.  Raie particularly enjoyed visits from her beloved grandchildren – Georgia and Kate all the way from England, as well as from William and Angus. She loved hearing about their lives and various achievements.

She especially enjoyed celebrating her 95th birthday last October at Karinya with family and friends in attendance. All would agree, even with her decline in acuity in these past years Raie always made the best of things and did what she could to ensure those around her felt loved, connected and cared for. 

“Lastly I must say thank you for the great privilege and all the joy and pleasure that I have experienced as Mum to my three wonderful boys and and their families. I leave you with all my everlasting love and the wish that most of the hopes and aspirations you may have had for the great journey of life that we began together will be realised.’ – Raie Harding

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A Magnificent Man and his Flying Machines

by Tim Harding, B.Sc. B.A.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Sandringham
& District Historical Society Newsletter, May 2019)

Major Harry Turner Shaw OBE (1889-1973) was an Australian pioneer aviator, both in wartime and peace, and later a boat builder. He lived at ‘The Point’ mansion overlooking Ricketts Point, Beaumaris from around 1922 until he sold it in 1959. He and his wife then moved to their former servants’ quarters and coach house ‘Pointside’, which still stands as a renovated family home at No. 17-19 Lang Street, Beaumaris.

In the 1920s and 30s, Major Shaw had a private airstrip on the estate at what is now Nautilus Street. He used to fly to and from his engineering factory at Fisherman’s Bend, sometimes even flying home to Beaumaris for lunch. The existence of this private airstrip was not widely known, and so sometimes there were reports to police of a possible air crash when he landed.

Aerial view of Beaumaris looking south to ‘The Point’ estate and Ricketts Point. Major Harry Turner Shaw took this photograph from his aeroplane in 1927. His private airstrip (now Nautilus Street) as shown by arrow, is at the centre of the picture. Source: Bayside Library Service (image on public access).

Harry Turner Shaw was the son of Thomas Turner Shaw (1864 -1949) and Agnes May (nee Hopkins). Agnes May Turner Shaw (1865-1967) lived in good health until the ripe old age of 102 (I once met her at a garden party at Pointside). Harry was raised at a 30,000-acre sheep station called ‘Wooriwyrite’, on the Mount Emu Creek near Mortlake in Victoria’s Western District. His father and grandfather were breeders and producers of fine Merino wool.

Harry was educated privately before attending Geelong College from 1903 until 1906. He then studied engineering at the Melbourne Working Men’s College (which later became the RMIT).  He appears to have inherited his father’s interest in things mechanical.  (Thomas Turner Shaw invented a patented fence post lifting machine and was a one of the first motor car owners in Victoria).

Major Shaw’s younger sister Mary Turner (Mollie) Shaw (1906-1990) was born in Caulfield, but raised at Wooriwyrite. She was one of the first women to be employed as an architect in the early 1930s in Australia. She also became a distinctive figure as an architectural historian, when she started writing books and articles (including a book about Wooriwyrite).

As I mentioned in the last (February 2019) issue of this newsletter, I was brought up at No. 6 Point Avenue, Beaumaris, on the corner of Lang Street. I knew Major Shaw (we called him ‘the Major’), his family and servants very well.  His daughter Raithlyn was a lifelong close family friend of ours. I have a vague recollection of being bitten or kicked by their malevolent Shetland pony named ‘Mintie’ when I was very young.

The Major married Violet Laura Willis, daughter of Herbert and Alice Willis, of Koolomurt sheep station near Harrow in Western Victoria. I knew her as ‘Mrs. Shaw’. She was taller than the Major, and although debilitated by arthritis was very much in charge of the house and servants in the traditional landed gentry manner. She was always very nice to us children. When I knew her, Mrs. Shaw drove a large Rover saloon car. Once a week she would drive to Dandenong South to collect rents from her caravan park ‘Shawlands’, which still exists today (owned by the Dandenong Christian Reformed Church). The Major himself drove a small 1930s German DKW car with a two-stroke engine that sounded like a lawnmower. Why he drove such a dinky little car while his wife drove a large Rover is lost in the mists of history.

Neil Follett, Editor of Aviation Heritage magazine wrote of Shaw’s war service: ‘He travelled to England in May 1913. After the outbreak of World War One, he missed the first intake of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), enlisting as a dispatch rider with the Royal Engineers on 19 September 1914. Sometime in 1915 he transferred to the RFC and trained as a pilot at Shoreham, Kent. He soloed on a Maurice Farman Longhorn on 13 December 1915 and two days later received his FAI licence (No 2196), before going to Gosport [on the English south coast] on 1 February 1916’.

Maurice Farman S. 7 Longhorn Reconnaissance and Training Biplane c.1915. Source : Wikimedia Commons

As the Royal Air Force was not established until 1918, the RFC at this time was part of British Army – hence his rank of Major rather than an Air Force rank. He served and saw action in France as a Flight Commander before returning to Home Establishment as a flying instructor at Doncaster. By the end of the war, he was Officer Commanding No 27 Training Wing RFC as Acting Lieutenant Colonel. Somewhere along the way, he had also become a certified aircraft engineer.

On 26 June 1916, Major Shaw wrote in a letter to his father Thomas Turner Shaw: ‘I was playing round among the clouds over their [the Germans] lines yesterday, at from 1500 to 2500 feet—playing ‘tig’ over and under and round the small drifting clouds, trying to ‘spot’ our bursting shells and ‘wireless’ corrections to our guns….then I was cruising round at about 400 feet, doing no harm to anyone, when suddenly I heard a hungry metallic sort of bonk behind me, and found a nasty black smoke puff* only about ten yards distant, and right on my level. I put on the brake—or rather jambed the right rudder hard, which had the effect of making me skid about a hundred yards and drop a hundred feet. The rest of his shooting was wide and wild, but he must have had a couple of dozen shots at me in about as many seconds. I didn’t like him!’ [*Of exploding anti-aircraft fire, called ‘Archie’ – the word ‘flak’ was German and not used by the British during the First World War].

Since first writing this article, one of Major Shaw’s daughters has told me that he was shot down three times in France. There were no parachutes at this time, but fortunately he managed to crash land on the British side of the front line, rather than the German side where he would have been captured.

Major Shaw himself used to tell me stories from his war exploits. Sometimes these were told in his large workshop at ‘Pointside’ where he built prototype wooden boats; and other times when we were both sitting on the horizontal poles at Ricketts Point beach, where he took his Great Dane dogs for a walk. For a young boy like me, the Major was my own personal Biggles! A particular childhood recollection I have is of the Major telling me: ‘One day in the air I saw the red aeroplane of the Red Baron [German air ace, Baron von Richthofen] in the distance. So, I hid in a cloud and came up behind and underneath him, where I fired a row of .303s into his fuselage!’. He told me that he hit the Baron’s plane but not the Baron himself. Presumably he jambed his rudder again and dove away before he could become the Baron’s 81st kill. The Major also told me that he kept a rack of small bombs by his feet in the cockpit, and when he saw a suitable target on the ground, he would drop a bomb by hand over the side of his plane.

Major Shaw’s canvas flying helmet and aviation tool box, 1918.
Source: Museum Victoria.

The Geelong College Pegasus Journal reported that Major Shaw was awarded the ‘Mons Star’. This medal was given only to the men of the first seven divisions who were actually serving in France for the Retreat from Mons and the Advance of the Marne. He was also entitled to wear the red and three blue chevrons for his length of active service, which dates from the outbreak of the war. He was later appointed an OBE in 1919 for his meritorious war service.

On 25 October 1917, Major Shaw wrote in a letter home: ‘Flying has come to stay. The machines of the future will be simple and inexpensive. The ordinary man of mechanical taste could get a working knowledge of its riggings and engine in a few days. Up-keep should compare quite favourably with an ordinary large car. Breakages will depend on the pilot to a large extent, and a couple of smashes would of course boost the up-keep tremendously’.

In 1919, Major Shaw returned to Australia on the ‘SS Nestor’, and on 8 January 1920 established the Shaw-Ross Engineering & Aviation Company at Fishermen’s Bend. His business partner was H. Galsworthy Ross who, with two passengers, was killed in a crash at Port Melbourne on 22 May 1922. The Shaw-Ross company had an agency for Bristol and Farman aircraft; and in 1921, they imported several of the first post-World War I aircraft into Australia. Major Shaw also had an aerial photography business named ‘Airspy’, with a photographer named Hansen.

In 1924 Major Shaw was elected as committee member of the Victorian Section of the Australian Aero Club and later chaired the Air Convention, a lobby group comprised of various aviation interests. He was influential in selecting suitable sites for aerodromes, including Essendon Airport in 1921. (Moorabbin Airport was not established until much later, in 1949). Major Shaw became the No. 3 commercial pilot’s licence holder in Australia, and he was one of the first tenants of Essendon airport when it still had a grass runway.

Major Shaw (centre) inspecting potential aerodrome sites in 1921 near Old Man Plain in north-western Victoria. Source: Civil Aviation Historical Society & Airways Museum

On 25 February 1950 Melbourne’s Argus newspaper carried the following Report: ‘Pioneer pilot will retrace flight. The aviator who made the first civil Melbourne Sydney flight in 1922 has never flown in a modern passenger aircraft – until today. In 1922 Major Harry Turner Shaw piloted a 50-h.p. single-engined Farman aircraft at an average speed of 60 mph, and was awarded the Oswald Watt Memorial Medal for the year’s best flight by an Australian. Today he will retrace his pioneer flight (at 180 mph or more) in an Ansett DC-3, which will take three hours for the trip that once took him four days (‘including engine trouble’). Major Shaw, who is now 61, and lives in Beach Rd., Beaumaris, made his 1922 flight to attend a Sydney air regatta. He took off from an aerodrome ‘opposite the cement works in the Williamstown ferry short road’, and got as far as Moss Vale (NSW) before the engine spluttered. Repairs took two days, but he reached Sydney in the next ‘hop.’ ‘I wasn’t even in time for the regatta’, Major Shaw said yesterday, ‘but I stayed in Sydney for two days, and then flew back, spending a night at Tumut. There were no such things as airports on the route then’.

Major Harry Turner Shaw (right) with his boat building business partner Gerald Benson (left). Date on calendar looks like January 1947. Source: Black Rock Yacht Club via Sandringham & District Historical Society

Major Shaw and Gerald Benson were partners of the Melbourne boat building firm of Benson & Shaw, on the Mordialloc Creek. (Their boat building factory later became the Bolwell car factory). The Major had built sailing boats late in the Second World War. He used a jig on which he had built a Sabot for a tender in the early 1930s. The plans came from the American ‘Rudder’ magazine which he had started reading in 1904. Another six boats followed in 1945 as soon as the firm of Benson & Shaw was established at the end of the war. In Shaw’s own words: ‘Both Gerry Benson and I sailed at Black Rock. I only weighed nine stone wringing wet, so was suited to Sabots. When we sold out, we had built over 3,000 boats, some 250 being Sabots. We built them as dinghies as well as for sailing. I built a special Sabot as a motor boat which did 28mph with a 14hp motor. Our work was condemned for being too light, but today 80% of builders have copied our ideas. I was an aircraft engineer and used ideas I had in the construction of aircraft’.

Initially plywood was used in the construction of aircraft and it was these two men, through their vast experience in this field who realised that plywood could be adapted for marine construction as well. Ultimately in 1946 they built the first plywood boat in Australia. They also built a twin-hulled fibreglass power boat called the ‘Shawcat’.

Major Harry Turner Shaw was an intriguing and colourful Beaumaris identity – possibly even a little eccentric. But he was also much more than that – a distinguished war pilot and a pioneer of the Australian aviation, aerial photography and boat building industries. It was a pleasure to have known him.

References:

Anon. (1918) ‘Military Distinctions’ The Pegasus – Journal of The Geelong College Vol X, No. 3, December, 1918.

Anon. (1950). ‘Pioneer pilot will retrace flight’. The Argus newspaper, 25 February 1950 page 6, Melbourne.

Anon. (undated) ‘Flying Helmet – Major H.T Shaw, RFC & RAF, circa 1918’. Museum Victoria <https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/248098806&gt;

Disney, Graeme and Tarrant, Valerie (1988) Bayside Reflections. City of Sandringham, Sandringham.

Serle, Jessie. (2012) ‘Shaw, Mary Turner (Mollie) (1906–1990)’. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.  Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, University of Melbourne.

Turner Shaw, Harry (1918) ‘Letters from Old Boys at The Front’. The Pegasus – Journal of The Geelong College Vol X, No. 3, December, 1918.

Turner Shaw, Mary (1969) On Mount Emu Creek. Robertson and Mullens, Melbourne.

About the author: Tim Harding is a member of the Sandringham and District Historical Society. He has studied history, philosophy and science at Monash University; and works part-time as a regulatory consultant.

 

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Memories of Point Avenue, Beaumaris

by Tim Harding

(An edited version of this article was published in the Sandringham
& District Historical Society Newsletter, February 2019)

Point Avenue is named after ‘The Point’, which was a Victorian-style mansion overlooking Ricketts Point in Beaumaris.  It was built in 1890 by wealthy wine and spirits merchant Matthew Lang (1830 – 1893), after whom Lang Street is named. Lang was Lord Mayor of Melbourne from 1889 until he was elected to the Legislative Council in November 1892.  He died at The Point in March 1893.  The boundaries of Lang’s original estate are thought to be roughly Beach Road, Reserve Road, Haydens Road and what is now Florida Avenue.  The western end of Point Avenue was the front driveway to the estate, and the first leg of the eastern end of Point Avenue was the rear access driveway leading to the coach house.

In 1919, The Point was purchased by Thomas Turner Shaw, who later left it to his son, the pioneer aviator Major Harry Turner Shaw (1889-1973), whom I personally knew.  (Major Shaw is an historic figure worthy of an article of his own).  The Shaws gradually subdivided and sold the estate, creating Point Avenue, Lang Street and surrounding streets.  They finally sold the mansion in 1959, after which they lived at what is now ‘Pointside’ in Lang Street, but which was originally the servants’ quarters, coach house and horse stables.

thepoint

The Point mansion (centre) in 1959, just before it was demolished. The curved street in the left of the picture is Point Avenue. Beach Road is in the foreground.

I grew up at No. 6 Point Avenue which was on the corner of Lang Street. My parents purchased the land from the Shaws in 1948 for 182 pounds and ten shillings.  They later did a further subdivisional deal with neighbours to create 80 feet frontages to the south side of Point Avenue, instead of the usual 60 feet.

What is now the eastern end of Point Avenue was a caravan park, with an English-style ‘village green’ in the centre.  This was possibly attractive to the ‘ten-pound poms’ who lived there.  As a result, I grew up with the mistaken impression that British people were all poor with funny accents and missing teeth.

Residents of the western end of Point Avenue were attracted to its natural bush environment; and they later successfully campaigned to stop the Sandringham Council from making the street with the usual footpaths and guttering.  As a result, Point Avenue remained an unmade private road with the residents themselves responsible for filling in potholes and any other maintenance.

One of the leaders of this campaign was the late Colin Macrae, who lived with his wife Joan at No. 2 Point Avenue, and who became the second President of the Beaumaris Tree Preservation Society (now the Beaumaris Conservation Society).  The important fossils at the Beaumaris Bay Fossil Site were a major interest of Colin’s. Fossils he found are now in the collections of Museum Victoria and the Sandringham & District Historical Society.  His discovery of fossil remains of a significant extinct penguin at this site led to it being reported in a 1970 paper by a Harvard University palaeontologist, with the species being named after Colin as Pseudaptenodytes macrei.

Colin Macrae’s wife Joan (nee McIntosh) was a potter, who gave pottery classes to the ladies of Beaumaris (including my mother).  The members’ exhibition gallery of the Beaumaris Art Group in Reserve Road is now named after Joan Macrae.

On the beach side of the Macrae’s at 401 Beach Road lived Richard Franklin, who started his artistic career as a drummer with the Pink Finks rock band (which later became Daddy Cool after a couple of personnel changes).  Richard became a Hollywood film director and a protégé of Alfred Hitchcock.  He directed Psycho II (1983) and later returned to Australia where he filmed Hotel Sorrento (1995) and Brilliant Lies (1996).

The Shaws’ daughter Raithlyn married Creighton Burns, who was Reader in Politics at the University of Melbourne and who later became the Editor of The Age newspaper.  They lived at No. 1 Point Avenue, which was the old gatehouse to The Point mansion.

Next to the Burns at No. 3 Point Avenue lived the MacGregors, who also had a back gate to Coral Avenue.  The father Bruce was responsible for bringing Tupperware to Australia.  The mother Nan later owned a dress boutique in Black Rock.  The daughter Sue is now a prominent barrister and solicitor in St. Kilda doing mainly legal aid work.

At No. 9 Point Avenue lived the Bunnetts.  The father Lindsay was an architect, who designed some of the famous Beaumaris Modern houses in the 1960s.  The mother was Kay Bunnett who was an artist specialising in Ikebana, including wall hangings.  Sadly, the Bunnetts got into a very bad argument one night, where Kay grabbed an antique dagger off the wall and stabbed Lindsay to death with it.  Kay pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but was not sent to prison because of her age and ill-health.

Across the road from the Bunnetts were the Gashlers at No. 4 Point Avenue.  The father Chick was a legendary amateur snapper fisherman in Port Phillip Bay; and the mother June was a champion amateur golfer.  One of the daughters was named Suzy. I remember at about age 10 Suzy telling me that her mother wanted her to become a model, which naively I scoffed at.  But sure enough, Suzy Cato-Gashler did become a top model and later a notable TV, film and voice-over actress.  She recently appeared in The Dr. Blake Mysteries: Family Portrait (2017).

In the late 1950s, the caravan park at the eastern end of Point Avenue was subdivided into the house blocks you see today.  No. 21 Point Avenue was one of the Beaumaris Modern homes listed in the recently published book of the same name.  It was designed by architect Bill Kerr (whom I later knew as a jazz clarinet player) for the Deutscher family.  The father was Ray who inherited the WA Deutscher fastener manufacturing business.  The son was Chris Deutscher, who became the art dealer of Deutscher-Hackett fame.  Chris and I went to Haileybury together (as did Richard Franklin). I also played in Chris’ jazz band but we were never close friends.

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