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The Memories of Jean Fox (Hattam) & Max Fox

This is the story of Jean and Max Fox and their life and times in Yallourn and Newborough. Their memories give some insight into the transformation that occurred in the town of Yallourn from the 1920’s until its death knell some sixty years later.
During their lives Jean and Max have witnessed many changes in and around the district and it is hoped that this article, for the Virtual Yallourn website, will underline the reasons why Yallourn was regarded, by so many people, as an exceptional community for young and old alike. In 1976 Urszula Horbacz wrote…
“…it is the people who make places and that the community of Yallourn, to which they belonged, has served them well. …”
The recollections of Jean and Max Fox reinforce Urszula’s words in the strongest possible ways.

Jean was the youngest daughter of Henry William (Bill) and Rachel (Rae) Hattam. Bill had arrived in Yallourn from Castlemaine in 1920….
“Bill Hattam started work as a fitter in 1921 and became work shop foreman eight years later…” ‘Yallourn Was’. Page 179.
Documentation and photographs from that period indicate that the area in Gippsland chosen, by the Victorian Government as the centre of such an ambitious power generation project, was a rugged and untamed wilderness; and it was a demanding task in establishing homes, services and amenities in the township of Yallourn…
“The settlement, except for the mine-side was completely surrounded by dense forest ….by early 1921 the swamps and scrub were fast disappearing and new buildings appeared in the cleared areas. Sir John Monash and his official party arrived to witness the turning of the first sod for the Power station…” ‘To Yallourn With Love.’ Page: 4.

Jean’s mother, Rachel Helen (McDonnell), arrived in Yallourn as Bill’s young bride in 1922….and so began the story of the ‘Hattams of Yallourn.’
Bill and Rachel had two daughters (Jean and Myrtle) and one son named Edward (aka Ted). Myrtle was born in 1923 and Jean was born at the Morwell Bush Nursing Hospital on the 27th May 1925.
Jean’s family took up residence in a new house in 11 Hillside and in later years shifted to a larger residence at 40 Latrobe Avenue.
In Prue McGoldrick’s history of Yallourn, Bill Hattam is listed as a sectional winner in the 1930 Yallourn Horticultural Society awards.
Max Fox was the only child of Charles Oliver and Hilda Doreen Fox. Max was born at Geelong in 1927. Charles and Hilda moved to Yallourn in 1939 and then shifted to Morwell in the early 1940’s.

Jean wasn’t quite five years of age when she commenced school at the Yallourn Higher Elementary School in 1930; and in that same year the students moved to the new Primary School 4085 ….
“…I attended the school until grade four; and then my fifth and sixth years were spent at the H.E.S followed by Form :1; where I spent the next five years of my schooling.”
Jean recalls that the highlights of those early days were the interschool sports, netball and the annual swimming carnival(s) in the ‘mud hole.’ Jean has never forgotten the end of year school socials which were held in the Yallourn Drill Hall….
“…they were happy occasions and everyone celebrated the passing of another school year.”

Max’s family left Melbourne and arrived in Yallourn in December 1939. What a welcome the Fox family received!
1939 was the summer of the ‘Black Friday’ bush fires. Throughout Victoria rampant bush fires decimated townships and devastated forests, farmlands, stock and wildlife. More than 70 Victorians died in the raging inferno that year. It was only a brave rear-guard action, by more than one thousand residents, that saved the township of Yallourn and the SEC works.
The fires must have been terrifying; and Max’s thoughts are supported by a report that was carried in the Morwell Advertiser in January that year…
“Menaced by the worst bush fire in the history of Yallourn, the townships of Haunted Hills, Yallourn, and Brown Coal Mine, and the State Electricity Commission's power station and briquette factory were saved from destruction on Sunday last only by the united efforts of nearly 1,000 fire fighters. Many of the volunteers were brought from outlying districts to cope with the desperate emergency. For more than a week a fire had been smouldering in the heavily timbered country to the west of Haunted Hills….The danger to Yallourn and the electricity works was immediately reduced, but at the expense of an additional threat to the residents at the Brown Coal Mine, about a mile and a half to the north. Leaping the Latrobe River, the flames roared up a gully toward that settlement. Such was the demand upon, the water supply in the lower lying areas that on the crest of the hill, where the settlement is situated, hardly any water was available.’ January 12th Page: 6.

The first homes in Yallourn were built in in Maiden Street in 1922 and slowly but steadily the town and amenities ‘took shape.’ Jean recalled….
“…there were about five shops in those early days…at first our groceries came from Purvis Stores; orders were taken and the following day deliveries were made to the front door of the home. The butcher’s horse and cart provided a reliable supply of fresh meat and milk was also delivered to the front door.”
Jean also referred to the home deliveries of basic foodstuffs in those days…
“…the butcher, grocer (Nick Carter from Purvis Stores Moe) and baker (Mr Claxton from Yallourn North Bakery with his slow old horse) called from back door to back door through your yards to take orders. Even the night man went from loo to loo. The milk was delivered from hand cans into your milk billy each day and one could buy three penny worth of cream right into your bowl. Milkmen were Davey of Morwell Bridge, Payne of Morwell and then came Best and Carter of Yarragon, who later sold out to Vorbach Brothers of Newborough.”

The Yallourn Brass Band played in the rotunda on Friday and Sunday nights and most of the residents of the town came out to listen and, according to Jean, the recitals never failed to create a marvellous spirit and festive air…
“On Sundays, the band played in the rotunda in the gardens and we kids used to dance and play in the lawns around to the music.”
The band rotunda was opened by the General Superintendent Mr Bridge on 11th February 1929 and, as mentioned by Jean, during the fine weather recitals in the gardens were highly anticipated and well attended events.

Public transport was non-existent in those early days and taxis had to be hired for trips to Morwell or to connect with a train to travel Gippsland railway main line. According to Prue McGoldrick, in the early 1920’s there were more than thirty taxi cabs operating between Morwell and Yallourn.
When the town bus service(s) (Maxfield’s and Hardakers) began operation in Yallourn life was a little easier for the residents; and many locals took the opportunity to travel to Traralgon or Morwell on shopping excursions.

From the earliest times, the need for a fire brigade was deemed essential for the works area and the town of Yallourn. A volunteer brigade came into being in 1923; and by the following year the town boasted a strong and effective volunteer brigade. The brigade made a big impression on Jean in those days…
“The Fire Brigade had practice days in Centreway. It was great to watch men running with the hoses up the ladders before water rushed from the hoses. In those days, there were competitions between towns with the fire brigades. Not the fire trucks of today.”

One of Jean’s earliest memories was the official opening of the Yallourn Hospital in January 1929. It was one of the most significant events in the life of the town and was an occasion of great celebration and jubilation. More than 2500 people attended the opening of the hospital that day. The 24 bed hospital had cost more than £32000 (pounds) and according to Sir John Monash..
“…was a gift to the people of Yallourn from the people of Victoria.” ‘Yallourn Was’ Page: 53.
Matron Allan was a driving force in ensuring the highest standards of health care for patients in the hospital. Jean believes that Matron Allan left an indelible mark on the town for her dedication and service to the patients in those early years of the Yallourn Hospital. Dr James Moore Andrew was the Senior Medical Officer of the SEC Medical and Hospital Fund Committee at that time.
The opening of the Yallourn Infant Welfare Centre in 1949 was another important community facility in the town’s history; and Jean noted the reassuring assistance and advice given to the mothers in caring for their newborn babies by Sister White and other trained nurses.

Both Jean and Max loved swimming and readers will be interested to know that the first Yallourn swimming pool was actually part of the Latrobe River…
“Swimming in the children’s area fenced off in the Latrobe River, then you could swim and pass your Learn to Swim Certificate, you could go over the fence and swim out to the pontoon in the middle of the river. The flood in 1934 ruined all that. To gain The Herald Certificate children had to swim (unaided) for 25 yards.
Then came the mud hole in Yallourn with the diving tower, later to be followed by the Olympic Pool.”
Max recalled….
“Yallourn was a boy’s paradise in those early days…sport was well catered for and the bush was a place for exciting adventures and fun. The swimming hole was a great place for the children of the town in the hot weather and, although the dirty brown coloured water was questionable, many happy hours were spent swimming, diving and playing at the Yallourn pool.

Jean and Max shared memorable times with a circle of friends and there was never a dull moment. Jean’s list of friends in the town included Norma McLarty (Singer), Mavis Webb (McAllister), Betty Spencer (Kite), Wilma Brown and Beryl Cameron. Jean and Beryl have been friends for some 86 years and their story of life in Gippsland makes fascinating reading. Their bonds of friendship have lasted longer than Yallourn itself and are as strong today as they were in those early years of the town.
Max was rarely idle and when he was not working he was involved in playing soccer for St Therese’s Church team and competitive cycle racing. Max has fond memories of his times with such local identities as John Morris, Bill Shankland, Bill Reid and Morris Cooper.

Jean recalled the fun of growing up in Yallourn and one her favourite activities was bush walking and adding to her nature collection; Jean remembers that she found some really beautiful orchids, wild flowers and maiden hair ferns in the nearby bush and scrublands.

The Churches of Yallourn were central to organized activities for the children of the town; and Jean not only attended Sunday School but enjoyed the concerts and fund raising activities organized by the Churches...

“The great fun when each church held their bazaars, the beautifully decorated stalls, the handmade articles, novelties, those yummy home-made toffees and sweets, cakes, jams and pickles, the interesting lucky dips and the spinning wheels.”

Like so many children of that era, Jean and Max appreciated the outdoors and enjoyed a range of sports and games…

“As children we enjoyed the ANA Sports days and it was certainly an exciting occasion on the sporting calendar of the township. There were a wide range of athletics including fun- events for the children such as the egg and spoon, three-legged and sack races.”

Looking back, Yallourn appeared to be a town where the adults fully appreciated the need to provide healthy exercise and activities for the youngsters of the town…
“There were the boxing clubs, some trained by Mr Fred Jackson from 1st Youth Club held in the RSL hall in Hillside. Mr Jackson also held gymnasium early in the morning and Dr & Mrs Andrew helped Mr Hattam run the dances with records played on an old gramophone.
Then came Mr Graham, Mr & Mrs Tibbles, Mr & Mrs Mason with the next Youth Club, with bike hikes, moonlight hikes, bus trips to snow and beach, the great Friday night dances in the RSL Hall and don’t forget the Youth Show. What a success! Also their basketball (netball) team premiers, the boys made the medals.”

Although Jean was an enthusiastic and active member of the brownies and guides, her greatest love, as a youngster, was dancing. Jean had a fine appreciation of music and dancing was a natural extension of this passion.
In 1990 Jean put pen to paper and wrote an interesting article about her memories of Highland dancing in Yallourn….

“The legend of Highland National Dancing and pipe band in and around Yallourn was created by Mrs Emmy Law. In 1935, Mrs Law arrived as a bride and commenced teaching Highland National Dancing, also the bag pipes followed by the pipe band. In 1991, 55 years on, Mrs Law was still teaching with as much success as always, with Alison Coupe holding Victorian Championship for Highland Dancing for the past 3 years.

Some of the first pupils are also members of YOGA, namely Barbara Easterbrook (Breen), Betty Whitaker (Smith), Fae Lawson (Horman), Judy and Margaret Andrew, Marj Colvin (Phillips), Verna Withers (Puckeridge) and Marion Coutts (Arnold).
One pupil with great success is the daughter of a High School girl, the late Isabel McCarthy (Haughton). Dianne had great success in competitions throughout Victoria holding many championships.
After World War II, Mrs Law also assisted with training of debutante girls coming from Yallourn High School. Congratulations Mrs Emmy Law on the success of your pupils at competitions throughout Victoria and holding championships in all age groups over so many years.”

Jean also alluded to the significant role of Miss Greer and Mrs Huddy in furthering dancing in the district in those years…
“The first dancing classes held in Yallourn were held in the home of Miss Greer on the corner of Hillside and Outlook Road. They taught National Dancing, Scottish and Irish Dancing in approx. 1929-1932.

Mrs Myee Huddy came about 1931, teaching Toe Tap, Ballet Dancing etc. The classes were held in the fire station hall (later Kernot Hall). During the many years ahead there were CWA eisteddfods every year – great excitement as adjudicators came from Melbourne. Later they became known as Yallourn & District Eisteddfods.
We also had dancing concerts at first held in St John’s, then the picture theatre. One year, great excitement – we went to Melbourne to an eisteddfod – don’t think we won any sections.
In 1939, a pupil of Myee Huddy’s class went to lessons in Melbourne and opened Miss Joy’s Dancing School, with more concerts in Yallourn picture theatre. Miss Joy’s School of Dancing went on for many years, at Morwell also.”

Incidentally Jean first met Max at ball room dancing; and as their friendship blossomed they also enjoyed dances, outings, walks and movies. Film nights were first held in the church halls…

“We had a choice of going to the pictures in St John’s, run by Mr Lou Parry and all the breakdowns, or St Therese’s run by Mr Phillips and the same breakdowns.”

Note: The Yallourn Picture Theatre was not opened until May 1939.

Jean started work in the pay section of the Main Office of the SEC and, as was often the custom in those days, she retired to take up ‘home duties’. Max completed a bricklaying apprenticeship and in 1944 commenced work at the Yallourn Power Station.
Max and Jean first met at the Youth Club dance at the Yallourn RSL Hall (see above) and their friendship quickly blossomed. Their first outing together was a motor cycle ride to Boolarra.
Max and Jean became engaged in February 1948 and on the 10th July that year they married at St John’s Church. Reverend Harvey Brown officiated at the service and the wedding party consisted of Ted Hattam (best man), Myrtle O’Neill was the bridesmaid and the flower girl was Meryle Baker. An unforgettable highlight of the wedding day was the beautiful singing of Mildred Crowe (Neil) during the wedding ceremony.
Max remembers how his knees knocked together all the way down the aisle on that happy day.
The wedding reception at the Yallourn R.S.L Hall was a joyous occasion as friends and family toasted the newly-weds and joined in the formalities of the evening.
That evening Jean and Max set off for their honeymoon to Mildura and then onto Hall’s Gap in the Grampians. Jean recalled …
“..there was no car for the honeymoon …just train …and we flew to Mildura.”

Jean and Max had two children (Gregory and Lynne). Gregory was born in 1949 and attended the Yallourn High School. Sadly, Gregory passed away at the age of twenty two years. At the time of his death he was married with a baby daughter.
Lynne Fox was born on the 24th March 1950. Lynne attended Newborough High School.
Jean and Max have five grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and two great, great grandchildren and, there is little doubt, this story about the lives of Jean and Max all those years ago will have great meaning to the members of the family.

From the comments provided by Jean and Max for this story, Yallourn was a very special place that catered for the needs of the young people. It seems that all youngsters were warmly encouraged to become involved in the various clubs and organizations of the town.
Jean and Max have no doubt that their time in Yallourn was a great springboard in their lives and gave them a start that many other children throughout Australia may have envied…
“…we could never have lived in a better place….it was so friendly and as children we all attended similar venues and had a wonderful range of things to do. Many of the friendships we formed in those early times in Yallourn have lasted until this day.”
Jean wrote at length about what the town meant to her in those days…
“It was a sad day for me when we left Yallourn. The town is now gone and it is unfortunate that I cannot take my family to show them the houses in which I lived, the school where I was educated, the beautiful gardens and tree-lined streets.
We had a wonderful life in a remarkable town. It was my birth place and no-one was a stranger in Yallourn; it was so friendly and welcoming to all.
Although the town is gone the strong memories live on as I have been a member of the Yallourn Old Girl’s Association since the inaugural gathering. It is comforting to be able to meet our friends and companions on an annual basis.
Even as a child I knew that nothing about Yallourn was permanent and the town would one day be demolished; but it was still an unhappy moment in my life when all the discussions about its demise became a reality.”
Jean mentioned that she made a very special effort to ensure that some of the old red bricks of the Yallourn High School were salvaged from the demolition site, and incorporated into the building of the new Guide Hall at Newborough.

Jean and Max had extreme difficulty in gaining a home in Yallourn when they were married, so they purchased a block of land in Rutland Street in Newborough. They are still living there as this story is being written. Max and Jean built their own home 66 years ago and it is still standing today and is in fine condition.
Although the shift took them from Yallourn they were ‘not far away’ and Jean still thinks of herself as a ‘Yallourn girl’ because of her childhood connections with her parents. (Bill and Rachel Hattam lived in their house in Latrobe Avenue until their retirement).
Max’s parents moved from Yallourn to Morwell in the 1940’s and consequently he made the transition to Newborough without “too much pain.”

In 1976, a Back-to-Yallourn reunion was organised to say farewell to the town*. A dinner originally planned for 6-8 classmates turned into 126 girls; and this set the scene for YOGA being formed and the introduction of their wonderful Annual Yallourn Reunions.
Jean Fox (Hattam) has been a member of YOGA since those very early days. She became President in 1994 for a period of 9 years, before stepping aside in 2003 filling the position of Vice President, until this current date.
Jean has always been an enthusiastic member of YOGA and has been a ‘backbone’ for the association. Jean wrote about the importance of YOGA in keeping in touch with her friends…
“Yallourn was such a large part of my life and I wished to keep the memories of those remarkable years alive and on-going …so I have been a member of the Yallourn Old Girls’ Association since the inaugural gathering...”
Some of the other names that Jean remembers from those formative years of YOGA include Tess Gray (Whitehouse), Gloria Stewart (Thorpe), Neta Billingsley (Spittal), Val Embry (Kerr), Nancy Barnett (Smith), Lucy Bathurst (Crowe), June Jardine (Blenkiron) and Sonja Bates (Ostlund).
From that first reunion some 39 years ago, at the Northern Reserve Hall in Morwell , YOGA has continued to play a vital part in ensuring that the town lives on in the hearts and minds of the former residents of Yallourn.
Note: *Two movies were taken after this reunion which can be viewed on Virtual Yallourn, top tab ‘Movies.’

Jean and Max are warmly thanked for putting their thoughts and feelings about the township on public record for future generations to read, consider and appreciate.
Sincere thanks to Max and Jean for providing historical details for writing this story for the Virtual Yallourn website; and special acknowledgement is given to their granddaughter Natalie Fox for her kind and willing assistance with the final draft of this article. Thank you Natalie for the time you gave helping Nan and Pa in preparing notes for this story.
Yallourn was a unique town and a place that cannot and should not be forgotten; and it is hoped that the above story may inspire others to record their memories for posting on this website. As J.K. Rowling once said…“There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”…hopefully back to Yallourn!

This story for the Virtual Yallourn website was collated, prepared and written by Julie George and Roger Spaull in May 2015.


Virtual Yallourn recently (June 2015 ) received the a letter from Jean in which she recalled..
"In the story about our family, I forgot to tell about the snow in Yallourn before I started school; and that the first caretaker of junior school was Mr Watson McDonell (my grandfather). When the technical school opened, he became caretaker there and taught the kids how to mould aluminium aeroplanes. At the last Yallourn Reunion, Graham Beanland (his dad was the first headmaster of Yallourn Tech) was talking about "Old Mac" as he was called."

Yallourn Football Club YFC 1945-65 - The 1955 Grand Final - Yallourn vs Sale - Peter Cook and Jim Watt...by Roger Spaull

The LVFL final four in 1955 comprised Moe, Warragul, Sale and Yallourn. The Blues had taken ‘all before them ’ in the dash to the finals and while surprising the pundits, Yallourn was the ‘wild card in the pack.’ A dazzling victory over the highly fancied Warragul team in the Preliminary Final entitled the Blues to meet Sale in the LVFL Grand Final. The Grand Final was played at Morwell on Saturday, 10 September.

‘The Argus’ headline on the eve of the game read….
Further into the body of that story….
“Yallourn started its run six weeks ago and although it scraped into the four ...it has hit top form.”

Sale FC had won the LVFL premiership in1954 and had been the glamour team of the competition for two seasons. With class footballers across all lines and an astute coach in Hugh Murnane (ex-Melbourne1937-40), Sale had taken Gippsland football standards to a new level. Hugh, a renowned tactician and progressive thinker, had built Sale’s game around ‘quick ball movement’ and ‘playing on’ at every opportunity. Much of ‘The Argus’ report by Ron Testro regarding the Grand Final dealt with the fan-fare and parade that preceded the bounce of the ball…
“Twelve hundred war-whooping Sale supporters travelled the 38 miles (63km) to Morwell in a ten-car special train bedecked in the colours and flags with a Sale ‘magpie” on the front of the engine.”
The colourful description of the Sale’s ‘black and white army’ continued…
“Behind the leaders came ten pretty majorettes...then the Sale City Band played ‘Blaze Away’….”

Talk about Joshua’s arrival at the walls of Jericho! Meanwhile the Yallourn players had their own ideas on how to add a bit of life to the day… by using ‘shock tactics’ at the selection table. A study of the line up on that day will explain the Blues’ forward strategy in that Grand Final.

Backs: Stan Brown Keith Gibson Kevin Fanning.
HB: Jim Watt Ken McColl Jim Brown
Centres: Claude Whitbourne Mossie Williams Ray Kitney
HF: Jack Vinall Peter Cook Barry Coad
F: Laurie Shipp Gerald Marchesi Roy Cullinan

Rucks: Bruce Knight Des Madden Jimmy Shaw

19th: Peter Watkinson 20th: Merv Crane

What a forward line! Laurie Shipp, Gerald Marchesi and Roy Cullinan had all played VFL football and formed a most imposing attack. The move of Gerald to full forward had been a stroke of genius in the lead-up to the finals and his ability to find the ‘big sticks’ would have been a worry to Hugh Murnane and the Sale bench that day.
“Captain Gerald Marchesi…has blossomed into a capable forward...and former South Melbourne seconds player Cullinan (Roy) has developed into a handy goal sneak as a permanent forward pocket.” ‘The Argus.’

Furthermore, Peter Cook was a brilliant footballer and there is no doubt that the Sale selectors would have ‘burnt the late night oil’ in working out how to ‘best neutralize’ Peter’s influence across half forward for the Blues.

The game was a titanic struggle from the first bounce. Both defences were in control as all forwards struggled to find space and convert opportunities. In those days, defence was based upon ‘man-on-man’ tactics and ‘zone defence’ (which dominates modern coaching thinking) was unheard of in Australian Rules football.
Yallourn’s defence led by Kevin Fanning was superb early in the game in repelling Sale attacks and keeping the Magpies at bay…
“Failure of Sale’s half forward line and centre line in the second quarter.”
The Blues led by 17 points at half time. The question at the back of everyone’s mind, as the teams headed for the sheds at the big break, was… ‘Could the Yallourn defenders stand tall for another fifty minutes?’
The answer came quickly in the third term.

Hughie Murnane must have fired a rocket during his half time address because Sale hit the ground running. Great teams respond when the outcome is in doubt and Sale ‘took the game on.’ Led by Alan Morrow, the Magpies began to penetrate the Blues’ tight defence and the balance of the contest shifted in a dramatic manner. The game suddenly ‘opened up’ and the ‘lock down’ style of the Blues’ defence snapped and Sale kicked 5.4. (34) to Yallourn’s solitary point for the quarter. In modern day football, Sale’s run on without counter attack is called a ‘surge’ and it takes a lot of stopping. The Blues’ half back line of Jim Watt, Ken McColl and young Jim Brown were under enormous pressure as the Magpie centre line took charge and created opportunities up forward. It is often said that the third term is “the premiership quarter” and the game slipped from Yallourn’s grasp in those vital minutes.
It was a disastrous term for Yallourn and only a ‘full blooded charge’ in the final stanza could reverse the likely outcome.

The Blues reacted with character and true grit. Rovers Barry Coad, and Jimmy Shaw were defiant in the face of defeat and along with ‘Mossie’ Williams gave the Blues supporters some hope. The Blues edged back within two goals but time was their enemy. Sale clung onto take the silverware and the ‘victory train’ back to Sale.

The winner takes all in Grand Finals and the Sale supporters were feverish in triumph.
“…it seemed everyone (from Sale) had won Tatts.”
There had been little between the two great teams, but the result again underlined the significance of the ‘third quarter’ in finals matches. In the wash-up the scoreboard told the truth of the matter.

Quarter by Quarter scores:
Sale : 2.4 3.7 8.11 11.13. (79)
Yallourn: 2.3 6.6 6.7 10.9. (69)

Goals for Sale: Morrow 3 Smith 3 Mc Kee 2 Stanes 2 T.Hart 1
Goals for Yallourn : Cullinan 4 Marchesi 2 Cook 2 Coad 1 Fanning1

Best for Sale: Brewer T.Hart Mason Morrow Finegan Stanley J. Hart Felstenthal
Best for Yallourn: Coad Fanning McColl Williams Marchesi Shaw Knight Gibson Shipp


1. Peter Cook was born on the 1st of November1932 (the same day that the ‘great stayer’ Peter Pan won the Melbourne Cup at Flemington). Peter was the youngest of nine children born to William and Celia Cook. William was a cartage contractor in the Yallourn district. William’s work included hauling newly cut timber sleepers to the numerous railway line construction sites throughout Gippsland. It was hard and back-breaking work in those early days with bullock teams.

2. Peter’s first game of senior football was for Yallourn North FC. Note: The Yallourn North Football Club was formerly known as the Brown Coal Mine and also BCM Imperials). The name change occurred in 1948. (Note: Peter recalls a photograph of himself, as a young lad, wearing the distinctive guernsey of BCM). The NYFC competed in the Mid Gippsland Football League after World War :II

3. Peter clearly remembers his first senior coach was Claude Higginson. Peter believes Claude gave him some very important lessons in the fundamentals of kicking, marking and body work. A photograph of Yallourn North FC in season 1951 shows Peter sitting in the front row of the picture. Other players named in the print include Viv Gore, Jack Taylor, Merv Crane, Bill Skinner, Ron De Carli, Alf Cook, Bill Mackie and Eric Lyons.

4. In 1953, Peter trained at Essendon FC and following an impressive display in a practise match was asked sign what was termed a ‘Form Four’. In those days such forms granted permission for country players to play permit matches in the VFL. Essendon was eager to sign Peter but after some consideration and carefully reading the ‘fine print’, Peter returned home to Gippsland.

5. Peter’s first senior coach in the LVFL was Gerald Marchesi. Peter made an immediate impact for Yallourn FC and began to attract the attention of VFL scouts. He was strong pack mark and long kick. Peter fondly remembers Yallourn’s Kevin Fanning. As a centre half forward Peter appreciated how Kevin’s long drop kicks found Peter on the lead. Kevin was a magnificent kick with the ability to put the ball out in front of the leading player in order that it could be marked ‘without breaking step.’ In that year Peter played with some of Gippsland’s all time greats including Jim Shaw, Bruce Knight, Des Madden, Stan Brown, Laurie Shipp, Mossie Williams and Kevin Fanning.

6. Peter played at centre half forward in the I955 Grand Final at Morwell. The Sale backline included some brilliant country footballers such as George Finegan, Bob Greenwood, Ian Vize, Ian Felsenthal, Syd Smith and Les Wyld but the Yallourn forward line played with great resolve that day. As can be seen from the results above, Roy Cullinan kicked four goals, Gerald Marchesi and Peter Cook kicked two majors for the Blues that day. It was to be Peter’s last appearance in LVFL football.

7. After a transfer dispute that made news in ‘The Argus’, Peter was cleared from Yallourn to Melbourne FC in June 1956. He was given jumper number 21 on the Melbourne list and it was not long before he had forced his way into the Senior XVIII. In such a strong team as Melbourne, Peter’s selection was no minor achievement!

8. Peter made his VFL debut against Fitzroy in Round: 4 at the age of 23 years. The game was played at the Punt Road Oval because of the work that was being undertaken in preparation for 1956 Olympic Games. An estimated crowd of 23000 people watched the game. It was an experience for Peter to play in front of such a large crowd compared to the small but loyal number of supporters who had watched him play for Brown Coal Mine only a few years earlier.

9. Peter’s arrival in Melbourne from Yallourn coincided with the upgrade of the MCG in readiness for the 1956 Olympic Games. The Demons relocated to the Albert Street Oval for training.

10. The company entrusted to undertake the extensive earth moving works to the MCG was Roche Bros. of which Peter was an employee. Peter had also worked for Roche Bros. at the Yallourn Open Cut before leaving for the city. Peter was one of many workers involved in carting (by truck) the thousands of tons of overburden from the Yallourn Open Cut Mine for back filling.

11. It must have been a thrill for a young player from Yallourn to be selected into Melbourne team with such names as Ron Barassi, Laurie Mithen, Stuart Spencer, Ian Ridley, Bob Johnson and John Beckwith. Another player named Jim Sandral made his debut alongside Peter that day. Melbourne’s coach in 1956 was VFL legend Norm Smith. Peter remembers kicking his first VFL goal at the Punt Road Oval that day…
“…it was a grubber that wormed its way over the goal line”.
Melbourne won that game by 19 points.”

12. Peter played 14 senior games for Melbourne between 1956 and 1958 and kicked 6 goals. One of the real highlights of his short career at Melbourne was being part of the Melbourne reserves team that won the 1956 flag in front of a record crowd of 115,802 fans. The scores were:-Melbourne 16.14.110 defeated South Melbourne 10.12.72.
‘The Age’ (17th September 1956) reported…
“…across the half forward line the Demons were given great drive by Brian Collopy and later by Peter Cook at centre half forward”.
Melbourne’s best that day, according to the newspaper, included Crameri, Lord, Kerr, Cook and Jones. The MFC Reserves team was coached by Roy McKay in that season. While playing at MFC Peter also won the Most Consistent Player Trophy in the Reserves grade.

13. Peter played his last VFL game against South Melbourne at the Lakeside Oval in Round: 9 of the 1958 season. Melbourne won convincingly. Readers will be interested to know that Jim Dorgan, who went onto coach Yallourn FC in 1960-61, played for South Melbourne that day.

14. The following summer, Peter travelled to Port Fairy FC to discuss ‘signing on’ but he rejected that offer. His next stop was at Warrnambool FC where Peter found much to his liking. He agreed to play with Warrnambool in the Hampden Football League. History shows that Warrnambool’s recruitment of Peter was somewhat of coup because he turned out be a brilliant performer as a player and also as a club coach.

15. Peter’s record at Warrnambool is most impressive:-
a. He played 100 senior games in the Hampden FL (1959-65).
b. Coached Warrnambool FC for four years 1959-62. Final
c. Premiership Coach in 1959, 60 and 62. (Note: Runners-up in 1961)
d. Non playing coach of WFC premiership team.
e. Captain of Hampden FL in 1965.
f. Coached HFL for four years.
g. Represented the Hampden FL in Victorian Country Championships.
h. Coach of the HFL team that defeated the Ballarat FL in VCFL finals.
i. President of Warrnambool FC in 1968 and 1969.
j. 100 Game Life Member of WFC
k. Peter is listed as a ‘Legend of the 50’s’ on the WFC website.

The history of Warrnambool Football Club book entitled ‘The Birth of the Blues’ carries a glowing tribute to Peter…
“Cook had endeared himself to the supporters because of his competent leadership, outstanding marking and personality. Peter completed an excellent coaching career with a third premiership in 1962”.
Later in the book it highlights that Peter was a key figure in what described as the ‘Golden Era’ of the Warrnambool Football Club.

16. Yallourn North FC / BCM has produced many fine footballers since it was founded in 1920 but it is fair to say that Peter Reville, Gary Crane and Peter Cook are three of the club’s greatest all-time players. Peter Cook only played a couple of seasons with Yallourn FC but he left an indelible mark on the club and has never been forgotten as an eminent forward of that era.

17. At the time of talking to Peter about his football career, he and Nancy were living at Warrnambool. Peter has returned Yallourn in recent years for the Yallourn Old Girls’ Association Reunions where he thoroughly enjoyed catching up with former team mates from Yallourn FC and friends from the township.


1. After moving with his family into Yallourn from Morwell Bridge in 1941, Jim Watt (born : Sept. 1930) attended YHS and played soccer in his early days in Yallourn. Jim then switched to Australian Rules in 1945.

2. As a teenager Jim remembers playing in the Latrobe Valley Churches Junior FL Grand Final against Traralgon. The team was coached by Yallourn FC legend Kevin O’Neill. According to ‘The Advertiser’ it was a ‘scrappy affair’ early in the game and the strong wind made attractive football virtually impossible. In a gripping and vigourous contest, Traralgon held on to win the flag by 10 points.
Details were: - Traralgon 5.6. (36). defeated Yallourn 4.2. (26).
Goals for Yallourn: - Bill Laurie, Ian Collins, Warwick Squires and Ken Passey.
Best for Yallourn: - Jim Shepherd, Warwick Squires, Tom Oswald and Jim Watt.

3. Jim played his first senior game with Yallourn FC in Round: 4 of 1947. Tom Knight was the YFC coach that season. Unfortunately Jim missed most of the 1948 season because of a serious knee injury (cartilage) and subsequent surgery and rehabilitation. In those days such a medical procedure was a major operation and recuperation in hospital could be up to six weeks of duration. It was common for footballers who had suffered cartilage damage to never play football again. Jim remembers that Dr Andrew successfully operated on his knee and he resumed training in 1949. George Card had returned from Geelong to coach the Blues in that year.
(Note: Dr. James Moore Andrew arrived in Yallourn in 1926…only four years after the formation of the YFC. He was still treating and operating on players more than 40 years later. Dr Andrew was once described as… “the doyen of the local medical fraternity”. Dr Andrew was later to receive an MBE for his services to the people of Yallourn).
Jim suffered further damage to his knee during a Fire Brigade Demonstration at Chelsea in 1953 and was once again laid up for a period of time. On that occasion, one of the great personalities of the Yallourn Medical Centre, Dr Ganz was Jim’s physician.

4. In 1954, Jim was issued with one of the club’s most famous jumpers (number 9) formerly worn by Simon Shaw. Jim was the first player, following the death of the Blues’ champion Simon Shaw in 1953, to wear the coveted guernsey. On the presentation of the guernsey, Jim was told by club officials that it had ‘a very special meaning to the club.’ Jim, who had been a friend of Simon, was ever-conscious of that statement and he wore the jumper with great pride until his enforced retirement from football in1955.

5. Jim played nearly every game for Yallourn as a back man and developed into a key member of a strong defence led by Kevin Fanning and Stan Brown. Jim was often mentioned in the match reviews of that period. In one newspaper report of the Yallourn v Yarragon fixture in August 1954, Jim and Des Madden were praised for their ‘sound’ work in defence. Jim has never forgotten winning match awards to the value of £10.oo that were regularly presented by Father Walsh of St Therese’s Catholic Church.
According to Jim… “Father Walsh was a very good supporter of YFC.”

6. Jim played 3 or 4 reserves matches and 70 (approx) senior games for Yallourn. He won the Most Improved Player award in 1954. In that season, Yallourn’s spirited utility player Bernie Nairn was the club’s Best and Fairest trophy winner . Pat Wheeler (ex- Essendon/Brunswick) was runner-up in the award. Pat was an exciting and skilful midfielder who had played on the wing in the Essendon reserves premiership team of 1950. Pat also represented the LVFL against Gippsland at Maffra in 1954. At the end of the 1954 season Jack Aitken relinquished the coaching job and Gerald Marchesi (ex-North Melbourne) ‘took over the reins’ at Yallourn FC.

7. Jim was a member of the 1955 Grand Final team that played Sale at Morwell. On that day, he lined up on Jim Hart (one of the famous Hart brothers of Sale FC). Jim Watt remembers the dour struggle, the massive crowd and the great support from the Yallourn fans as the Blues fought back bravely in the last term. (See above).

8. The 1955 Grand Final was to be Jim’s last game of football for Yallourn. In December of the same year, Jim tore the cruciate ligament of his right knee so badly in a mishap while fishing at Omeo that he was again hospitalised. Although Dr Ganz (then YFC club doctor) repaired the serious damage, Jim’s knee was ‘shot to pieces’ and he was forced to retire from football. Unless one has played football, it is difficult to imagine the heartache that early retirement, due to injury, can cause young footballers. It was sad way for Jim to ‘hang up his boots’ but Jim was philosophical about his career-ending injury.

9. Jim recollects that…
“The YFC players were always well represented with the Yallourn Fire Brigade. In March 1955 the Yallourn Brigade team won the ‘8 Man Hose & Ladder’ event in record time at the State-wide Annual Demonstrations at Ballarat. It was a premier event and four of the eight firemen were Yallourn footballers.” (Bruce and Daryl Knight (brothers), Bill White and Jim Watt…see photograph posted with this story).
He also mentioned that…
“The competition included teams from major country towns including Ballart, Bendigo, Geelong, Mildura and, in that year, three teams from West Australia. The time set by the Yallourn brigade lasted for about 10 years before it was bettered.”

10. During his football career in the CGFL and the LVFL, Jim played with and against some of the best footballers in Gippsland .He remembers the Shaw brothers, Bruce Knight, Kevin Fanning and ‘Mossie’ Williams as stars of that era. Jim now lives at Inverloch but he has never forgotten the football club, the town and the wonderful people of Yallourn …
“…it was a lovely place to live and work. We were very lucky to be part of it.”

Jim Watt’s son, Jim (Junior) also adds to the history of Gippsland football with a remarkable career in umpiring in country football. Jim began umpiring at the age of eighteen and thirty five years later he is still ‘blowing the whistle', in local football. This is ‘young’ Jim Watt’s story…

1. Jim’s son, young Jimmy (born in 1960) played junior football with Newborough and Moe teams in the 1970’s. Jimmy wore his father’s YFC number 9 as captain and full back in the Newborough Bulldogs runner-up Under 12 team in 1972.

2. While playing for Moe in the Latrobe Valley Junior Football League Sunday competition from 1973, he umpired Central Gippsland Junior Football League Under 12 games on a Saturday morning. $5 was the well paid umpiring payment at that time.

3. In 1976, Moe Colts Under 16’s won the premiership and Jimmy was the LVJFL leading goal kicker.

4. In his final year of junior football back at Newborough in the Under 17 Mid Gippsland Football League 1977 competition, despite missing a month with torn ankle ligaments and illness when his teammates won the grand final, he kicked 100 goals for the season including a purple patch of 18, 17 and 11 goals in three straight matches.

5. From 1978 until 2000, young Jim Watt umpired over 550 football matches across Gippsland from Benambra to Wonthaggi for the Latrobe Valley Umpires Association (LVUA)

6. He received life membership of the LVUA in 1987 and served as Assistant Umpiring Director in 1999.

7. His career highlights included senior grand finals in the Latrobe Valley Football League, Mid Gippsland and Gippsland Latrobe Football Leagues, as well as being chosen to field umpire the Latrobe Valley versus Western Border 1993 interleague match played at Leongatha.

8. In 2001, Jim with his 14 year old son, James and 12 year old daughter, Katherine joined the Traralgon Umpires Association (TUA) officiating in junior matches in the Traralgon & District Junior Football League.

9. In 2002, youngest son, Matthew joined the TUA as an 11 year old boundary umpire and five years later as a central umpire reached the 100 game milestone. Youngest daughter, Gemma never umpired football but with Matthew was a competition swimmer for the Traralgon Swimming Club and played netball and basketball. Grandfather Jim was and is still very proud of his grandchildren, and now two great grandchildren – both boys and perhaps potential football umpires.

10. Jim Watt still umpires junior football and has clocked up over 250 games for the TUA to date.


1. 1955 was Yallourn’s last appearance in a LVFL Grand Final until 1969.

2. The crowd that day was given as 7342 and the gate takings were recorded as £1056 (pounds).

3. The umpire for the Grand Final was W. ‘Bill’ Barbour. Bill umpired 154 VFL games and the VFL 1959 Grand Final between Geelong and Essendon.

4. Gerald Marchesi was re-appointed coach of Yallourn FC in 1956.

5. Roy Cullinan played two senior games with South Melbourne in 1953.

6. George Finegan (Sale’s centre half back in the 1955 LVFL Grand Final) went on to play four VFL games with Geelong FC in 1958.

7. Ian Brewer and his cousin, Alan Morrow went onto successful VFL careers. Ian played 84 games with Collingwood while Alan played 163 games with St Kilda.

8. Hughie Murnane played 52 games with Melbourne (1937-40).

9. Virtual Yallourn has posted stories and further information about Jimmy Shaw, Jack Vinall, Gerald Marchesi, Bruce Knight and Laurie Shipp. A copy of the story of Peter Reville that was written for YYNFC is also available to interested readers.

Written for Virtual Yallourn by Roger Spaull~ May 2013.

For further stories, photographs and memorabilia regarding YFC…click ‘Search’…type ‘Football’ and press ‘Enter.’

Yallourn Football Club 1945-1965 YFC - Des Madden & Jimmy Shaw - Footnotes re Alister Thorpe & friends - by Roger Spaull


In 1958 the Yallourn Football Club’s Annual Presentation of Trophies was held on the 30th September at the Hernes Oak Hall. The highlight of the evening was the conferring of YFC Life Memberships upon Des Madden and Jimmy Shaw. Des and Jimmy had each played more than 200 games for Yallourn FC and both had been dominant players in the CGFL and the LVFL. ‘Champion’ is an often over-used term in sporting vernacular but there would be little argument that the title sits well with both. For more than a decade, Des and Jim had been loyal servants of the club and had always been resolute and uncompromising when wearing the Blues’ jumper.

‘Longevity, reliability and consistency’ are three important factors when ‘weighing up’ the worth of footballers to any club and Des and Jimmy passed ‘the test’ with flying colours. Both had shared the highs and lows of football. Des and Jimmy were team mates in the victorious 1948 YFC Premiership team. Five years later, they shared the bitter disappointment of being beaten by Morwell in the last-ever CGFL Grand Final.
Des won numerous trophies during his career including...
1. Best Backman ~ (1951).
2. Best Backman ~ (1952).
3. Special Player Award~ (1953).
4. Most Reliable Player ~(1954)

The Virtual Yallourn website has previously posted the remarkable performances of Jimmy Shaw. If the YFC had a ‘Hall of Fame’ then Jimmy would be granted ‘Legend Status’. Jimmy was the star rover of CGFL in that era and in 1953, he won the prestigious Rodda Medal. Over the years at the club, Jimmy won a host of awards and trophies including :
1. At least five YFC Best & Fairest~ (1946-47-51-53-55).
2. Most Consistent Player ~ (1944).
3. Most Consistent Player ~ (1948).
4. Most CGFL Umpires Votes for a YFC Player (1952).
5. Jimmy also represented the LVFL against the Gippsland FL at Maffra in 1954.
6. In 1949 Jimmy played three VFL games with Melbourne FC.

The 1958 LVFL Treasurer Mr O’Connell, a guest of the YFC that evening, referred to Des and Jimmy in his address to the club …
“Yallourn has always worthily upheld the highest traditions of the game …and (he) was particularly pleased to see the club reward such outstanding players as Des Madden and Jimmy Shaw.”

The 1958 YFC award winners were:
Best & Fairest. Kevin Gould
Runner-up Best & Fairest. Bill Jackson
Most Consistent Player. Alec Shaw
Most Determined. Barry Spurrier
Best Utility. Barney Sewell
Goal kicking Trophy. Roy Illingworth
Selectors’ Trophy. Kevin Gould
Youngest Player Award. Tony Radford
Best Clubman. John Henderson
Best & Fairest. Brian Bertoli
Runner- Up Best & Fairest. Alister Thorpe
Most consistent Player. John Fullwood
Most Improved Player. Ron Gale

During the evening, a special appreciation award was made to the YFC Ladies’ Committee for the outstanding contribution it had made to the club throughout the season. Mesdames Menner, Botten, Barton, Slatter, Sloan and Smith each received a presentation and the warm-hearted thanks of all in attendance.
In a thoughtful gesture, the club also officially recognised the sterling efforts of four young volunteers Maureen Sloan, John Norden, Andrew Smith and Robin Unwin for assisting YFC during the season.


1. Alister Thorpe first played for Yallourn in 1958. He came from Trafalgar FC where he had played 1st XVIII football from 1951-57.

2. According to the available records, Alister played 77 senior games for Trafalgar and kicked 51 goals. In the match reports of the early 1950’s, Alister was mentioned as being a centre man. Alister won the Senior XVIII Best & Fairest Trophy for Trafalgar in 1956.

3. Alister played 37 senior games for Yallourn between 1958 and 1963. In summary, Alister played 114 senior games in the CGFL & LVFL. He also played many reserve grade matches in his time at YFC.

4. As a full forward, Alister was a ‘shrewd sharpshooter’ because of uncanny ability to find space close to goal and convert the ‘half chances’ that came his way during the game.

5. Alister was one of the most thrilling aerialists to ever play for Yallourn FC in that era (1945-65). Despite all the changes introduced into football over the years, high marking is still the most attractive aspect of Australian Rules. Alistair rarely failed to give the spectators their ‘penny’s worth’ of aerial acrobatics each week. Not all football coaches like players who mark from behind; but in Alister’s case he was a ‘natural’, somewhat like Alex Jesaulenko (Carlton). One of the thrills for the local crowd was to see Alister use the opposition defender’s back as a ladder…step..…climb…hang …and then pluck the ball from above the pack. Yallourn supporters just waited and watched for his moment of ‘take off’ each Saturday. Alister’s ‘airborne antics’ were always talking points at school first thing on Monday morning for the youngsters of the town.

6. Over the years, Yallourn FC had some very exciting and spectacular ‘high fliers’ such as Peter Cook, Gary Hurle, Tom Garland, Laurie Shipp, Steve Szabo, Max Sullivan, Bruce Goode, Rick Belford, Kevin Fanning and Michael Smith, but Alister ranks with the best.

7. Alister was the YFC 2nd XVIII team captain of the side that played in the LVFL Grand Final against Traralgon in 1963.

8. Alister was held in high regard by all. In keeping with his free spirit and positive outlook on life, he won the YFC’s Most Unselfish Player Trophy that season. (Note: Alister’s daughter, Marji, is a keen member of Yallourn Old Girls’ Association and enjoys attending the Annual Reunions and the opportunity to meet up with her many friends from Yallourn High School days).

9.Vic Lawrence (ex- North Melbourne/Victoria) coached Yallourn in 1958 and 1959. Vic was chosen in the LVFL inter-league squad in 1959. There is a story posted regarding Vic on the Virtual Yallourn website.

10. See the Virtual Yallourn website for stories and footnotes regarding Jack Vinall, Ron Lee, Bruce Knight and Kevin Gould.

11. Alec Shaw (unrelated to Jimmy Shaw) joined Yallourn from Yinnar FC. Alec was an ‘in-under’ rover who lacked nothing in courage and stamina. Alec won the goal kicking award in 1957. Alec returned to Yinnar in later years and won Yinnar’s Best & Fairest Trophy (1961&65). Barney Sewell (see photograph) was a dependable and vigourous back pocket for Yallourn in that period. Barney was also cleared to Yinnar and in 1964 he coached Yinnar to a MGFL Premiership. He won two Best & Fairest awards for Yinnar (1966 & 67).

12. In the 1958 team photograph, Ray Kitney is shown next to Alec Shaw. Ray started his career with YFC in the early 1950’s and in 1952 won the Reserves Most Improved Player award. He played his first senior game with the club in 1953. Ray played in the LVFL Grand Final against Sale in 1955.
In 1956 ‘The Argus’ (March 6th) reported that… “Ray Kitney a wingman from Yallourn trained at Geelong FC.”
Ray won the club’s Most Consistent Player trophy in 1957. Ray’s other awards at YFC were the Most Unselfish Player (1959) and in 1960 he won a special club award entitled Best Attention to Training. Ray (or ‘Steak’ as he was known) played 123 senior games for YFC. A motor mechanic by trade, Ray was regarded as a loyal and dedicated member of YFC. He and his wife (Enid) currently live in W.A.

13. Bill Jackson was an outstanding midfielder and, like John Hutchinson, had played CGFL and LVFL football at a young age. Bill was a fierce competitor who never took a ‘short step in any contest’. His strength at ground level enabled Yallourn to win a ‘fair share’ of centre breaks. The Melbourne Football Club took considerable interest in Bill and he signed on with the Demons as a teenager. Bill broke into the news (‘The Argus’ May 1954) when his request to seek a transfer to another VFL club was refused by the VFL permit committee.
Bill’s other awards at YFC included…
1. Special YFC Trophy~1953.
2. Bud Williams Memorial Trophy~1953.
3. Most Serviceable player~1956.
Bill’s brother-in-law Jim Mitchell is pictured in the front row. Jim also played with Warragul (LVFL) for a short time.

14. Barry Spurrier was a popular and ‘lion-hearted’ player for the Blues in that period. Barry was a prominent player in the local under-age competition and he later forged a reputation as a tireless and spirited wingman in LVFL football.
Barry’s club awards and honours included…
1. Under 16 League Runner-up Best & Fairest.
1. Captain of YFC Third XVIII team ~1956.
1. Under 18 Best & Fairest Trophy ~ 1956.
2. Reserves Best & Fairest Trophy~ 1957.
3. Senior XVIII Most Determined Award in 1958.
As a point of interest, Barry remembers selling the ‘VFL Record’ for the ‘National Round Day’ which was held on June 14th 1952.The specially organized VFL fixture between Footscray and St Kilda was played at Yallourn Oval. Barry has never forgotten the large crowd (3500) which packed the ground to watch the game on that day. In wet and wintry conditions St Kilda 7.7. (49) defeated Footscray 5.4.(34).

15. Roy Illingworth, who won the Goal-kicking Trophy in 1958, played with Essendon Reserves in the early 1950’s. (Note: Roy played with the Bombers in the same era as John Coleman). Roy gained a high percentage of his possessions with clever leading and he was an extremely accurate ‘set shot’ for goal. In that season Max Donnelly (Moe) won the LVFL goal kicking award with 77 goals, Doug Gorgenson (Morwell) was runner-up with 75 goals and Laurie Stephenson (Sale) finished third on the table with 33.

16. John Henderson (1958~Best Clubman) played his first senior game for YFC in 1956. He was a dependable and effective centre half back for Yallourn in that era. John won the club’s ‘Most Serviceable Trophy’ in 1957. In 1960, John was cleared to Morwell FC and played in the 1960 Morwell FC Grand Final team. John retired from playing at the age of twenty three but returned later to Morwell FC in the role of selector (1979-82). John was then elected President of MFC in 1983 and ‘presided over matters of the club’ during one of the Tigers’ most successful eras until 1989. John’s grandsons Luke, Michael, Chris, Alex and Zac are currently involved with the Morwell Football & Netball Club.

17. A young and promising player in the above photograph is Keith Angove. Keith was a dour and disciplined defender who made his LVFL debut in 1957. He went on to play in excess of 100 senior games for YFC.

18. Another tenacious and hard-hitting back man in the photograph is Merv Crane. Merv (aka ‘Storky’) was powerfully built and courageous in tough pack situations. He played his first game for Yallourn in 1954 and played in excess of 70 senior matches. Merv was a member of the 1955 Grand Final team and in 1957 was awarded the Most Determined Player Trophy. Merv’s brother Ken also played with YFC as a forward. One of Ken’s greatest performances for the Blues was at Traralgon. In a memorable display at centre half forward, Ken nearly ‘stole the game’ from the star studded and highly fancied Traralgon team. Ken showed a ‘streak of brilliance’ that day. Gary Crane was a star at VFL level with Carlton FC. Gary played 148 games for Carlton (1964-76) and also represented Victoria. Although Gary played with YFC Third XVIII in 1961 he was recruited to Carlton from Yallourn North (MGFL) in 1964. He was chosen as a wingman in Carlton’s Team of the Century.

19. John Hutchinson was cleared to Fitzroy FC in 1958. John returned to play with YFC the following season. There is a story regarding John’s VFL and LVFL career posted on the Virtual Yallourn website.

20. Trafalgar defeated Traralgon by seven points to win the LVFL flag in 1958.Trafalgar was coached by Bill Milroy (ex-Carlton). Lester Ross (Moe FC) won the Rodda/Trood Medal in that season.

21. Yallourn FC won 8 games (lost 11 games ~ percentage of 78.55%) and finished 6th on the LVFL ladder in 1958. Vic Lawrence also coached the Blues the following season. In 1960 the club appointed Jim Dorgan (ex-Melbourne/ South Melbourne /Moe) to the coaching position.

Written for Virtual Yallourn by Roger Spaull~ May 2013.

For further stories, photographs and memorabilia regarding YFC… Click “Search”…type “Football” …press “Enter”.

FROM THE NEWSPAPERS - 1944 - Baroness Enid Summerskill British MP visits Yallourn


Throughout the history of Yallourn, the town played host to a long list of dignitaries and celebrities and 1944 was no exception. In June that year, one of England’s most famous women parliamentarians, Enid Summerskill, visited Yallourn as part of a British Parliamentary delegation that toured Australia on a fact finding mission.

Enid and her colleagues’ visit included a whirlwind tour to Yallourn and other parts of Gippsland. While at Yallourn, Enid inspected the power station, the Yallourn hospital, the health centre; and also met office bearers and members from various organizations of the town.

Enid Summerskill (born 1901) was a doctor, writer and later became a Parliamentary Secretary in the Atlee Labour Government. During her life, Dr Summerskill gained a reputation for her struggle to win equal rights for women; and she was also a strong crusader for the establishment of the British National Health Service.

Brief reports of Enid’s visit to Yallourn were published in several papers; and it is hoped that the footnotes, that accompany this article, will assist readers to understand a little more of Dr Summerskill’s achievements during her life.



Dr Edith Summerskill, only woman member of the British Parliamentary delegation, is covering much ground in the separate itinerary arranged for her. She flew to Tasmania on Saturday and back to the mainland on Sunday.
After resting for an hour she set out for Yallourn, where she inspected the hospital and baby health centre and met senior officers of the State Electricity Commission. Yesterday she inspected the works of the commission and also the paper mills at Maryvale, arriving back in Melbourne last night.
Members of the British and Canadian delegations who left for Tasmania on Sunday morning are expected back in Melbourne late this afternoon.

1. Edith Clara Wilde Summerskill was born in London in1901. Enid was educated at King’s College London and later studied at the Charing Cross Hospital Medical School.
2. Enid’s visit to Yallourn took place during World War: II and, in the context of the prevailing uncertainty in the Pacific, underlined Yallourn’s status in matters of national importance.
3. Enid’s tour of Australia must have been exhausting as, on her return from Tasmania, she rested only briefly before setting out on her hectic two day visit to several other Victorian towns. Her visit to Yallourn made the news in several well-known national newspapers.
4. It is documented that a group of women from Yallourn met with Enid during her stay in the town (probably at the Yallourn Hotel, which was renowned for its first class accommodation and fine hospitality). A lone source reported that *Mrs Pethybridge chaired the meeting and Mrs Masson welcomed Enid to Yallourn.
*Note: Rev. R.H. Pethybridge was the Anglican Minster at Yallourn during that era.
5. In her address to the gathering at Yallourn, Enid touched on several subjects including the Education Bill (UK), raising the school leaving age and the Beveridge Plan (a national policy regarding Social Security in Britain which had been the brainchild of Sir William Beveridge).
6. One press cutting indicated that Enid was unequivocal in her comments about the existing state of affairs at the Yallourn Hospital…
“…She (Enid) had visited Yallourn Hospital and expressed her amazement when she was confronted by a board of men, there being no women members. While stating that she was impressed by Yallourn's Medical and Hospital Association, she emphasised the necessity for having women representatives, especially in view of the fact that the majority of patients in the hospital were women, and said that certain reforms considered necessary from the women's point of view would not be instituted until women were represented on the board.” ‘The Argus’ June 21st 1944.
7. ‘The Age’ newspaper’s brief report about Enid’s tour of the Yallourn Hospital was a little different in nature to that of ‘The Argus’ …
“Dr Edith Summerskill has just spent a busy two days in Gippsland after her return from Hobart. On Sunday she visited the Yallourn power station, where she was entertained by the executives of the State Electricity Commission. In the afternoon she inspected the Yallourn Hospital and spoke to every patient, and was afterwards entertained by the Country Women's Association.” ‘The Age’ 20th June 1944.
8. It is known that while in Australia, Dame Edith Lyons accompanied Enid on a visit to a children’s clinic in Canberra. It is also recorded that Enid met Senator Dorothy Tangey and discussed a range of matters that women faced in those grim years of war.
9. Following her visit to Yallourn (and other places), Enid then flew to New Zealand. ‘The Women’s Weekly’ (July 29th 1944) featured a photo of Enid sitting in an airport lounge reading a book entitled ‘All That Swagger’ which was written by the well-known Australian author, Miles Franklin. According to the caption, the book was presented to Enid as a farewell gift from Australia’s Attorney General Dr Evatt.
10. After the war, one of Enid’s major responsibilities as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Food was to assist families to provide nourishing meals during the period of imposed rationing throughout Britain.
11. Enid’s most famous book was entitled ‘Letters to My Daughter’ (1957); she also wrote ‘The Ignoble Art’ (1956), ‘Babies without Tears’ and ‘A Woman’s World: Memoirs’ ( 1967). An extensive file of more than 100 written documents, cuttings and research papers related to the life of Enid Summerskill can be viewed at :- http://archives.lse.ac.uk/Record.aspx?src
It would be most interesting to know if Enid’s impressions of Yallourn in 1944 have been noted somewhere in that file.
12. In 1962, Enid left the House of Commons and became a member of the House of Lords and received the title of ‘Baroness’ Summerskill.
13. Enid Summerskill died at her home in Highgate in February 1980; her passing went virtually unnoticed in the Australian press; however, one newspaper ‘The Canberra Times’ reported briefly on her death…
“Baroness Summerskill died suddenly from- heart attack at her home in Highgate, North London, yesterday. She was 78.Lady Summerskill had a distinguished career in the House of Commons as Dr Edith Summerskill from 1938; until her elevation to the Lords in 1961.She became Minister of National Insurance in1945, but the defeat of the Labour Government in 1951 made her tenure as a senior Minister very short.”
14. Enid’s visit to Yallourn created a degree of interest in 1944; however, when another very famous English woman came to Yallourn, a decade later, the level of excitement reached fever-pitch. On that day (March 3rd 1954), more than 20,000 people, from all parts of Gippsland, waited for hours to catch a fleeting glimpse of the Queen Elizabeth: II during her ‘drop-in’ tour of Yallourn-but that is another story.

The above story is part of an on-going project regarding the history of Yallourn. The story was researched and written by and Roger Spaull and presented and posted by Julie George for the Virtual Yallourn website in January 2017.

The above article from ‘The Argus’ (Melbourne) has been faithfully reproduced. The only amendments to the original copy are the font style, font size and spacing, so as to enhance the article for purposes of posting on the Virtual Yallourn website.

FROM THE NEWSPAPERS - 1953 - Dramatic Arts in Yallourn - Little Theatre Group, Thespians and more...


Saul Rubinek once wrote…
“In the theatre, as anyone knows who's even done amateur theatre all their lives, you immediately find a family.”

It is true that the collective action of people involved in dramatic arts has the potential to forge lasting friendships, create harmony and lift the spirits of communities; and, in that regard, the Yallourn amateur theatre groups were no exception.

The origins of the dramatic arts in Yallourn can be traced back to the late 1920’s ; but it was the emergence of the ‘Methodrams’ and the St John’s Amateur Dramatic Club, in later years, that gave rise to the establishment of several very well -organized and patronized drama groups in the town.

After World War: II, the dramatic arts flourished in Yallourn; and research indicates that there were many highly creative people to ‘share the limelight’ and assist ‘behind the scenes’ in local theatre productions.

The following article ‘Drama has its devotees’ was published in the Melbourne-based newspaper ‘The Argus’ in 1953. The news item outlined the various theatre groups in the Latrobe Valley and special mention was made of ‘The Yallourn Thespians’ and the ‘Yallourn Little Theatre Group.’
‘The Argus’ was a popular city-based newspaper in that period; and had a daily circulation of approximately 160,000 copies; consequently, such publicity was a great fillip for the members of the amateur theatre groups of Yallourn.
The extract (below) contains the names of some well-known personalities who gave their time and energies to furthering the dramatic arts in Yallourn.


Drama has its devotees
The Latrobe Valley towns have a high sense of theatre. Everywhere are to be found groups that stage plays publicly or hold private readings.
In Yallourn, the Thespians, formed in 1938, and the Little Theatre Group, inaugurated in 1949, provide impressive entertainment. The president of the Thespians is Mr. Jack Tulloch; Mrs. Lilian Bek is president and the "father" of the group is Mr. Jack Alston.

Mr. Roy Norden heads the Little Theatre Group, with Miss Marjorie Lee as secretary.
Latest production by the Little Theatre was "The Hasty Heart," the star of which was 19-year-old Ian Burns, a S.E.C. clerk, who was making his first stage appearance.
"They told me they wanted a bloke with a Scottish accent to play the role of Sgt. Lachlan McLachlan," Ian said, "Being a Scot, I took it on."
Those who saw him are convinced he will be a competent actor.

Morwell, too, has a fine drama group-the Morwell players-formed originally by Miss Ruth Wettenhall. Its president now is Mrs. Muriel Bath, and the secretary is Miss Pat Mildenhall. So far the group has produced 11 full-scale productions, and a series of three one-act plays.

One of the difficulties of the drama groups is the reluctance of young men to take to the stage. But apart from that their work is all success-and a tremendous addition to the wide and varied schedule of entertainment that the people of the Valley are offered.

Boolarra and Yinnar, two small but lively communities in Morwell Shire, also have their dramatic societies, and, within a few years, it is evident, the Valley will be producing actors and actresses of high talent.

1. Other local drama groups discussed by Prue McGoldrick in her book ‘Yallourn Was’ included:- ‘The Melodrams’, St John’s Amateur Dramatic Club , CWA Dramatic Society and it is also documented that sometimes plays were… “presented by the SEC Office Dramatic Club.”
2. Dare John (aka Jack) Alston ( mentioned above) was a luminary in the dramatic arts groups of Yallourn. Jack was credited with forming the Yallourn Thespians in 1938-9; and he appears to have been a resourceful man with incredible drive and creativity.
3. According to one source, Jack produced and directed the first-ever play of the Thespians. It is known that the earliest successes of the Thespians included a play called ‘A Distinguished Gathering’. The 1939 production of ‘Best People’ was also a hit with audience in the Yallourn Theatre. In June that year, ‘The Age’ reported that ...
“…The Thespians Dramatic Society presented the comedy The Best People in the new Yallourn Theatre, on Tuesday night, to a packed house. Proceeds will be donated to local charities .” June 21st 1939.
4. Another well-received drama, ‘Hawk Island’ was also directed by Jack Alston; and, in 1947, the Yallourn Thespians performed a popular three-act play called ‘Tons Of Money’…
“ The performance of "Tons of Money" by the Thespians in Yallourn on Tuesday night last, was enthusiastically received. The final performance of this three act farce will be on 22nd July.” ‘Morwell Advertiser’ July 17th 1947.
5. Mrs Alston (Linda) was also involved with the Thespians’ productions; and the group gained a reputation as a first-class amateur theatre group throughout Gippsland and beyond.
6. Other well-known members during the life of the Yallourn Thespians included: John Whitehouse, Austin Lynch, Lucy Bathhurst, Ned Mould, Jim Love, Joyce Sheridan, Jack Emmerson, Bruce Banks, John Drummond, Gwen Matheson, Jim Evans, Lucy Dupree, Marj Brogan, Merle Martin, Nan Humphrey, Harry Dougan, Louise Turner, Harry Butt, Gerald Fogarty, Trixie Spicer, Eileen Carolan, and Lillian Bek (mentioned above). The contribution of the Joliffe, Skelton and Bainbridge families should also be recognised in any study of amateur theatre in Yallourn.
7. Yallourn’s illustrious historian Prue McGoldrick was also a keen member of the Yallourn Thespians. Prue, who lived in Yallourn from 1951 until 1979, had the foresight and drive to write a historical account of the town from its infancy. Prue’s edifying book ‘Yallourn Was’ was published in 1984; and provides a wealth of information regarding the Thespians and the Yallourn Little Theatre Group. A recent Yallourn Association Newsletter paid tribute to Prue and the legacy of her studies of local history.
8. In the affairs of Yallourn, Jack Alston, was quite a heroic and influential figure. Not only did he lay the groundwork for the Thespians but his work, as Honorary Secretary of the Yallourn Bowling Club, had far-reaching consequences in improving the facilities for the club and its members.
9. Mr Alston was also the editor of the town’s newspaper the ‘Live Wire’ from 1933-37; and it seems that Jack not only had a ‘way with words’ but his editorial approach, to local news, lifted the standard(s) of the newspaper…
“The next editor D.J. Alston earned high regard for the quality of the newspaper under his direction.” ‘Yallourn Was’ Page: 101.
10. Investigation, by way of the World War: I Nominal Roll, reveals that sixteen Australian men, with the family name of ‘Alston’, registered for military service in that period. There may be some possibility that Jack Alston was a Sapper in the Signals Corps during the war; however, this suggestion is far from conclusive and further research, on Jack’s years of military service, is required.
11. It is known that Jack was a most influential member of the Yallourn Branch of the RSSILA (Returned Sailors, Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (aka the RSL these days).
12. When Jack Alston stepped down from the position of producer/ director in 1951, Lillian Bek assumed the key role in the organisation of the Yallourn Thespians. Lillian was a dynamic member of several dramatic arts groups; and she was respected and admired by all for the substantial contribution that she made to the cultural life of Yallourn….
“Her name was linked with CWA drama, Little Theatre and Thespians…These groups regularly staged plays, pantos (pantomimes), and revues and competed successfully in district and State drama festivals.” ‘Yallourn Was’ Page: 147.
13. As stated above, Mrs Bek was but one of many enthusiastic members of the Yallourn Little Theatre Group. From its beginnings, it was a vibrant organization and prominent members included: Tom Martin, Bernice Elliot, Joan & Babs McDonald, Mario Debarro, Malcom McLaren, Hugh McLennon, Peter Moncur, Bill Wallace, Reg Waters, Jim Vincent and other young and old townspeople who loved the ’smell of greasepaint and the roar of the crowd’.
14. Mrs Joan Brisco was also an enthusiastic member of the Yallourn Little Theatre Group. Joan was an extremely competent, popular and highly respected English/Social Studies teacher at the Yallourn Technical School (Newborough Campus). In the late 1950’s, Joan ushered-in a drama club at the school; and also directed various student productions and other stage items at the YTS speech nights. It is fair to say, that because of Joan’s passion and her steely determination, many YTS pupils were given an opportunity ( perhaps only fleeting) to participate in some form of theatre production.
15. A photograph of Lillian Bek, taken in 1966, can be found on this website. Other notable members of Yallourn’s dramatic arts groups depicted in the photo include: Sid Joliffe, Marj Brogan, Edna Whitely, John Phillips, Jim Evans and Penny Bowler.
16. While the primary aim of the amateur drama groups, within Yallourn, was to provide an outlet for the artistic talents and energies of interested residents; such productions were also a source of funds for various charitable causes and local community organizations…
“English migrants Lillian and Peter Bek were honoured ( for their community involvement) when Peter retired in 1967. Lillian had been a drama producer for 20 years; her wartime fundraising through musical comedies was also recognized. She was an accomplished actress herself.” ‘Yallourn Was’ Page: 175 .
17. Another brilliant stage performer who lived in Yallourn was Joan Watson; and the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ reported on Joan’s Oscar winning role in the play called ” Dangerous Corner’ in 1951…
“Miss Joan Watson, a member of the Thespians Dramatic Society Yallourn, won the Oscar award for the best performance in the women's section at the National Theatre Movement Branch Festival Competitions held recently. Miss Watson was a member in the cast of ‘Dangerous Corner' presented by the Yallourn Thespians in Melbourne. The society was awarded third place to Ballarat who defeated last year's winner. Swan Hill by one point.” October 18th 1951.
18. As mentioned in the above extract, the Yallourn Little Theatre Group was formed in 1949 and, it is believed, that the first-ever production of YLTG, entitled ‘Pink String and Sealing Wax’, was held in the St John’s Hall. Note: In later years, the town’s various drama groups had access to the Yallourn Theatre and Kernot Hall as venues for their various productions.
19. In 1950, the YLTG performed a most successful production of ‘Gaslight’ at Yinnar and later at Morwell. In the book ‘To Yallourn with Love’ it is recorded that Yallourn Little Theatre Group won a major award in 1957…
“…their players, thoroughly rehearsed in a disused stable, reached a high standard and gained them awards including the 1957 State Drama Festival.”
20. Lillian Bek’s interests extended to other areas of civic life; Lillian was also an official of the Yallourn Branch of the Red Cross…
“…the Red Cross Branch which was formed in 1945 when office bearers were Mesdames W. Johnson, V. Jollife and C. Archer…They were succeeded by…Bek, Battersby and Habich …”
21. An interesting fact uncovered in research was that members of the Yallourn Little Theatre Group were involved in coaching the inmates of the Morwell River Prison Farm in various aspects of acting and stage production.
22. Mr Roy Norden (mentioned above) was a founding member of the YLTG in 1949. He and his wife, Dorothy, were dedicated and energetic members of the Yallourn Little Theatre Group and were also lively members of other organisations within the town.
23. The Norden family was wholeheartedly involved in the Yallourn Football Club; and was unswerving in their loyalty to the club. Roy was a most popular club president for many years and in 1963 received accolades in the Annual Report of the Yallourn Football Club…
“…President…this onerous position has been occupied for the past six years by Mr Roy Norden who was again elected unopposed which justifies the faith we have in him He has fulfilled the position with his usual sound and tactful judgement. To quote our congenial trainer, Jim Harriot …”Roy Norden is a man and a half in more ways than one …..we are glad of his leadership and generous nature.”
24. Roy Norden was a dynamic member in the organisation of the Yallourn and District Youth Club. The stated aims of the club were to foster the interest of boys (and later on girls) in a wide variety of sports and cultural activities such as: weight lifting, boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, drama and also marching.
25. It is known that Roy was also Secretary of the Yallourn Storage Dam Authority Committee; the YSDAC was formed with the objectives: (i) to preserve the waters of the dam and (ii) to maintain the surrounding natural environment for people to use for recreational pursuits.
26. Roy was also an active member of the Yallourn Bowling Club. Readers may be interested to know that Roy’s father was the renowned VFL umpire Arthur Norden. Arthur umpired 185 senior VFL matches (including three Grand Finals) between the years 1905-1921 .
*Note: A story regarding Arthur’s career in umpiring will be published in the Yallourn Association Newsletter in the near future ( see below).
27. Dorothy Norden was a tireless worker for the YFC and, along with her friends (Mesdames: R. Edmonson, G. Slatter, D. Menner, C. Smith, H. Sloan and J. Botten), worked assiduously in raising funds, arranging social functions and assisting the club’s junior teams. Dorothy was indefatigable in promoting the interests of the football club throughout the town; and her friendly smile and kind words were always appreciated by players, members and supporters of YFC.
28. Mrs Norden spent many hours each week volunteering as a Red Cross Welfare Officer; and she was among several Yallourn women to be recognized for their diligent service to the community…
“…among those to receive long service honours were Mesdames L. Ashmore, D. Norden and M. Frankhauser ” ‘Yallourn Was ‘ Page: 155
29. It is impossible not to mention the invaluable help that Roy and Dorothy received, in undertaking their numerous civic duties (particularly at YFC), from their children, John and Heather. John Norden played football with the Blues and was always busy assisting Roy or other YFC committee members with tasks around the club. In 1963, John received glowing praise from the-then YFC Secretary, Alex McGregor, in his report to club members…
“This report would not be complete without mentioning John Norden, the Thirds best clubman who, every home game, carried out the important task of setting up the amplifier loud speaker system with the wireless”... Annual Report of YFC.
30. Heather Norden assisted her mother in the club canteen; and undertook other minor but important tasks that had to be completed at each home game. John and Heather Norden are keen supporters of the Yallourn Association’s Annual Reunion; and John is currently writing a story for the newsletter about his famous grandfather ( Arthur).

• For further comments, on this website, by former Yallourn residents involved in the dramatic arts …Put your cursor on ‘Groups’ and ‘click’ ; then ‘click’ again on ‘Thespians.’ Other Yallourn Arts Group headings that may be of interest to readers include: Ballet, Dancing, the Yallourn Madrigals and the Yallourn Orchestral Society’

• There were literally hundreds of Yallourn residents involved in some form of the dramatic arts over the years. All readers are warmly encouraged to forward the names of others who may have been omitted from the above footnotes.
• Further, perhaps there are people who may possess old programmes, photos and press cuttings regarding the rich history of amateur theatre in Yallourn.
• It is not an understatement to say that, very few towns, if any, throughout country Victoria, ever scaled the heights and achieved the performing excellence of the drama groups of Yallourn. Such an absorbing social history should be preserved for other generations to read and enjoy; Julie would love to add any such memorabilia to her Virtual Yallourn files. Thank you.

This story is part of a history project entitled ‘From the Newspapers’ and a full list of titles in this series can be obtained by contacting Julie George. The research, writing and posting of this article were completed by Julie and Roger Spaull for the Virtual Yallourn website in November 2016.
The above extract from the ‘The Argus’ has been faithfully reproduced. The only amendments to the original copy are the font style, font size and spacing, so as to enhance the story for the purposes of posting on the Virtual Yallourn website.

VALE - PETER HUTCHINSON 19.2.1938-17.9.2016

Readers of the Virtual Yallourn website will be deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Yallourn resident and identity Peter Hutchinson.
Peter passed away on 17th September 2016.
In an article regarding John Hutchinson and his family on this website in April 2013…the following comments were recorded regarding Peter …
“…Peter, matriculated at YHS and, like John, was a Prefect and also the House Captain of Mawson. Peter is one of the most celebrated footballers to have ever played in the VAFA. Peter played 363 games with Power House FC. He captained the team for six years and won seven club Best & Fairest awards. Peter is a Life Member of the VAFA and was recently named a "VAFA Legend”. Peter also coached Camberwell Grammar Old Boys in the VAFA.”
Everyone at the Virtual Yallourn community extends their deepest condolences to John, Mary and Peter’s family.
Those readers who knew Peter are warmly invited to forward memories or tributes to post on the Virtual Yallourn website.
R.I. P
The photograph is John (left), Mary and Peter Hutchinson

FROM THE NEWSPAPERS - 1932 A Mighty Win for Yallourn - Garden Competitions


In 1932, Yallourn was a special prize winner in the ‘Sun’ newspaper’s ‘Ideal Town’ competition. The results of the quest gained wide coverage in various country newspapers; and there was a great deal of prestige associated with the towns that featured in the awards.

For many country towns of Victoria, the competition was seen as important; and despite the hardship caused by the economic downturn of those times, the various campaigns conducted by rural communities, were successful in creating collective action and civic pride.

The ‘vision splendid’ of Sir John Monash of Yallourn to be developed as a model garden-town with well-maintained dwellings for workers , tree-lined streets, spacious parks, recreation reserves, children’s playgrounds and attractive home gardens had been realised by that time.

The results of the collective hard work (of the SECV, the town’s various clubs and organisations and the residents) in transforming a bush settlement into a town of such unique character would have had an immediate and powerful impact on the judges of the competition.




The date of the visit of the Sun Newspaper Officials and Colonel Merritt, Chairman of the Judging Committee, for the presentation of the special prize of £200 awarded to Yallourn in the recently held Ideal Town Quest, has been fixed for Thursday evening, 30th February.

The party, which will include Messrs MacPherson, Manager of the Sun Newspaper Company, and D. Bayley, Organiser of the ‘Quest,’ will be the guests of the Commission, at dinner at the Yallourn Hotel, and at 8 p.m. will make the official presentation at the Band Rotunda.

Mr J. M. Bridge, General Superintendent will receive the prize on behalf of Yallourn.

1. Considering that the first electrical generator went on line at the Yallourn Power Station on June 15th in 1924, the development of the township, to the point of winning state-wide recognition as an ideal town, less than eight years later, was astounding.
2. The ‘Ideal Town’ competition involved people collecting and forwarding ‘Sun’ coupons to the newspaper’s head office. The residents of Yallourn were active in collecting coupons and they embraced the campaign with enthusiasm.
3. Each coupon was worth one vote; and the SECV entered into the spirit of the campaign and donated 1000 newspapers (i.e. coupons). It is fair to say that the SECV took more than a passing interest in the competition and as Meredith Fletcher wrote…
“Acting General Superintendent Dixon sent a letter to each household reminding residents not to overlook things such as weeds behind fences…” ‘Digging People Up for Coal.’ Page : 90
4. The win in the quest was a ‘feather in the cap’ for the SECV because the ‘Yallourn Scheme’ was not without some vehement critics in those early days…
“ It was freely asserted that the undertaking was a white elephant, that it had been extravagant and vastly exceeded the original estimates of cost, and that huge losses would be made. All that criticism did harm. It tended to take away public support from the undertaking.” ‘The Age’ December 21st 1925.
5. It is well documented that the people of Yallourn were conscientious in their efforts to ‘spruce up’ the town and considerable time was set aside in making the town ‘ship-shape and Bristol fashion’ for inspection by the judges.
6. The committee, the SECV and the townsfolk were well prepared for the judges’ tour of inspection of Yallourn; and from the positive comments, made by the panel, there is little doubt that the judges were highly impressed with the township.
7. Nineteen towns entered the ‘Sun’ quest and each was inspected by the panel of judges from the ‘Sun’ newspaper. The prize winners in the competition were:- 1st: Beechworth. 2nd: Frankston and 3rd: Swan Hill.
8. Because Yallourn was deemed a ‘planned or government town’ it was placed into a special category by the judges. The ‘Sun’ adjudication panel, led by Colonel Merritt, was glowing in its comments about Yallourn. One panel member, a well-known artist named Harold Herbert, remarked…
“ …set in an extremely dark and dingy part of Gippsland…Yallourn sparkles with colour…Never were trees and gardens so well provided for or so well planned to achieve colour effects.” ‘The Live Wire’ November 19th 1931.
9. According to other country newspaper reports, towns that impressed the judges across the various divisions of the quest, included: - Ararat, Bright, Yackandandah, Geelong, Sorrento, Kyneton, Warrnambool and Alexandra. It is known that the judges also travelled to Bairnsdale as part of their tour of inspection.
10. The prize of £200 (pounds) was put to very good use by the people of Yallourn…
“…Yallourn won a special prize in the ‘Sun’ Ideal Town competition and used it to fence sports ovals on what had been the old Melbourne swamp, drained and filled two years earlier.” ‘Brown Power’ by Cecil Edwards Page:121.
11. It appears that the people of Yallourn had ‘quite a say’ in deciding how the prize money should be used…
“…every case, these awards are paid to the local governing body, which in Yallourn, is the State Electricity Commission. The allocation of the money at Yallourn, however will, with the consent and approval of the Commission, be decided by the townspeople themselves.” ‘Morwell Advertiser’ January 15th 1932.
One of the projects considered to be undertaken with prize money was an up-grading of the swimming pool.
12. It was difficult to discover the names of all the members of the Yallourn Ideal Town Committee; but it is known that SECV engineer Ken Murray, who had arrived in Yallourn in 1929, played a major role in the organisation of the campaign to enter (and win) the quest. It appears that Ken was active in community affairs and was member of the Yallourn Self Government Delegates Committee which was formed in June 1944.
13. A point of interest in relation to the competition, as revealed by Meredith Fletcher in her book, was that the judges experienced car trouble on the journey to Yallourn. Although things were thrown awry, the panellists ticked all the required boxes for Yallourn to become a finalist in the quest.
14. Mr J.M. Bridge (mentioned above in the article) was appointed as Engineer-in-Charge of coal winning in the Yallourn project in 1920. He later became the first General Superintendent at Yallourn. In reading the history of Yallourn, Mr Bridge was also a member of various organisations including the Yallourn Bowling Club, Anglican Church and Yallourn Rifle Club. When Mr Bridge stepped down as General Superintendent, Mr R. D. Dixon was promoted to that position in 1934.
15. According to the ‘Alexander and Yea Standard’ newspaper ( December 16th 1927), the winners of the competition in 1927 were:-
• A DIVISION: Bairnsdale, Castlemaine, Warrnambool, Ararat, Sale and Hamilton.
• B DIVISION: Frankston, Beechworth, Nhill, Euroa, Dimboola and Port Fairy.
• C DIVISION: Woodend, Yea, Jeparit, Yackandandah, Berwick and Alexandra.
16. The first homes in Yallourn were constructed in Maiden Street in 1922; and by 1924, it is documented, that more than 120 houses had been built. Obviously, Yallourn was in no shape to enter the inaugural ‘Ideal Town Quest’ in 1927; but in the next five years, a model garden-town took shape and prospered. The township of Yallourn, as envisaged by Sir John Monash, was a master-stroke in planning, design and construction.
17. According to the information on this website…
“ The report on the establishment of the town of Yallourn was drawn up by 15th December, 1921. The architect was A.R. La Gerche, the State Electricity Commission’s own architect. His plan was influenced by those of Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, England. ( June 2012)…
18. As history shows, the town of Yallourn became…
“ …one of the brightest but briefest flowerings of the garden-city movement as interpreted and applied in the Australian countryside .” Extract is taken from: ‘Historic Environment’ Vol:1 No:4 1981’.
This story is part of a history project entitled ‘From the Newspapers’ and a full list of titles in this series can be obtained by contacting Julie George. The research, writing and presentation of this article were completed by Julie George and Roger Spaull for the Virtual Yallourn website in September 2016.

The above extract from the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ has been faithfully reproduced. The only amendments to the original copy are the font style, font size and spacing, so as to enhance the story for the purposes of posting on the Virtual Yallourn website.

FROM THE NEWSPAPERS - 1942 - A Soldier from Yallourn Wins Recognition - Geoff Williams

This news report was written during World War:II and tells of a letter which was forwarded to the Chairman of the Apprenticeship Committee of Yallourn regarding Geoff Williams and his outstanding work as a tradesman and soldier.
The letter was written by Captain Bardsley of the Australian Army Field Workshops and was published in the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ on the 22nd January 1942.
The footnotes that accompany this story may assist readers in appreciating the nature of Geoff’s duties and also refer to his family who lived in Yallourn.
January 22nd 1942 MORWELL ADVERTISER Page: 8

It is with great pride and pleasure that we announce that Lance Corporal Geoff. Williams, son of Mr and Mrs Williams of Yallourn (formerly of Morwell, and brother of Ken, A.I F.) has won recognition for his prowess by inventing an instrumental device in the manufacture of modifications for W.D. vehicles.
These have proved very efficient and have been passed and accepted by the War Office as standard equipment throughout British Forces.
Capt. G. Bardsley of the No. 4 Aust. Recovery Section Aust. Army Field Workshops, in a letter to the chairman of the Apprentice Committee S.E. C. Yallourn, says "The Live Wire," recognised Geoff's fine work generally as a soldier and tradesman.
It is very pleasing to know that Geoff's apprenticeship in Yallourn has stood him in good stead and he is congratulated on his fine effort.
An extract from Capt. 'Bardsley's letter stated –
"I have to advise that this soldier has completed 12 months service with his section as a fitter and turner, during which term his work has been of the highest standard, and he has given every satisfaction. He has shown all the initiative and efficiency attributable to a first class tradesman.
In fact he has been instrumental in the manufacture of modifications for W.D. vehicles, which have proved highly efficient and have been accepted and passed by the War Office and are now standardised throughout the British Forces. The fact that L/Corpl Williams has received promotion in this section and is in line for further promotion also speaks highly of his efficiency both as a tradesman and a soldier." (Sgd.) G. (BARDSLEY (Capt.)

1. According to The World War:II Nominal Roll, Geoff Williams enlisted on the 19th June 1940 and served in the Army until his discharge on the 5th September 1954. Geoff rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant and his last posting was given as the 2/121 Brigade Workshop.
2. Military records indicate that Geoff’s brother Ken (mentioned in the above newspaper report) also served in the Army during World War:II. Ken enlisted at Yallourn on the 23rd August 1940 and was discharged in December 1945.
3. A search of the available VFL records shows that it is probably the same ‘Ken Williams’ who played 12 games with Collingwood in 1940. Ken made his debut against Melbourne at the MCG in Round:5 at the MCG. During his VFL career Ken kicked 2 goals. He was 22 years of age when he played his last game for Collingwood. A photograph of ‘K. Williams’ can be found in the Yallourn Blues team (circa 1938-39).
4. Using the information, as provided on the Virtual Yallourn website, the Williams’ family (John Henry and Muriel Zenna) lived at 2 Green Street.
5. It is believed that Captain Gilbert Bardsley, who wrote the above letter, was born in Waterloo (NSW) in 1902 and served in the Army 1939 until October1945. At the date of his discharge, he was Captain at the 2nd Australian Field Workshops.
6. The soldiers of the Recovery Section ( a unit of the Royal Australian Electrical & Mechanical Engineers) were in charge of recovering, towing and repairing broken down motor vehicles and other machinery.
7. According to the AWM the acronym WD stands for…
“… the American acronym for War Department used during the Second World War. This acronym was applied to all manner of objects including American vehicles serving with Commonwealth forces under the lend-lease arrangement.”

The Virtual Yallourn website would like to thank Mike Etzel (Assistant Curator/ Military Heraldry & Technology Section of the Australian War Memorial) and John Hutchinson (former Yallourn resident) for their kind assistance with various aspects of this extract.
This story is part of a history project entitled ‘From the Newspapers’ and a full list of titles in this series can be obtained by contacting Julie George. The research, writing and posting of this article were completed by Julie and Roger Spaull for the Virtual Yallourn website in August 2016

The above report from the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ has been faithfully reproduced. The only amendments to the original copy are the font style, font size and spacing, so as to enhance the story for the purposes of posting on the Virtual Yallourn website.

FROM THE NEWSPAPERS - 1953 - A New Department Store for Yallourn - Rockman's

This news article tells of the announcement of a new Rockman’s Store at Yallourn in 1953. It was welcome news for the people of the town and it signified the beginning of a new era of commerce in Yallourn.
It was the Rockman’s 58th store in Australia; and the company took over the operations of the Yallourn General Store which had been owned by the SEC since 1922. The General Store was the only shop in the early days of settlement.
The following article was published in ‘The Argus’ (a city based newspaper) on the 2nd July 1953 and was ‘big news’ throughout Yallourn and the neighbouring towns in the Latrobe Valley.

JULY 2nd 1953 ‘THE ARGUS ‘ PAGE : 24
Rockman's, whose expansion in the short 23 years of their existence makes one of the most fascinating success stories in Australian business, have chosen the Latrobe Valley for the scene of a new spectacular development.

This is the story behind Rockman's No. 58:
When Rockman's opened their first store in Melbourne they soon realised that the city women wanted serviceable, inexpensive frocks. That's when ‘Best for Less’ became their slogan. The idea proved so successful that soon the business had expanded throughout Victoria, then into New South Wales.

Many people, living away from the centres served, came to rely on service by post. That brought into existence Rockman's famous mail order system and catalogue. More expansion, Rockman's were now in Queensland and South Australia from Cairns to Adelaide there were 57 branches.
Then came the latest decision-that the name so well known for supply of women's clothing should give its guarantee to the provision of everything needed in the home. And first step was No. 58-the taking over of the General Store at Yallourn. Alterations and re- modelling are already going on. It is in the new Rockman's store at Yallourn that the ‘Argus’ photographic exhibition will open today.

1. The Rockman chain of stores was founded by Philip Rockman (born : 1903). Philip came to Australia from Poland in 1924 and initially made his living by hawking drapery as a travelling salesman.
2. The first Rockman shop was opened in Collins Street in 1930. As mentioned above, the chain of stores extended in NSW.
3. Philip and his brother (Norman) had considerable success as racehorse owners and
Norman’s son (Irvin Peter Rockman) was the Lord Mayor of Melbourne (1977-79).
4. Philip Rockman died in July 1960 (at the age of 57) and was survived by his wife Cynthia and four daughters. It is difficult to ascertain if Philip ever visited the Yallourn branch of the company.
5. It is believed that Miss H. Williams was the first manager* of the Rockman’s Store. ‘The Horsham Times’ (June 16th 1953) reported that Miss Williams has previously been Manager of the Horsham Store. *(Note: In those days the feminine gender term ‘manageress’ was often used).
6. ‘The Age’ newspaper reported that the SEC had sold the store to Rockman’s for £60,000 (pounds). With the sale of the Yallourn General Store, on July 1st 1953, the SEC had no further trading/commercial interests within the town. After that point in time, all businesses in Yallourn were owned or managed by private operators.
7. Further research unearthed that the agent for the sale of the Yallourn General Store to Rockman’s Pty Ltd, was Morris Sallmann of Melbourne.
8. ‘The Age’ also stated that the proceeds of the sale of the Yallourn General Store were used to finance the completion the town’s sewerage system.
9. One source said that the profits of the sale of the General Store to Rockman’s Pty Ltd were also directed towards the establishment three important facilities in the township… (i) a modern library, (ii) the ‘Olympic-sized’ swimming pool and (iii) a new public hall which was to be named ‘Kernot Hall.’
10. ‘The Argus’ carried a large commercial/ article about the opening of the new store and part of the advertisement stated that the new store aimed to …
“…To bring you the same variety of high-class fashions now enjoyed by thousands of customers from our 57 other stores. You fashion conscious people will appreciate our extensive experience and marvellous values being at your disposal. To make this Store the natural place for you to meet your friends, and obtain all your clothing and household requirements with better variety and values than any-where else…” July 2nd 1953
11. The people of Yallourn supported the new store with enthusiasm; and consequently shopping trips to Morwell became less urgent as Rockman’s offered a wide variety of products, competitive prices and reliable service.
12. One section in the new Yallourn shop that created particular interest was the Record & Music Department. It was the only outlet for purchasing records in the town at that time*; and music lovers appreciated the opportunity to buy the latest on vinyl disc (s) without travelling to Morwell.
* Note: Shine’s Emporium also had a small range of records for sale in later years.
13. The following advertisement was published on September 5th 1954 in the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ and it gives some indication of the range of records (aka microgrooves) available at the Rockman’s Yallourn store in those days…

• SYMPHONY IN D MINOR -St. Louis Symph. Orch.
• "PASTORALE" BEETHO VAN - Pittsburgh Symph Orch.
• QUINTET IN C. MAJOR SCHUBERT - Hollywood String Quartet.
We've Microgrooves for all Moods and Tastes!

14. In later years, a popular area of the store was the small café/refreshment area. Local school students often gathered there for soft drinks, ice cream or milk shakes after school had finished for the day.
15. The newsagency, which was situated within the store, was well patronised. The doors of agency opened very early each morning to allow people to purchase newspapers on their way to work. The newsagency had a wide range of magazines, books, cards and stationery; and it was also the pay-point for the accounts of those residents who chose to have their newspapers home-delivered.
16. The town’s paper boys organized their morning delivery rounds from one of the large storage sheds at the rear of Rockman’s.
17. The photographic exhibition, referred to in the last paragraph of the news report, seems to be best explained in an article published in ‘The Argus’ on Tuesday 30th June…
“New aerial pictures in Latrobe Valley issue. A feature of Thursday's ‘Argus’ colour souvenir of the Latrobe Valley will be new aerial photographs of the district. These will also appear in The Argus pictorial exhibitions which will open at Moe, Morwell and Yallourn on Thursday; and at Traralgon on Monday. The photographs for the souvenir and the exhibitions are being selected from nearly 200 pictures by Argus photographer John Bagnall. Concentrating on the fast growing centres of Moe, Morwell, Traralgon, and Yallourn, ‘The Argus’ Latrobe Valley souvenir edition will contain 16 pages, eight of which will be in full colour. If your, copy is not already reserved, order it now to make sure of it.”
18. The Yallourn Store was number: 58 in the chain and a new store in Oakleigh (April 1954) became the 59th. By 1958 there were some 80 stores which were later sold to a company named Factor Ltd.
19. Rockman’s (Yallourn) closed its doors for the last time early in 1975. It was a sure sign of the impending fate of the town. With the closure of the store went a sizeable number of shop assistants and other workers who were forced to seek alternate employment in the Latrobe Valley.
The research, writing, posting of accompanying photographs and presentation of this article were completed by Julie George and Roger Spaull for the Virtual Yallourn website in May 2016 .This story is part of the Virtual Yallourn history project entitled ‘From the Newspapers’ .
The above extracts from the ‘The Argus’ (Melbourne) have been faithfully reproduced. The only amendments to the original copy are the font style, font size and spacing, so as to enhance the story for purposes of posting on the Virtual Yallourn website.

Colin Wiggins - Yallourn Football Club (YFC) and Yallourn Cricket Club (YCC)

15/5/1943 - 9/7/2016

It is with sorrow that I inform of the passing of my life-long friend Colin Wiggins. Colin was born in Yallourn and was educated at the Yallourn State and Technical schools. His parents were old Yallourn identities and resided in Latrobe Avenue near the Technical school. Col was in my grade class for all of the years we attended school. We were both very competitive and strived to be both the best in school and in sport.

Col played senior football for Yallourn and was a first class player in cricket often opening the batting at country week level. I might add that his 2 brothers, Geoff and Brian, were also good at sport. On many occasions I can remember that both Col, Geoff and myself played footy together in the seniors. On another occasion Colin was dropped by the chairman of selectors (Col Benson) to which I objected strongly against. Col Benson had an immediate solution by then dropping me for Col. This bond of friendship has held over the years and the fond memories they bring overcomes the grief of his passing to some extent.

After graduating from College, Col began work with me at the Morwell Shire Council. After one year, Col left the Morwell Shire to work for the Shire of Narracan, followed by a stint at Euroa Council where he gained his qualifications as a Municipal Engineer. His first posting as a Shire Engineer was with the Edenhope Council, close to the South Australian border. Col made many friends from that area including Essendon champion footballer, Reg Burgess. We visited Col when he was in Edenhope and on one occasion came home with one of his Corgi pups. After a few years in Edenhope, Col became the Maffra Shire Council Engineer where he remained until retirement. Col retired early due to the Council amalgamations which caused a dramatic change for Shire Engineer careers. I can recall Col telling me that at one stage, former Shire Engineers felt redundant as they were offered much minor positions at a far less salary, or take a package. Col took the package and took to the golf course more often than usual. Whilst we were both in agreement that the Amalgamation of Councils was a good move, it could have been managed in far better ways. The lacking of experienced Shire Engineers continues to this present day in many Municipalities.

Col was also no slouch golfer and played off a very low handicap. His association with his brother-in-law, Brian Reiter and family of champion golfers may have contributed along the way. Brian Reiter and his brothers also attended the Yallourn Tech before their family moved to Melbourne. Brian married Col’s wife's sister and they remained great friends until Brian passed away two years ago. Col’s wife, Bernadette was one of the Ellis family that lived across the road from the Yallourn High School.

The year 2016 has been a sad year for the Wiggins family as Col’s younger brother Brian passed away in Thailand, where he had been living for a long period. Sport was often the topic when Col and I met up and when it came to bragging rights, the Wiggins families from Yallourn often came up trumps. The occasion that Col’s second cousin, Bradley Wiggins won two gold medals for Britain and again when he was 1st in the Tour De France. I must add that the Wiggins extended families were a great asset to Yallourn in its heyday and obviously now in other places.

Kind Regards
Norm Hall