Hurst’s Bridge Memorial Park

Chapter 27

Published Sep, 2002

Mounted trooper, WW1. Photo credit Reid family

…Sharp agreed to sell the land at £75 per acre; the Committee decided to seek a bank loan; Dr Haley offered to lend money; and collectors were appointed and books issued…

On Saturday 31 August 1918 Charles Verso participated in the planting of an Honour Avenue in Hurst’s Bridge (Hurstbridge) when trees were planted for each soldier from the district who served in the Great War. ‘Captain Bruce and Everard (Mr Everard MLA) spoke. We planted a tree, elm, each for Stanley and Allan and one for Alf King.’ Only three of the elm trees remain today at the lower end of Anzac Avenue.

A meeting was held in the Hurst Bridge Hall on 26 June 1920 to consider the purchase of a recreation ground. A site was subsequently selected ‘in Sharp’s garden’. A public meeting held on 20 July 1920 ‘decided to purchase about 10 acres’ if possible with funds raised by subscription. On 22 July, the Hurst’s Bridge Memorial Park Committee appointed J. Mills and Charles Verso ‘to deal with Sharp’, who agreed to sell the land at £75 per acre. The Committee decided to seek a bank loan. Dr Haley offered to lend money. Collectors were appointed and books issued.

Working bees were arranged to pull out trees and plough the land. Over 30 attended the working bee held on Saturday 19 March 1921. On 12 April 1921, W. Gray, J. Mills and A.J. Verso were appointed Trustees. A Sports Day followed by a Concert and Dance was held on 2 May 1921, (Eight Hour’s Day), to celebrate the opening of the Memorial Park. At the Hurstbridge Hall on 10 August 1921, a machine gun taken at Villers-Bretonneux was unveiled by Colonel Hurry D.S.O. and medals presented to returned diggers from the district. Lantern views of the War were shown.

Further working bees were held at the recreation reserve to burn stumps and grade the reserve. A ‘Wattle Ball’ was held on 26 August and a Sports and Cherry Blossom Fair on 4 and 5  November 1921 to raise funds for the Memorial Park. Charles Verso introduced Mr. Everard MLA who opened the sale. The Panton Hill branch of the R.S.S.I.L.A. held their annual sports in the Memorial Park on Boxing Day.

A meeting held on June 12, 1923 decided to let the Trustees deal with the land transfer and arrange for payment of the mortgage. At this time there was about £250 in hand. Mr. Verso, President of the Committee, chaired a meeting on 25 October 1923 where it was stated that the park consists of 13 acres 34 perches, the price being £75 per acre. The park was procured on 20 September 1920. The chairman ‘also suggested having a proper board at the entrance denoting that it was the memorial park’. The land transfer for the park was signed by the Trustees at Charles Verso’s home on 2 November 1923.

Stanley Brunker Verso and Allan Joseph John Verso. Photo taken in France in 1918. On Saturday 31 August, 1918 Charles Verso participated in the planting of an Honour Avenue in Hurstbridge when trees were planted for each soldier from the district who served in the Great War 'we planted a tree, elm, each for Stanley and Allan and one for Alf King.’ Both sons had worked as orchardists on the family property 'Versdale' in Boyd’s Road before enlisting in 1916. Both survived the war and were awarded the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1914/1915 Star. The land transfer for the Hurst’s Bridge Memorial Park was signed by the Trustees at Charles Verso’s home on 2 November, 1923. Information from Bruce G. Draper and Terry Phillips, military historian. Photo credit Verso family
The three remaining elm trees at the lower end of Anzac Avenue, Hurstbridge, 2020
Funding was received through the Anzac Centenary Grants Program for interpretive signage that acknowledges the history of the Hurstbridge Memorial Recreation Park as a memorial to all who served in the First World War. It was launched by Mr Andrew Giles MP, Federal Member for Scullin on the 20th July 2015. The Hurstbridge Avenue of Honour Plaque dedicated to local soldiers was launched the same day by Mayor, Shire of Nillumbik, Cr. Helen Coleman. Credit
Hurstbridge Avenue of Honour. 'To those who served and sacrificed their lives we dedicate this Avenue of Honour'. Fifty trees were planted in August 1918 creating an Avenue of Honour on this site, dedicated to the eternal memory of soldiers from the Hurstbridge district who gave service in WW1 (1914 – 1918). Lest We Forget. Hurstbridge Avenue of Honour plaque, launched 20th July 2015. Photo credit Kev Howlett, 2017 for the Yarra Plenty Regional Library,
An Elm tree, such as those planted in 1918. Dutch elm disease was first identified in the Netherlands in 1919, hence the name ‘Dutch’ elm disease. Fortunately it is not yet in Australia, nevertheless, only three of the original trees survive on the Hurstbridge Honour Avenue
Portrait of Moses Thomas Jnr A.I.F. probably taken in Egypt about 1917. Moses Charles Thomas was one of five children born to Louisa Thomas (nee Draper) (1870-1938) and James Thomas, son of Moses Thomas and Ann Thomas (nee McLean). James and Louisa were farmers at Scubby Creek, now known as Humevale. Moses enlisted in the army in 1916 and became a Lance Corporal of the 5th Light Horse Regiment, returning to Australia in 1919. From a Draper family history compiled by Pam Goodey
Alexander 'Alec' Laing, brother of Christina Apted (nee Laing). Killed In Action WW1, 7th November, 1916. Photo credit Apted family
Standing left to right back row: John Herbert, Charles Joseph Verso, unknown man with scythe. Seated middle row: Bertha Elizabeth Verso, Annie Shiel Verso (nee Herbert - John Herbert's sister), Constance Martha Verso (baby). Children standing: Stanley Brunker Verso, Allan Joseph John Verso, Florence Isabel Verso, Charles Walter Verso, Herbert Verso. Taken at the Verso family property ‘Versdale’, Limmers, Nutfield c 1895. Photo and information credit Jean Verso

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