James Chester Draper

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Published May, 2003

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Horsemanship in the Victorian Mounted Police. James Chester Draper is pictured 4th from left during training at the Victorian Police Mounted Branch Depot oval in St Kilda Road in 1929. Photo credit Draper family

James Chester Draper, known as ‘Jim’ to the wider community and as Chester in the Yan Yean – Arthur’s Creek district, was born on January 15, 1905 at Carlton and died at Heidelberg on November 8, 1998 at the age of 93.

Chester came from pioneering families. He was the third eldest of the nine children of James Draper and Blanche Hurrey. His grandfather Charles Draper was the first to select land at Arthur’s Creek in late 1862, and was the pioneer fruit grower of the district. The ‘Charnwood’ orchards became renowned throughout the Colony.

After attaining the merit certificate in the eighth grade at Yan Yean Primary School, Chester followed a farming life on his parent’s farm and orchards at ‘Barton Hill’, Yan Yean and Arthur’s Creek, and on their bush Run at Glenburn.

He served for a period training horses in the remount section of the permanent military forces at the Sturt Street Depot, South Melbourne, before joining the Victoria Police in May 1928. He was a member of the ‘Prendergast 65’, taking their name from an emergency intake of 65 police trainees authorised by the then Chief Secretary, Mr. George Prendergast. Chester commented that his plan was ‘to work three or four years, and get fifty pounds deposit on a farm. It ended up taking about forty years to get that farm!’. (1)

At the end of his recruit training Jim (Chester) was selected for appointment to the Mounted Branch as a mounted policeman. In 1929, before about 6,000 spectators in the Stadium, he won the Police Amateur Athletic Association’s novice middle weight wrestling championship. He then took on the champion in the open section and ‘beat him two falls to nothing’. Whilst stationed at the Police Depot, he found himself in the Police Hospital in St Kilda Road with cracked ribs after a wrestling incident. A cousin, who was accompanied by her friend Beatrice Jullyan, visited him at the hospital. Jim (Chester) was chosen as a member of the mounted police escort provided for Amy Johnson when she arrived at Moonee Valley racecourse, following her historic first solo flight by a woman from England to Australia in June 1930.

His long involvement in youth work and Scouting commenced in 1929, when he arrived in Numurkah as a young mounted policeman. Jim (Chester) completed an unbroken period of adult service of 69 years with the Scout Association. He attended the 9th Wood Badge training course for Scout Masters, held at Gilwell Park, Gembrook in September 1931. In 1952, whilst at Heyfield, he was awarded the Medal of Merit and later, in 1985, the Thanks Badge for long and outstanding service to the Scout Movement. In September 1997 the Stonnington Scout District presented him with a special award ‘In recognition and appreciation of his valued service to Scouting’.

A highlight of his early involvement in Scouting was a five-month trip to Europe as a member of the Australian Contingent to the 4th World Scout Jamboree held at Godollo, Hungary in 1933. The trip included an overland tour of the Continent and a Motor Coach Tour of England, Scotland and Wales.

On December 16,1933, following his return to Australia, he married Beatrice Violet Jullyan at St. Mary’s Church of England, Caulfield. After a period of seven month’s leave without pay, he resumed duties at the Police Depot on January 1,1934. In March 1934, he was appointed to take charge of the police station at Woomelang in the Mallee, where the young couple commenced their family life together. They had four children, one girl and three boys, (Elaine, Robert, Alan and Bruce).

In August 1939, Jim (Chester) was appointed officer-in-charge of the Heyfield Police Station, one of the last mounted police stations in Victoria. At Heyfield he was to play an active part in two separate air rescues of injured stockmen from Wombat Plain on Mount Wellington in January 1944, and from Holmes plain near Mt Arbuckle in March 1947.

During their time at Heyfield, Chester and Beatrice became involved in a wide range of community activities. Jim (Chester) was largely on his own as a country policeman and was ably assisted by Beat. They saw the town grow from 800 to about 2,000 inhabitants. “In those busy days Mrs. Draper never left the house whilst her husband was away on duty. That indicated the practical help and the complete understanding between them’. At their Heyfield Farewell the Chairman Cr. F.M. Zacher said ‘The number of people present that night indicated the respect in which Mr. and Mrs. Draper were held by the community. Mr. and Mrs. Draper had been in Heyfield for 16 years and had done more for the community in that time than people who had lived in the same centre for a lifetime’.

At Heyfield Jim (Chester) was Captain of both the rural and urban fire brigades. He was Captain of the rural brigade from November 1939, when it was affiliated with the Victorian Bush Fire Brigade’s Association, and ‘was the first delegate from Eastern Victoria to represent the area at association meetings’. At the beginning of 1944, he was a founder of the Heyfield urban brigade, formed under the Country Fire Brigade’s Board. He resigned from the position of Captain of the rural and urban brigades in 1953, following the adoption of a policy by the Country Fire Authority ‘that the police and forest officers will not in future be accepted for office in brigades’, as it was felt that ‘there could be a conflict of duties in the event of fires’.  In appreciation of his service on leaving Heyfield in 1955, it was stated that ‘Few could give more service to a volunteer brigade than he did and no one knew the town or district better or answered an alarm faster than he’. He later served with the Eltham and Arthur’s Creek Fire Brigades. At his 90th Birthday celebration held in the Doreen Hall, Chester received a watch and accompanying letter from the Country Fire Authority as thanks for his personal contribution to the service over the past fifty years.

Jim (Chester) was appointed officer-in-charge at Eltham Police Station in June 1955 and remained there until 1959. During his three and a half years at Eltham, Jim and Beat were again involved in a range of community activities. Jim (Chester) was a member and President of the Eltham High School Council, Chairman of the Eltham High School Chaplaincy Fund, and a member and President of the Eltham Scout Group Committee. On March 6, 1959, at a farewell social held in St. Margaret’s Hall, a canteen of cutlery was ‘Presented to Mr. & Mrs. J. Draper from Eltham Friends’. ‘Mr. Draper had left his mark on the district and there were many individuals and a number of organisations which owed a great deal to his work at Eltham. In his work as a policeman he often went far beyond his actual official duty to help an individual’. He undertook relieving duties from Malvern before his retirement from the Police Force in January 1960. Chester said ‘Contact with the public was the greatest thing in the Police Force and was a major reason I stayed in the job, especially in the country’.

He was awarded the Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for exemplary police service, in April 1958, and in November 1959 was awarded the Chief Commissioner’s Certificate, ‘for excellent policemanship during his career’, covering 31 and a half years of police service. The citation continued, ‘his participation in community activities covering a wide field enhanced his personal reputation as well as that of the Force as a whole’.

In 1969, Beatrice and Chester moved from Brighton to their farm ‘Maranui’ in Ridge Road, Yan Yean adjacent to neighbouring ‘Barton Hill’ where Chester grew up with his parents, and brothers and sisters. Chester maintained a strong interest in preserving and improving the land. He extensively planted trees and was winner of the 1982-83 Focus on Farm Trees award for Whittlesea Shire. Dams were constructed and major remedial work undertaken to overcome severe gully erosion on the property. He was quoted as saying ‘I like to think I am young in my ways. People say they retire. I bought a farm at 64 years. I say that to encourage other people to get busy and do something instead of folding’.

On December 15, 1983, Chester and Beatrice celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary. Beatrice died at ‘Maranui’, Yan Yean on September 19, 1992 at the age of 85. Ches. and Beat. are buried at the Arthur’s Creek Cemetery.

James Chester was a resolute person who maintained an independent spirit and kept an alert mind to the last. He was a great raconteur and was able to recite from memory many verses written by Australian poets and the English romanticists.

 

  1. (Web note) He had inherited a portion of his parents’ historic property, but chose to relinquish it without recompense and mirror the ancient British custom of male-line primogeniture, thereby ensuring the land was held as one for another generation.  He was always community and family-minded and rarely spoke of this during his lifetime.  It’s worth noting his gesture now, many years later, as both a measure of Chester’s generous character, and as a driver throughout his life as he strove to get back to the land.  He and Beatrice did eventually buy a farm near ‘Barton Hill’ and ‘Charnwood’, as well as land around Heyfield, another district Chester (Jim) came to love.  Had he not chosen to give up his land early in life, he and Beatrice may never have developed the lifelong friendships they made in Gippsland.  Photos of Chester on his farm and at stockyards and country shows are among the happiest in his collection.
A lifetime on horseback - James Chester Draper at 'Barton Hill', Arthurs Creek c 1907. Photo credit Draper family
James Chester Draper was born in 1905 at 'Barton Hill', and was known as Chester in the Arthurs Creek area so as not to be confused with his father, Jim Draper. However, he was known as Jim when he lived in Heyfield, and appears as both Chester and as Jim Draper in numerous documents. Photo credit Draper family
Blanche Draper (nee Hurrey), 1880 - 1968 and James Draper, 1863 - 1940; the parents of James Chester Draper, and the author's grandparents. Pictured during their engagement. They were married in 1900. Photo credit Draper family
James Draper, 1863 - 1940 and Blanche Draper (nee Hurrey), 1880 - 1968; the author's grandparents. Pictured with their children, from left to right Lily (1906 - 2003), Thomas (1903 - 1959), Catherine (1901 - 1997), James Chester (the author's father, 1905 - 1998), and Muriel (1907 - 2003). Blanche is holding Leslie (1909 - 1992). Pictured at their property, 'Barton Hill' Arthurs Creek, Victoria c 1910. Photo credit Draper family
James Chester Draper in Arthurs Creek c 1910. Photo credit Draper family
Draper family of 'Barton Hill' and friends at the annual picnic at Yan Yean Reservoir c 1920. Left to right: Leslie Stafford ’Staff’ Draper (1909 – 1992), Thomas ‘Tom’ Barton Draper (1903 – 1959), Dave Murphy, Lily Evelyn Draper (1906 – 2003), James Chester ’Ches’ Draper (1905 – 1998), Muriel Blanche Draper (1907 – 2003), Mrs Blanche Draper (nee Hurrey, 1880 – 1968), Joe Murphy, George Edward Draper (1911 – 1993), Sylvia Iris Draper (1913 – 1996). Photo credit Draper family
Arthurs Creek Football Club, 1924. Left to right, rear: Keith Bassett, Frank Bourke, Bert Apted, Les Apted, Pierce Brennan, Greg Brennan, Jack Herbert. Centre: Gordon Murphy, Tom Draper, Cec. Verso, George Brain, Jack Brennan, James Chester Draper. Front: Arthur Verso, A. Steer, Dave Hepburn, Harry Christian, Joe Lodge, Herb Verso. Photo credit Draper family
The author's father, James Chester Draper (1905 - 1998), pictured left, Arthurs Creek Football Club. Chester and Tom Draper are in pre and post WW1 colours, 1924. Photo credit Draper family
James Chester Draper (1905-1998) in England visiting relatives as part of a five-month trip to Europe as a member of the Australian Contingent to the 4th World Scout Jamboree held at Godollo, Hungary in 1933. Photo credit Draper family
A highlight of James Chester Draper's early involvement in Scouting was a five-month trip to Europe as a member of the Australian Contingent to the 4th World Scout Jamboree held at Godollo, Hungary in 1933. The trip included an overland tour of the Continent and a Motor Coach Tour of England, Scotland and Wales. He was invited to lecture at Gillwell Park, Gembrook. Photo credit Draper family
Such was his inspiration and leadership qualities, that James was chosen to take the Australian contingent of scouts to the 1933 Hungary Scout Jamboree. Photo credit James Chester Draper
An interest in scouting was fostered in James while stationed in Numurkah, north of Shepparton, where there was a lack of a local scout leader. A photo taken by Chester on a European trip with The Scout Association of Australia in 1933. Photo credit James Chester Draper
Chester on a European trip with The Scout Association of Australia in 1933. Photo credit Draper family
Postcard collected by Jim Draper in 1939 showing the Bank of New South Wales, Australasian Jamboree Branch, Bradfield, New South Wales. December 29th, 1938 - January 9th, 1939. Image is in the Draper family collection
The author's mother Beatrice at 'Barton Hill' Arthurs Creek, during her courting days with our father. Our parents moved to Heyfield, a gateway to the Victorian High Country, in 1939. By this time our mother already had three children and riding ceased, with her main leisure activities being tennis and the church choir. She was an accomplished tennis player and won many tournaments. Photo and information credit Elaine Lewis and Bruce G. Draper
My mother, Miss Beatrice Violet Jullyan (born in 1906) married Mr James Chester Draper on December 16th 1933 at St Mary’s in Caulfield. Photo credit Draper family
‘Up the Creek: Early Days in the Arthurs Creek District’ is dedicated to my parents Chester and Beatrice, pictured at their wedding in 1933, who came home to their district and spent their final years at 'Maranui' in Ridge Road, looking out towards the Kinglake Ranges. Photo credit Draper family
J.C. Draper 8281 on Troop Horse Robin. Jim Chester was stationed at Woomelang from 1934 to 1939. Photo was taken at the Victorian Police Mounted Branch Depot in St Kilda Road during a refresher course for the 1934 tour of Australia by Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester. Photo credit Draper family
In March 1934, Jim Chester Draper was appointed to take charge of the police station at Woomelang in the Mallee (pictured), where he and Beatrice commenced their family life together. In August 1939, he was appointed officer-in-charge of the Heyfield Police Station, one of the last mounted police stations in Victoria. He was offered many promotions but didn't want a desk job. "Contact with the public was the greatest thing in the police force and was a major reason I stayed in the job, especially in the country". Photo credit Draper family
Beatrice holding her first child, Elaine, in 1935 while stationed at Woomelang in the Mallee region of Victoria. Photo credit Draper family
Jim (Chester) holding his daughter Elaine in about 1937 while stationed at Woomelang in the Mallee region of Victoria. Photo credit Draper family
Australia suffered badly during the period of the Great Depression of the 1930s and itinerant swagmen (and sometimes whole families) were a common sight in country areas. This photo shows a rough shelter in the bush. It’s not known if Jim took this photo in the area around Numurkah where he was stationed in 1930, or his later postings at Woomelang or Heyfield. Photo credit James Chester Draper
Jim Draper (senior) with grandchildren at 'Barton Hill' in the late 1930s. Photo credit Draper family
From 1939 to 1955 Jim (Chester) Draper was officer-in-charge of the Heyfield Police Station, an historic single-officer mounted police station. He was in a reserved occupation during the war years - a profession considered important enough to a country that those serving in such occupations are forbidden from military service. His brother George Edward Draper (1911 – 1993) served in the Second Australian Imperial Force and is pictured here outside his tent in Palestine in October 1941. Photo credit Draper family
Jim Chester Draper, pictured left, in the high country around Heyfield. He was described by contemporaries as a superb horseman. Such was the regard and esteem the local inhabitants gave James that he had a street in Heyfield named after him in the late 1970s. Photo credit Draper family
My father was involved in a war-time rescue operation conducted on horseback in the rugged mountains of the Victorian High Country. Photo credit Draper family. Information credit Ian Stapleton
The RAAF Tiger Moth at Wombat Plain near Mt Wellington in 1944. In 1995 Jim Draper recounted the story of this war time rescue operation, conducted on horseback in the rugged mountains of the Victorian High Country, to Ian Stapleton for his book ‘Weatherbeaten Wisdom’ published in 2008. Photo credit Draper family. Information credit Ian Stapleton
Jim Chester Draper with his horse in Heyfield in the 1940s. The Second World War left the town short of volunteers so Jim became the volunteer Captain and a fire fighter for the Heyfield Urban Fire Brigade (the CFA today), Scout Commissioner, President of the Ambulance Committee, the Sunday School teacher and youth group leader, school bus driver, Shire delegate and representative, and Secretary of the Heyfield School Committee. Photo credit Draper family
Beatrice Draper outside her house in Heyfield c 1950. Photo credit Draper family
Roads and tracks in the mountains around Heyfield could be treacherous and prior to the Search and Rescue Squad being formed in 1957 by Victoria Police, it was up to the local officer-in-charge to conduct these operations. Jim Draper ran many such undertakings in Gippsland between 1939 and 1955. Here a logging truck hangs precariously over the edge of the road. Photo credit James Chester Draper
Police work could be difficult and dangerous in country Victoria in the first half of the 20th century. At single-officer stations such as Heyfield, all work was managed and undertaken by the officer-in-charge. Photo credit James Chester Draper
Roads and tracks in the mountains around Heyfield could be treacherous and prior to the Search and Rescue Squad being formed in 1957 by Victoria Police, it was up to the local officer-in-charge to conduct these operations. Jim Draper ran many such undertakings in Gippsland between 1939 and 1955. Here a vehicle has left the road and tumbled down a steep slope. Jim's job also included acting as the Clerk of Courts and serving summons, Stock Inspector and gathering farm statistics for government records. Photo credit James Chester Draper
'Weatherbeaten Wisdom: Colourful Characters of the Victorian High Country' by the author's friend, Ian Stapleton, contains a chapter about Bruce's father and the time he spent in Heyfield. Jim Chester Draper is pictured here, top right, on the back cover of the book. The Harrietville Bakery is one of the many High Country shops where you can purchase Ian's excellent books. Photo credit C. Ashley
Invitation to Mr and Mrs J. Draper to an ‘At Home’ at Government House, Melbourne. General Sir Reginald Alexander Dallas Brooks was appointed Governor of Victoria by Premier Thomas Hollway and served from 1949 to 1963
Volunteers in the Heyfield Urban Fire Brigade 1952. Rear L to R: Ray Leyshan, Angus Jennings, Jim (Chester) Draper, Russell Brander, L. Hogg. Front: G. Cullen, Fraser Leyshan, N. Russell, R. Frazer. Jim Draper was a former volunteer Captain of urban and Country Fire Authority brigades in the Heyfield area of Gippsland, and later a member of the voluntary Arthurs Creek Rural Fire Brigade. Photo courtesy of James Chester Draper and Bruce G. Draper
J.C. Draper, Scout Leader pictured in 1952, back row, third from left (the tallest). Whilst at Heyfield, he was awarded the Medal of Merit and later, in 1985, the Thanks Badge for long and outstanding service to the Scout Movement. In September 1997 the Stonnington Scout District presented him with a special award ‘In recognition and appreciation of his valued service to Scouting’. Photo credit Draper family
At their Heyfield Farewell in 1955 the Chairman Cr. F.M. Zacher said ‘The number of people present indicated the respect in which Mr. and Mrs. Draper were held by the community. Mr. and Mrs. Draper had been in Heyfield for 16 years and had done more for the community in that time than people who had lived in the same centre for a lifetime’. Photo credit Draper family
Scout Leader Jim Draper (left) in the 1950's. Photo credit Draper family
My parents raised four children, and although my mother didn't have a paid job, she often ran the country police station while my father was away. Photo credit Draper family
Front row left to right: James Chester Draper, Beatrice Draper, Elaine Draper. Back row: Robert Draper, Alan Draper, Bruce Draper. Photo credit Draper and Lewis families
On parade in 1959. Jim Draper completed nearly all his police assignments on horseback from 1929 until his retirement in 1960. Photo credit Draper family
'Maranui' with its views of the Kinglake Ranges brought James Chester back to the land around Arthurs Creek that his family had farmed for generations. Jim began planting trees on the property in 1969 and planted 3000 in 1982 alone. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
'Maranui' the home of James Chester and Beatrice Draper. Jim believed trees attracted atmospheric moisture, improved pasturage if properly disposed, and gave protection against erosion. In 1983, the Year of the Tree, he received a medallion from the Department of Agriculture, the Wildlife Division, the Forests Commission and the Soil Conservation Authority. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Chester Draper (left) near the hay shed at 'Maranui' in the 1970s. He always aimed to leave the land in better condition than he found it and his legacy can be seen today in the countless thousands of trees he planted. The She-Oak was one of his favourites and he loved the way they sighed in the wind all the time. Photo credit Draper family
Chester Draper at 'Maranui' in the late 1970s with two of his grandchildren Virginia Lewis and Catherine Draper, and a pony that he and Beatrice bought for all the grandchildren to ride, called Snowy. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
My father, Jim Chester Draper was one of the organisers of the Back to Yan Yean Celebrations. The buggy (or carriage) was from Chester and Beatrice Draper's Yan Yean property, 'Maranui'. Back to Yan Yean Celebrations, 7th and 8th October, 1978. Photo credit State Library of Victoria
Back to Yan Yean Celebrations, 7th and 8th October, 1978. Photo credit State Library of Victoria
The Caretaker’s Residence, Yan Yean Reservoir, Sunday October 8th 1978. Evelyn Hurrey recalled “the stately old home which entertained many of the Governors who attended at the site still stands as a reminder of days gone by … in 1927 Lord Somers visited the reservoir and the flags of all nations flew high to greet hm. Food was set out on a large wooden rectangular table which used to stand as a functional piece in the front garden of the caretaker’s residence” ("Yan Yean: A History" by Dianne Edwards, published by Yan Yean School Council, 1978). James Chester Draper is facing the camera, second from the left, seated. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Jim Draper (pictured right) at the Gilwell Reunion in 1987. Photo credit Draper family
'Mac' Stidston and Jim Draper at the Totem Pole near the Camp Fire Circle in the Training Ground at Gilwell Park, 26 January, 1997. Photo credit Draper family
Sheep at 'Maranui' in the late 1980s. Chester's granddaughter Catherine has childhood memories of the shearing contractors hard at work in the well-equipped shearing shed. Shearing was always a busy and exciting time on the farm. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Jim Chester Draper and stock near the hay shed at 'Maranui' in the 1980s. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Chester Draper at 'Maranui' in the 1990s. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Len Dugdale and Jim Draper at 'Maranui' near Arthurs Creek, looking towards the Kinglake Ranges. 20th August 1986
At his 90th Birthday celebration in 1995, held in the now demolished Doreen Hall, James Chester Draper received a watch and accompanying letter from the Country Fire Authority as thanks for his personal contribution to the service over the past fifty years. Photo credit Draper family
Chester (Jim) Draper at his 90th birthday celebration with his daughter Elaine at the historic Doreen Hall. Photo credit Draper and Lewis families
Jim Chester Draper and visitors in one of the rose gardens at 'Maranui'. Chester grew beautiful roses and regularly won prizes at the Whittlesea Show, as did Beatrice for her delicious jams made with fruit grown in the 'Maranui' orchards. The Draper family has maintained its long association with the show, with Chester's son Robert Draper having been the Whittlesea Agricultural Society President in recent years. Chester would almost always give a freshly picked bouquet of roses to any female visitor to the farm
All of Chester and Beatrice's grandchildren were given the opportunity to ride horses and ponies. Chester himself was a highly accomplished rider and continued farm life on horseback into his late 80s. Here his granddaughter Catherine accompanies him. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
The beautiful Kinglake Ranges seen from Chester and Beatrice's property 'Maranui' by Bruce G. Draper in the 1990s. Chester always maintained his sense of humour and when asked about the practice of talking to trees said "when you get senile you can talk to them; if they are talking back you know you are funny"
Yan Yean Primary School started in 1861 and closed in 2002. There were over thirty children attending the Yan Yean State School when James Chester Draper and his siblings started there. Chester campaigned vigorously in later years to keep the Yan Yean State Primary School open, before he died in 1998. He is seen here giving a history talk to school children in the 1990s
Jim's Magnificent Obsession by Joanne Anderson, The Age, 17 April 1984
A family dedication to trees by Peter Macgeorge, Whittlesea Post, 7 March 1984
Friend, Farmer and Policeman by J.G., Police Life, October 1984

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