History Lives: City's changing streets

BENDIGO Historical Society member and historian Rita Hull has written two books on the origin of the names of Bendigo streets, both of which may be bought from Specimen Cottage. 

In Book 1, she includes an image of Chapel Street, which runs from the McIvor Highway near the Brian Boru Hotel to McCrae Street, near St Kilian’s Church. The caption on the front cover reads: Chapel Street, formerly Bernal Street. 

In the area called Irishtown, the name of the street was changed after it gained such a bad reputation as a “red light” area and it took its present name from St Kilian’s Chapel in an effort to dispel the old image.

Saturday’s Bendigo Advertiser (August 23) had a photo of Pat and Ted Hocking celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. 

Both do extensive volunteering for a number of organisations, Ted being a member of the Bendigo Historical Society. 

At 26 Chapel Street, lived the Benson family from the early 1940s. 

This was a time when Epsom again became an army camp, recruiting centres did brisk business and old-timers who had sported the blue and red colour patch of Bendigo’s own battalion, the 38th, felt a tingle of pride at its reappearance.

In Frank Cusack’s words, “long convoys of military vehicles thundered through the streets night and day and posters warned that ‘The Enemy Listens’, but did not prevent rumours of heavily guarded arsenals on the city’s outskirts. People grew accustomed to guards patrolling the big, newly built ordnance works, whose activities were shrouded in secrecy.” 

Things had changed when Pat Hocking lived in the home from 1952 until she moved in 1963. 

The name on the house was CAZNA, which is ANZAC in reverse. 

Pat remembers two soft-drink factories being located in the street – Glover’s, where St Vincent de Paul’s driveway is now, and O’Connell’s at 46 Chapel, next to Tyrepower. 

There was a corner shop (now undergoing restoration) on the corner of the McIvor Highway and Chapel, with the Brian Boru Hotel on the opposite corner. 

The street then was a strip of tar down the middle with dirt edges; elm trees lined it and the residents burned the leaves in the gutters at autumn time; this was the time when children could safely play in the street. 

Where the Fire Station is now were a hotel and a shop which had closed by 1952. 

On the TAFE corner of McCrae Street stood another corner shop. 

Pat remembers that it was common for farmers to live in the street and drive to their farms on the outskirts of Bendigo. Only about half the residents of Chapel Street had cars at that time.

A famous shop on the corner of McCrae Street was McGregor’s milk bar, which sold water icy poles for one penny and milk ones for three pence. 

They also made delicious milkshakes and vegetable pasties on Fridays to cater for the many Catholic institutions in this area.

Thanks to Pat Hocking for the material and images used in this article.

Bendigo Historical Society all-day bus excursion

To Heathcote and Costerfield on Saturday, September 13.

Cost $20 includes visit to Heathcote Historical Museum and Costerfield Mine and afternoon tea at Costerfield Hall. Bring own lunch or buy at Heathcote. Bus leaves All Seasons at 9am and returns at 4pm. 

Register by contacting 5435 3635 or 5441 3443 and pay at Specimen Cottage (178-80 Hargreaves Street). Numbers limited.

Bendigo Historical Society tours

Shamrock Hotel every Sunday at 2pm. Cost $10 includes cake and coffee. Book at the Shamrock on 5443 0333.

Specimen Cottage (178-80 Hargreaves Street) every Tuesday at 11am. Cost $5 includes morning tea. 

Visit the Bendigo Historical Society website at www.bendigohistory.com

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