THE former Bendigo East Primary School was built of bricks from a powder magazine situated in the Upper Reserve (QEO), part of Rosalind Park, and opened in 1915.
Under the headline "ANZAC AVENUE TREES NAMED AT BENDIGO EAST", a long article appeared in the Bendigo Advertiser of December 13, 1920.
There was also a short entry in the Melbourne Argus newspaper on the same day, under the headline "BENDIGO AND DISTRICT", stating, ‘An avenue of trees, to be known as Anzac Avenue, was formally opened on Saturday at Bendigo East, as a tribute to the soldiers who enlisted from the district.
The Bendigo Advertiser report read in part, "Being a new school it was impossible, of course, for Bendigo East to have an honour roll: but it has an Anzac Avenue by which the children will be able to remember the sacrifices of the war. It was during hostilities that the avenue of small trees was planted from the street gate (Strickland Road) to the main entrance. Many of the trees grew vigorously, others came on stony ground, but the enthusiasm of the school committee, with Mrs C. Waight, the president, and Mrs A.J. Hampson, the secretary and correspondent, knows no bound, and they will see that at the school grounds there grows a tree in memory of each man who enlisted from the environs of the school.
The report went on to record the "pleasant function" at a "large gathering" when parents of soldiers and scholars accepted an invitation to attend the ceremony of naming the trees. Mr Hampson, who led the function, exhibited a series of official photographs, the most interesting of which being an aerial photo of Fleurbaix, the first place on the Western Front where the Australians fought, and one of the most disastrous in which the Australians were engaged.
The speaker further explained that since the start of the movement to name the trees in the Anzac Avenue at the school, many more names had been forwarded. Name plates of embossed copper mounted on wood, supplied by Hartley Brothers, were handed by Mr Hampson to a parent or relative and these were fixed in front of the trees. The plates included one in memory of Lieut. A.J. Hampson and soldiers from the 7th and 38th Battalions. After the speeches, all present returned to the schoolroom, where afternoon tea was taken.
Lately, the matter of the avenue and former school site has become controversial, with interviews on local ABC radio on a possible plan to cut down the trees as part of a re-development.
Would any reader with any further knowledge of the avenue and Bendigo East Primary School please notify the Bendigo Historical Society.
Bendigo Historical Society's June meeting will be on Friday, June 5, at the Bendigo TAFE Theatrette, McCrae Street, at 2pm Speaker will be Peter McIver on "Past Bendigo Champion Cricketers". All welcome; entry by gold coin donation.
Songs of the Anzacs double CD is available from Specimen Cottage (5441 3443) and Nolan Street (5442 1005) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Cost $25.