Posts Tagged ‘Malvern Comforts Fund’

(unattributed)

Of all the places to have a motorsport event, Tooronga Park in Malvern, 12km from Melbourne’s CBD is up there with the least likely…

An Austin 7 Special at left and the Campbell McLaren/Halliday Ford A Model Special the two intrepid occupants built.

Right in the heart of Melbourne’s stockbroker belt even in September 1940, the roar of racing engines is somewhat bizarre, but the ‘Malvern Comforts Fund’ staged a five day carnival of activities to raise money to provide luxury items to supplement Australian troops normal, basic rations.

State based organisations of this type were formed during World War 1 and federated- the ‘Australian Comforts Fund’ quickly grew into a fundraising, collecting, sorting and distribution machine to rival the Red Cross- it was dissolved in 1920 but revived in 1939 to again look after the lads and lassies.

Wonder what mutt won the Ugliest Doggie Competition? (R Bell Collection)

Ray Bell sent this amazing flyer to promote the event and most of the photographs in this piece, the one below is of Ron Edgerton’s Alta V8 a Speedway Midget alongside. Is that Tooronga Station in the background of the shot?

Given the crowded nature of the large parklands it seems likely that ‘novelty’ rather than speed events were the go but if any of you have an entry list and details of the contests it would be great to hear from you.

(R Bell)

The car (at left below) is the ex-Lord Selsdon Fraser Nash TT Replica being driven by Earl Davey-Milne, who still owns it. ‘The A Ford Special Midget is not Arthur Wylie’s normal car (Ray Bell’s thought as to the machine at right), so I am not at all sure’ as to the car on the right Bob King comments.

‘Cam McLaren was a hilarious commentator at Rob Roy and Templestowe Hillclimbs keeping up a lively banter with, I believe, John Price- this was before car racing got serious and many of the cars were absurd…’

(R Bell)

‘The Malvern Groups five day carnival in September 1940 was an extravaganza in Great War style, with marches, bands, button sales, dances, recitals and a monster Town Hall finale that included the Coburg Ladies Pipe Band, the Hawaiian Club (WTF?) and pupils of Miss Greenough, danseuse (a female ballet dancer) and J King, magician…’ there is no mention of the light car racing in Lynne Strahan’s account of the carnival.

The scale of this national organisation was enormous, the Malvern Comforts Group (only a small suburb of Melbourne then) alone provided ‘food, hostels, picture units, canteens and parcels of books and games…while over 120,000 skeins (a length of yarn loosely coiled and knotted) of wool and twelve miles of flannel and drill had been consumed for garments fashioned with “motherly care”…’

(R Bell and B King Collections)

Ron Edgerton’s Bugatti T37, with Bob King thinks, Maurie Monk’s GN Special alongside.

It is ironic that the Toorak domicile of this Bugatti, ‘37104’ for the last sixty years or so is three kilometres from one of its last events powered by a Bugatti engine!- see article on the car here; https://primotipo.com/2019/04/25/alexandra-sprints-and-bugatti-t37-37104/

The last serious motorsport event in Australia before competition cars were put away for the war’s duration was the ‘Patriotic Grand Prix’ held in Perth’s Applecross on 11 November 1940. The program comprised four events, the GP was a 12 lap, 30 mile race won by Harley Hammond’s Marquette Special, below.

(K Devine)

Etcetera…

(R Bell)

 

(R Bell)

Campbell McLaren and Mr Halliday at Mitcham Hillclimb, circa 1941, and in the photo above that, building their racer, a project they commenced whilst still at school.

Mitcham is a suburb 17km directly east of Malvern, very much in the sticks then but could almost be categorised as an inner-suburb these days if Melbourne’s eastern outskirts end at Healesville, which it sorta does…

I’d love to know where the ‘climb was, I had an aunt who lived at Mitcham in the sixties and seventies, a bit of cursory research shows the venue was in use from at least 1936- sixty entries raced there that October, but did it survive post-war?

(SLV)

A trip down memory lane for Melbourne’s eastern-suburbanites.

The Glen Waverley line rail-crossing- not even a boom-gate, as long as the operator in the little hut doesn’t go to sleep all is good, at the ‘bottom’ of the Toorak Road plunge down from Glenferrie Road looking east in 1955, this spot is a long drop-kick to Tooronga Park.

By the time i was an ankle-biter visiting my uncle/grandfather’s newsagency on the corner of Burke and Toorak Roads in the early sixties that stand of trees at the top of the hill had become a drive-in theatre. In addition to the gasometers there was a brickworks in this area of flat land, so it was quite industrial for a residential area- the gasometers were removed circa 1980 as natural gas replaced the coal-fired variety.

Its funny the stuff which pops back into yer head. The two ‘clutch-fucker’ hill starts which terrorised me as an 18 year old ‘P-Plater’ in me Mum’s Morrie 1100 was that one at the top of the hill where the trees are- the corner of Tooronga and Toorak Roads, when traffic lights emerged and the Warrigal Road/Riversdale Road muvva in Burwood…i got there eventually!

Into the sixties the first small shopping centre emerged, then re-zoning removed the extractive industries and Coles headquarters moved in, then circa 2010 a bigger shopping centre and shedloads of apartments. Oh yes, there is now a freeway (the Monash) near the railway lines and at present, finally, the powers that be are creating an overpass for the railway line.

Gardiners Creek is there somewhere but maybe its behind where the snapper took his shot, no doubt some folks who attended the Malvern Comforts Fund event fished in that creek all those years ago…

Credits…

Ray Bell and Bob King

Ray Bell Collection (from Campbell McLaren’s photo album), Museums Victoria, ‘A History of The City of Malvern’ Lynne Strahan, Bob King Collection, State Library of Victoria, Ken Devine Collection

Tailpiece…

Finito…