A snippet of early Grantville history
GRANTVILLE has a proud history, from it’s heyday when it was a thriving, bustling town in the early 1900’s; to the years when here was no industry to maintain it’s population and businesses; to today, where investment is being made into commercial area and housing - turning full circle back to those heydays.
Grantville’s future is bright. It will continue to grow as a service town, providing a wonderful place to live and enjoy the richness of a caring community.
The first Settlers
The traditional custodians of the Bass Coast Shire are the Bunurong people. Yallock balag is the name of the local clan whose territory was from Tooradin to Wilson’s Promontory.
They roamed this area from the Werribee River in the west to Anderson’s Inlet in the east. The coastal strip was favoured for its many middens and springs for fresh water.
The Terrestrial and Marine landscapes all through Bass Coast Shire were and still are today utilised by Traditional Custodians who are living and practising their culture.
George Bass sailed into Western Port in January 1798.
He was short of water and the whaleboat was damaged. He spent time in Western Port exploring and making detailed notes and reluctantly left the area after 13 days.
The Lady Nelson, with Lt. James Grant and Lt. Joh Murray, made two visits, in 1801 and 1802 when careful maps were made.
The French also sailed into Westernport.
In 1804, Robbins and Oxley reported that Western Port showed “no great advantage to render it an eligible place for settlement”.
Grantville township was surveyed in 1870 by Edmund Colbert and named after the President of the Board of Lands and Works, Mr James Grant.
Grantville State School No. 1414
By 1872 there was a need for a primary school in Grantville.
A slab walled, shingle roofed, dirt floored room was built.
Deep Creek Non Vested Rural School No 120 was opened in February 1873.
By April the building was deemed unsatisfactory and closed, leaving 27 children with no school to go to.
The School reopened the next year and renamed Grantville No 1414.
After several rebuilds, two site moves and an amalgamation with Queensferry, the school was established on the site of the current Transaction Centre and Memorial Park, where it served the community for many years. It closed in 1976 and became part of the Bass Valley Primary School.
The first recorded burial in the cemetery was that of that of 1 year old George Edwards from Deep Creek who died on March 29 in 1872
His grave is located in: Section 21
The first land sales in Grantville were 10 lots sold by auction on 25 February 1873.
In 1875, a 300 foot jetty was built to ship the timber that milled in the hills. The lots facing Jetty Road and Melbourne were sold.
Mr Dickens built a store and ran the Post Office.
Soon other stores were opened; a draper, a butcher, a blacksmith and two bank agencies.
Two hotels and the saleyards also opened and by 1910 Grantville had it’s own newspaper - The Western Port Times.
Later in seventies, Grantville has its own drive-in theatre.
What a place it was!
The Timber Cutters
For about 20 years, timber was the king in Grantville.
Mills were established in the hiils, owners ran tram lines to the coast an cut logs were transported to Melbourne.
Two sawmills were established in Grantville in 1874.
It has been said that the tallest tres were clean sticks 250 feet high.
The cut timber has to be brought to the coast and a system of tramways were built through the stands of timber to the jetties.
Brazier’s t Tramway came to Grantville, Stewarts Tramway came to Queensferry and the third went through Woodlieigh to Bass Landing.
In 1876 nine thousand super feet of timber per week was milled in the Grantville mills.
By the late 1890s there was not enough timber left in the Bass hills to make the mills profitable.
The mills closed and the workers left. Grantville’s heyday was over.
The railway comes or not?
In 1887 the Grantville Railway League began to agitate for a rail line to be built connecting the coastal villages and the larger towns.
The Government refused all their applications as they said there was no call for a railway.
Various routes were suggested. Nyora to Woolamai, the Bass line to Lang Lang or Lang Lang to Grantville along the coast.
Many petitioners pleaded their cause giing reasons why their choice was best. Farmers wanted to rail dairy produce and root crops, local business men wanted to sell goods. However the State Government thought that the coastal shipping trade would be ruined. Coal made the decision for them all. After strikes in 1906, it was imperative tat coal be sent to Melbourne as quickly as possible.
The faster inland route was chosen. Tonnes of coal were moved but the coastal towns missed out. By the late 1970s the coal and the railways were both gone.
The Western Port Cobb & Co
Agitation for a good road to Dandenong began in the early 1850’s.
The route was surveyed but very little was done to make the road passable in all weathers. Many tales were told about the mud and the boggy state of Western Port Road.
The blacksmith in Grantville, Charlie Williams was often busy repairing coaches and harness so that the time tables could be maintained.
Cobb and Co ran a coach service on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Dandenong and returned on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at a cost of 5/-. In 1913 the Country Roads Board was formed and the road repaired and named, Bass Highway.
The first Grantville show was held in March 1885.
This began a series of most successful shows with may entries in various competitions in the pavilion and also in horse and livestock events.
The town buzzed in show week, the hotel put in extra stabling paddocks to house the number of horse and carts and all the ladies dressed up in their finery.
In 1894 there were over 700 entries for all sections. The committee continued to work hard to improve the show, spending money on fencing and clearing flat land for competitions. Successful shows were held yearly until 1909 when a series of debts forced the committee to look for a site accessible by rail. The show then moved to Dalyston.
- and the topic for discussion is -
In time, each of these points of interest will be addressed, perhaps many times!
If there is anything you would like to add to the list, or perhaps you have pertinent details, please contact us.
Hotels (Grantville Hotel & Prince Of Wales)
Pier (Old & New)
Saw mills & tramways (Brazier Mill etc.)
Primary Schools (various iterations)
Western Port Times (1896-1910)
Mechanics Institute (local hall)
General stores (esp. Wheatley’s store)
Anti-erosion barrier (1970’s? rebuilt 1980s?)
Cobb & Co coach service (terminated Grantville, extended to Bass for a time)
Grantville Racing Club
Grantville Rifle Club
Racecourse (1896? To 1920s?)
Site, date and type of 1880s to 1900s businesses
Agricultural shows (various)
The Victoria Hotel (where and when was it?)
Beach ‘coolstore/wine cellar’
Post Office and general store location
Race track & agricultural shows
The Great Victoria Colliery & tram line to Queensferry
Primary scholl (at St. Helliers).
DonMix Quarry (Donohue Brothers, 1958).
Now ‘puddling’ station.
Blackney’s garage (1950s - 1960s?)
Caravan Park (closed 1980s)
Kernot Railway Station & Shier Road trestle bridge
Primary schools (3?)
John Paul’s general store
Butter Factory (1896-1910)
Post Office (closed 1960s)
- articles -
The Western Port Times
May 2018 - No. 1 - Feature - Paper by Colin Skidmore.
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