THE WATER TOWER AT RYE, VIC., AUST., (and water on the Mornington Peninsula.) :: Genealogy
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THE WATER TOWER AT RYE, VIC., AUST., (and water on the Mornington Peninsula.)

Journal by itellya

I always wondered about this.
On the corner of Kent Road and Observation Drive there used to be an old limestone building, a water tower and about 100 metres away a Well. All constructed out of Limestone. It was all demolished in the late 1980S . Any idea who owned this property?
Regards Steve

Henry Cadby Wells walked through Rye before it ever existed and probably before anyone lived or quarried lime there. Owen Cain arrived to quarry lime at Tyrone soon afterwards, but after the birth of Henry's daughter on the site of Sorrento's Koonya hotel, (Owen, almost losing his four year old daughter!)Therefore, when Henry's descendant says jump, I ask how high? Another factor that prompted this journal is the lack of discussion regarding water supply on the peninsula. I'm not talking about reticulation by the authorities because it seems that provision of water and electricity to the fort at Pt Nepean had a strong relationship to the coastal towns receiving their supply.

Towns on the peninsula were obviously situated near a water source, such as the spring below the site of the Dromana Bowling club that fed a ti tree swamp or a creek. Rosebud had Adams' Creek (The Avenue), Eeling Creek which now flows under the Tom Salt Park car park and Peatey's Creek (Murray Anderson Rd.) People obviously used tanks, which are most often mentioned in school histories, but I have not seen any mention of who used to bring water when the tank was empty or where they obtained their water. How did the isolated limeburners, such as those at Canvas Town (cnr Tasman Dr and Canterbury Jetty Rd) obtain water?

Bores would have been too expensive for most pioneers. The late Ray Cairns explained how a spring was opened up on a high part of Maroolaba at Fingal to irrigate lower ground. In ROSEBUD:FLOWER OF THE PENINSULA, Isobel Moresby told how Smythe, a Flemington tanner,opened up a spring on the southern half of Burrell's pre-emptive right on Arthurs Seat to water his wattle plantation.

Were there any creeks at Rye and Sorrento with a reasonably constant supply? What were their names? Was it hard washing clothes using bore water? Who refilled tanks? I ask anyone with knowledge of how the pioneers coped in regard to water to supply their information in COMMENTS.

And now back to Steve's query.

I might be able to work out who had it but you must mean the corner of Observation and Valley or Kent and Sussex. Whether the first corner or the second corner that I specified, the tower would have been in crown allotment 12 of Rye Township, the first corner being just inside the south east corner of c/a 12 and the whole township. Therefore, I will examine the 1914 ratebook, which I know describes property locations fairly well, to see who had c/a 12, Rye Township of 98 acres 2 roods and 9 perches..

I thought the tower might have been built by James Little Brown (restorer of rabbit and ti tree infested land into beautiful pasture and councillor after whom Browns Rd was named) but the information I gathered for his entry in my SHIRE OF FLINDERS journal seems to dispel this theory. He did own the land bounded by Dundas, Collingwood and Napier Streets and the south boundary of the Kanasta Caravan Park. His homestead, Hillcrest, at 1 May St was built using lime from the last firing of the big kiln on the fire station site.

South of Brown's crown allotments 1,2,3,section 5 and the cemetery, all the land east of Dundas St was granted to William Allison Blair, a lime merchant. The part occupied by the golf course was situated in crown allotments 10, 11 and 12 of Rye Township, a total of 199 acres 1 rood and 35 perches,the land south of the Dundas St/Golf Pde corner being crown allotments 4, 20 and 21 of the parish of Nepean, a total of 374 acres 2 roods and 37 perches.(The Jennings' Kariah, bounded by Dundas St, Browns Rd and Weeroona St was said to consist of 212 acres but I believe that should be 221 acres, being crown allotments 20 and 21 Nepean, extending north to the freeway reservation.)

On crown allotments 10, 11 and 12, Rye Township was St George's Golf Links, a nine hole course which was constructed in 1935 by John McDonald and his two sons, Jack and Max. The course, bounded by Dundas St and Golf Rde, was subdivided circa 1954 as the Ryelands Estate by a young bloke from the Prentice real estate firm who soon after moved to Rye, but originally parked his car at the end of Lyons St as his office. There's an advertisement for the estate in the Argus Mornington Peninsula supplement in December, 1954.

It seems the water tower, whose location you mentioned was not used to water the golf course unless the details that follow describe a second method of supplying water that made the tower redundant. Water from the bore near the old homestead (now in Athol Court) was pumped into a twenty thousand gallon tank atop of what is now Highview Court and then reticulated to the nine greens." (P.14, Rye Township 150th Anniverary Edition-Southern Peninsula News.)

Although blindness and insanity were rapidly approaching before I made my breakthrough, I have made some progress. By the way, I've made your query the subject of my latest journal in the hope that somebody with personal experience regarding the water tower, homestead and well, all constructed of limestone and in crown allotment 12, Rye Township, will be able to supply further information.I though it was a good opportunity to remind the Nepean and Rye Historical Societies that every time they mention Robert Rowley, they should spare a thought for his lime-burning and cray fishing partner, Henry Cadby Wells.

I chose the 1914 assessment as the best place to start because I knew that property locations were described well. Hoping for a short cut, as the entries are alphabetical in each section, I looked for McDonald and Jennings but found neither. After going through the entire west riding, which took about two hours of squinting at entries written with diluted ink (only one tiny bit more legible than invisible ink),I found no mention of crown allotments 10, 11 and 12, Rye Township (between the Kanasta Caravan Park and the Dundas St/ Golf Pde corner, c/a 4 Nepean, south to the freeway reservation or crown allotments 20 and 21 Nepean, which I assumed to be Dod Jennings' Kariah.

I have a very naughty computer that sends emails (without me clicking send) and it did just that at this point. Steve replied:
Thanks, where do you find this information. It was the corner of Kent & Sussex. We lived on Golf Parade (all dirt roads at that time). At the time it was situated in thick bush. A Greek family (Passouilis) purchased some of the land, demolished the buildings and built a house. The Well was all that remained. On the opposite side of kent Road there was a limestone slab like a pestle (hollowed out on the inside).

The reason I missed the golf course land was because it was referred to as c/a 10, 11, 12, section A, Nepean. I did, however find that David Swan, carter of Rye, was assessed on crown allotment 10 and buildings,Rye. (Folio 84 >, assessment number 1681.) The nett annual value of David's property was 12 pounds; I did not record an acreage, perhaps because there wasn't one recorded but the NAV seems reasonable for a suburban allotment of 52 acres adjacent to the township. I also found that William Laverton Thompson, of Rye, importer, had crown allotments 1,2,3 section 5, immediately north of David Swan's land, that by 1919 had been purchased by James Little Brown.

The fact that Blair had been granted c/a10 and it was occupied by David Swan in 1914 recalls a huge battle between Charles Gavan Duffy and William Allison Blair that I discovered while researching Sidney Smith Crispo. They were acquiring huge tracts of land, Blair in both Wannaeue and Nepean, Duffy only in the latter parish. They were accusing each other of using unfair tactics and Duffy accused Swan, who did much fencing for Blair, of being a dummy bidder for Blair.

In view of Sorrento becoming so successful so early and dominating the west riding, it may surprise you to find that there was no township of Sorrento until well after Rye Township was declared. Crispo of Manners-Sutton/Canterbury (Blairgowrie) and "Eastbourne", who was an official of the Coastal Survey, suggested to the head of the Lands Department that a piece of land in dispute between Duffy and Blair be declared a village because there was no way to determine which had submitted his application first. It was declared soon after and the blocks sold in a flash.

Next, I tried the 1915 assessment, knowing I would at least find Jennings and Kariah. I did! Not knowing their given names, the rate collector had written:

Jennings, Rye, farmers, 221 acres and buildings,c/a 20, 21.(folio 72, Ass. No. 1431.)

My belief that Kariah consisted of 221 acresand not 212 had been proven.

J.L.Brown (called John in practically every assessment, but actually James) was assessed on 202 acres, c/a 10, 11, 12, section A, Nepean.(folio 66, A.N.1310.) I believe he was the builder of the water tower. As well as grubbing out ti tree and installing rabbit proof fencing, he reticulated water to water troughs. The limestone house and well may have been constructed by J.L.Brown as well but may have also been the work of P.and D.Sullivan. The map on page 57 of LAND LIME LEISURE shows: 11, marking the site of their first lime kiln in the Rye area, in almost the south east corner of the township, with the latitude perfect but an underarm throw too far east.

Dennis Sullivan, after Melbourne had been amazed by their gigantic cucumber and his wife, Honora, offended against the Masters and Servant Act, took his family to the Heads where they built a limestone IRISH BOG HOUSE in 1843 and burnt lime.They were dispossessed in 1852 by the construction of the Quarantine Station and son Patrick move lime burning activities to Rye. Blair would have dispossessed them again when he was granted 10, 11, 12 Rye Township (or section A Nepean) on 16-3-1869. I would be amazed if Blair built a homestead because he had no intention of residing on the land, only wanting the lime under it. Therefore, I believe the Sullivans built the limestone house and well sometime between 1852 and 1869.

My only question remaining concerned crown allotment 4, Nepean,south of the Golf Pde corner to the freeway reservation where it adjoined the Jennings' Kariah. Extending from Dundas St to the parish boundary with Wannaeue, Weeroona St, and consisting of 153 acres and 30 perches,it was granted to Blair on 19-6-1867.S.Lucas of Rye was assessed on 153 acres, crown allotment 4 Nepean in 1915. (folio 72, A.N. 1138.) He was also assessed on 36 section A Wannaeue of 158 acres which was being occupied by Ernest Keal. This latter piece of land,granted to Blair in 1875, was directly across Weeroona St from Kariah and adjoined the Tootgarook pre-emptive right. It must have been subdivided by 1919 and J.R.Jennings had 96 acres of it, according to the rate collector while Edward Keal of Rye was assessed on the whole 153 acres. Sounds just like the Brindle-McKeown debacle on Gracefield at Dromana! Talk about double-dipping!

by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2013-02-08 08:46:25

Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.

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