Pictured above:  Potter Street in 1967, after the overpass was built featuring Our Lady of Fatima Church on left.

Potter Street

'Craigieburn's First Town Centre'

Partially extracted from the brochure 'Heritage Walk' and other sources.

Recollections by Myrtle Olive Cook (nee Seymour)

 

Overpass being constructed in 1961 (Courtesy PROV)

From the time of first settlement until the overpass was built in 1962, (pictured above and below), Potter Street was part 'of the Sydney Road' now known as the Hume Highway and the township of Craigieburn in the 1950's was centered around the general store and post office, a garage, public hall, a catholic church and Craigieburn's railway station.

Overpass construction complete 1962 (Courtesy PROV)

The General Store and Post Office

Craigieburn's first general store and post office and is remembered as 'Cliff's Store' was located in Potter Street, Craigieburn.  Myrtle Olive Cook (nee Seymour) recounts 'that no businesses were in the area until her father T. W. Seymour subdivided some land on the part of the property nearest the railway station which were the most valuable blocks. One of these blocks was sold to Miss L. Elizabeth Watts known as Lil, an English woman who had a house with a shop front, where she sold various kinds of household needs from confectionary to small kitchen utensils etc'.

Photo taken 1966 (courtesy Brooker Family)

 

'The post office was later transferred from the station and included a public telephone and sold soft drinks, ice cream, school exercise books and with this addition became more of a general store.  Later Miss Watts married Mr. William Cliff a member of a well known and respected farming family after that a garage and petrol pump was added to the business.  All this took place over a number of years'.  The store was weatherboard and believed to have been built around 1911. Mrs. Bill Cliff from the store also taught Sunday School at the Craigieburn Hall and was remembered as a 'friendly lady'.  Pictured right - Potter St, possibly just Sydney Rd.  Petrol and shop signs can be seen through the gap in the trees.         (Photo above courtesy Brooker Family)

'Cliffs Store', which doubled as a post office, was the only shop in Craigieburn for well over forty years.  Old age forced Mrs. Cliff to close to store in the mid 1950's.  Residents then traveled to nearby suburbs like Broadmeadows to shop until 1965 when the Schembri family opened Manny's Store at the site of today's shopping centre.

A Garage

Brooker's Garage was next door to Cliff's Store and before the overpass was built in 1962 and diverted Sydney Road around Craigieburn,  travelers would have often stopped to fill up for fuel.  A rusty old sign in Mr. Brooker's front garden stands as a solitary reminder of days gone by.  The Argus newspaper in 1874 was 3 shillings and petrol in 1926 was around about two shillings and nine pence, and the average basic wage for a man was around 4 5s a week.  Both the general store and  Garage were demolished in the 1980's.

Brooker's Garage before it was demolished (courtesy of Bill Sorraghan).

Public Hall

The Craigieburn Hall once stood on the site where the Cathouse Theatre is today.  Built in 1911, the hall was the first official community meeting place in the town. The construction of the hall was the initiative of the newly formed Craigieburn Progress Association, which held it's first meeting at the Railway Station.  The Hall was a public meeting space available to the small agricultural community for over fifty years.

 

The Hall and it's grounds were well used by residents.  Left is a photo of a dance held at the hall in 1936. The words inscribed on the photo say ' A memento of dance held Craigieburn 30.5.36'.  Like many town halls of it's time, the Craigieburn Hall was used as a public meeting place, polling booth, church, reception centre, sporting clubhouse, concert hall and drop in centre for the youth group.  Our Lady of Fatima Church held its annual Cup Eve Ball fundraiser at the hall and each year the young ladies of the area vied for the honor or being named Belle of the ball.

 

Myrtle Olive Cook (nee Seymour) recounts that 'Thomas Seymour presented one of the building blocks to a committee of the local farmers for the purpose of erecting a public hall for entertainment etc.  Not having the finance to erect the proposed hall, the committee called upon Mr. Seymour one evening to ask him if he would provide the money at an agreed rate of interest with which to erect the hall.  Elizabeth Seymour, Thomas's wife took charge of charge of decorating the hall and Thomas also provided the piano.

 

The Hall in the 1960's note the Ampol sign from the old store (courtesy of Bill Sorraghan).

The hall was a large wooden, weatherboard, structure with buttresses or supports up against it's outside walls.  It had a supper room at back, asphalt tennis courts at the rear of the building and a 'super' dance floor'.  A long time resident of Craigieburn tells that the supper room at the hall had coppers with boiling water in them and with fresh milk from local dairies in the area 'made the best cup of coffee in town'.

A fire destroyed the weatherboard building in 1954, when on a very cold night, a local tramp lit a fire up against the outside wall of the old hall and it caught fire and burnt down.   In 1954 it was the Craigieburn Rural Fire Brigade who extinguished the fire and in those days had a converted 1944 ex Army Dodge as a fire truck.  The brick hall pictured above was built in its place.  The hall had been the home of the Cathouse Theatre Group since the early 1980's but the group has left in more recent times and the hall is unused at present.

A Catholic Church

Archbishop Mannix officially opened Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in September 1949.  (Pictured left with Potter St., in foreground, you can just see the overpass in the background left).  Previously, mass was held once a month in the Craigieburn Hall and parishioners traveled to Epping, Fawkner and Coburg to attend services on the three other Sundays.

In 1947 local landowner Jim Kernan donated a small block of land to the parish to construct a church at Craigieburn on the old sale yards site.  Built with second hand bricks and funded largely by the donations of parishioners, the church was completed in less that two years.  The first parish priest, Father Keane, named the church Our Lady of Fatima.

Many people came from surrounding areas to attend the opening ceremony.  Highlights of the day included the official unveiling of the outside altar and a procession of parishioners and visitors that followed the statue of Our Lady of Fatima as it was carried into the church.

In 1980 the church was deemed structurally unsafe.  A decision to sell rather than repair the building was made because the building of the new overpass made Potter Street difficult to reach, the population was increasing, and there was a large number of factories nearby.

Since this time the building has been privately owned.  Many a child in Craigieburn has fancied the church to be haunted, although there is no evidence of this.

Craigieburn's Railway Station

The construction of the railway line linking Melbourne to Wodonga began in Melbourne in March 1871 and reached Craigieburn three months later. 

Built with the rail specially shipped from England, the line was officially opened on the 18th of July,1872 and an announcement was made that on and after Monday, the 22nd instant, that the ordinary trains as per Time-table will stop at Craigieburn to pick up and set down passengers when required.

1960's Craigieburn Station (courtesy of Bill Sorraghan)

The times of arrival from Melbourne would be 7. 60 a m. and 3.10 p.m., and
from Schoolhouse-Lane leave 9.10 am and 5.10 pm
Fares from Melbourne would be 4s. 6d., 1st class ; 3d, 2nd class. Returns, 7s. and
5s.  A small weatherboard station was then built in 1878 and the line was so busy that a second track was added in 1886.  Photographs of the station in the 1960's show the track heading towards the location of today's car park.

The railway crossing, complete with it's interlocking gates, was located just north of today's platform.  The closing of the gates caused frequent traffic jams on the Hume until the overpass was built and the road crossed over the railway tracks. Pictured right in 1961 (courtesy of Bill Sorraghan).

Myrtle Olive Cook (nee Seymour) recounts that 'when we returned form holidays home to Craigieburn from Kiewa Valley via the railway track from Wodonga to alight at Craigieburn at ten o'clock at night, it was necessary to tell the train guard who collected Melbourne tickets between approximately Wallan and the city.   He then notified the train driver who stopped the train for us at Craigieburn'.

Craigieburn Station's Railway Signal Box 1960's photo (courtesy of Bill Sorraghan)

Potter Street pictured below.  Left: Potter Street and the overpass as it is today, Our Lady of Fatima Church on right.  Pictured right:  Potter Street, the shop and garage were situated approximately on the right hand side of the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today Craigieburn's Railway Station, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Cathouse Theatre are still there in Potter Street as a constant reminder of days gone by.

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