Nellie Bligh’s Dog’s Eyes

Unfortunately for those hoping to read about poor afflicted Nellie Bligh with the eyes of a dog, I’m sorry, this post is not about Nellie, but my cryptic title will become more obvious as you read on.  This post is actually about Hamilton and the wonderful Facebook group, “I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria” that has flourished over the past few months.

You may remember my post, A Pleasant Distraction, about the group I had started.   At that time there were 1100 members.  Today we have 1930 members with 2000 achievable by the end of the year.  There are now over 1200 photos and countless posts and comments.

In my earlier post I mentioned we had brought together a post-WW2 social history of Hamilton, but two months later, the time range has gone back, and we now have history from the 19th century also.  A favourite series of photos was of the many beautiful homes and homesteads in and around Hamilton today.  It was amazing the number of stories that came out about those properties and I intend to write a future post about just that.

At times we have despaired at what has been lost, accepting that in some cases progress marches on but in other cases, questioned the rationale of earlier city leaders.

FORMER FACADE OF THE HAMILTON TOWN HALL, BROWN STREET.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no.  H32492/2740

FORMER FACADE OF THE HAMILTON TOWN HALL, BROWN STREET. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H32492/2740

The group has posts on everything from the Fire Brigade to Brass, Pipe and Rock Bands, businesses and transport, schools and sport from hockey to horse racing.  We have ventured out to the towns surrounding Hamilton such as Casterton, Cavendish and Dunkeld.  There are members that have lived in these places but attended school in Hamilton, while those that lived in Hamilton are familiar with the towns, because of  family, friends or sport.

Photos definitely help get the discussion going.  An example is this photo of the Hamilton pool during the height of summer.  It evoked many memories because anyone who went to the pool during  the 1960s and ’70s, and to a lesser extent the 1980s (the diving boards were removed by then), would remember it exactly as the photo depicts. The stories flowed and there are now 175 comments and 267 “likes” to date.  Thank you to Judy Forrest for allowing me to share this classic photo.

Ham pool

But, it’s a humble pie that has been most popular.   Actually, it was a photo of a tray of pies from Kings Bakery, Hamilton. Established in 1916. Kings still operate in Hamilton.  Many ex-Hamiltonians  had mentioned how much they would like a Kings pie again.  Those still in Hamilton responded, and have almost daily, posted photos of the said pies. “Pie Wars” is on.  From my point of view photos of cream cakes entering the battle was pleasing and a King’s cream bun will be a must next time I’m in Hamilton.  (Photos will ensue)

The ongoing pie discussions takes nothing away from the group as it is the mix of history, memories and casual banter between members, that has created a wonderful place for Hamilton people, past and present, to come together and I am proud that the group has evolved in such a way.

On a personal note, the group’s popularity has brought some attention my way, resulting in an appearance in a regular column in the Hamilton Spectator, “Where Are They Now”.  Having read many of these columns over the years, I find it hard to place myself among the well-known former Hamiltonians that have graced the column before me. Also, I continue to find people with links to my family which is great and like others I have rekindled old acquaintances and made many new ones.

Early next year a reunion has been arranged in Brisbane  and will be a great event as many former Hamilton residents now live in Queensland.  The logistics of getting King’s pies to Brisbane is already being considered.  We also hope to see a “Back to Hamilton” sometime in the next few years.

Because of the group’s growth,  I now have two co-administrators to keep an eye on things when I can’t.  Tim and Tony have contributed greatly to the group and I really must thank them for the time they have put in.  And a big thank you to all the group members who have embraced it and have made such positive contributions.  The many photos that people have so willingly shared has been overwhelming, especially the many treasured family photos. I may have started the group, but Hamiltonians near and far have made it what it is now.

Now, have you worked out the title yet?

You can read the “Where Are They Now” article on this link Hamilton Spectator, December 17, 2013(click on the >> at the right hand side of PDF toolbar to rotate the article).

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