The City of Darebin
Oz Sports History
In February, 2013, the author completed on behalf of the Preston Cricket Club an extensive history of Preston and Gowerville Park, aka "Cramer Street" since moves were first made to acquire the land in 1875.
The 72 A4-
The photograph right shows Preston Park on Sunday, 17 November, 1918, a Thanksgiving
Day service following the end of the First World War some six days beforehand. It
was taken by Evan Luly (1895 -
A synopsis of some of the topics covered :
Preston and the Park : A TimeLine
1853 Land between today's Westgarth Street and Merri Creek set aside as a site for a township; 14 acres in Westgarth Street gazetted as a public park in 1867; Shire of Jika appointed as managers of Northcote Park in 1873.
1854 The name Preston chosen after the establishment of the first post office at Wood's store
1860 The first Preston Cricket Club noted in matches against Phillipstown (south-
1874 Proposals to establish a recreation reserve behind the Shire of Jika offices at the Junction Hotel rejected
1875 At the instigation of Cr., J. C. Clinch, Shire of Jika acquires nine acres in Cramer Street after the partial subdivision of Shepherd's Run; Preston and Gowerville Park. A Preston Park Cricket Club noted as offering to plough and sow grass if the area is enclosed.
1877 A five-
1880 A wooden "pavilion" costing just £16 is erected on the eastern side. Remarkably, this humble structure remained until 1925! Gowerville Cricket Club formed and allocated use of the Park. Running water laid on to the Park.
1885 The Shire of Jike becomes the Shire of Preston after Northcote was proclaimed
an independent Borough in 1883. Requests for use of the Park by the Preston and Gowerville
Football Club rejected. Two cricket wickets are known to have existed, at the north
and south ends, running north-
1887 Preston Football Club granted access to the Park on a two-
1892 Admission charges first allowed at the Park for a series of football matches
in aid of a fund supporting the families of 15 players and officials of the Mornington
Football Club drowned in a boating accident in Port Phillip Bay. A gate-
1899 Plans to move the financially-
1901 After considerable controversy, an inner picket fence was erected around the playing arena at a cost of just over £57. Today's Preston Cricket Club formed (as Preston Districts).
1904 Following Preston Football Club's admission into senior V.F.A. ranks, three
ticket boxes, a press box are erected and a member's reserve at the northern-
1907 The two-
1914 Underground sewerage laid on to public conveniences at the north and south end of the Park (date of connection to the pavilion remains unknown).
1919 Electricity connected to the pavilion. Police presence during football matches for the first time.
1922 A turf wicket is laid following the Preston Cricket Club's application to join
1924 Following a re-
1925 The grandstand was officially in December. The pavilion of 1880 lived to fight
another day -
1926 Preston Football Club re-
1928 Embankments around the oval completed. Experiments with dirt track speedway
racing. Tenders called for construction of caretaker's house in south-
1930 Opening round of the V.F.A. season attracts a crowd of 15,000, the largest ever of the Park
1935 The Jubilee celebration of the Shire and later City of Preston attracts some novel events to the Park, including a Military Tattoo complete with a mock bombing raid, greyhound racing, and a boxing and wrestling tournament.
1942 Air raid shelters dug in north-
1944 Moves to rename the grounds as Kingsbury Park in honour of the late Bruce Kingsbury V.C. (1943) Preston District Junior Football Association formed.
1947 First noted usage of "Bullants" for football club.
1949 New wooden, internally-
1952 Victorian Football Association's new Thirds competition replaces baseball as
1956 Extensive works to widen the ground by up to eighteen feet sees both football and cricket clubs play the season at Coburg,
1957 First television broadcast from the Park (June 1)
1960s Changes around the Park include opening of P.A.N.C.H. (1959), the demolition of Zwar's Tannery for a bowling alley (1960), and closure of Broadhurst's Tannery in Murray Road (160) and Cook's Timber Yard (1967) with construction of the Preston Market commencing the following year.
1960 First Sunday Victorian Football Association matches with admission by "donation"
1961 The caretaker's house in the south-
1962 Fitzroy Football Club attempts to take over the ground fail.
1969 Plans announced for construction of Preston Football Club Social Club
1970 Cantilever roof extended over northern end of stand. New brick scoreboard erected and terracing extended around northern end of the Park
1977 Social Club finally opens after many delays with planning and licensing issues.
1979 Plans announced for a $280,000 auditorium, gymnasium, sauna and spa room, training area, change rooms, kiosk, toilets, press facilities. Later shelved after State Labour Government announced plans for casino licenses.
1981 Floodlights installed, Preston Council leases strip on eastern boundary of the Park from Railways for car parking
1985 PFC Annual Report includes beer sales for the first time ($14,405 net compared to canteen $11,508)
1993 Creation of elite under-
1994 Merger of Preston and Northcote councils creates Darebin Council. Playing surface at the Park deteriorates to an alarming level
1996 Preston and Northern Knights Football Clubs merge to become Preston Knights Football Club.
1998 Preston Knights Football Club license revoked, the decision later overturned after negotiations with the administrator of the sacked Darebin Council saw an agreement for major drainage works for the playing surface
2000 A.F.L. Reserves abolished and a new Victorian Football League introduced with a mixture of combinations. Northern Bullants forced to play home matches against teams with A.F.L. players at Victoria Park due to change rooms deemed to be inadequate
2001 Home matches return to the Park with rooms under the stand combined for opposition teams and the Bullants using temporary rooms erected behind the scoreboard
2002 New change rooms and administration block opened to the south of the grandstand
2005 Darebin Council releases a Master Plan for wider community access and use of
the Park. Initial work sees removal of the embankment in the south-
2009 A.F.L. announce $1.4 million grant for each of the stand-
2010 Works commence on redevelopment of reception centre. Preston Football Club Social Club trades for the last time in August.
2011 New dining facility opens, but with no kitchen or beer available on tap due to budget overruns and design flaws. Administration area extended to accommodate Northern Knights offices.
2012 Cramer Street streetscape redesigned. Ticket boxes and wire fence removed, frontage along Cramer Street landscaped and new gates installed.
2013 Another gate installed behind Cramer Street goals (nobody knows why)! Change rooms extended with medical room and small gymnasium for use by Northern Knights. Reception centre completed with an additional grant from Darebin Council.
TWO UNKNOWNS :
Later 1980s to early 1990s around four to five metres on the eastern side of the Park were lost when Council of the day opted for right angle parking in Mary Street, The year is unknown to me as it was during a period when I was not connected to the area
Also reports on the planned widening of the oval in 1954 suggested Preston may become
the first V.F.A. club to have a bar. The availability of liquor at grounds was probably
a Victorian Football Association decision, but I have not been able to trace when
one could purchase beer at the ground. I believe that after trouble at other non-
FEEDBACK ON THIS OR ANY OTHER ITEMS RELATING TO THE PARK MOST WELCOME!
Preston and Gowerville Park