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Through the decades: 1930

Page history last edited by Social Policy Library 6 months, 2 weeks ago


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1930     The Brotherhood of St Laurence founded in Adamstown, in the Diocese of Newcastle, N.S .W., on 8 December, with Gerard Kennedy Tucker and Guy Coleman Cox as members, and Michael Clarke as a lay assistant studying for the Ministry.

1931     A training school for priests and laymen was established by the Brotherhood whose members worked in the local and surrounding parishes for keep and pocket money.

1933     At the invitation of the Archbishop of Melbourne, a unit of the Brotherhood was established at Fitzroy, Melbourne, to test and train young men for the priesthood and staff St Mary's Mission with Fr. Tucker as Vicar.

1934     Adamstown unit closed and all staff transferred to Melbourne. A hostel for unemployed men was established at Fitzroy.

             A settlement for unemployed men and their families established on 42 acres at Carrum Downs near Frankston.

1935    Official opening of the Settlement on Saturday, 5 October 1935. 

            Tucker began a long campaign by the Brotherhood against the slums of Fitzroy. 

1936    Shop-auxiliary formed at Fitzroy. Father Guy Cox appointed Vicar of St. Cuthbert's, East Brunswick.

1937    A hostel for homeless boys opened in Fitzroy. Death of co-founder, Guy Coleman Cox.



Children & Families 

"The Brotherhood established an infant health centre in Brunswick St in 1933" (BSL 1992, Media Release). 


Establishment of Carrum Downs Settlement for unemployed families. (1934).   During the depression of the 1890s Canon Horace Tucker (Fr Gerard Tucker's father) and Rev. Charles Strong (founder of the "Australian Church") promoted a scheme for resettling the unemployed in country areas. In 1892-94 Tucker Village Settlements, of about 200 families, were established in Gippsland and central Victoria, but were unable to continue due to lack of capital, worsening economic conditions and mismanagement. By 1894-95 they were in debt over the scheme. Recognizing their efforts, the government passed a Settlement of Lands Act (1893) to provide for future village community settlements. Horace published The New Arcadia (1894), a novel based on the ideals of the Tucker settlements, as well as a book of verse, After Many Days (1905), a study of the Christian saints, Lights for Lesser Days (1909), and articles on social issues. 

In March six unemployed men arrived in charge of a lay brother and began clearing the land (Bennett, B 1995, GK Tucker settlement, p.7).  The first family arrived in July 1935 (source?)


Official opening of the Settlement on Saturday. (5 October 1935)  "At the opening ceremony … unemployed families were invited to build themselves a home and farm their land." (BSL 1965, Internal document). Blessing of the Settlement on Sunday (27 October 1935) 


On the back of the photo it had the following information:  BSL students and Clergy, Carrum Downs 1936. Left to Right: Clarke, G Royale?, Johannson, Selwyn Reynolfs, G lyle (not a member), Hartwig, Thorp, Ollis, Brown-Beresford, Tracy. (Photo used in Book: God and Three Shillings p.63)


Community Issues

"In October 1933, (Tucker) raised funds to rent three terrace houses at eight shillings per week as accommodation for unemployed men; each house would accommodate six. … The first rented sites were in 160-164 Fitzroy Street." (Holden, C et al. 2008, Divine discontent, p.45).


Photos from the 1993 celebration of the Brotherhood's 60 years in Fitzroy


   Outside the original Hostels set up by Father Tucker in 1933.                                     The crowd/congregation seen from No.164 with the then

             3 houses at 160-164 Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy.                                             Governor-General, Bill Hayden (centre front) & David Scott (left).

                       (60 year celebration, 1993)                                                                       The Hon. Jim Kennan represented the Premier of Victoria           


Establishment of the "Single Men's Unemployed Housing Scheme," with the House of St Francis at 31 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy which accommodated 17 men.  The rent for this first house was provided by Alwyn Gregory, assistant librarian at Prahran, who offered 10/- a week from his salary and was willing to act as honorary superintendent of the unit, sleeping on the premises with the men.  Rent for the other two adjoining houses was covered through three groups of "Friends" from Anglican parishes: St Mary's Mission Guild, St Peter's Eastern Hill and St George's Malvern. (BSL Quarterly Notes, no. 8, October 1933). 


The House of St Francis No.2 was established in four cottages at 2-8 James Street, the first property to be purchased by the Brotherhood.  With accommodation for 100 single unemployed men, the opening  was performed by Lady Huntingfield, the wife of the then Governor of Victoria. The official opening was on 15 November 1936. (BSL Quarterly Notes, no. 12, Oct. 1934, p.6.)


After a visit to a slum mission, F. Oswald Barnett, a public accountant and a member of the Methodist Church, became involved in the establishment of the Methodist Babies’ Home in 1929.  In 1934 Barnett formed a study group focused on housing reform, including slum demolition and the establishment of a state financed housing authority.  The Barnett Study Group, which included Father Tucker in its membership, became the driving force behind a campaign which led to the establishment of the Housing Commission of Victoria in 1938. (1934) (Barnett 2007).   


Tucker began a long campaign by the Brotherhood against the slums of Fitzroy. (1935)


Buildings in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy - three shops (65-69) with residences and a woodyard, all of which backed on to St Mary's Mission – were purchased for £3,000.  (BSL Notes, No. 122, February 1957)  With financial assistance from the Welfare of Youth Crusade, after £200 was then spent on improvements the hostel for unemployed homeless young men was opened by General Sir Harry Chauvel on Sunday 20 September.  "Free accommodation was available and residents were assisted to find work, after which a nominal charge for board was made. The belief was that a secure home base may dissuade young men from becoming involved in crime.  However, conditions in the hostel were basic, with thieving and vandalism being fairly widespread.  The young men who did find work often quickly moved on, leaving 'problem' residents still at the hostel" (BSL Quarterly Notes, July 1936, no.18, pp.4-5; Brotherhood Action, September 1972, p.7 & Autumn 1994 p.6).


Club room of BSL boys' hostel Fitzroy. Conditions were spartan but it was the only home many boys had in the depression years of the 1930's. 


Housing Commission of Victoria formed following the campaign by the Barnett Study Group of which Father Tucker was a member (1938) (Barnett 2007). 



Employment & Training   

Tucker’s social welfare philosophy expressed in plans for new hope through self-supporting farms - employment & a community for single men, a village settlement for married families. (Darling, B 1982, 

The Church of England in Melbourne and the Great Depressionpp.64-65).


Fr Tucker purchased 45 acres of scrub and farmland, with a dam and a house, at Carrum Downs for £1200 late in 1934. A chance meeting with G.J. Coles, co-founder of the Coles chain stores, led to Tucker explaining his scheme for unemployed men that would also train young priests in working with disadvantaged people.  In response to Coles’ offer of help, Tucker asked for £500. Coles responded in a few days “Make it work and I will give you £500 in six months time.”  Tucker also rented an adjacent farm and farmhouse for 12/6d a week.  After Coles’ visit to the Settlement six months later the cheque arrived. (1934) (Bennett, B 1995, GK Tucker settlement, p.6-7).  The first family arrived in July 1935 (source?).


Fundraising & Resources   

The Melbourne Age reported on 9 May 1935 that "a very enjoyable bridge dance in aid of the unemployed settlement scheme of the Brotherhood of St Laurence was held at the Malvern Town Hall ... more than 50 tables were booked for bridge and the dancers numbered about 300".  


The first shop auxiliary formed in Fitzroy and supported the first Brotherhood shop in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy (later transferred to Brunswick Street). "When the first Brotherhood Opportunity Shop was opened in 1935, no-one could have envisaged what would grow from that small room in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy" (Brotherhood NewsSeptember 1968 (No.182) p.7). "This present year is the sixteenth of the (Fitzroy Clothing) shop’s existence, and it was a record year, yielding over £1,800" (BSL Annual Report1951-1952). 


Women volunteers at the Brotherhood's opportunity shop sorted the clothes and other second-hand items donated by the Friends and prepared them for sale.  These workers included Phyllis Scott, Doris Wettenhall and the seven Kent sisters (Mesdames W. Peach, C. Ghering, L.S Healey, A. Southern, W. Hill and H. Bentley and Miss Haidie Kent) who worked as sorters for more than 40 years (Handfield, J.1980,  Friends and brothers, p.111). 


Play of Mary Rose put on by the South Yarra Auxiliary to raise money for BSL, August 1936 (see Programme).

The BSL appealed for funds in March 1939, supported by the Apex Club whose Soap Box Derby at St. Kilda realised £440.  With the aid of the "Argus" Appeal the total amount raised was £3,526.  Expenses amounted to £230 (Clarke, 1940,  "The Brotherhood of St Laurence", The Church of England Messenger, May 3, 1940 p.214).

Fundraising postcard to raise £4,000 to improve the property in Fitzroy (c.1938).


Organisational Aspects (BSL)   


Brotherhood of St Laurence Objects, Rules & Policy for St Stephen's House, Adamstown, NSW 1933


The Brotherhood came to St Mary’s Mission House, Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy on Sunday 18 June 1933.


In his second newsletter  from Melbourne (BSL Quarterly Notes for the "Friends of the Brotherhood of S.Laurence", January 1934) Father Tucker announced two new ventures:

  • Keble House, a training centre for those joining the Brotherhood based in a series of school rooms at St Peter's Church, Eastern Hill, and
  • The renting of a cottage in Lilydale, furnished by the local parishioners and used by students who would provide support for Sunday services and by a priest once a month; four students were in residence by October (BSL Quarterly Notes, January 1934, No.9 & October 1934, No.12 pp.7-8).


Work in Adamstown (Newcastle, New South Wales) ceased and all members transferred to Melbourne in April 1934, based in Keble House at St Peter's, Eastern Hill (BSL Quarterly Notes, April 1934 No.10).


Christmas Greetings card 1935


The Poet Laureate, John Masefield, visited Australia as part of Victoria's Centenary celebrations and attended an afternoon tea at the BSL's Fitzroy offices and opened the BSL's first fundraising fair (Brotherhood Action, Spring 1997, p.3).


Handbook of the Brotherhood of St Laurence - date sometime between 1937 and early 1940's


The Brotherhood & St Cuthbert's parish, East Brunswick 

Archbishop Head entrusted the parish of East Brunswick to the care of the Brotherhood and the Reverend Guy Colman Cox became the Vicar (21 May 1936).  The new parish did not have a vicarage so the Brotherhood (and mainly Guy Cox) built their own basic house (Tucker, GK 1954, Thanks Be, p.100; Brotherhood Action, Autumn 1995, p.6). 


Reverend Guy Colman Cox died unexpectedly on 4 January 1937 aged 32 years, just seven months after being appointed as Vicar of St Cuthbert's parish. Buried at Melbourne General Cemetery; Father Tucker is buried in the same grave).   Father Tucker then became Vicar, and Reverend Michael Clarke (then a Deacon in charge at Carrum Downs) moved to St Cuthbert's to assist (Tucker, GK 1954, Thanks Be, p.100Brotherhood Action, Autumn 1995, p.6).


The Reverend (Edward Thomas) Selwyn Reynolds licensed as curate in the parish of St Cuthbert’s, East Brunswick on behalf of the Brotherhood of St Laurence  (22 February 1937)


The Reverend Michael Clarke licensed as curate in the parish of St Cuthbert’s, East Brunswick on behalf of the Brotherhood of St Laurence  (21 December 1937)


Reverend Frank William Coaldrake joined the Brotherhood and became tutor to the students within the Brotherhood at the new Keble House in Brunswick (1939) (Handfield, J 1980, Friends and brothers, pp.147-148;  Carter, IR 1967, God and three shillings, pp.67 ff). He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1942 (Australian Dictionary of Biography Online "Coaldrake, Frank William (1912-1970).



Garden at back of Vicarage St Peters: Sage, Reynolds, Tough, Roberts, Lawrence, Ellis, Butler, Talbot, Len, Smith, Evans, Russell, The Superior Tucker,Cox, Ford


Presentations and Publications   

Fr Tucker began his BSL Quarterly Notes for the “Friends of the Brotherhood” in 1932.  Initially sent to 100 Anglicans throughout Australia, these were used as a means of personal communication and an effective way of launching new schemes by mentioning them as ‘prayer points’ (Darling, BB 1982, The Church of England in Melbourne and the Great Depression, pp.64-65).


New letterhead for the Brotherhood of St Laurence which announced: "The Brotherhood of St Laurence has Declared War on the Slums" (Keen, S., 1996, Nonprofit organisations and public policy, p.3).


Fr Tucker used the media - newspapers and radio - to advance his causes:


First Annual Report (February 1937.) 


Father Tucker's diaries and photo album

Photo album - Adamstown, photos of vicarage, scouts, Guy Cox and others, no date

Adamstown to Adamstown via Melbourne trip December 1928 

The Connie (the car), Cox, & Tucker - an account of the second Adamstown to Melbourne trip, January 1930



Young People   


Hostel for homeless boys (“lads”) opened at 65 Brunswick Street (1937).


The Houses of St Francis were refurbished  to accommodate thirty-three boys following an appeal in March.  Bedrooms accommodating two boys each were erected on the first floor and part of the ground floor; a large dining-room, lounge, office, brothers' quarters, billiard-room and reconstructed kitchen added to general comfort and better management.  Lady Dugan, wife of the Governor, declared them open in April 1939.

"During 1939 125 boys were assisted, 106 of ·whom were admitted for periods varying from a week or two to several months.  Of these, 55 progressed excellently, 43 made fair progress, only eight were failures.  Considering that we cater for all classes, including 45 who have been in some sort of trouble, we feel justified in claiming success for this enterprise.  A study of their upbringings reveals that only 24 boys came from good homes, 59 from ordinary homes, 19 from definitely bad homes, and 23 from various institutions; 18 of the lads were orphans and 26 had lost one of their parents" (Clarke, M "The Brotherhood of St Laurence", The Church of England Messenger, May 3, 1940, p.213   

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