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QUIETLY CLUB, BERWICK, VIC. to H. BENNETT, TARCOOLA STATION, N.S.W.

The top of the illustrated envelope has a black ink printing with curlicues and a partially unfurled banner which encloses a quotation "HE THAT GIVETH TO THE POOR/ LENDETH TO THE LORD/ QUERY- WHAT ABOUT SECURITY". At mid left hand side, a very plain shield has been drawn which encloses the intertwined letters 'I H S'. At the bottom of the cover, he reverts to the extravagant illustrative style which encloses the printed 'THE QUIETLY CLUB BERWICK'. The cover has a single pink 1d Victorian stamp cancelled with a duplex postmark of BERWICK/ MR 20/ 02/ VICTORIA and the stamp is cancelled with the barred numeral ‘213'. Presumably the overweight cover had an oval black tax handstamp with ‘T 2d’ and it was addressed to Horace Bennett, Tarcoola Station, River Darling, Via Wentworth, New South Wales. The sender was not identified on the cover, and the contents were not seen (Figure 1).

The reverse had a next day reception postmark of Wentworth N.S.W. as well as a stylised printed 'Semper Idem' Latin for ‘Always the Same’ (Figure 2).

Berwick was a small town in 1902 midway between two larger towns, Dandenong to the west and Packenham to the east. Present day Berwick is a suburb of Melbourne which in the map stretches east as far as the suburb of Berwick which is shown by the green arrow (Figure 3).

I contacted librarians at 3 different sites around Berwick, and I was not at all confident that either the artist/sender of the cover or the receiver could be identified. I was passed along a chain of local librarians and was finally introduced to Heather Arnold, Local History Librarian, Casey Cardinia Library Corporation, Cranbourne, Victoria who shared my excitement about the cover, for she had been in contact with Judith Dwyer, a volunteer at the Berwick Mechanics Institute (BMI) who remembered a similarity of artistic design in one the BMI’s books. At this point in time, none of the librarians had any knowledge of The Quietly Club, Berwick. Within a week, I received the following email, which I quote in full:

"Good news Maurice, Look at the attached scan - it has to be the same artist as your envelope. I have spoken to Judith Dwyer of the BMI and she has been scanning all the BMI rcords - including the Minute books and the visitors books and many of them have doodles by John Warne - who as you can see on the attachment - married the Librarian - so he must have spent many hours in the library! John Warne was a painter. Also Judith found Horace Bennett’s name as a visitor in the BMI’s books; she thought that next to his name was the words RIP 30/10/1894 - but we think that this was probably when he left Berwick."

"Judith also said that at one time Horace’s name was crossed out and ‘Dirty Face’ Bennett was listed - so it seems John Warne was a bit of a joker. All that we can think of is that The Quietly Club was perhaps a bit of a joke - perhaps things were quiet after Horace left - hard to know now. In the next week Judith will send me some of John Warne’s other doodles so I will send some on to you. So if we never know for sure what The Quietly Club is, we can be certain that we at least know the identity of your envelope’s artist. P.S. Scan is from the book Berwick Mechanics Institute & Free Library: a history by Richard Myers published by the BMI in 1999". The single scan referred to was divided into 2 parts and they are presented as Figures 4 & 5.

The Berwick Mechanics Institute and Free library is one of only six Mechanics Institutes which still operate as libraries in Victoria today.  The Institutes had their origins in the 19th century Britain and were established for the purpose of assisting in the education of "mechanics", as tradespeople were then known.  Following the discovery of gold in Victoria in the 1850's, the rapid increase in population led to the establishment of over 1000 institutes in towns and cities.  Berwick was gazetted as a town in 1861 and in 1864 a Mechanics Institute was set up there.

The cover was addressed to Horace Bennett at Tarcoola Station, River Darling, via Wentworth, New South Wales, and Tarcoola  refers to a homestead with a large property (for sheep grazing), north of Wentworth, New South Wales. Nothing has been learnt about him, and he may have been one of the workers on the property;   His name was not mentioned as one of the several owners of the homestead, over many years. The site of the homestead 'Tarcoola' is shown in a green box on the Darling River which flows down from the arrow at the top of the map, and it changes direction from south-east to south- west near 'Tarcoola' homestead.  The border between New South Wales and Victoria (the Murray River) is seen at Wentworth, N.S.W. (Figure 6).

This paper could have never been written without the asistance of Heather Arnold, Librarian and Judith Dwyer, a volunteer at the BMI, Berwick, who recognised that the envelope's doodles were similar to those she had seen in the BMI's books.

 

 
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