A CENTURY OF ALBERT PARK.
The beginning of the twentieth century saw Albert Park being used as
a grazing ground for Dairy Cattle and Horses and a hunting area for rabbits.
There were already people involved in running, sailing, rowing, cycling,
cricket, football, baseball, bowling, hurling, golf and many other sports
and pastimes. There were several rubbish tips established and in 1903
a Speedway was created for horse and buggy, there were Grand Picnics and
Fairs held as well as fireworks displays. In 1908 the first Davis Cup
Tennis Competition was held at the Albert Ground and in 1909 South Melbourne
Football Club won their first premiership.
From 1910 to 1920 the army developed quite a presence in the park with
tents being erected for recruits as well as buildings going up for storage
and accommodation. The Chalet (Tea Kiosk) was constructed in 1911 and
opened, with refreshments available on the ground floor and dancing above.
1912 saw the creation of the First Victorian Sea Scout Troop and in 1919
the South Melbourne Technical School was opened.
1920's saw the departure of the lawn Tennis Association to Kooyong, the
first official Motor Boat races and the construction of a bandstand by,
and for, the South Melbourne Citizens Band. The army continued to retain
a strong presence in the Park, St Kilda closed their tip and the regular
replanning and designing of the Park continued.
During the depression years the Park as well as the area suffered greatly,
but an equestrian track was built mainly by the unemployed, there were
many squabbles over rent some leading to the threatened departure of some
sporting clubs. The Power House was erected for the Lord Somers Rowing
Club and went on to become a major sporting club at the St Kilda end of
the Lake. Also MacRobertson Girls High School finally got a permanent
home at the Northern corner of the park. In 1939 the Robert Williams Memorial
Gates were unveiled, (this was somewhat ironic as he had been a board
member opposed to closing off the Park) with the outbreak of war in Europe
the military began increasing its presence.
The military buildings and general use of the Park increased greatly
during the 1940's, this included the digging of a large number of trenches
throughout Albert Park. There were also a lot of American troops stationed
at South Melbourne Cricket Ground, and in 1944 there was a horse and dog
Gymkhana organised to raise funds for a patriotic fund. Later in the 40's
some of the military buildings were converted to migrant hostel accommodation,
the Albert Park Golf Club became a Public Course and a multitude of sports
resumed their activities.
The first official assault on the Park by racing cars began in 1953 with
the Australian Grand Prix which continued, along with several other races,
until the 1958 Grand Prix after which Henry Bolte (The then Premier) banned
all future races in the Park. The main complaint against the Cars, as
with racing boats, was noise and disruption. 1958 and 9 saw the conversion
of Military Supply Cargo Sheds to Table Tennis, Basketball and Badminton