Mornington & District Historical Society Inc

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Historic Mornington

A settlement at Snapper Point in the 1840s and 1850s developed into the township of Mornington. With the building of the jetty in 1857 followed by the Courthouse in 1860 and the Post Office in 1861, Mornington became the link between Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula for trade and communication.

With such a good deep water port, Mornington was a favourite holiday and day trip destination when steamers began plying the bay in the late 1880s. The Royal, Kirkpatrick's and The Grand Hotel are fine examples of hotels that once dominated the town.

The Old Post Office Museum

A folk museum with memorabilia from Mornington and the surrounding district.

The building houses displays of old telephones and telegraph equipment, textiles and clothing and a unique collection of The Peninsula Post newspaper.

The building was erected in 1863-64 to replace a temporary building of the Post Office and Electric Telegraphic Office opened in 1861. The Post Office operated in this building until 1963. The Old Post Office is now a museum operated by the Mornington & District Historical Society.

Origin of Mornington & District Historical Society

In 1964, people in Mornington were sad because one of Mornington's first guest houses, 'Parkside', had been demolished. A service station was planned for the site on the corner of Main and Ross Streets. They also worried about the dilapidated state of the Mornington Railway Station, and the old post office was vacant. Historical artefacts mouldered in dusty corners, and neglected public monuments and other large-scale relics from the first days of European settlement, existed in various stages of decay.

A group of about 60 residents, who believed an historical society would address these problems, met in the library at the Mechanics Institute on 6th July 1964. Leslie Moorhead was in the chair. Two members from the Royal Historical Society of Victoria attended, and it is to be wondered from where the charge of energy came that inspired the 'Royal's' expansion in sixties.

The interim committee formed at that meeting agreed to prepare a constitution, recruit a management committee, and set goals for the new society. On the 2 April 1965, at the first AGM of the Mornington Peninsula Historical Society, Leslie Moorhead was elected president, Ray Williams was the vice president, and Don Corkhill was the secretary and treasurer. Vera Mills, Doreen Townsend, Charlie Allchin, Mr Le Soeuf and Fred De Steiger were committee members.

Their first campaign was to save the old post office. Records at Mornington Peninsula Shire Council show they took over management of the building in 1966. Win Corkhill, Don's widow remembers countless working bees cleaning and painting to make the old building habitable again. Federal parliamentarian, Phillip Lynch MP opened the Old Post Office Museum in December 1968. Seventeen years later, in 1985 the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council purchased the building from the Australian Government for $105,000. The Council has taken good care of it since. Major refurbishment was done in 1988 and again in 2000.

As well as the successful campaign to save the old post office, the first members established the museum we know so well today. It took eight months from the ceremony Phillip Lynch presided over until they opened it regularly to the public on 31st August 1969, on Sundays and during the summer holidays. The Peninsula Post notice adds that the following week they would hold a street stall because their budget was depleted.

The new historical society also ran excursions and their first was an all day outing to The Briars and Arthurs Seat. We arrange similar activities today. But there have been many changes since the 1960s. Our membership has expanded to 140, and we are into publishing and computerisation with the Peninsula Post Project. Our archives are bulging and there is not enough space to display our collection. We also have an outreach program to schools.

Incorporated in Victoria, Registration No.A0041916W
This page last modified 7 February 2006
© Copyright Mornington & District Historical Society Inc. 2005. All rights reserved.