Posted by Ian Ballantine on Jul 08, 2020
A couple of weeks ago a number of members gave presentations on the history of Moorabbin and Bentleigh. Here is a copy of the presentation given by John Mason. IanB

Moorabbin didn’t have a town hall, Functions were held at Brighton. The Town Hall site was offices and baby health centre where I was weighed and vaccinated, the band hall where my father played cornet in the Band, and I tried to but failed, and a small library.
 
Moorabbin Town Hall was designed by Bates Smart & McCutcheon in 1961.
Tenders were called and the winning tenderer was C D Mason Pty Ltd. Tender price was about £240,000. Construction started while I was overseas working in England and it was nearly finished when I returned in ’62. Bricklaying contractor was Bob Kelly, member of Moorabbin RC and the DG’s rep for starting MC. Frank Mingarelli had just invented Terazzo tiles and these were used in the foyer. The steel frame was by Johns and Waygood of Sandringham. The tower was added as an extra to the contract and I managed the construction of the tower, the tallest building in Moorabbin. Clock mechanism was by IBM and took ages to get going. Graham Kennedy drove past nightly and mentioned the stopped clock on his show IMT. It started next day so he took the credit. Council completely rebuilt the tower recently, not sure why. A stump from the old Baby Health Centre was saved and a gavel and block made in our joinery shop and presented to council at the opening. One councillor broke it and I was asked to fix it, so here it is…
The design of the Hall is ‘Utilitarian’ but still looks ok. The asbestos roof has been replaced. I went to many functions in the hall, Mayoral Balls, Careers exhibitions, dances, Australia Day breakfasts. I actually made the last speech in the hall when Moorabbin Council was abolished, thanking the councillors.
Mason Court had an interesting history. Miss Williams had an apricot orchard where Rowans Road now stands; from the Highway to the bend. Percy Rowan was the City Engineer who had conceived the idea for that road. Our company CDM bought her land and developed it into house lots. These were mostly all sold in one day in a big tent by Wally Schultz, Moorabbin’s original estate agent. I was the penciller. The front 6 were bought by DRD for display homes “Exposition 60” Three lots were reserved from the sale. These gave access to the back bit of the Gordon Boys Home which occupied all the land which is now Macfarlane Court. The back bit which became Mason Court was their chook houses and orchard. It was subdivided and developed and built as houses and flats One of those lots, #2, was where I designed and built my own house which I have now lived in for 54 years, the last 17 with Margaret.
I grew up on Wickham Road. My father built his first house ‘Shalimar’ there in 1927, a Californian Bungalow. The second family house was next door in 1948, ‘Gloucester’ after the Governor General Richard Duke of Gloucester, the King’s brother. When I married Rosemary in 1962 I moved down the hill to #85 near Spring Road and moved to #2 Mason Court in 1966, the year of decimal currency.
I remember the gates across the highway, or Point Road as it was called. I rode my bike through them each day on my way to Brighton Tech. If I was a few minutes late I would miss the gates and  have to wait while the Flinders St to Moorabbin train shunted and returned. Imaging today if the gates closed across the Highway.

John Mason
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