The Building of Beacon

The Story Behind Beacon

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The Building of Beacon

The North Bencubbin Railway League formed in 1924. In 1927 it became redundant and the North Bencubbin Progress Association was formed. Meetings were held at Warkutting and by 1929 meetings were being held in Beacon, then known as Beacon Rock. Thus the Beacon Rock Progress Association was formed. In 1931 the township of Beacon Rock was officially renamed Beacon. The name was shortened to Beacon because of postal confusion with another siding. The Beacon Progress Association went into a short recess in the late 1970’s.

The Progress Association is still in action today and it has worked extremely hard for Beacon for many years, with the support of a very strong, active and caring community, to improve their life and future generations by obtaining necessities such as water, electricity, telephone, rail services, roads, Local Government representation, grain facilities and most of the other community facilities we have in Beacon today.

The name Beacon Rock is still in existence today. It is the Beacon Rock water catchment area 5 km north of the Beacon township where storage tanks were built and it was used as a railway water supply. Today the tanks and the catchment are owned by the Water Authority and the scheme water supply links into to it and supplies the townsite and surrounding farmers. The scheme water supply was opened in Beacon on 16th December 1970 after 6 years of hard lobbying of the Government and other bodies.

The first train came to Beacon on 4th May 1931. The train was a welcome means of supply and communication for the tradespeople of the community. The township was just beginning to flourish with buildings springing up. Beacon had at times a: store, bakery, butchery, garage, greengrocer, barber shop, greengrocer, Buffalo Lodge, progress association, cricket and football teams.

Beacon’s first school, a one room building, was the North Bencubbin School that was re-erected at Beacon in 1932 for the cost of 79 pounds. The school was closed in 1945 due to low attendance but re-opened in 1946. In 1954 the Cleomine School building was erected at Beacon for 1210 pounds. The new school was opened on 23rd July 1954. The old CWA room across the road from the school was used to house the junior grades in 1962 and in 1963 the children moved to a portioned section of the Progress Hall. On 27th November, 1964 the building of permanent additions to the school was started. This project was at a cost of 11,498 pounds. In 1967 the old Cleomine school building was removed and re-sited in Dunne Street. It is used as a private residence today. In 1967 – 68 there were 100 children in attendance at the school and in 1969 the there were 143 children at school. The school library on site at the north end of the school was the old Wialki school building. After the closure of the Wialki school the building was dismantled and transported to Beacon and rebuilt by the Beacon Primary School P & C and the community in 1994. A new library/class room was added to the school complex in 2009 with the assistance of Federal Government funding.

The original Hall was a structure of bush timber. The roof and walls were of corrugated iron with hessian partitions with a dirt floor. The site of the old hall was on the north side of the railway line in Kirby Street where the Shire yard now stands. The first talking pictures shown in the Beacon were projected at the Hall in 1936. Up until 2004 the building also housed the Telecentre (known as the Beacon Central Community Resource Centre from 2010), with the need for better access to technology these services collocated in March 2004 to new modern facilities at Beacon Central.

In 1950 The Beacon Progress Association decided to go ahead and build a new hall.  The meeting asked Mr Harry Dunne to attempt to acquire blocks 25 and 26 in the Beacon Town site from the Mt Marshall Road Board. (Now known as the Mt Marshall Shire)  In 1951 the committee that had been formed to oversee the building of the hall was authorized to order building materials. 
1952 it was decided to proceed with the erection of the hall as far as finances permitted. 
1953 A quantity of flooring to be ordered. Bricklayers to be engaged. 
1954 a supply of sand and water and scaffolding to be arranged.  Difficulty was experienced in securing a builder and supplies.  However things must have moved along and further meetings must have been held on site as the next official meeting was in November of 1956 where they discussed the opening of the hall to be the following month on 1st December 1956.      
1994 Proposed Beacon Community Centre receives $100,000 Lotteries grant towards proposed building to be attached to the Hall.  
1995 Telecentre funding approved and along with community funds the Beacon Community Centre building was completed on 30/9/95. The new centreincluded: Telecentre room, Playgroup room, new kitchen, 2 offices/Theatre Arts change rooms, Storeroom, Babies change room/wash-up room and new internal toilets and exterior public toilets.  
The Telecentre operated from the Beacon Community Centre/Hall building up until 2004.  With the need for better access to technology and other servicesthe Telecentre was collocated in March of 2004 to new modern facilities at Beacon Central on the site next door. In 2010 the Telecentre was renamed the Beacon Central Community Resource Centre.   
The Beacon Community and the Beacon Theatre Arts Club have continued to care for and manage the Hall, repainting the interior, installing new stage curtains, erecting a new lighting system and sound system, purchasing tables and chairs and a large catering fridge. A courtyard linking the Hall and Community Centre was also built, a children’s playground area was installed for the Playgroup children, airconditioning installed, a garden and shade sail area erected over the courtyard between the Hall/Community Centre and Beacon Central to link all the buildings to provide a pleasant environment for staff, travellers and volunteers to rest, chat and enjoy a cuppa.  Recently the Hall and Community Centre received a facelift with a front entrance portico erectedand gutters and fascias were repainted to match the Beacon Central building.   

Beacon Central, 11 Rowlands St, was built in 2003 with the assistance of Federal, State and Local Government funding, Lotteries funding , community funding and voluntary work. The centre was opened on 14 March 2004. The new facility houses the Beacon Central Community Resource Centre, Beacon Bulletin Newspaper, Beacon Library, Beacon Landcare Office and a meeting and conference room. Beacon Central is owned and managed by the Beacon Progress Association. The day to day operations at the Beacon Rural Transaction Centre is operated by the Beacon Central Community Resource Centre.

The original Beacon Country Club, situated in Rowlands Street at the rear of the existing Country Club was built in the 1950’s. The current Country Club was built in 1967. Additions to cater for patrons children were built in the mid 1980’s. The old building was used by Beacon Bulletin newspaper and Library up until 2004 but with the need for better access to technology these services collocated in March 2004 to new modern facilities at Beacon Central. The community now uses the old library room as a Youth Centre  to provide a ‘space’ for teenagers to congregate, socialize and ‘hang out’ during school holidays and other organised times.  The Youth Committee makes the decisions on maintenance, operating, activities and membership.

The local veterinarian, who travels from Dalwallinu holds a clinic in the building once a month and the Theatre Arts group and the Country Club use several rooms at the old building for storage.

The original Club Manager’s house was situated opposite the old Country Club at 32 Rowlands Street. The club updated their Manager’s housing in the late 1970’s when they purchased a home at 97 Shemeld Street. This home was built in the late 1960’s by Mr & Mrs Crabbe Snr. In 1998 the Country Club built a new transportable home for the Club Managers opposite the Country Club at 101 Shemeld Street.
The Beacon Bulletin, the local newspaper, was first published in 1976. The paper was originally started as a Football Bulletin after the re-formation of the Beacon Football Club in 1976. Today this paper is the life line of the community. It is edited, printed, assembled and managed on a voluntary basis by the women in the Beacon community.

The original football/sporting oval was situated on the north side of the railway line in Kirby Street in the early 1930’s. This was a dirt oval and the football shed was a bough shed. In the early 1960’s the Shire made funds available for the club to build a corrugated iron shed. Change rooms and hot water facilities were added in 1975. The sports ground and facilities were also used as a caravan park. A new caravan park was eventually built in Lucas Street in 1982. Work began on a new Beacon Sporting Complex in Shipway Drive in June 1978. The building was officially opened on 31st March 1979 and the first football match was played on the ground on the 28th April 1979. The farmers and the local community transported most of the materials for the building and the oval. The community raised a self supporting loan to assist in the payment for the cost of the building. Renovations to the building to provide a ladies changeroom, storeroom and a squash court were carried out in 1994. The Beacon community fully self-funded this project. A netball court was established in 1998 and a netball shed and surrounding fence was built by the club in 2001. In 2012 a new gymnasium was built on to the sporting complex.

The first mention of football played by a team from Beacon appears to be in 1930 against a team at Kulja. In 1938 it is recorded that they played a match against Marindo and beat them 15.2 to 2.1. It was a pretty rough and ready game with no umpire to uphold the rules. The Beacon Football Club officially formed in 1961. They went into recess at end of 1969 and then reformed for the 1976 season. From the period of 1976 -2003 the Beacon Football Club has participated in 25 Grand finals in 27 years, winning 15 Premierships. Of these, 7 were in consecutive years from 1991 to 1997. The most recent premiership win was in 2009. Football is played on Saturday from April – August.

Similarly Beacon has supported a very successful ladies hockey team. The ladies formed a side in 1975. During the period from 1988 to 2004 the hockey team participated in 16 consecutive grandfinals. Of these they won 11 premierships, 10 of them in a row.
Beacon Rock people formed a tennis club in 1930 and built tennis courts north of the railway line near the hall. (Opposite the old Football oval which is now the Shire yards). Previous to this they played at Warkutting. New tennis courts were built next to the Country Club in Rowlands Street in the early 1950’s, next to where the CWA is now situated. When the new sporting complex was built the club moved to the new facility in 1979 and in the early 1990’s built themselves new transportable club rooms and a few years later a synthetic court surface was installed.

Beacon supported two cricket teams, Beacon & Wialki until 2008. Both these teams have been very successful over the many years since their formation in the 1930’s. Beacon/Wialki merged in 2008 and continued their success in the Central Wheatbelt Cricket Association (CWCA) competition until 2011. In 2012 due to lack of numbers the CWCA went into recess and a combined team of players from several of the clubs from the CWCA formed the Beacon/Bencubbin “Emus” cricket team to play in the Wyalkatchem Cricket Association.

The building that houses the Old Beacon Bakehouse Café business was built in early 1930’s as a bakery and private dwelling. This building is of cement brick and later fibro additions were made to it. In the mid 1950’s the premises was turned into a private home for the school teacher. In the 1960’s it became a hardware store/stock and station agency. In 2002, despite the worst drought in the area in 50 years or more, a local farmer established the “Old Beacon Bakehouse Café” in this building. The Café had several Managers through the early 2000’s but is now closed.

The Beacon CWA was formed on 3rd June 1933. In 1934 their membership was 16. Early meetings were held in the President’s home and then later in a small room in town. A cement brick rest room was built in 1939 by volunteer labour. School children used the room one afternoon a week to make and sell leather work. The Beacon CWA was very active in all activities and fund raising events and made substantial contributions to the war effort. The CWA numbers varied from 15 to 20 during the 1930’s & 1940’s. The members built new transportable CWA rooms in 1970’s at 39 Rowlands Street. The Beacon CWA went into recess in 2008 and CWA House is now owned and operated by Beacon Progress Association and managed by Beacon Central Community Resource Centre for function and meeting bookings. The building continues to be available as a rest room.

The Silver Chain Centre was built in 1962. This building is constructed out of brick with a tiled roof and houses the medical clinic.  A new transportable family home was build at 15 Lindsay Street in early 1999 and renovations were carried out to upgrade the centre. The hospital is 100 km from Beacon and another 50 km further for the northern residents of the Beacon district. The Silver Chain Centre/Health Centre is an essential and much valued service in the community.

Beacon Co-op is now located in Lucas Street. The Co-op is managed by a volunteer committee with a full time store manager employed. The original store was erected in 1964 and was located in Lindsay Street.  The store was purchased by the community in May 1998. 

“The community established the Beacon Community Centenary Park Playground in 1998 in the centre of Beacon that caters for residents, tourists and families visiting town for community activities or business.”

Mens Shed sign

“Beacon Men’s Shed was built in 2009 with an official opening on 30th March 2010. The Men’s Shed along with the adjacant Sandalwood Dray Shed and War Memorial are situated at the entrance to the Beacon Sporting Complex.”