Hazelwood – Hazelwood North – more historical snippets

By Leo Billington

Former Sexton’s hut at Hazelwood Cemetery

Sextons Hut - Hazelwood Cemetary

One definition of a Sexton’s duties from an American cemetery outlines such a person is responsible for the day to day operation of the cemetery grounds, maintains both shop buildings, maintains all equipment and vehicles. The Sexton reports directly to the Board of Trustees.

In this capacity, the Sexton directs preparation of burial site openings and closings, maintains the cemetery grounds and the condition of equipment and structures, (i.e. trucks, tractors, mowers, buildings, and watering systems for instance). In addition, he is responsible for the hiring and supervision of all cemetery support personnel excluding the Office Manager. He is to report directly to the Board in a timely manner, any and all situations affecting the cemetery operations.

Historically, a Sexton looked after a church and churchyard, typically acting as bell-ringer and gravedigger. These days, Sextons are often referred to as the caretakers of a cemetery. At the Hazelwood Cemetery, a contract gardener maintains the cemetery grounds.

The old green hut possibly dates back to the late 1930’s although conjecture remains about a more definite date. It was originally sited at the main northern granite gate entrance.

Tanners Lane – Hazelwood North

Tanners Lane

Running north-south between Church Road and Firmins Lane, Tanners Lane takes its name from an original farm sited about half way along. Charles (Chas as he was better known) farmed here earning a local reputation as a successful dairy, sheep and cropping farmer. In late 1929 for instance, Chas was admired for top dressing his pastures enabling 11 sheep to the acre to be carried.

Chas was prominent in helping his local community – being called upon as a Master of Ceremonies at local functions held in the Hazelwood North Mechanics Hall. He officiated at community card nights and was instrumental in lobbying with others to have the “rather shabby hall” painted and renovated by Morwell Shire Council.

He successfully agitated for repairs to Firmins Lane, sharing his lobbying strategies to Morwell Shire with another local resident, Mrs H M Plant.

Unfortunately, Chas lost his life in the February 1944 Fires. He perished as the fire raced across and through Hazelwood North; his name is memorialised on the granite gateposts at Hazelwood North together with 12 other names. It is understood that his wife, Julia May Tanner and family, naturally moved away after the tragedy.

Old peppercorn tree at the former Northway homestead

Old peppercorn tree at the former Northway homestead

Each week, thousands of vehicles speed past an old peppercorn tree in Boldings Road totally oblivious to its past glory.

It is sited where a grand two-storied residence once stood – the home of Mr and Mrs William Northway. Their daughter Agnes, married Mr Hugh Murray Thompson at “the bride’s home, in the presence of relatives only” [Morwell Advertiser April 13, 1923].

It was reported that “The wedding breakfast was richly provided for, at which the usual toasts were honoured. The happy couple left for their honeymoon amid cheers, good wishes and showers of confetti.”

The newly married couple soon took up dairy farming on a neighbouring soldier settlement 100 acre property, a farm which, today, still remains in the Thompson family.

[Readers will immediately recognise the Northway name being attached to Northways Road. Other members of the Northway family played a prominent lobbying role during earlier years resulting in many infrastructure improvements in and about Hazelwood North.]