Turning the First Sod
The ceremony of turning the first sod of the tramway line, which is to connect the suburb of Enfield with Mortlake, was performed yesterday afternoon by the Minister for Works, Mr. O’Sullivan.
Elaborate preparations had been made by the municipalities interested in honouring the event, as the day was regarded by them as a red-letter one in their history and the whole neighbourhood kept holiday for the occasion. A procession to escort the Minister over the route which the tramline will take was organised.
Mr O’Sullivan left Sydney shortly after middayy by boat for Mortlake, and was met on arrival by several drag (dray) loads of residents, who had proceeded from Burwood for that purpose. A procession was then formed, headed by the Enfield Half-squadron of Cadet Lancers, and comprising the civic representatives ot the districts interested, as well as the leading residents. The Concord Brass Band also met the Minister on arrival. From Mortlake the procession went over the whole route to be taken by the tramway, and returned to the road opposite Burwood Park, where the ceremony was carried out. The Minister was accompanied by local dignitaries , as well as by the Attorney-General (Mr Wise)
On arrival at the spot where the ceremony was to take place, it was found that about 2000 school children from the Burwood, Concord, Mortlake, Croydon, Croydon Park and Enfield Public Schools were drawn up, that the park, itself was crowded with residents of the localities interested, to the number of several thousands, and that a number of girls, dressed in uniform similar to those of the Lancers, were engaged in callisthenic exercises. These were carried out with great precision.
Alderman Ralston (Mayor of Burwood) then advanced and formally asked Mr O’Sullivan to turn the first sod of the tramway line
Mr O’Sullivan took the spade which had been provided for the purpose, turned the sod, and then announced that he had much pleasure in doing so, and in saying that the tramline would be dedicated to the use of the inhabitants of the district for ever and ever. Three cheers were then given for the Queen and for the Minister, and in response to a request from the Mayor of Burwood.
Mr Wise, mounting a drag, addressed a few word, to the school children assembled, and also to the public, speaking of the good that the tramline would do when it was, completed, and the use to which it would be enabling the children as well as the residents of Enfield and those in its vicinity to obtain quick and cheap transit to the natural playground of the district – the banks of the Parramatta River at Mortlake
Mr O’Sullivan also spoke, saying that he was always glad to assist in obtaining an easy method of transit for the poor of the metropolis. He looked on the line as one of a more than local character, as it would conduce to the settlement of the district between Burwood and Mortlake, and would also enable residents of the whole of the western suburbs to reach the water side on the Parramatta River (Loud cheering )
The company then adjourned to the Federal Hall, where luncheon was served.
(Ed: You still get the big crowds to the start of such ventures, but it’s usually protesters who don’t want it.)
(Trove: SMH 27th September 1900)