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Lovekin Drive at Dawn
 

The Honour Avenues

The planting of trees as a dedication to individual Service personnel who gave their lives whilst serving their countries in time of war seems to be an Australian innovation. This unique practice originated in Ballarat, Victoria when in 1917 Mrs. Tilly Thompson of E Lucas & Company, clothing manufacturers, proposed to her 500 'Lucas girls' on the staff that they raise funds to plant an 'avenue of trees' to honour the local men who had been killed in World War I. This they did and by 1919 they had planted 3,912 trees along 22.4 kms of the Western Highway. In all at least 128 avenues were planted in Victoria between 1917 and 1921, virtually every one a community effort.

The idea was taken up in Western Australia by Mr. Arthur Lovekin, a veteran journalist, editor and owner of the Daily News. He was also an original member of the Kings Park Board and in August 1918 submitted to the Board a design for the planting of trees as an Honour Avenue in May Drive. What is known as 'May Drive' today, which runs from the Lord Forrest statue to the Nedlands end of the Park, was originally known as 'Circular Avenue' because it virtually encircled the entire park.

However, prior to Mr. Lovekin's idea, in 1901 a link with the Royal family and the Honour Avenue was established. In that year the then Duke of Cornwall & York, Alfred George Saxe-Coberg Gotha, grandson of the recently deceased Queen Victoria and son of the reigning monarch, King Edward the 7th, visited Perth. He was accompanied by his wife the Duchess Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes of Teck, affectionately known as Princess May.

The Duke and Duchess were visiting Australia to open the first Federal Parliament, which was in Melbourne. However, whilst in Perth on 27th July 1901, he re-named Perth Park to 'Kings Park' in honour of his father, and laid the foundation stone of the Fallen Soldiers Memorial (now the Boer War Memorial) and re-named part of Circular Drive as 'May Drive' after his Princess.

Another interesting but tenuous link to the Avenues was through the first President of the Park, John Forrest. He was a Surveyor General, renowned explorer and the driving force behind the east-west railway, the first State Premier of WA, a founding father of the Federation and its first Minister for Defence. In this latter capacity he was instrumental in the raising of the first Commonwealth overseas contingents after earlier being involved in the integration of the six colonial forces. Later, in one of his terms as Federal Treasurer, he authorised the payment of monies for the raising of the 1st Australian Imperial Force (AIF).

The aforementioned Arthur Lovekin visited England in 1914 and was struck by the grandeur of the Royal Oaks in Windsor Great Park. With Kings Park in mind he took the liberty of writing to Princess May, who was now Queen Mary, Consort of His Majesty King George the Fifth, requesting acorns from the Great Park for planting in Kings Park.

Because of the affiliation with Kings Park she agreed to send at a later date a parcel of acorns from the Royal Oaks.

When the Royal acorns arrived the Park superintendent had them planted and although most of them sprouted many failed to thrive and eventually died. Perhaps as few as 11 of the Royal acorns survived. Replacement acorns were hastily obtained from Archbishop Riley who had an oak in the Bishop's House garden which had been planted by Bishop Hale some 60 years earlier.

The Park Board had accepted Lovekin's design for the Honour Avenue and the intention to create the Honour Avenue was publicised. Applicants would be required to pay 10/-, made up of 1/- for the tree, 2/- for labour for the hole which would be 5' wide and 5' deep, 6/6d for the plaque and 6d for the paint. The Board carried out all the work including the acceptance of applications and allocation of the trees to the applicants. The opening of the Avenue was planned for 3rd of August 1919, the fifth anniversary of the declaration of World War I.

The verges on either side of May Drive were cleared and most of the timber burnt to avoid the cost of cartage. Fertilizer in the form of manure, most of which came from the Swan Brewery stables on Mounts Bay Road, was donated to the Park. Unemployed ex-Servicemen did much of the preparatory work.

This important project would not have got underway at all had Lovekin not donated 500 pounds (about $25,000 in today's value) to cover the initial costs. In 1920 Arthur Lovekin and Sir William Loton, another Board member, each donated 500 pounds to clear and plant with sugar gums what was then known as Forrest Avenue. In 1931, after the death of Lovekin, it was renamed Lovekin Drive in honour of the architect of these magnificent avenues. Lovekin is estimated to have donated funds of more than $100,000 in today's value.

The preparations for the original planting ceremony had not gone too well. The reduced number of oaks, 404 in all were required, and the inability of the Park to obtain sufficient suitable kurrajong and tuart trees as replacements, saw the inclusion of Brush Box, Eugenia, Camphor laurel and hardy Cork elm to the list of suitable trees. Applicants were invited to supply their own trees but in the end most trees were reported to be 'True British Oaks'. There were problems with the casting of the plaques as well and the quality of many left a lot to be desired.

The long awaited 3rd of August arrived with torrential rain and howling winds lashing the thousands whom attended. At a timed signal relatives and friends planted the trees despite the weather conditions. In front of each tree was the plaque and in many cases miniature gardens had been created. After the planting the people assembled at the highest point of the Drive - known as the Circle - and in the presence of His Excellency the Governor Sir William McCartney, the Minister for Education the Hon. HB Colebatch, the Minister for Mines JP Scadden and President of the Kings Park Board Arthur Lovekin made their speeches and after all had spoken the Governor, during a particularly heavy downpour, declared the Avenue to be well and truly planted. A message from Queen Mary was read to those assembled. Her words were,

"May these fine oaks grow and flourish for many years, and stand as a reminder to generations to come of the devotion and loyalty of those brave sons of the Empire who gave their lives in the cause of justice and freedom"

Governor McCartney in his address to several thousand umbrellas, with an uncanny prescience, reflected thus…

"That when this age had become a matter of history, and its incidents the subject of academic discussion, it might happen, perchance, that the children and grandchildren of the present generation might come on a pilgrimage to the Avenue of Honour in that beautiful park, to claim with filial pride kinship with some one or other of the trees which had been planted that day, and to draw from those silent monuments of a people's trust to brave men and great deeds, the inspiration to emulate them if ever in the future, in Her Majesty's words ''the Cause of justice, freedom and right were threatened."

This planting, which consisted of that portion of May Drive from the Forrest statue to the Saw Avenue (Tobruk Memorial) entrance, and subsequent ceremonies the following year in the remaining section of the Avenue which had been planted with Oriental Plane trees, saw the total number of plaques rise to almost 800. This includes a further 100 plaques placed on the sugar gums at the beginning of what is now Lovekin Drive.

In 1922 the Returned Services League (RSL), through a committee of its West Perth Sub-Branch, accepted the responsibility for the maintenance and preservation of the plaques. The Sub-Branch, later known as the Public Service Sub-Branch, amalgamated with the Press Sub-Branch in 1973. In 1976 it combined with the Highgate Sub-Branch.

In the early 1940's the oaks, many of which had died or even failed to reach a height of more than 6 - 7 feet after 22 years, together with the similarly afflicted plane trees, were removed from May Drive with the approval of the RSL. They were replaced with Bangalay (Eucalyptus Boitryoides) the seeds of which were all propagated from one large tree in the Circle. That tree is still standing. There is one oak left standing - at the corner of May and Lovekin Drives, adjacent to the Forrest statue. It is not known whether it came from Windsor Great Park or the Bishop's House. Eucalyptus Callophylla - Flowering Marri trees now replace those trees that die.

The replacement of the oak and plane trees was the idea of the Kings Park Superintendent at the time - JE Watson. He was Superintendent from 1939 to 1962. He was a Gallipoli veteran and was awarded the Military Medal whilst serving with the 28th Battalion AIF.

After World War II many requests for trees were received for dedication to Servicemen who died in that war and the Kings Park Board asked the RSL to arrange a dedication ceremony for the remaining 300 sugar gums in Lovekin Avenue. The authority for this was delegated to the Public Service Sub-Branch .

The Sub-Branch formed a committee to allocate the trees and arranged the service. The committee consisted of Messrs. LJ Parkes, President, AM Brice, Secretary, WL Boyd, Treasurer and HB Hayles, MJ Offer and Secretary of the Kings Park Board JE Watson as Members. On 5th December 1948 in Lovekin Drive before a very large gathering His Grace the Archbishop of Perth Dr RWH Moline MC DD dedicated the avenue to the memory of those who fell in World War II. His Excellency the Governor Sir James Mitchell GCMG also attended. The total number plaques required for this dedication could not be produced in time and consequentially additional, smaller ceremonies were held in 1950 and 1952. Other ceremonies have taken place since as and when suitable and approved applications have been submitted.

An additional location has recently been added to the Honor Avenue - Marri Walk, a roadway adjacent to Plaque No.191 on May Drive, that leads to the Royal Kings Park Tennis Club. It is here that future dedications will probably take place.

The total number of plaques as of June 2000 is 1175, made up of the following:

World War I
808
World War II
335
Korean War
2
Association/Groups
11

Amongst those remembered are two Victoria Cross winners - Lt C Pope, 11 Battalion, killed at Lowell on 15 April 1917, and Pte AS Gurney, 2/48 Battalion, killed at Tel-el-Eisa on 22 July 1942. Also, Pte J Simpson, 3 Field Ambulance, 'the soldier with the donkey', who died at Gallipoli on 19 May 1915, is remembered with a plaque dedicated by Perth Girls School.

The total number of bravery awards to Service personnel remembered in the Avenue are shown below:

Victoria Cross (VC)
2

Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

2
Military Cross (MC)
9
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
3
Military Medal (MM)
9
Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM)
2
Meritorious Service Medal (MSM)
1
Mention in Dipatches
1

The ages of those remembered in the Honour Avenue show that age was no barrier to self sacrifice on active service overseas. The youngest was Signalman H Holmes, 28 Battalion, killed at Pozieres, 29 July 1916 aged 17 years (May Drive No. 43). The oldest was Private RH Chase, 16 Battalion who died at Gallipoli on 27 April 1915 aged 54 years (May Drive No.77).

The numbers by age from WWI and WWII are shown below.

Age (yrs)
WWI
WWII
Total
Age (yrs)
WWI
WWII
Total
17
1
-
1
35
11
5
16
18
18
1
19
36
13
4
17
19
43
6
49
37
12
4
16
20
57
28
85
38
2
7
9
21
50
28
78
39
11
1
12
22
61
36
97
40
8
1
9
23
73
34
107
41
7
4
12
24
55
24
79
42
8
4
12
25
48
19
67
43
7
5
12
26
47
14
61
44
6
1
7
27
48
20
68
45
8
-
8
28
49
13
62
46
2
1
3
29
29
18
47
47
3
1
3
30
21
15
36
49
2
-
2
31
20
9
29
51
-
1
1
32
24
9
33
53
1
-
1
33
18
7
25
54
2
-
2
34
21
9
30
56
1
-
1

If you are trying to locate a memorial dedicated to a particular person, or are searching for the location of a memorial, follow the instructions below. If you just wish to view a map of memorial locations, click here for Map of Memorial Locations

If you know the memorial number (eg : M220) please skip to Step 2

Step 1.

Use the following 3 documents to locate the name of the person you are searching for. The documents correspond with the location of the memorial itself.

Lovekin Drive [158kb PDF]
May Drive [193kb PDF]
Wishing Well [77kb PDF]

Step 2.

Click on relevant section of the lists below to bring up a small-scale map of where the memorial you are searching for is located. Only certain numbers are shown on the maps, however the memorials are in numerical order.

If nessecary, use the Map of Memorial Locations to assist you in locating a memorial.

May Drive
M1 - M214
M215 - M438
M439 and above

Lovekin Drive
L1 - L185
L186 - L245
L246 and above

The Wishing Well is located on Fraser Avenue

Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view PDFs.