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The Village Community

Kurnell Progress Association

Kurnell Progress Association was formed in December 1909. In 1918 Ann and Bert Cox made a room in their home available for the meetings. In 1920 the Progress Association met in Guy's Hall on the corner of Dampier and Prince Charles Parade. Frank Cortese, who built and owned the Kurnella Café, was a President during the 1940s. John Graham Weir was President for 25 years from 1959.

In 1952, this active Progress Association laid the Foundation Stone for a Community Centre to be named Marton Hall, after the Estate in England on which stood the two-roomed thatch-roofed cottage in which Captain Cook was born.
Members of the Progress Association laying the Foundation Stone for Marton Hall, 1952. The hall was not built around this stone. (Photo: Cox/Morgan)
However, the hall as planned was not built, for Caltex Oil Refinery donated a shed and put it on land a little further back from the Foundation Stone. This provisional, ready-made hall was later converted for their needs as the village function centre by the local citizens, using materials supplied by Sutherland Shire Council. It was lined and painted inside and on one wall hung a beautiful tapestry displaying the Lord's Prayer. The Hall was officially opened in January 1953. But this position of Marton Hall proved to be inconvenient, so it was moved and re-erected with some modifications in March 1956. Only four months later it was again changed, this time by turning it around to face Captain Cook Drive. A Baby Health Centre and a doctor's surgery were established within Marton Hall and in 1959 a licence was granted to screen films.

Unfortunately, in November 1967 a fire caused by an electrical fault destroyed the hall. All records and the tapestry were lost. Ironically, Marton Hall in England too had been lost to fire.
Cook's birthplace in England, marked by a memorial urn. In the background may be seen the remains of the original Marton Hall, which was destroyed by fire in 1960. Photographed 1995.
Disappointed but not disillusioned, the residents built the present Marton Hall, a substantial structure, which was officially opened by Councillor Ray Thorburn in November 1968.

The Progress Association, which has evolved into today's Kurnell Progress and Precinct Committee, continues its battles against ever-encroaching industry and its campaigns for safety, environmental protection and community amenities.
A choral function in Kurnell's first Marton Hall, 1950s. (Photo: Sutherland Library)
A sample of relatively recent achievements of the Kurnell Progress and Precinct Committee:
  • Re-commencement in 1995 of the annual Captain Cook Landing  Anniversary re-enactment, festival and art show.

  • A NO STOPPING sign erected at the school.

  • Major road and traffic improvements including a roundabout on the corner of Torres Street and Captain Cook Drive.

  • Bicycle track along Captain Cook Drive.

  • A 60 kph sign on Captain Cook Drive.

  • Scholarships for school students.

  • Weekly clean up of Silver Beach.

The New Endeavour in Botany Bay for the Captain Cook Landing Anniversary, 1995. (Photo: Betty Jacobs)
Some current projects of the Kurnell Progress and Precinct Committee:
  • Dedication of the John Graham Weir Memorial Park. A successful appeal to the Department of Urban Affairs resulted in council handing over a block of land for this purpose. Fundraising hopes to provide the means for erection of a suitably inscribed bronze plaque that will be fixed to a rock and surrounded by a semi-enclosed paved seating area.

  • An Adopt Kurnell Historic Drive project to rejuvenate, improve and clean up the 'lifeline' to Kurnell, Captain Cook Drive.

  • An avenue of the flags of all nations, flying for the year 2000 Olympic Torch Relay.

  • Save Towra Point and create a walkway through the Towra Wetlands; and a walkway through the wetlands behind Marton Park.

  • Creation of an impressive entry to Kurnell Village with tree-planting etc.

  • Improvements to Silver Beach and provision of benches, seats.

  • Provision of bus shelters, kerb and guttering throughout Kurnell.

  • Beautification of all of the Peninsula's industrial landscapes.

  • Ferry run to Kurnell as a permanent service.

The New Endeavour sails into Botany Bay in 1998 for the Cook Landing re-enactment. (Photo: Noeline Thomas)
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