Here’s a little test for you… Who was Hammond Avenue in Wagga Wagga named for?
If you are unsure, then your immediate answer is probably, “Mr Hammond, whoever he was.” However, it may come as a surprise to know that the road was actually named for a Mrs Hammond.
Mrs Dorothy Coverdale Hammond of ‘Gawsworth’, Harefield, was born in Wagga in 1891 to Charles and Henrietta Horwood. Her father was a stock and station agent and the family lived at ‘Weeroona’ in Trail Street.
Dorothy attended the Church of England Grammer School for Girls in Goulburn. In 1908 she sat and passed her junior public examinations, gaining ‘B’s in English History and English, and ‘C’s in Geography, Algebra, and Music (Wagga Wagga Advertiser, 8 August 1908).
On 30 June 1919, Dorothy married William Malcolm Hammond at St James’ Anglican Church in Sydney and in time they had two sons – Kentish and Ralph.
The Country Women’s Association
In November 1923, a branch of the new Country Women’s Association was formed in Wagga Wagga, making it the second branch in this area to be established (Urana had been the first in August 1923). While she wasn’t at the initial meeting, Dorothy had certainly joined the branch by November 1925 when she was elected Branch President.
The following year, at the inaugural meeting of the Riverina Group (the district gathering of nine local CWA branches), Dorothy was elected their first President.
In addition to a lot of travelling as an adviser to many of the brand new CWA branches springing up across the Riverina, Dorothy soon began work on a particular project. In August 1929 she began to request recipes from members for a “cake calendar” which she then compiled to sell as a fundraiser. By December, the first edition was already sold out and a second edition underway.
In honouring Dorothy with a Life Membership of the CWA in 1931 the Riverina Group spoke to the fact that “… the profits to date on the cake and pudding calendars, which Mrs Hammond edited, had amounted to £2,250. The Head Office had stated that at the rate the calendars were selling it would be necessary to publish a new edition in January. The number of calendars published so far was 45,000 in six editions.”
It is worth pointing out that this was all achieved between 1929 and 1931 – the Depression was well underway and scarcity of ‘spare change’ for fundraising was a real problem for community groups.
The Wagga Wagga Express said of Dorothy, “She was a wonderful organiser, whose weight always made a success of the numerous social functions she shared in. This activity Mrs Hammond maintained keenly until ill-health a few weeks ago compelled her retirement. She was devoted to her Church work and in Country Women’s Association circles her capacity gained for her the Presidency of the Riverina Group” (Wagga Wagga Express, 29 August 1936).
The ill-health which was mentioned had actually struck several months earlier and was described as “long and painful”. Dorothy died on 29 August 1936 in her mid-forties.
At her funeral, held at St John’s Anglican Church, members of the CWA, the Wagga branch of the Red Cross Society and a contingent of Boy Scouts from Harefield formed a guard of honour. The Daily Advertiser wrote the following obituary in their 31 August issue:
“News of the death of Mrs Dorothy Coverdale Hammond, wife of Mr WM Hammond, of ‘Gawsworth,’ Harefield, which occurred on Saturday morning, caused a wave of sadness to pass through all ranks of the community.
“Mrs Hammond, who had resided in Wagga from her earliest girlhood days, was known to practically everyone, for she had closely associated herself with public movements, first in Wagga’s younger set and in patriotic circles during the war time, and later in the ranks of the Country Women’s Association.
“Her work for the CWA brought her into direct association with colleagues in all parts of the State. She was an executive officer for many years, and was a tower of strength in organising and in developmental work.
“Her name will live long for her unselfish and energetic efforts for a cause so dearly loved by her and by other women who understand country life and conditions.
“To raise between £4000 and £5000 by her almost unaided efforts in composing and publishing recipe books for the CWA was in itself a monumental undertaking.
“By her devotion to self-imposed duties, backed by a lovable disposition she endeared herself to members of the CWA in cities, country towns and hamlets which she visited to encourage an extension of the work.”
In March 1937, the CWA Riverina Group Council recorded the following decision: “In order to perpetuate the memory of the late Mrs WM Hammond who was president of the Group for some years, it was decided to plant an avenue of plane trees in or near Wagga. A sub-committee was appointed to go into the question, and endeavour to have the planting started about the time of the Coronation.”
The NSW Main Roads Board offered to supply the trees for the avenue and the CWA were allowed to plant one in sixteen of them. It was also agreed that a small cairn could be erected at the commencement of the avenue. A mile-long stretch of the Tarcutta Road which ended at the Wagga Municipal boundary was chosen for the avenue.
The dedication of the avenue took place on 19 August 1937. There was a huge gathering to witness the unveiling of the memorial cairn and the planting of the trees. The cairn read:
Dorothy C. Hammond Memorial.
This avenue is dedicated to her as a mark of appreciation of her devoted services to the Country Women’s Association, 19 August 1937.
The first tree was planted by Mrs DA Thompson, Dorothy’s sister and Albury CWA branch member. A further 13 trees were planted by CWA representatives from all over the local area, including from Harefield, Lockhart, Yenda, Narrandera, Albury, and Holbrook.
The naming of Hammond Avenue was two fold – it memorialised a woman beloved of many, who had worked tirelessly for the women and children of the Riverina for much of her life. But it was also an opportunity to recognise all the women of the CWA and what they had already achieved in less than 15 years of existence.
The trees and the cairn are still in Hammond Avenue today, although the cairn was shifted to the other side of the road in 1982 during road works to create the dual carriage way. It is currently situated on the south side of the road, in front of Hartwigs Trucks (east of Lawson Street).
The avenue of trees begins at the Eunony Bridge roundabout and ends just before Nixon’s Engineering (between Blaxland Road and Lawson Streets).
N.b: Unless otherwise noted, all information has been sourced from “Country Women Hold the Key – Celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the 1st Riverina Group Conference” (2016), a copy of which is held at CSU Regional Archives.
One of Mrs Hammond’s ‘Cake Calendars’ is held at the CSU Regional Archives, in the CWA Riverina Group’s collection, RW3258.