Geelong and District

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DAY, James Phillip

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A Geelong Biographical Register entry reproduced with the kind permission of the Geelong Historical Society.  [© 2000 Geelong Historical Society, Geelong, Victoria]

James Philip DAY
(1850 - 1933)

DAY, James Philip (1850-1933), gardener and curator, was born at Barwon Lakes (Connewarre) on December 18, 1850, a son of John and Jane Day.

From 1879, perhaps earlier, he was employed as a gardener at the Geelong Botanical Gardens, subsequently foreman until being appointed by the Council Curator of Parks and Gardens on March 30, 1896.  It was to be a term beset by many difficulties.  His appointment coincided with Council's Markets and Gardens Committee retrenching the labourers at the Gardens, a decision brought on by a severe recession.

The Gardens were then hardly 40 years old with many of the trees approaching maturity and requiring an ample water supply to maintain good condition.  However, "the service from Garden Street was little better for the Botanical Gardens than that to a householder", according to Cr. Howard Hitchcock.

More staffing difficulties and other restraints were created by the Great Wars; nevertheless, he supervised with distinction until resigning on April 30, 1927, completing a term of 31 years, longer than any other Curator.  He removed from the Curator's Cottage at the Gardens to reside at 59 Skene Street, Newtown.

In 1888 he was a member of the foundation committee of The Geelong Horticultural Improvement Society, continuing until its demise in 1896.  That society was soon followed by Geelong Horticultural Association to which he was elected a vice-president, earning later an honorary life membership.

For more than 50 years he had a very active membership of Aberdeen Street Baptist Church Geelong, including a long period as a deacon.  It was there he married Emma Elizabeth Summers on June 28, 1883.  They had five children; one, Lieut. Norman Frank Day, dying of wounds in France in 1918.

He died at his residence on June 11, 1933; Mrs. Day survived until March 25, 1939.  Both were interred in Eastern Cemetery, Geelong.

Written by George Jones from archival material at Geelong Historical Records Centre and information provided by Howard Day.

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 June 2009 04:25  

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