Benjamin James Ferdinando 2
From an unknown article entitled "About Local People" by Ephorus - believed to date from about April 1917
At "Heathcliffe", Willis Street, Hampton, live Councillor Benjamin James Ferdinando J. P., first Mayor of the newly created Borough of Sandringham. Born in London 60 years ago, his worship has had an attractive career. The name "Ferdinando" suggests Spanish or Italian lineage. It is one of the traditions of the family that an ancestor was a native of Sunny Spain. That was many generations back.
There is nothing in the personality of Cr. Ferdinando that tends to the belief that there is much of the Spanish strain left. When you call at "Heathcliffe" you are received in that pleasant, quiet, courteous manner peculiar to the English Gentleman. Cr. Ferdinando was only a young man when he left London for an eight years' stay on the continent. One of the principal objects of the journey was to acquire a knowledge of the French language. In addition, a smattering of German was secured. Part of those 8 years was spent in Geneva, Switzerland. Cr. Ferdinando says that he found the Swiss a fine people. He thoroughly enjoyed his life there. There was much to see and learn. The scenery surrounding Geneva is of a varied variety but always attractive character.
"It was a beautiful sight" says Cr. Ferdinando "to obtain on a fine morning, a view of the snow clad summit of stately Mont Blanc. On all sides were other lofty and commanding mountains. The guide books give a large amount of useful and valuable information but you need to pay a personal visit to the beauty spots of Europe to realise what they really mean, not only to the artist, but to the average tourist. There was Lake Geneva living at our very doors. Whenever the town was en fete the lake would be covered with gaily decorated boats of all kinds. There would be bands, fireworks, and flowers everywhere. Geneva, prior to the war, was a favourite hunting ground for English and American tourists. Wealthy people from both countries were catered for in the very best style. Some of the Hotels in Geneva are fine places and very well managed. Then in the season there are numbers of pensions. These are in normal times crowded with visitors whose nurses are not long enough to permit them to put up at the more pretentious caravan-serais. Oh yes, we had lots of fun. One winter during my stay was so cold that the horse trams could not be operated and we had to go about on sledges."
Lausanne and Berne, in addition to other picturesque towns lying close to Geneva were visited frequently. After Geneva came a long sojourn in Paris. Cr. Ferdinando relates that he lived in several parts of what, before the war, was the brightest and gayest city in the world, with the exception, perhaps of Vienna.
I have a warm liking for the French people. It was in Paris that my wife did me the honour to accept me as her husband. She was an English lady and we were married at the English Embassy. Mrs. Ferdinando's grandfather was three times Mayor of Sandwich, Kent, one of the Cinque Ports.
Thirty years ago Cr. Ferdinando came to Australia. he landed in Adelaide, where he stayed for two years. Then he came on to Melbourne, where ever since he has been in business as a public accountant. He has visited all the States with the exception of Western Australia and has made the New Zealand tour. For nineteen years he was Treasurer of the Victorian Artists' Society. His retirement some few months since was owing to the pressure of local affairs. He is a member of the board of management of the Queen's Memorial Infectious Diseases Hospital as representative of a group of municipalities extending from Prahran to Hastings.
He was Shire President in 1914 and a member of the Shire of Moorabbin for 12 years. Cr. Ferdinando says that when he came into the district, 20 years ago, he never intended to take part in any local agitation. Eventually he found himself drawn into the severance movement with which he has been connected for 16 years. There has been a lot of hard work done during that time. Four petitions had been presented to the different Ministers of Public Works. For almost six years Cr. Ferdinando was captain of the first rifle club formed in Sandringham. The disbandenment of that club was due to the inability to secure more central butts. When the Elwood butts were abolished the Sandringham club members had to go to Cheltenham and Williamstown. The train service was however so awkward that the visits were given up. Among other positions filled at one time or another by Cr. Ferdinando were President of the Sandringham Bowling Club, President of the Hampton Bathing and Life Saving Club, and President or Vice-President of different sporting clubs in the district. Asked if he had personally engaged in any active sport, Cr. Ferdinando replied. No, he had never had the time to do so. All the same he was always glad to be the patron of all mainly English sports and pastimes.
His special hobby is photography. Mrs. Ferdinando is an artist of no small repute. Before she came to Australia she studied on the Continent. Since her arrival in Melbourne she had continued her studies at the Melbourne National Gallery. Her paintings have been exhibited from time to time by the Victorian Artists' Society, of which she has been a member for several years. On the walls of the Drawing Room at "Heathcliffe" hang portraits. landscapes and seascapes, all from the artistic brush of Mrs. Ferdinando. the portrait of Miss Thudby and (the then) Miss Dwyer, strike one as being fine examples of the live figure branch of the artists' work. "Ti-tree" is a large and faithful re-production of a stretch of sombre, shadow filled foreshore. Through the dense scrub comes into the immediate foreground a graceful lady in a delicate lavender coloured dress. "Smith's Paddock" is another realistic Hampton scene. A bold seascape presents a stretch of the Hampton coast. Dark blue waves are tumbling in turbulently and casting spray on the rocks to which two female bathers are clinging. The picture is full of wave-action and young healthy life. Attractive scenes from the same brush find space on the walls of "Heathcliffe". That beautiful home was, by the way, designed by Mrs. and Cr. Ferdinando and was erected under the latter's supervision.
The war has taken its dread toll of other branches of the Ferdinando family. A nephew, Quenton Colquhoun, son of Mr. Colquhoun, a well known artist, joined the colours when only 19 years old. He was killed while fighting bravely for King and Country during the Somme advance. Another nephew is with the engineers, "somewhere in France". He was born in New Street, middle Brighton, and his father is remembered as a former Secretary of Artists' Society, which by the way, will entertain Cr. Ferdinando at a complimentary social gathering on 30 inst. Cr. Ferdinando has also a brother-in-law with the colours.
At the Sandringham Court on Tuesday, Mr. J. B. Eggleston on behalf of the Bar, congratulated Cr. Ferdinando on his election to the Mayorality of the Borough of Sandringham. The ratepayers at the elections for the Council, had recorded Cr. Ferdinando unanimous support, and it must be further gratifying to him to have the unanimous call of the Council in his appointment as Mayor.
Senior-Constable McCarthy, on behalf of the Police, also congratulated Cr. Ferdinando on his appointment to the office of Chief Magistrate of the municipality, and expressed the hope that he would long continue to be a member of the Bench. Cordial feelings had existed between the magistrates and the Bench in the past, and he hoped that it would continue in the future.
The Mayor, in responding, expressed his thanks for the king remarks passed. It was gratifying to know that he had the goodwill of the Bar and the Police in his appointment.
David Ferdinando - January 2001
Benjamin James & His Councillors
A further article from the City of Kingston Historian can be viewed here following this link to their web site.