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A.H.Cunningham Memorial Library : October 2013
A.H.Cunningham Memorial Library : October 2013

Photographs supplied by Nancy Alford

The A. H. Cunningham Memorial Library and the A. W. Cunningham Hall commemorate two members of the Cunningham family who together with the Cheetham family owned, managed and developed the Cheetham Saltworks. Mr. A. H. Cunningham was Managing Director of the Saltworks for 21 years. A memorial tablet to Mr. A .H. Cunningham was also unveiled at the opening of the Library. 

The A.W. Cunningham Hall was built as part of the Cheetham Saltworks and opened on the 21st May 1921. The hall was named after the father of A.H. Cunningham, Alexander William Cunningham. It was originally designed as a recreation hall for company employees with the Memorial Library added in 1923. 

Richard Cheetham (a manufacturing chemist from Manchester, UK) arrived in Victoria in 1862 to establish a salt works. In 1888 he  began construction of a saltfield on low lying swampy land leased from the Victorian Government, between Limeburners’ Point and Point Henry. It was a difficult undertaking and involved much personal industry by Richard himself. Financial backing came from A.W. Cunningham and the partnership was known as "Richard Cheetham & Company Pty Ltd". In 1903 the name of the organisation was changed to "The Cheetham Salt Proprietary Limited."

On Saturday evening last at the invitation of the Cheetham Salt Proprietary Limited, the staff from the offices, mill and other works assembled at the A.W. Cunningham hall, for the purpose of opening the Library, which has been erected by the Company as a memorial to the late Mr. A. H. Cunningham, who held the position of managing director for 21 years. The Managing Director, Mr. A. J Cunningham, in his opening remarks, referred to the early days in the Company's existence, and the strenuous time the late Managing Director experienced in putting the Company's affairs on a strong basis. He also stressed the good feeling of fellowship which had at all times existed between the late Mr. A. H. Cunningham and those with whom he was connected in the Company's work. He felt that the fact that things ran so smoothly was due largely to the good understanding which had been at all times in evidence between the management and its staff. He trusted that this state of affairs would long continue, and urged on all the principle of taking their grievance straight to headquarters, instead of becoming discontented, when in many instances all that was necessary was a quiet talk with each other, and differences disappeared.

Mr. Cunningham then introduced Mr. F.E Wilson, who, besides being the Legal Adviser of the Company, was a close personal friend of the late Mr. A.H. Cunningham. Mr. Wilson traced the career of Mr A. H. Cunningham from the time he entered the Company 30 years ago, up to his death, and also referred to the incidence of the Companys work as a producer of a primary product from natural sources, which enabled a number of persons to be employed in its production, and mentioned the fact that based on the average of the past five years the sum the Company distributed in wages, etc., to employees for a period of 10 years is over one quarter of a million sterling. Mr. Wilson described the Library as one of the most fitting memorials which could have been decided upon, it being of an instructive as well as a recreative nature, and was in line with the many efforts which had been such a feature of the late Mr. A. H. Cunningham's life for the mutual pleasure and benefit of those connected with him in his work for the Company.

Mr. Harry Bechervaise (a Director of the Company) then officially on behalf of the Board, handed over the control and management of the Library to the Cheetham Welfare Club which will make rules and regulations for its proper conduct, and asked Mrs. A. J. Cunningham to unlock the door and declare the building open. After this was done, the Library was inspected and Mr. B. D. Mitchell, the President of the Welfare Club returned thanks to the Directors for handing the Library over to the Club. Another function then took place in the Library, when Mr. Mitchell unveiled a memorial tablet to the memory of Mr. A H. Cunningham, which had been subscribed and erected on the wall of the library by all the employees of
the Company. Mr. Mitchell's remarks were supported by Mr. W. Borthwick, one of the oldest employees. At the conclusion of the ceremony supper was partaken of in the A. W. Cunningham Hall.
Geelong Advertiser (VIC), 17 July 1923. 



Address:70 - 72 Port Arlington Road, Newcomb, 3219
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -38.159626
Long: 144.394677
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Structure
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 14th July, 1923
Front Inscription

A. H. Cunningham Memorial Library

Right Side Inscription

A. W. Cunningham Hall

Source: VHD, MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au