The railway line between Melbourne and Geelong opened in 1857 and in 1866 von Rochlitz published the Geelong – Melbourne Railway Polka, this copy from the National Library of Austtalia. It was a common practice for a new song to be commissioned for the band to play at the opening of a new railway.
Over the years Polkas appear in the programs of musical entertainments in Geelong including performances by Geelong’s Volunteer Rifle Band, the oldest Victorian Militia unit, first raised in 1854 in Geelong as a Volunteer Rifle Corps
The Volunteers were present for the arrival of the first train and the official opening of the Geelong Railway Station and so was a band who played some spirited items. A huge banquet was arranged but unfortunately the train was late and the locals had their fill of the feast before the invited guests arrived, including the Governor, Members of Parliament and other dignitaries.
The Geelong Artillery Band , as the Volunteer Rifle Corps band later became, is commemorated in the Bollard Walk along the seafront. The band played its first recital in 1861
And what could they possibly be playing ?
My grandfather, Tom Tansey, joined this band some time after arriving in Australia in 1888 and was with them until 1899. This photo of the Artillery band was taken in 1890
This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday for this week but there are plenty more examples of polkas, violets, music and mystery posts to be found in the links on the Sepia Saturday page.