Shire of Denmark

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1939 to 1970

Influences Of War

World War II, like World War I affected the population balance of Denmark. Many men signed up for war duties, even though farming would have allowed exemptions from the services as it was considered a priority industry. Women came to the fore by joining the Women's Land Army which replaced the absent male farm labour. The population in Denmark remained static at about 1,780.

The war led to many innovations. Bulldozers developed during World War II led to easier methods of land clearing. Cars were faster and cheaper to buy and run, and trucks became more efficient. As roads were more commonly bituminised and vehicles became more reliable, road transport began to supersede the railways. This led to the closing down of the Denmark - Nornalup railway in 1957. The Railway Station was transported to a new site to become the Bowling Club. The Stationmaster's House became a pre-school while the train bridge became a pedestrian footbridge.

The changes in technology resulting from World War II were not the only developments in the post war era. During this period agriculture became more specialised with some products losing profitability altogether. Orcharding showed a gradual decline though apples were planted in the 1960s. Many dairies closed down while others switched their production to whole milk. The butter factory was still producing but had been takenover by Sunnywest in 1955. Though sheep declined, beef cattle remained strong, as did potato growing. Denmark was renowned for its potatoes and much of the state's seed potatoes came from there. Timber production continued and expanded with the opening of two new sawmills, Whittakers (1950) and McLeans (1966).

Expanding industries in Denmark included tourism, mining and salmon fishing. Tourism, which had started in a small way in the 1920s, capitalised during World War II on the presence of American sailors at Albany. Visitors continued to travel to Denmark for their annual holidays. Mining concerns in Denmark included the pegging of claims by the Bunbury Company for ilmenite. Salmon fishing on a commercial basis began at Peaceful Bay and Parry's Beach in 1948. The fishermen were mostly farmers who did this to supplement their incomes during the salmon season which runs from February to April. The fishermen lived in huts at the bay during the fishing months. It is believed that Bert Saw, a pioneering farmer from Bow Bridge, was responsible for the poetic name of Peaceful Bay.

The people of Denmark combined to supply many new community services. The Civic Centre opened in 1956, followed by the Infant Health Clinic in 1957. Groups such as Apex were formed. Educational needs, which up to this time had still been supplied by small schools scattered throughout the district, began to be centralised. With better roads and transport supplied by a school bus, outlying schools were closed. By the mid 1960s most students were bussed to the Denmark District High School. Alternatives in education were available, one in the form of the Agricultural School which was set up in 1942 at State Farm. This was in response to the commandeering of the Narrogin Agricultural School for war purposes. When the Narrogin Agricultural School returned to its base, Denmark retained an Agricultural School and improved it by building its own school in 1947.

Young children were not forgotten in the education scheme and a kindergarten was opened in 1964. Local news again received a boost with the opening of the Denmark Post Newspaper in 1949 which became incorporated into the Albany Advertiser as a supplement in 1964.

The proximity to the sea was emphasised by the many outings that were made to the ocean. Peaceful Bay, with its glorious displays of red flowering gums, was the scene of many picnics and social gatherings.

Other developments of this period include:

  • 1958 Surf Lifesaving Club opened at Ocean Beach
  • 1964 Plans to renovate the hospital plus plans for a new hospital
  • 1964 John Clark Memorial Bandstand was opened
  • 1965 Drive-In Theatre opened
  • 1965 Fire Brigade Quarters were built
  • 1967 Library opened by State Library Board

Interesting developments reflect the nature of change in Denmark in the 1960s. The first woman ever to contest a Denmark Road Board Election did so in 1960. In 1969, for the first time in some years, an Agricultural Show did not proceed owing to lack of support. Perhaps these were the early signs of the radical change in Denmark that occurred in the next two decades.