Harold Parsons Memorial


Words by Tim Holland, President - East Melbourne Historical Society

In mid-May I was crossing the wedge of green space on the north-west corner of the intersection of Hoddle St and Wellington Parade/Bridge Rd known as Weedon Reserve.

In that small park is a monument to someone who has slipped out of the public memory, but who in his day was a celebrity as a world record-holder in motorcycling events.

The name of the person commemorated is Harold Albert Parsons, and the monument had been erected on his death. I was surprised in looking at the monument to see a number of elaborate wreaths that had recently been laid at the foot of the memorial, but closer inspection showed that they had been put there to mark the centenary of the death of Harold Parsons.

Harold Parsons was a champion motorcycle rider in the early 1920s who set a string of world records over a number of years, including the world 24-hour record on a course near Sale on August 27, 1920. As such he achieved national and international fame and was a local in the East Melbourne/Richmond area.

Harold was born in Richmond on March 22, 1893. He lived at 22 Hoddle St, and attended Yarra Park State School on the corner of Punt Rd and Wellington Parade.

He died on May 15, 1921, at Epping when the bike he was riding at speed hit a horse. There was a very large funeral for him, as befitted his fame at the time. The monument was unveiled on June 24, 1923, in the grounds of the Yarra Park State School, with drinking fountains as part of the structure. The memorial was located on the boundary of the school in such a way that the drinking fountains were accessible to pupils on one side, and to pedestrians on Punt Rd on the other side – a very functional memorial.

With the widening of Punt Rd and the closing of the Yarra Park School in the late 1980s the memorial was relocated to its present location, minus the drinking fountains, although their former presence is still visible on the structure.

The wreaths that were placed to mark the centenary were from the Maffra Sale Motorcycle Club and others.

Harold Parsons is not well known in the modern era, despite his fame at the time of his death, so it was good to see that his memory had been kept alive through the years since his death. The memorial structure to him is a substantial one which somewhat paradoxically sits in an open secluded spot only metres from one of Melbourne’s busiest thoroughfares •

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