Progress Associations

Recreation grounds were often high on the list of progress associations' aims: football at Cambridge, 1910 (AOT, PH30/1/4287)

Progress Associations have been active pressure groups in Tasmania since the 1880s and reflected the growth of civic pride. They first appeared in Hobart in 1887 as ratepayers' associations in Battery Point, North Hobart and West Hobart, seeking environmental improvements and lower rates. In Launceston improvement associations were formed in Inveresk (1890), South Launceston (1903) and Invermay (1914).

In the 1920s progress associations broadened their agenda from improvement to progress, a change from environmental improvement to modernising, on a range of fronts. Progress associations spread to all parts of Tasmania. Some became tourist and progress associations as in Scottsdale (1929); others progress and regatta associations as in Kingston (1925). In Hobart the Southern Tasmanian Town Planning and Central Progress Association, first formed in 1915, was active in the 1920s, as were ten other progress associations. Some lasted a year or two, others lasted decades.

One of the most active was the Lenah Valley Progress Association (1939). It sought to develop 'a real community spirit' among residents 'irrespective of their political, social or religious beliefs'. From different levels of government it secured within a decade improved tram services, more and better-cared-for reserves, a kindergarten then a state school, a community hall and a post office, but found it harder to get better roads and footpaths.

Some progress associations faded in the Second World War but many revived afterwards, being particularly active in the 1950s. As improvements such as water and tarred roads appeared, many associations faded, though some similar community groups remain active, some retaining improvement in their titles, others embracing the words 'community' or 'action'.

Further reading: S Petrow, Sanatorium of the south?, Hobart, 1995; and 'Making the city beautiful', THRAPP 36/2, 1989; J Turnbull, Ten years of progress, Hobart, 1949.

Stefan Petrow