As Australian soldiers prepared to leave Gallipoli and devastation of the conflict travelled home, the name of one of Maitland’s most prominent streets came under fire.
On December 14, 1915, the people of Beckmann Street presented a petition to West Maitland Municipal Council for the street to be renamed.
Historical documents show that the German-derived name of Beckmann was seen as an affront to the war effort and therefore the street should be renamed Anzac Street.
“Originally, the street was named after a local merchant called G H V Beckmann and as this was a German name the people of the street petitioned to have it changed and the name Anzac was certainly in vogue,” Maitland Historical Society member Kevin Short said.
“And the date of this petition is also interesting because it almost coincides with the evacuation of Gallipoli.”
The council agreed to the name change and it’s also worth noting that on March 8, 1916, a Corporal James Ratcliffe, whose parents lived in Anzac Street, was listed as missing.
“So obviously the name change had gained common currency by then,” Mr Short said.
But the people of Maitland weren’t alone in campaigning for German-sounding place names to be changed.
“The most obvious one is the town of Holbrook, which was originally called Germanton, and then there is Schlinkers Lane in Sydney which became Bullecourt Lane,” Mr Short said.
“This whole anti-German sentiment really sparked quite a movement when it came to renaming streets and places across Australia.”