With the advent of the movies, a new star is born and audiences around the country fall in love with silent film. The Church Chronicle writes that ‘Ballarat had gone mad on amusements – even madder than Melbourne. Every night 10,000 to 20,000 people, are said to be at the pictures and a further 2500 are either at live shows, socials, skating or dancing.’

Fred Williams, secretary and ex president of South Street, visits England for the Coronation and widely promotes the Eisteddfod, resulting in positive press articles including ‘How Australia finds her Melbas and Crossleys’ and ‘The Story of the Greatest Musical and Literary Festival of Modern Times’.


Thousands congregate to City Oval to see the Highland Pipe Contest and, under the auspices of South Street, watch celebrated aeronaut, ‘Wizard Stone,’ attempt to take off in a monoplane. It does not go well, with Wizard and the plane sustaining minor injuries.

The Titanic sinks on her maiden voyage from England to New York and Ballarat erects the Titanic Memorial Bandstand in the following year to commemorate the stoic musicians who continued to play as the ship sank.

Sponsor of South Street’s Sutton Shield, Henry Sutton dies. A remarkable inventor, Sutton was credited with many early innovations including light bulbs, photo printing and the early transmission of images, which would later be used as the foundation for developing television 35 years later.


The Right Honourable Andrew Fisher opens the competitions and Mr J Beswick is brought out from England to judge the Band Contest as increasing numbers of interstate bands travel to Ballarat to compete despite the war.

The Senior Vocal Championship is awarded to George Lemke and forges a long association between the Lemke family and South Street, while the competition goes from strength to strength.

The mammoth South Street Competitions show no sign of decay; in fact, judging by recent indications, there is no limit to the possibilities and achievements of this remarkable institution. The Society, taken as a whole, is an institution that aims at the moral and national advancement of the community, and is worthy of recognition at the hands of the citizens. (Ballarat and District Year Book, Ballarat Library, A.H. & R.J. Powell)


Prime Minister Billy Hughes gives a masterly oration on support for the war effort at the opening of the Competition, with profits donated to Red Cross as part of the war effort.

Australia continues to commit hundreds of thousands of troops to the British war effort and its sense of national identity as a newly independent country is forged with the fall of many at Gallipoli.

The first Highland Pipe Band Contest whips up support and enthusiasm at South Street and due to the overwhelming popularity of the contests, special cheap excursion trains are run from Melbourne to Ballarat and schools within a radius of 30 miles are given the day off.

Calisthenics is also a major attraction with over 100 teams entering.


Billy Hughes returns to open South Street’s Annual Competitions, and is greeted at Ballarat station by hundreds of well wishers. However, not all are supportive of Australia’s involvement in the war effort, and despite Hughes using the opening of the Eisteddfod as a forum to campaign for conscription as part of a national referendum, the No vote prevails led by future Prime Minister and South Street debator, James Scullin.

“People who love song can always be relied on to do their duty as free men, and it is therefore a pleasing duty to me to declare this Eisteddfod open. Australia stands at the crossroads, and has to decide whether she will take the narrow Path of duty or the steep declivity to national dishonour.”

Prime Minister Hughes.


A“ Back to Ballarat” celebration is staged to attract home coming visits by former residents, with 15,000 people crowding into the Stockade to watch actors play out scenes from the gold rush era and the Eureka Stockade d 1854.


Lionel Logue, (played by Geoffrey Rush in ‘The King’s Speech’) arrives in Ballarat to adjudicate South Street’s Elocutionary Competition. His system of judging is published in South Street’s 1918 Guide Book, with points awarded for voice production, resonance and modulation, pronunciation, enunciation, timing, phrasing, deportment, grace, general ability and the conception and intelligence of the piece performed.

The evening holds the attention of a large audience with a program ranging from the bush verses of Adam Lindsay Gordon to historic narratives and comic sketches of “Mumford’s Pavement” and “My First and Last Appearance.”’

Ballarat rejoices at the news that World War One has ended and thousands congregate in Sturt Street to celebrate as the bells ring out.


The 29th Grand Annual Competition is held at the Coliseum and opens with the New South Wales State Orchestra under the baton of distinguished Belgian conductor, Henri Verbrugghen, a long time adjudicator of South Street.

The planting of trees begins as part of the Avenue of Honour to commemorate the 800 individuals from the Ballarat district who enlisted and died in World War I.

The Spanish flu arrives in Ballarat during the summer months, having been brought back from Europe by soldiers returning home. People are warned to avoid trams, trains and kissing, while the Ballarat showgrounds are used as a temporary hospital for flu patients.


The Competitions ramp up with Military, Drum, Bugle and Harmonica Band sections and the Federal Government offers its support with a 250 pound grant.

The Arch of Victory is officially opened by His Royal Highness, Edward Prince of Wales to commemorate the fallen.