Stories from the Shire with Geoff Paine: Eltham District Historical Society

We have a new video to share thanks to the generousity of society member and local identity, Geoff Paine.

Stories from the Shire with Geoff Paine: Eltham District Historical Society

In this short video you will be given a brief look at the Eltham Justice precinct on Main Road and how it came about in Little Eltham as well as some background history leading to the establishment of the Shire of Eltham Historical Society (now Eltham District Historical Society) arising from the relocation of Shillinglaw Cottage.

Time for a Jigsaw Puzzle

It’s time for a break.

How about stopping for a cuppa and doing a quick jigsaw of one of Eltham’s local icons?

We are excited to have teamed up with Jigsaw Planet to showcase some images from our collection. Have a play and let us know what you think.

https://www.jigsawplanet.com/ElthamHistory/eltham-district-historical-society

 

Touchstone – keeping in contact

Greetings to all from Eltham District Historical Society; from our homes to your homes.

As an initiative to keep in touch with our members during the COVID-19 State of Emergency Stage 3 lock-down, our committee initiated a one-page information sheet to be sent approximately every two weeks to our members.

As part of documenting our own history and in the interests of sharing with all in the community, we are now going to make these Touchstone newsletters accessible via our web site, along with our regular Newsletter.

The following is a reproduction of Touchstone No. 1 and this issue and an archive of subsequent issues may be accessed from the Main Menu at the top of each page.

 

No.1 – 9th April 2020

We send our best wishes to all our members.

Until we are able to see you again for our Society Meetings and Heritage Excursions, we hope all our members are well and staying safe, during these times of enforced isolation.

EDHS will continue to connect with you, distribute our newsletters and email any other information of interest. There are also other ways you can still stay connected with our local history.

You can visit:

• Our Victorian Collection pages at:
https://victoriancollections.net.au/organisations/eltham-district-historical-society#collection-records

Here you can explore over 10,000 catalogued items, the majority of which are images, there due to the activities of our dedicated Collections Team who continue to work behind the scenes.

• You can visit our website at: http://www.elthamhistory.org.au

Here you can read various stories and also catch up on past newsletters.

• You can visit our Facebook pages at: https://www.facebook.com/elthamhistory/

Here you can explore a range of local history stories and information, including Throwback Thursday and On This Day features.

• You can visit the Wikinorthia website at: https://wikinorthia.net.au

Here you can see an extensive range of local history stories about the northern suburbs.

During this down time perhaps consider writing your memories and stories of living and working in Eltham and District for our archives. See the attached as a guide.

You could go through your photos and share your memories with family members. Consider donating archives, including photos relating to Eltham and District to EDHS. We can also arrange to digitise these.

So, while we cannot be with you in person, at this time, you are in our thoughts.

Please take care, we hope you are able to stay safe.

Regards
Jim Connor
President, on behalf of the committee of the Eltham District Historical Society

Heritage Walk: Eltham’s Hidden Creek – Saturday, 7 March 2020

Meet at 2.00 pm (Melway ref 21 H6) at the parking area below the Eltham Community and Reception Centre at the western end of Pitt Street.

The watercourse now known as Karingal Yalloc was once called the Eltham West Drain. It enters the Diamond Creek near Brougham Street, Eltham and drains an area extending to St Helena and part of Greensborough. The creek has been undergrounded through part of the Eltham industrial area.

N. J. Tillings Timber Factory, 15 June, 1975 (Photo: Dick Crichton; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

In 2013 we explored this creek upstream from Meruka Drive. For our March excursion we will follow the creek as closely as possible from the Diamond Creek to where it crosses under the railway line near Sherbourne Road. This is mainly through the industrial area and we will discuss Eltham’s industrial history along the way. A particular feature is the former hat factory (Fort Knox Self Storage) at the end of the walk.

The distance is less than 2 km one way and should take about two hours, including plenty of time to stop and talk. There will be an informal return walk but those who wish to can catch a bus back.

The walk is open to Society members and the general public. Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.

All are welcome…..but numbers are limited

February Meeting – Recent additions to our collection; Feb. 12th, 7:30pm

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

Wednesday, 12th February at 7:30 p.m.

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Steam locomotive D3-639 passing through the level crossing at Wattletree Road, Eltham c.1970 (Photo: George Coop)

In previous years for our first meeting of the year, we have investigated some treasured pictures from our archives. This meeting we will showcase some of the highlights from new acquisitions and donations throughout 2019, as well as some of our other collections digitised during the year.

These are available due to the consistent efforts of our collections team, who over recent years has been active in scanning and cataloguing a range of images, including to our extensive catalogue on the Victorian Collections website.

Many of images to be shown at this meeting are still awaiting cataloguing online on Victorian Collections and so this will present
their first public viewing.

Our meeting will be held at our usual venue, the Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre in Library Place Eltham. Members and guests are
welcome to attend. Please note our meetings now start at 7.30pm.

We look forward to seeing you then.

OTD: Farewell Eltham, Happy Birthday Nillumbik; 15 Dec 1994

#OnThisDay – 25 years ago #OTD Thursday, December 15, 1994 the Shire of Nillumbik was born and the Shire of Eltham was relegated to history after 123 years; the council sacked and three commissioners appointed as part of an overall municipal restructure by the State Government.

The new Shire of consisted of the Central and North Ridings of the former Shire of Eltham, as well as parts of the former Diamond Valley, Whittlesea and Healesville municipalities. The West Riding of Eltham was joined with the former City of Heidelberg to become the City of Banyule.

Shire of Montsalvat is born by Duska Sulichich, Diamond Valley News, October 26, 1994, p1

Originally the Local Government Board’s preferred name was the Shire of Montsalvat. Board member Paul Jerome said “Montsalvat” was a name very familiar to all Melburnians. “We used it for good reason” he said. “This is the arts and crafts colony, this is the conservation area, this is the Green Wedge.” It “will have stewardship of a very important conservation area all the way up to Kinglake National Park. We think that’s a very exciting proposal and certainly one with a lot of community support and interest in having a council with that focus on conservation values.” Ultimately however the name was found to be controversial throughout the community and the Board replaced it with Nillumbik, the locally preferred Aboriginal word for shallow soil (indeed it is).

Shire now Nillumbik by Natalie Town, Diamond Valley News, November 23, 1994, p3

The transition to the new shire was not an easy experience for some people in our community and especially for some staff of the former Shire of Eltham. An extensive staff restructure was undertaken, resulting in many local community aware and knowledgeable Eltham Shire staff being made redundant. Some actions initiated at that time by the government and commissioners have had longer term impacts. These included the sudden surprise demolition of the Eltham Shire Offices and approval, in controversial circumstances, of a combined petrol station and fast food development on the site; ultimately reversed but leaving the community with a visible reminder to this day of those events. Local elections were not held for three years until 1997 and even then controversy continued resulting in the sacking of that first Nillumbik Shire Council as well. But that is a story for another day.

New shire, city get underway, Diamond Valley News, December 21, 1994, p1

 

@nillumbikcouncil

OTD: Dedication of the Shire of Eltham War Memorial, 16 Nov. 1951

#OnThisDay – In 1951 #OTD the Governor of Victoria, Sir Dallas Brooks dedicated the war memorial tower and caretaker’s cottage at Garden Hill, Kangaroo Ground.

The tower has been a landmark since 1926 and above the portal on one side are the names of men who fell in the 1914-18 war. On another tablet unveiled by the Governor were inscribed the names of men who gave their lives in the 1939-45 war:-
Archer R., Bates A. L., Butherway J. H., Castledine G. E., Cary A. E., Clark R. C., Clerke A. C., Davies N. A., Dunlop C. D., Feldbauer T., Field K. F., Gahan S. M., Galletiy L. W. A., Guy T., Handley R . H. W., Hanlon H., F. L., Hellens W., Ingram L. S., McDonald E. H., McKimmie G. J., McLean S. C. A., McMahon .J. F., Morris A., Moyes J. A., Mynott L. R., Nichols, M. J., Walters G. W., West P.

The tower rising 50 feet was built by the people and committed to the care of the Eltham Shire Council in 1926. The suggestion of a memorial park was credited to Mr. V. A, Wippell (of Ivanhoe) and of a tower to Mr. B. Hall (of Panton Hill) being a replica of the watchtowers of early England and Scotland. The stone was the gift of Professor Osborne and was quarried on his Kangaroo Ground property. From the same area came the stone for the caretaker’s cottage added in 1951 by the Shire Council and which had charge of the arrangements.

Let’s take a journey 68 years back in time to that moment and join in the ceremonies . . .

Meeting at Lower Plenty, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Sir Dallas Brooks, is attended by Capt. T. Kirwan Taylor. They are met at the Lower Plenty bridge (the line of demarcation between the municipalities of Eltham and Heidelberg) by the Shire President (Cr. F. .Griffith) and the Shire Secretary (Mr. R. J. Ham). Mr. G . Moir (as vice president) is representing the State branch of the R.S.L..

Lower Plenty School’s welcome, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Hearing that the Governor would be passing the Lower Plenty school on his way to open the Memorial at Kangaroo Ground an unrehearsed “reception” was quickly arranged. Obtaining permission from the headmaster, the school boys’ band got ready. As the Governor arrives at the school they strike up and play the National Anthem, of course! The Governor is pleasantly surprised,  thanks the children and grants them a holiday. He then returns to his car and the official party set off on the remainder of their journey to Kangaroo Ground.

The Tower . . Kangaroo Ground, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

At Garden Hill, 30 minutes later there is an air of excitement stirring among the gathered crowd as whispers start passing along the line that the official party have just arrived. In the company gathered around the edifice are numerous residents who remember the original unveiling by Lord Stonehaven on Armistice Day, a few days and 25 years ago.

The approach pathway is lined with children from many of the district schools and men who served in both wars are lining up to form a guard of honor section near the tower. There are veterans and young men and women, wearing on their breasts the colors, medals and other decorations won in battle. In charge is Mr. F. D. Stevens, the president of the R.S.L..

Introducing Guard of Honour, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

His Excellency finds time to amuse the children with some brief words and shakes hands with every member of the guard and with the next-of-kin of the honored dead.

Meeting R.S.S.A.I.L.A. Representative, Mr. G. Moir, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
Shire President’s Address, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
R.S.S.A.I.L.A. Representative’s Address, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
His Excellency’s Address, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
Portion of Guests, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Following the addresses by the President and Mr. Moir, the Governor in a moving ceremony of dedication releases the flag-covering of the memorial tablet. As the flag falls to the side revealing the new memorial tablet, a simple unforgettable tribute resonates from from tower-top with the stirring bugle note of “Last Post” and “Reveille.”

Presentation, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Mr R.J. Ham, the Shire Secretary then presents the Governor with a beautifully prepared brochure programme and for Lady Brooks, a gold bar brooch on which is mounted a small nugget.

Afternoon Tea, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The official party and guests then make their way to the Kangaroo Ground hall where an excellent afternoon tea has been prepared by the wonderful ladies from the various branches of the Country Women’s Association led by the Diamond Valley Group president, Mrs. V. Middleton.

Afternoon Tea, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

It has been a day packed full of excitement, tears of sadness over our lost loved ones  and lots of good things to eat. But now it’s time to return to present day and hopefully reflect upon what those who came before us, wished for us to benefit from.

* Lest We Forget *

References

1951 ‘Dedication of Memorial Tower’, The News; The Newspaper of the City of Heidelberg and the Shire of Eltham (Heidelberg, Vic), 23 (?) November

Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia