Advertised Sale of Former Shire Office Site and War Memorial Precinct

895 and 903-907 Main Road Eltham

The Eltham District Historical Society notes the recent advertising by Nillumbik Shire Council for the sale of properties at 895 and 903-907 Main Road Eltham.

Our Society has previously stated our position on these properties on our website and Facebook page and directly to all Nillumbik Shire Councillors.

We repeat this statement:

Our Society is of the firm opinion that the original Eltham War Memorial complex of buildings including the entrance gates should not be sold, nor demolished. The site should remain in community ownership and be retained as a form of living memorial with a specific focus directed towards the welfare of the children of the district to ‘be a constant reminder of those who fought for us and the little ones for whom they fought and died’.

Further, Eltham District Historical Society also holds the position that the three Mediterranean Cypress trees (Shillinglaw trees), which are well over 100 years old, still standing proudly in front of the adjoining former Shire of Eltham Office site, are of local heritage significance. These trees represent a navigational beacon between the past, present and future landscape and history of the district and are covered by a heritage overlay. The Society is determined that they should be protected; they should not be disturbed by relocation and that the land they reside upon should also remain in community hands, not private ownership.

The Eltham District Historical Society is disappointed there has not been full disclosure to prospective investors and developers of the historical value of the Eltham War Memorial complex and the Shillinglaw trees in this advertising information.

There are few historically related properties remaining in public ownership within our Shire. The property at 903-907 Main Road contains both First and Second World War memorials in commemoration of the members of our community who paid the ultimate sacrifice to benefit our future legacy. These memorials should be protected as sacred sites in perpetuity, held in community ownership and honouring the purpose for which they were intended and for which the land was donated by the community. They should not be sacrificed for short term gain nor placed in private ownership.

EDHS Position Statement download

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ThrowbackThursday: Eltham War Memorial Building Precinct, 1968

War Memorial building precinct, Main Road, Eltham, February 1968. At far left can be see the Eltham Shire Offices with the Shillinglaw trees in front, then the Childcare Centre and War Memorial Hall

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to February 1968 and the site of the Eltham War Memorial building precinct located at 903-907 Main Road, Eltham. The Memorial spans the area between Main Road and the railway line and is owned and managed by Nillumbik Shire Council (formerly Eltham Shire Council). It contains the former Eltham Infant Welfare Centre (now Eltham Food Share), the former Children’s Library (now War Memorial Hall) and Eltham Pre-School. The precinct also contains the Senior Citizens Centre though this was never part of the original Eltham War Memorial Trust buildings. The complex was developed by the Eltham War Memorial Trust Inc., as a form of living memorial as a ‘constant reminder to us of those who fought for us and the little ones for whom they fought and died’.

Eltham District Historical Society maintains an interest in this site as a living memorial, established from funds raised from within the community by public subscription, with a specific focus for the welfare of children of the district.

The Society also maintains an interest in the adjoining former Eltham Shire Office site at 895 Main Road for its historic connections with Shillinglaw Cottage and the Shillinglaw trees, which were originally part of the Shillinglaw Cottage garden on which all these buildings are located and which remain at the front of that site. Early Society meetings were usually held in the Eltham War Memorial Hall. From September 1983 they moved to the Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, contained within the Eltham War Memorial building precinct where they have remained to present day.

Nillumbik Shire Council will soon commence an extensive community engagement process to look at possible uses for the currently empty site at 895 Main Road, along with the adjacent parcel of land at 903-907 Main Road upon which resides the Eltham War Memorial building precinct, purchased by public subscription and donated to the Shire.

Eltham District Historical Society’s Position

Our Society is of the firm opinion that the original three Eltham War Memorial complex of buildings including the entrance gates should not be sold, nor demolished. The site should remain in community ownership and be retained as a form of living memorial with a specific focus directed towards the welfare of the children of the district to ‘be a constant reminder of those who fought for us and the little ones for whom they fought and died’.

Further, Eltham District Historical Society also holds the position that the three Mediterranean Cypress trees (Shillinglaw trees), which are well over 100 years old, still standing proudly in front of the adjoining former Shire of Eltham Office site, are of local heritage significance. These trees represent a navigational beacon between the past, present and future landscape and history of the district and are covered by a heritage overlay. The Society is determined that they should be protected; they should not be disturbed by relocation and that the land they reside upon should also remain in community hands, not private ownership.

Eltham War Memorial Hall, c.August 1996 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
History of the War Memorial

Following the end of the First World War, communities across Victoria and Australia typically erected memorials which were predominantly statues, cenotaphs, avenues of honour and plaques. The Shire of Eltham established the Avenue of Honour at the gateway to the shire as well as an obelisk at the corner of Main Road and Bridge street and the Shire of Eltham War Memorial Tower at Kangaroo Ground.

After the Second World War communities once again desired to preserve the memories of those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Resources were scarce so there was a transition away from the traditional style memorials that sprang up post 1918 to one of building facilities that would provide ongoing benefit to the community.

Even before the end of the Second World War, the citizens of Eltham began to consider an appropriate form of memorial for those from the area who fought and died in the First and Second World Wars. In 1943 the Eltham Women’s Auxiliary raised funds for the construction of buildings to be established on land to be purchased for the proposed War Memorial. On March 27th, 1945, the Eltham District Progress Association called a meeting of local people who in turn set up and registered the Eltham War Memorial Trust Inc. As a focus for the purpose of the memorial, the newspaper notice read:-

‘Those who have had a member of their family in the fighting services will want to see that the form of a memorial we are concerned with is the one which will be a constant reminder to us of those who fought for us and the little ones for whom they fought and died.’

At that meeting it was decided the Memorial should take the form of a baby health centre along with a creche and children’s library. In late 1945, the newly formed Eltham War Memorial Trust purchased the land at 903-907 Main Road Eltham from Miss Shillinglaw, which  once formed part of the Shillinglaw farm on Lot 90 of Holloway’s 1851 “Little Eltham” subdivision.

Major Frank Stevens, RSL President and a young school boy (Albert Feldbauer, youngest child of the children of soldier fathers attending a school in the district) at the ceremony of turning the first sod for the Eltham War Memorial Building, 15 July 1950

 

Eltham War Memorial Hall and Gates, c.1996 (Photo: Harry Gilham; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The Governor of Victoria, General Sir Dallas Brooks, laid the foundation stone on November 24th, 1950, in memory of those who fell in the Second World War. The Eltham Infant Welfare Centre was opened November 15th, 1952, the Pre-school on December 1st, 1956, and the Children’s Library in 1961. In late 1966 the children’s library service was integrated into the Heideberg Regional Library Service and the building was officially renamed the Eltham War Memorial Hall.

Eltham War Memorial Gates Plaque, 4 November 2017 – “These Memorial Gates were donated by the Late Cr. & Mrs. E. J. Andrew” ( from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Following the opening of the Eltham Infant Welfare Centre, work began in 1953 planning for the entrance to the grounds, which is signaled by a wrought iron arch entitled “Eltham War Memorial” . In 1954 the Eltham War Memorial Trust decided  that a legacy provided by the late Councillor Ernest James Andrew (d. 29 March 1950) in memory of his wife, Mrs. Ellen Andrew (d. 13 July 1946) and who are both buried at Eltham Cemetery, should be used to fund the construction of the entrance. A metal plate inscribed to this effect was attached to the gates.

Work on the Memorial Gardens was undertaken throughout the following decade, with a Memorial Forecourt included in the final 1956 plans for the Pre-School Centre. A quote was accepted by the Trust in 1963 for the implementation of a memorial garden, which included grading of a sixty-five foot strip at the rear of the Trust buildings and construction of concrete paths. The stone retaining walls at the front of the site were installed in 1968 when Main Road was widened and it is believed that the Memorial Gates were relocated at that time also.

War Memorial Garden, Main Road, Eltham, February 1968 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
War Memorial Garden, Main Road, Eltham, February 1968 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
War Memorial Garden, Main Road, Eltham, February 1968 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
Eltham Senior Citizens Centre

In 1964, Eltham Shire Council purchased a section of land from the Trust at the northern end of the site, as a provision for Country Fire Authority buildings. At the same time the Elderly Citizens Club proposed a Senior Citizens Centre on the south western section of the Trust’s property. This was approved by the Trust with the provision that the building was constructed in ‘accord’ with those already existing. In 1965 Council took on board the plans for the Senior Citizens Centre and applied for a government grant. These could only be awarded if Council owned the site.

In 1962 the Trust had resolved to hand over the assets to Council once the Memorial Gardens were completed. This was in line with Health Department requirements that grants for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the three facilities would only be made once the the facilities were completed and handed over to Council.  In 1965 the Department of Health further demanded substantial alterations to the Pre-School playground as a result of the pending impact of the planned Senior Citizens Centre and Main Road duplication. As a consequence, handover of the Trust’s assets to Council was initiated with a formal ceremony held in the Children’s Library on August 28th, 1965. The Trust continued on as a committee of management for another twelve months.

Plans and specifications for the Senior Citizens Centre were prepared by March 1966. Council obtained a grant from the Government which covered one third of the cost and the building was completed by April 1967.

Whilst the Senior Citizens Centre is contained within the original Eltham War Memorial building precinct, it was not part of the original Memorial and was not funded by the Eltham War Memorial Trust.

Eltham Major Activity Centre 2004

In the Society’s Newsletter No. 157, July 2004, we reported that as part of the State Government’s Melbourne 2030 strategy, Eltham (along with many other business centres) was identified as a major activity centre. The Council was required to produce a structure plan to guide future development of the centre. The activity centre was defined to include the Eltham shopping centre and adjacent residential areas, the industrial area based on Bridge Street, parkland and the library precinct linking the two business areas, and the railway station area.

Nillumbik Council’s consultants prepared a draft report containing wide ranging recommendations on land use, urban design, community facilities and transport within this area. As a Society most of the recommendations did not impact upon our interests. However, some of the recommendations related to heritage aspects and comment was provided to the Council at the time where these were considered to be detrimental to heritage interests.

The report recommended the sale of the Eltham War Memorial site and seemed to not fully recognise the significance of the site and its publicly funded memorial buildings. It was put to the Council by the Society that the site should be retained in its current role although some alterations to the buildings and their use may be warranted.

Similarly, with the adjoining site of the former Eltham Shire Offices, we opposed the recommended sale and, in particular, we supported protection for the three Shillinglaw trees remaining on the site.

In the Society’s Newsletter No. 159, November 2004, we reported as part of its adoption of a structure plan for the Eltham “Activity Centre”, Nillumbik Council decided not to adopt the recommendation to offer the Eltham War Memorial site for sale. Many submissions including one from our Society suggested that this was the correct course of action. However, it was also noted that Council still proposed to sell the adjoining former Shire Office site.

Eltham RSL and War Memorial
Unveiling of the War Memorial 1914-1918 at the corner of Bridge Street and Main Road, Eltham, 3 August 1919 (Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection No. SEPP_0621 held in conjunction by Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library).

The Eltham War Memorial, which takes the form of an obelisk is inscribed with the names of Eltham serviceman who died in the First World War. The obelisk is one of several local war memorials. It was first erected at the north west comer of Bridge Street and Main Road. The memorial was unveiled on 3rd August 1919 by Sir William Irvine, then Lieutenant Governor of Victoria and Eltham resident. Photographs of the ceremony show a large crowd of people occupying the whole of the intersection. Later the names of those who died in the Second World War were added.

Eltham – War Memorial 1914-1918. Cnr. Main Road and Bridge Street, 1919 (Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection No. SEPP_0622 held in conjunction by Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library).

Its location was on a high bank above the road but with the duplication of Main Road in 1968 that bank disappeared and the location lies now within the road carriageway. It was moved to the Eltham RSL site in the 1950s well before the 1968 road widening.

The Eltham War Memorial situated in front of the former Eltham RSL sub-branch on Main Road, Eltham, c.1979 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The Eltham RSL had its origin in 1927 when it was formed as a branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League. Following the financial collapse of the Eltham RSL sub-branch and subsequent amalgamation with Montmorency RSL and sale of the Eltham RSL site, Council resolved to relocate the War Memorial obelisk to the Eltham War Memorial building precinct.

The obelisk was covered by a heritage overlay under the Nillumbik Planning Scheme and a planning permit was required for its removal. The Society wrote to both the state office of the RSL and Nillumbik Shire Council expressing our interest in the future of the memorial. We suggested a new location near the comer of Panther Place and Library Place adjacent to Eltham Library. This recommendation was not accepted.

Eltham War Memorial Obelisk situated in front of the Eltham War memorial building precinct, Main Road, Eltham, 4 March 2018 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The obelisk was ultimately relocated to the Eltham War Memorial building precinct in April 2012 and works to install a street level terraced area to accommodate the obelisk were completed at that time. In the citation for the Eltham War Memorial, comprising of the granite obelisk, plinths and bollards, it is identified as historical, aesthetic and of social significance to the Shire of Nillumbik. In 2013, a permanent heritage overlay over the obelisk was enacted.

The decision by Nillumbik Shire Council to allow relocation of the obelisk to the Eltham War Memorial building precinct was contrary to the view of this Society. In particular, it is considered that the site works required to install the monument significantly compromised the heritage integrity of the total War Memorial site.

Our society was concerned that we were being placed in a situation where we could be seen to be critical of ANZAC Day services and a revered organisation such as the RSL, because we strive to support retention and care of heritage places of significance in our local area. Members of our Society have been involved over many years with various related projects, including the Eltham Avenue of Honour, the War Memorial Tower and the replacement of the First World War Honour Board at Research Primary School, as well as detailed research regarding service personnel involved during both world wars from the Eltham Shire region.

Cultural Heritage Significance Assessment

In November 2011, a Cultural Heritage Significance assessment was undertaken on the Eltham War Memorial building precinct for Nillumbik Shire Council. The result of the study was that it was identified as being of local significance, worthy of being included in the heritage overlay. A primary reason for the significance of the Eltham War Memorial building precinct is its construction as a “memorial with a civic purpose and with a particular focus on the welfare of infants”.  The report also states that the “construction of a
complex of war memorial buildings, all with infant related purposes, does appear to be rare, with no other known examples found during this assessment”. In summary, the heritage advice was that the open views to the War Memorial Buildings should be retained as should the relationship between the three buildings. Council considered this advice when it decided to relocate the Eltham War Memorial obelisk to this site in 2011 and resolved that any future works or planting should not limit visibility of the War Memorial Buildings from Main Road.

Recent Modifications

As the owner of the land and adjacent buildings, Council has a responsibility under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) to ensure, as far as practicable, that compliance with the DDA is achieved. In February 2014, Council conducted an audit of the Eltham War Memorial precinct to identify non-compliances under the DDA and the relevant Australian Standards. This audit included an assessment of access from Main Road through to Eltham Pre-school and the War Memorial Hall. The pathway was determined to be non-compliant due to the steepness of the gradient as a result of modifications to the entrance to install the obelisk. Subsequent to this, an extended ramp system was installed, which is not sympathetic to the original design of the War Memorial entrance and gardens.

Eltham District Historical Society was concerned when it was originally suggested to relocate the obelisk to this site as we considered it would inappropriately detract from the heritage significance of the Eltham War Memorial building precinct. We feel our concerns have been confirmed by the subsequent actions taken.

The revised entrance to the Eltham War Memorial following relocation of the Eltham War Memorial obelisk; 4 November 2017 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
Eltham War Memorial Obelisk during a recent Eltham District Historical Society Heritage Excursion, 4 November 2017 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
References
  • War Memorial Building Complex, 903-907 Main Road, Eltham: Cultural Heritage Significance assessment, November 2011; Prepared for Nillumbik Shire Council by Samantha Westbrooke Pty Ltd in association with Peter Mills PhD, Architectural Historian
  • Agenda, 14 October 2014, Policy and Services Committee, Nillumbik Shire Council
  • Various Newsletters, Eltham District Historical Society

Nillumbik 2018 Community Group of the Year

2018 Community Group of the Year – Nillumbik Shire Council

Members of Eltham District Historical Society with Nillumbik Shire’s Mayor, Cr. Peter Clarke at the Nillumbik Shire Council Australia Day Awards held at Eltham Community Reception Centre, Australia Day, 26 January 2018.

The Eltham District Historical Society Incorporated is honoured to have received the 2018 Community Group of the Year Award from Nillumbik Shire Council, at the Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony in Eltham on 26th January 2018.
Eltham District Historical Society President Jim Connor said:

‘I am very pleased to accept this award on behalf of all members, past and present, who have contributed to our historical society, since it was established in 1967.’

‘Our society appreciates this recognition, especially as it follows the celebration of our 50th anniversary in 2017.’

‘Each of the significant milestones and achievements over the last 50 years have been the result of consistent efforts by dedicated and passionate believers in our local history, intent on encouraging the recognition and preservation of our valuable historical records representing activities and events that have occurred in the Eltham area. Receipt of this award is another page in the history of the Eltham District Historical Society.’

‘Stories of history we tell not only shape our past, they shape our future as well. We look forward to being an active part of Nillumbik’s future.’

MysteryMonday: Rural Road Infrastructure, Shire of Eltham, c.1987

#MysteryMonday – Today’s images are from a roll of 35mm colour negative film. There are 12 images in total; part of the Shire of Eltham infrastructure works on rural roads. It is believed they were taken around 1987.

Frame 1
Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 4 strips, Kodak CP100 5094
( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Frame 2
Frame 3
Frame 6
Frame 7
Frame 8
Frame 9
Frame 11

Can you identify these? Not all the frames have been posted as they are of detail like potholes, etc that add no value to the identification of the road or area.

We’d love to hear from you; your thoughts and suggestions as to where they are and help us catalogue these images.

Over to you . . .

ThrowbackThursday: Old Eltham Bakery, cnr of York and Main, Sept. 1979

#ThrowbackThursday – Who does not enjoy the aroma that permeates a baker’s shop? Often when going into a bakery the smell can instantly take us back in time to a favourite bakery of our childhood and the anticipation of some freshly baked bread, still warm from the oven or maybe even some small sweet treat.

The former Eltham Bakehouse, corner of Main Road and York Street, c.September 1979.
(Photo: Joh Ebeli; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
The former Eltham Bakehouse, corner of Main Road and York Street, c.September 1979.
(Photo: Joh Ebeli; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

Today we time travel back to September 1979 to the old Eltham Bakehouse at the corner of Main Road and York Street. It has not been a bakery for some time now and looks sad and run down.

But this was once at the centre of a thriving community. It is nearly 120 years old and has stood on this spot, still recognisable, since the 1860s. It even holds some secrets; an unsolved murder mystery from the late 1890s. And it seems those secrets may never be revealed for today we are to witness the demolition of this once busy building.

There has recently been a substantial amount of publicity in the local press regarding the demolition of the old baker’s shop on the corner of Main Road and York Street, Eltham.

Baker and Grocer shop, corner of Main Road and York Street, Eltham, c.1910. Sign on side of building “”Baker, Grocer & Summer Drinks”
(From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Eltham, Main Road, c.1910. Looking north from Bridge Street. “Nearing Eltham Station.” Gahan’s house on left. Bakery on right.
(From Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection, No. 618 in partnership with Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library)

The old weatherboard building  comprises a dwelling with a shop in the front room opening off a timber verandah deck which directly fronted the Main Road footpath.

The Old Bakery and House, York Street and Main Road, Eltham, c.1970s
(Photo: Hugh Fisher; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Looking east along York Street, the old Bakery on right, c.1970s
(Photo: Hugh Fisher; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

At the rear is a brick building of much later date which was for many years used for the bakery. The buildings are being demolished for flat construction.

Main Road, Eltham, c.1967. Looking north; York Street and old Bakery on right.
(Photo: Michael Aitken; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

Recent publicity has been oriented towards moves to preserve the weatherboard building. Preservation initiatives have come from a number of individuals including members of this Society. It should be noted that the Society has no official connection with any proposal to retain the building or any part of it on any other site. The issues involved in this matter are part of a wider consideration of the matter of preservation of historic buildings.

In this case the Society and in particular the committee has been aware for some years of the impending demolition. The possibility of the preservation of the building has been canvassed on a number of occasions. The Society’s view is that whilst the baker’s shop is an interesting old building which contributes to the character of Main Road, it is not of sufficient importance to wage an organised campaign for its preservation. It is considered that if the building were to be preserved for historical reasons it would be far more feasible to retain it in its present location than to re-build it on another site.

Demolition of the former Eltham Bakery in progress. Society member, Joh Ebeli along with Howard Elwers arranged to preserve parts of the house
Note on wall says “You can have all other bricks.”
“Please leave all front 2 rooms & front wall & windows for Eltham Historical Society.”
(Photo: Joh Ebeli; from the collection of Eltham Disrtict Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Demolition of the former Eltham Bakery in progress. Society member, Joh Ebeli along with Howard Elwers arranged to preserve parts of the house
Note on wall says “You can have all other bricks.”
“Please leave all front 2 rooms & front wall & windows for Eltham Historical Society.”
(Photo: Joh Ebeli; from the collection of Eltham Disrtict Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Demolition of the former Eltham Bakery in progress. Society member, Joh Ebeli along with Howard Elwers arranged to preserve parts of the house
Note on wall says “You can have all other bricks.”
“Please leave all front 2 rooms & front wall & windows for Eltham Historical Society.”
One can see the southern half of the complex of flats at 836 Main Road already under construction.
(Photo: Joh Ebeli; from the collection of Eltham Disrtict Historical Society @elthamhistory)

Unfortunately as we can see standing in front of the building on this grey September day in 1979,  demolition is now well in progress. It is not known whether the proposal to retain part of the building for re-erection elsewhere is proceeding or not. Substantial funds would be required for any re-erection and restoration project. The Society considers that at this time the highest priority for allocation of any funds available for local historical preservation works is the restoration and preservation of the old cottage in Ely Street. But that is for the future and another leap in time.

Back to the future – Whilst the Society was not engaged in any preservation efforts, Society member Joh Ebeli along with Howard Elwers certainly did try to salvage some portions of the building. Enquiries today indicate that ultimately nothing came of this but hopefully some of these items; the timbers and fittings did find new life, integrated into the fabric of other buildings, either new or restored. And maybe, just maybe, those other secrets may still be discovered.

Corner of Main Road and York Street, Eltham, October 2017 (Google Street View)

 

Reference:

EDHS Newsletter No. 8, September 1979

 

 

 

MysteryMonday: A Centre of Creativity or Simply Shabby Chic, Eltham, 1989?

#MysteryMonday – Today’s images are from a roll of colour negative film, taken by a staff member from the Shire of Eltham in 1989. Other pictures on the film include staff undertaking daily duties; building inspectors on site, health inspector at Safeway and maternal health care nurse attending to vaccinations. It is suspected that these images are in Eltham; possibly even associated with the Living and Learning Centre.

Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 6 strips
Fuji 100
Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 6 strips
Fuji 100
artist?
Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 6 strips
Fuji 100

Is the fellow featured an artist? Do you recognise him or do any of the buildings look familiar?  As an aside; the tin sign lying flat on the brick structure behind him says “Atlantic Ethyl”. Atlantic Ethyl was a new motor spirit introduced in August 1934 by the Atlantic Union Oil Company claiming to give better performance and cold starts. The fuel was replaced with a new leaded variety in 1940. So it would seem that the sign is dated 1934-1940.

Can you identify these? We’d love to hear from you; your thoughts and suggestions as to where they are and help us catalogue these images.

Over to you . . .

1934 ‘NEW MOTOR SPIRIT.’, Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), 2 August, p. 2. (EVENING.), viewed 06 Aug 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64286445

1940 ‘Leaded Petrol To Be Available’, Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954), 23 March, p. 62. , viewed 06 Aug 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225981630

EDHS Local History Centre Open Day – Saturday, 1st September, 2018

Eltham Local History Centre, former 1860 Police Residence and home of the Eltham District Historical Society, 728 Main Road, Eltham, 13 November 2017 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

In place of our listed heritage excursion for Saturday, 1st September 2018, the Eltham District Historical Society will hold an Open Day at the Eltham Justice Precinct, on the corner of Main Road and Brougham Street, Eltham.

The intention of this event is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of our Local History Centre, which was opened on 12th July 1998 and is located in the former Police Residence adjacent to the Eltham Court House. Our Centre was established through the dedicated work of some of our members.

As part of this celebration we will also be launching our use of the replica Police Station next to our Local History Centre. The intention is to have this small timber building reflect a 1920s era Police Station, that will be used as part of our regular heritage tours for schools and community based groups.

This Open Day will be between 1pm and 4pm and is free for the general public as well as Society members. Dogs are not permitted at this event.

August Meeting – St Margaret’s Church, Eltham

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

Wednesday, 8th August 2018 at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Original design sketch of St. Margaret’s by Nathaniel Billing, Architect, 1860.
(Source: St Margaret’s Parish Archives.)

St Margaret’s Church in Pitt Street, Eltham was designed by Nathaniel Billing and built by well-known pioneer builder George Stebbing on land donated by Henry Dendy.

At our Society meeting at 8.00pm on Wednesday 8th August 2018 architect David Wagner from Atelier Wagner will speak about the opportunities and challenges experienced in designing and constructing a contemporary style extension to this revered historical building, highly valued by the local congregation.

St. Margaret’s Church, Eltham, c.1910 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Prior to becoming involved with St Margaret’s the Atelier Wagner architectural practice has, among an extensive range of projects, renovated and extended several churches. With this project there was also the challenge of incorporating, modifying and connecting the adjacent buildings that shared an entrance foyer. This project is of particular historical interest as it shows how buildings of different eras can be effectively used together.

As always, Society members and visitors are most welcome to attend this meeting.

L-R: David Wagner, Jacqui Wagner (Architects – Atelier Wagner), Kris Frigo (Builder – Conrad Construction and Management)
(Source: St Margaret’s Parish Archives.)
Atelier Wagner’s renovation to St Margaret’s Church, 2018 (Photo: Trevor Mein)

Finding a home

By Russell Yeoman (reproduced from Newsletter No. 242, August 2018)

Eltham Police Station (on right) and Police Residence, c.1900.  Present day Local History Centre, home of Eltham District Historical Society (Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection #627 held in partnership between Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library)

For more than 30 years following its establishment in 1967 our Society had no permanent “home”. Society meetings were held in various places, firstly in the Eltham Shire Hall, then the War Memorial Hall in the War Memorial complex of buildings and finally in the Eltham Senior Citizens; where we still meet today. There were other one-off meeting venues such as the Great Hall at Montsalvat, Metzner Hall at Judge Book Village and once in the Eltham Shire Offices. Committee meetings were originally held in these halls but later in the homes of committee members. A favourite place for a number or years was the home of Blanche and Jack Shallard in Montmorency. Supper here consisted of Blanche’s excellent cheese scones.

The Society was significantly involved with the Eltham Shire Council. The President was Cr. Charis Pelling, Shire Secretary Max Watson was Vice President and Secretary Russell Yeoman also worked for the Council. From 1967 the Society began accumulating historical records but was somewhat inhibited by lack of a place to store them. Many records were stored in the Shire Offices and there was little distinction as to what was owned by the Society and what was owned by the Council. The collection of historical records and photographs was significantly augmented in 1971 by the Council collecting material for the publication of “Pioneers and Painters”.

As the volume of Society acquisitions grew further storage locations were required. As well as records some artefacts were added to the collection including items collected by the Shillinglaw Cottage Preservation Committee. Although the cottage had been preserved the plan to use it as a museum did not eventuate. Some items that were to be donated remained with the donors pending a suitable place to keep them. An example was a large collection of farming and other artefacts donated by Bruce and Joy Ness of Kangaroo Ground that was kept in their barn. Storage of the Society’s paper based records fell in large part to Russell Yeoman as Secretary and these were kept at his house, generally in less than optimum conditions. There was a filing cabinet in the laundry and various boxes in other parts of the house and in the shed. Large plans were kept in a cardboard folder under a bed. Workshops to get these records into some sort of order were held at the Yeoman house.

Fast forward to 1998. Nillumbik Shire Council has succeeded the Eltham Council. Much of the Society’s collection of artefacts has been passed on to the fledgling Andrew Ross Museum. Society President Harry Gilham has successfully negotiated with the Commissioners in charge of the Council to secure the long term use of the former Eltham Police Residence by the Society. This State Government owned building had been used by Eltham Council as its Parks and Environment office. The long task of moving the Society’s collection from its various storage locations began. This historic building has become our Local History Centre and it has enabled the acquisition of far more historical material than had previously been possible and has helped secure the future of the Eltham District Historical Society.

Moving items into the new Local History Centre, July 1998 L-R: Mark Gilham, Margaret Ball, Sue Law, Harry Gilham.

As we celebrate the 20th year in our Local History Centre we acknowledge and are forever indebted to Harry Gilham and the other members who worked so hard to establish and maintain our “home”.

 

Harry Gilham, President, Eltham District Historical Society, Opening Ceremony of Local History Centre, 728 Main Road, Eltham, 12 July 1998

 

Addendum
Eltham Police Station and Residence: A brief history

1860 Eltham Courthouse built in Main Road, together with an adjoining police residence, office, lock–up and stables.

1959 Police Department purchases a house in Pryor Street to be refurbished as Eltham Police Station

1961 Police in Eltham move into Pryor Street refurbished buildings and office.

c.1961-1981 Occupied by Vermin and Noxious Weeds Destruction Section of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey. Former Police Station dragged around to rear of Police Residence (prior to August 1967) to make way for the construction of a driveway and access from Main Road. The building was placed on the site of a former Scullery and modified for Lands Department use.

1981 Shire of Eltham take over management of old Police Residence in Eltham. It remains unoccupied for a period of time whilst its future is discussed in Council.

1981-1985 Used for community job creation scheme

The former Police Residence under renovation prior to occupation by the Shire of Eltham Parks and Environment department, 1985

1985 Shire of Eltham Parks and Environment occupy the residence. Council improve the driveway but later add a second rear access from Brougham Street due to the dangerous nature of the Main Road entrance. Also add a rear toilet facility between the Police Residence and former Police Station, which was doubling up as a lunch room. Council also commence discussions to re-establish a replica Police Station.

The original Eltham Police Station was demolished c.Nov. 1986.

c.1986 November.  Former Police Station demolished; believed to have been suffering termite damage.

The former Police Residence when occupied by the Shire of Eltham Parks and Environment, 1988

c.1989 After some years of discussion a replica Police Station is built, based on photographs, to act as a lunch room and meeting room for Parks and Environment staff and volunteers doing community service.

1996 Eltham District Historical Society in discussions with Nillumbik Shire Council commisioners throughout the year regarding a home for the Society. A proposal put forward by the Society in October to occupy the former Police Residence.

1997 March.  Eltham District Historical Society gains access to former Police Residence.

 

Former Police Residence, 728 Main Road, Eltham, c. April 1998.

1998 July 12th.  Eltham District Historical Society Inc moves into its Local History Centre, 728 Main Road Eltham (the former Police Residnce built in 1860).

Eltham Local History Centre; the former Eltham Courthouse, Police Residence and replica Police Station, December 2000.

2018 July. Eltham District Historical Society gains access to the replica Police Station for use as part of regular heritage tours for schools and community based groups.

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