12 Jun 2021 AGM Postponed

Due to the current COVID-19 situation our executive committee has made the decision to postpone our Annual General Meeting planned for Saturday 12th June 2021 until a date to be advised.

The decision has been made in the best interests of our members and we hope you will understand.

Heritage Walk: Mud Brick Meander – Saturday, 1st May 2021

Mudbrick manufacture, Research Industrial Estate, 1991. View towards Main Road, Research from Maroondah Aqueduct Trail
(Photo: Eltham District Historical Society collection)

Meet at 2.00 pm at the corner of Diamond Street and Peter Street.

The tree-covered hill that forms the western backdrop to the Eltham town centre exhibits many characteristics that are considered to contribute to the special character of Eltham. They include unmade streets, steeply sloping land, extensive tree cover and a large number of mud brick and pise (rammed earth) houses. A number of these were constructed in the 1940s and 50s by well-known builders John Harcourt and Alistair Knox. A significant proportion from this period were constructed by owner-builders.

We plan to walk around the upper part of the hill in the area of Kerrie Crescent and Peter Street. We will visit several interesting houses (for external viewing only).

We will meet and commence at 2pm at the corner of Diamond Street and Peter Street (Melway ref 21H4). Limited street parking is available at this location. The distance is about 2 km and will take about 2 hours.

This free walk is open to the general public as well as Society members. Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions. The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.

At the time of writing COVID restrictions do not require the wearing of masks in the open. However, masks need to be carried and any changed restrictions must be complied with.

Each attendee is asked to do a symptom self-assessment prior to leaving home and not attend if they are unwell or have been instructed to isolate or quarantine.
Attendees must maintain at least 1.5m physical distance between those from other groups at all times.
Requirements for face covering, observe cough etiquette and personal hygiene measures.
We will need to record names and phone numbers of all attendees and maintain a record of these for 28 days

Eltham Roll of Honour: Eltham War Memorial

On the 75th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Eltham District Historical Society published a series of mini biographies of each of the eleven service personnel listed on the Eltham Roll of Honour who made the ultimate sacrifice during that war to protect our way of life.

The Eltham Honour Roll Board located in the Eltham War Memorial Hall

On Anzac Day 2021, not only do we honour those who served as well as those that paid that supreme price throughout our district through all wars but also to the Eltham War Memorial Trust who had the foresight to commission and pay for the Eltham Honour Roll Board on behalf of the community.

In May 1953, Mr A.E. Parsons moved (seconded by Mrs A.E. Kerr) that the need for an Honour Roll be included on the agenda of the Eltham War Memorial Trust (EWMT) meeting to be held in June 1953. At that meeting, Mrs L. Jarrold moved (seconded by Mrs A.E. Kerr) that the Secretary of the Trust (Mr  C.G. Seear) write to the RSL and obtain eligible names from both wars to be placed on an Honour Roll Board to be erected in the building. The RSL was duly requested to supply those names in July 1953.

In August 1953, the Secretary of the EWMT made enquiries with Briar Hill Timber regarding a suitable timber to be used for the board, which was to be to be polished and have the 37 names in gold lettering, one half inch in size. At the September meeting of the Trust, the Secretary reported on the design and price from Briar Hill Timber being £3.15.0. A sketch was not available, and Briar Hill Timber was asked to supply one, which was duly presented at the October meeting.

The Briar Hill Timber design was not as requested by the Trust. The Secretary subsequently requested from other potential suppliers and several proposals with quotes were received and discussed at the Trust’s November meeting. A decision was made to proceed with Design No. 936 which was to be quoted in mountain ash.

A quote from Johnstons Furniture Productions of Gertrude St., Fitzroy for £13.10.0 was received in December. The design and quote being accepted by the Trust, an order was placed for its commission.

The Honour Roll Board was presented at the March 1954 Trust meeting and the proposed lettering was discussed. The Secretary was requested to follow-up confirmation of the names from the RSL and to have them printed in gold lettering on the board. The account from Johnstons Furniture Productions for the board was submitted and paid in full by the Trust.

By the April meeting the names to be painted had still not been furnished by the RSL. A further follow-up request was made, and the names duly provided by Cr Stanley S. Addison at the Trust’s meeting in May. The names were copied from the Memorial Obelisk which was first erected by the WW1 Eltham Peace Celebrations in August 1919 at the northwest corner of Bridge Street and Main Road. During road widening plans by Council in the 1950s, the obelisk had been moved to the garden area of the refurbished RSL branch building in Main Road for safekeeping.

These names and the Honour Roll Board were handed over to A.E. Emmett, signwriter who completed the work for the gold lettering and submitted an account for such to the Trust for £12.0.0 in July 1954.

At the Trust’s August 1954 meeting, the Secretary advised that the Honour Roll Board had been completed and was situated at the Baby Health Centre where arrangements had been made to place it in a prominent position.

Handover of the Eltham War Memorial Trust’s assets (and the Eltham Roll of Honour Board) to Eltham Council was conducted in August 1965.

In 1999 the Honour Roll Board was removed from the Eltham War Memorial by members of the RSL and relocated to the Eltham RSL sub-branch on Main Road. Following financial collapse of the Eltham RSL sub-branch and merger of the Eltham and Montmorency sub-branches and subsequent sale of the Eltham property, the WW1 obelisk was relocated to a location in front of the Eltham War Memorial. The Honour Roll Board was retrieved by former Eltham District Historical Society President, Harry Gilham in September 2004 who arranged for it to be re-hung in the Eltham War Memorial Hall (former Children’s Library) where it was attached to the brick wall face of the west (rear) wall of the Hall.

Sometime around late 2018 when Council was investigating the potential sale and development of the Eltham War Memorial site, the Eltham Honour Roll Board was once again removed from the Eltham War Memorial by persons unknown, under the pretext of ‘safekeeping,’ to a location outside of the Shire of Nillumbik and placed in storage at the Montmorency-Eltham RSL sub-branch, in the City of Banyule.

Eltham District Historical Society was recently made aware of the removal of the Honour Roll Board to the Montmorency-Eltham RSL sub-branch. A formal request was made by EDHS to the Montmorency-Eltham RSL to return this community asset to its rightful place as intended when it was commissioned and paid for by the Eltham War Memorial Trust. This request was rebutted by the Montmorency-Eltham RSL sub-branch.

Nillumbik Shire Council has also since been made aware of the removal of this community asset and have formally requested its return prior to Anzac Day, 2021 where it can once again be made accessible to members of the community to pay their respects as originally intended.



  • Sgt. George Williams
  • Sgt. Reginald E. Sims
  • L/Cpl. George Moore
  • L/Cpl. Henry G. Philips
  • L/Cpl. John C. Bell
  • Pte. Geoffrey Grant
  • Pte. George Sommerville
  • Pte. George Brown
  • Pte. John Brown
  • Pte. William Bond
  • Pte. Thomas Cameron
  • Pte. Alfred Cassells
  • Pte. Robert Meadows
  • Pte. Walter Mosley
  • Pte. James Pryor
  • Pte. William Prior
  • Pte. Edward Barrett
  • Pte. William Crellin
  • Pte. Henry Norman
  • Pte. Edward Bird
  • Pte. Arthur Brown
  • Pte. Roslyn Stevens
  • Pte. Herbert Creed
  • Pte. Charles Bromfield
  • Pte. Kenneth Sharp
  • Pte. Henry McAlary
  • Capt. S.M. Gahan
  • Plt. Off. D. Rutter
  • Flt. Off. D.H. Rutter
  • Flt. Sgt. S.M. Mclean
  • Flt. Sgt. L. Ingram
  • Sgt. C.D. Dunlop
  • Cpl. T. Feldbauer
  • Cpl. A.C. Clerke
  • Spr. G.E. Castledine
  • Pte. J. Butherway
  • Pte. K.F. Field

Soldiers of the Shire of Eltham remembered on the Eltham Roll of Honour Board for their supreme sacrifice; located in the Eltham War Memorial Hall


The eleven men of the Shire of Eltham who died serving their country in the Second World War and for whom the Eltham War Memorial was dedicated. Their names are listed on the Eltham Roll of Honour in order of rank. Here we show them (left to right, top to bottom) by date of fatality:
CASTLEDINE, George Ernest, Spr., VX10044 (KIA 18 Apr 1941, Greece)
GAHAN, Studley Manston, Capt., VX48379 (KIA 17 May 1941, Tobruk, Libya)
RUTTER, David, Flying Off., 833 (400833) (KIA 9 Dec 1941, Bir El Gubbi, Libya)
CLERKE, Alfred Charles, Cpl., VX23112 (KIA 2 Feb 1942, Laha, Ambon Island)
DUNLOP, Cuthbert Douglas, Sgt., VX15252 (KIA 22 Nov 1942, Gona, New Guinea)
INGRAM, Lester Neil, Flt. Sgt., 410236 (DOD 22 Apr 1943, Longworth, England)
McLEAN, Stanley, Flt. Sgt., 419844 (KIA 7 Oct 1944, Emmerich, Germany)
FELDBAUER, Theodore, Sgt., VX51733 (DOD 27 Mar 1945, Borneo)
RUTTER, Donald Hemphill, Flt. Lt., 410262 (KIA 5 Apr 1945, Varrelbusch, Germany)
FIELD, Kevin Francis, Pte., VX144763 (KIA 28 Jun 1945, Bougainville, PNG)
BUTHERWAY, Jack Herbert, Pte, VX37645 (DOD 8 Jul 1945, Borneo)
Compiled and edited by Peter Pidgeon (Vice President, EDHS) 15 Aug 2020, on behalf of the Eltham District Historical Society Inc

◊         ◊        ◊


“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

The Eltham Roll of Honour: Second World War

Read the stories of all the men from the Shire of Eltham who sacrificed their lives in the Second World War and to whom the Eltham War Memorial is dedicated.

Richard Edward Gilsenan (1847-1920)

Richard Gilsenan was a retired schoolteacher living at “Rosebank” in Eltham, now the site of the Living and Learning Centre. In 1906, Eltham Primary School’s headmaster John Brown died, and Richard was brought out of retirement (briefly) to be acting headmaster. His son Harold was a junior teacher there at the time.

Thereafter, Richard was Secretary of the Eltham Progress League and more importantly was a magistrate at the Eltham Court of Petty Sessions. Cases commonly brought before him included not sending a child to school (typical fine 5/- or eight hours in the lock-up), not having a child vaccinated (fixed fine 40/-), stealing fruit from an orchard, selling liquor out of hours, and offensive language and behaviour. Other miscellaneous cases were allowing cattle to wander, selling cigarettes to a minor, carelessly burning off rubbish on a hot windy day, dumping a dead horse in the Diamond Creek, and youths throwing ripe fruit at passers-by.

Richard died in 1920 and is buried in Eltham Cemetery with his wife Harriet Eliza. In mourning his passing, his peers noted that his decisions had been given in a very fair way. Incidentally, his son Harold (the teacher) died in 1921 after being trampled by a horse while en route from Eltham to Cathkin (his then school).

Grave of Richard Edward Gilsenan and his wife, Harriet Eliza, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)
Gilsenan family graves, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)

Private research by Harry Gilham, Eltham District Historical Society; proceedings of Eltham Court of Petty Sessions reported in Evelyn Observer 1908-1920.

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 251 April 2020, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Peter Glass (1917-1997)

Outside the Bald Headed Manor, John Street, Eltham, 1938. Jazz Song “Bald Headed Mama” Pee Wee Russell Band, L-R: Roger Bell (18). Peter Glass (19), Clive Purtan, Gordon Ford (18), Graeme Bell (22) (Photo courtesy Sue Begg, Eltham)

In 1938, Arthur William Glass (known as Peter Glass) was studying painting under Max Meldrum. Much of their inspiration came from the Eltham bush and the nearby Yarra River. With his friends jazz musicians Graeme and Roger Bell, Peter bought land at the top of John Street: enchanted by Montsalvat, he had the objective of building a mud-brick house. War intervened, but then in 1948 he began working for Alistair Knox as a carpenter and mudbrick builder. By then, Peter had married, necessitating a larger house, which he built with help from Alistair Knox. As a trained architectural draftsman, Peter later progressed to working for Alistair in that role, eventually running the drafting office during the 1960s.

He was deeply involved in the foundation of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, and went on to design many gardens, some in partnership with Alistair Knox and Gordon Ford. Peter died in 1997. His remains, with those of his wife Cecile, are interred beside the Ashes Walk at Eltham Cemetery.

Memorial plaque for Peter and Cecile Glass, Ashes Walk, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: H. Gilham c.2010, Eltham District Historical Society)

Marshall, Alan (1971). Pioneers and painters : one hundred years of Eltham and its shire. Thomas Nelson (Australia), Melbourne

Knox, Alistair (1980). “Metamorphosis of The Middle Class”, We are what we stand on : a personal history of the Eltham community. Adobe Press, Eltham [Vic.] and http://alistairknox.org/chapters/40

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 251 April 2020, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Gordon Craig Ford (1918-1999)

Landscape designer Gordon Ford. (1965). (Photograher Unk., State Library of Victoria, http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/338342)

Gordon Ford was a conservationist and a pioneer of natural-style landscaping. He came to Eltham in 1948 and bought a block of land in John Street extending through to Pitt Street; artist Peter Glass lived opposite in John Street. Early on, Gordon worked for Alistair Knox on construction of the mud-brick Busst house amongst others. At the same time, with the help of friends including artist Clifton Pugh, he progressively built his own house “Fülling”, which “grew like Topsy” utilising a variety of second-hand materials.

But his main focus, which became his life-long occupation, was garden landscaping. Inspired by Edna Walling and Ellis Stones, he sought to reflect the bush settings of rural Victoria where he had grown up. Commissions included Monash University and countless industrial sites, but designing for the archetypal quarter-acre block gave him the most satisfaction. He had a huge impact on the look of gardens in Australia from the 1950s, creating seemingly natural bush environments by carefully integrating indigenous and exotic plantings.

Gordon died in 1999 and his remains are interred beside the Ashes Walk at Eltham Cemetery, marked by a plaque. A separate plaque notes his landscaping design work within the cemetery grounds and at Alistair Knox Park.

Outside the Bald Headed Manor, 1938. Jazz Song “Bald Headed Mama” Pee Wee Russell Band, L-R: Roger Bell (18). Peter Glass (19), Clive Purtan, Gordon Ford (18), Graeme Bell (22) (Photo courtesy Sue Begg, Eltham)
“Planted by a Pioneer 100 Years Ago”. Photocopy of an original image published in the Herald 2 Aug 1958 showing a group of Eltham residents protesting against tree felling undertaking a ceremonial tree planting L-R foreground (adults): Susan, Mavis and Laurel Gill; Hal Peck; Alistair Knox (centre); Tim Burstall; Jack Gill; Gordon Ford; Matcham Skipper” (EDHS Collection courtesy Lesley Martin)
Gordon Ford Corner, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)

Marshall, Marguerite. & King, Alan.  (2008).  Nillumbik now and then.  Research, Vic :  MPrint Publications

Folder: Gordon and Gwen Ford held by Eltham District Historical Society including article in Landscape Australia (1992)

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 250 February 2020, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Guido Quarto Fabbro (1891-1970)

Guildo Fabbro, Falkiner Street, Eltham with Clydesdale horse (Photo donated by Skipper family, EDHS Collection)

Guido Fabbro came to Eltham in 1933 and built a large Italianesque house on the western side of Falkiner Street, on a block extending to Ely and Porter Streets which had formerly been an orchard and dairy farm. The original 1860s cottage on the property was relocated to the back of the block and was rented out (once to Alistair and Margot Knox). Guido also purchased land extending to the Diamond Creek on the eastern side of Falkiner Street and on the eastern side of Bell Street (opposite Eltham High School). The riparian soil was suitable for market gardening: Guido grew mainly tomatoes, but also pumpkins, cauliflowers, cabbages, peas, beans, lettuce, beetroot and zucchinis. Even the land surrounding the house was used. The produce was carted to Melbourne overnight for sale at the market.

Guido died in 1970 and is buried with his wife Regina at Eltham Cemetery. His son Maurie continued in his father’s footsteps until 2007, principally growing artichokes in later years. The land on the eastern side of Falkiner Street now forms part of a Council reserve called “Barak Bushland”, the land on the western side having been sold off for residential subdivision. The Bell Street land is now public open space managed by Nillumbik Shire Council and called “Fabbro Fields”. There have been recent proposals to develop the site for sporting purposes or as a dog park or community garden.

Grave of Guido Fabbro, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)

Diamond Valley News 12th June 1984

Interview with Russell Yeoman 2019

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 250 February 2020, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

William Crozier (1823-1909)

William J. Crozier was a pioneer settler in the Eltham area. Born in Ireland in 1823, he migrated to Australia in 1850 with his wife Mary Jane (nee Vance) and their baby daughter, Sarah. They came out on an “orphan immigrant ship”: on board were twelve married couples and 235 female orphans aged between 16 and 18 years old. The Croziers journeyed to Eltham on a bullock wagon and acquired a 24-acre block of land on the northern side of Mount Pleasant Road, about half a mile east of Main Road, extending through to Pitt Street. They used the land for cultivation and grazing. The house, called “Belmont”, was weatherboard with a rammed earth floor. Until the Wesleyan Church had its own building, services were conducted in the Croziers’ home (and elsewhere).

William and Mary had six more children, though their youngest son (Thomas Vance, age 17) drowned in a dam on the property and their eldest (John McCelland, age 42) was killed by a falling tree. Nevertheless, the farm prospered, enabling William to acquire a further 63-acre block in 1870, about half a mile east of the original 24-acre site. On the new block, he constructed a two-roomed dwelling of slats and bark, plus a store room of logs and bark.

William died in 1909 and is buried with Mary and their sons John and Thomas in the Eltham Cemetery.

Crozier family graves, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)

Eckersall, Kenneth Eric & Eltham Uniting Church (Eltham, Vic.) (2000). Eltham inhabitants : for most, the serious part : church in community 1850-2000. Eltham Uniting Church, Eltham, Vic

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 249 December 2019, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

David George Clark (1829-1911)

5th Class, Eltham State School No. 209, Dalton St. Eltham. David Clark, Head Teacher, c.1886. (Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection held jointly by Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library)

David Clark was the first and longest-serving headmaster at Eltham Primary School, which began in 1855 as a private school held in the Wesleyan Chapel in Henry Street. The teachers were David (then aged 26) and his sister Catherine. Parents lobbied the Government to establish an official school, and a School Inspector came out to investigate. He found that the Clarks were of good moral and religious character (David taught Sunday School at St. Margaret’s later on) and gave them his endorsement despite some perceived technical shortcomings. The school moved to its present Dalton Street site in 1856, in a bark hut. Soon afterwards it was replaced by a small stone building, which for a time also served as the Clarks’ residence, but it fell down in about 1875. A larger and more substantial stone building was then constructed.

David was well respected by the local community and constantly battled with the authorities to have facilities (such as toilets) at the school improved. He married in 1863, and in 1866 bought a block of land in Metery Road next to the school. His house, later called “Shoestring”, still exists (albeit with significant modifications). David retired in 1889 after a period of ill health, Catherine having retired in 1887. He died in 1911 and is buried with his wife Elizabeth (nee Rosier 1845-1910) in the Eltham Cemetery.

Grave of David George Clark and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Rosier), Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)

Anderson, I & Carozzi, B & Fellowes, T & Eltham Primary School (Vic) (2006). We did open a school in Little Eltham : Eltham Primary School 209, 1856-2006, a history. The Learning Team, [Eltham, Vic.]

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 249 December 2019, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Nina Mikhailovna Christesen (1911-2001)

Russian-born Nina Christesen (nee Maximoff) is regarded as the pioneer of Russian academic studies in Australia. In 1946 she became a lecturer in Russian at Melbourne University, and in 1947 established the Department of Russian Language and Literature, remaining its head until her retirement in 1977. In 1987 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia.

Nina was married to Clem Christesen, founder and editor of the respected (if left-leaning) literary magazine Meanjin. They lived at “Stanhope” in Peter Street, Eltham. Visitors included writers Patrick White and Xavier Herbert, painters Arthur Boyd and Clifton Pugh, and historians Manning Clark and Geoffrey Blainey. In 1955, both Nina and Clem were interrogated by the Petrov Royal Commission on suspicion of being Communist sympathisers, which they reputedly rebutted wittily.

Nina died in 2001 and Clem in 2003. They are buried together at Eltham Cemetery. There is also a memorial to Nina at the Eltham Living and Learning Centre, in the form of a bluestone amphitheatre with a floor of hand-painted tiles.

Book launch “Pioneers & Painters”; Cr. (Mrs.) C.M. Pelling, Mrs. Dreverman, Cr. G.C. Dreverman, Mrs. Nina Christesen, Mr. Clem Christesen, Editor of “Meanjin”, 7 July 1971 (Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection held jointly by Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library)

Wikipedia contributors. (2020, December 15). Nina Christesen. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:50, April 6, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nina_Christesen&oldid=994470786

Obituaries in The Age and The Sunday Age.

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 247 August 2019, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

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