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.’

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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

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 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.

ThrowbackThursday: A Day in Court, Eltham Courthouse, 1967

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to August 30, 1967. It’s a Wednesday morning and you have been summoned to appear at the Eltham Courthouse, 730 Main Road, Eltham at 10 a.m. You have never appeared in court before and this leaves you feeling a little anxious. The weather forecast is mostly fine with a maximum of 61 (16°C). It was 48 (9°C) when you got up and had rained overnight but the sun was out now. The rain ultimately meant it would only get up to 58 (14.5°C). You check the summons one more time to verify the time and head off. You do not want to be late.

Eltham Court, 730 Main Road (looking southeast), 30 August 1967 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

You approach the courthouse heading south down Main Road from Pitt Street. People are already there, mingling around outside chatting. Seems everybody else had the same idea about arriving early and all the parking spots out front are already taken; on both sides.

Looking west from Brougham Street near Eltham Courthouse across Main Road, 30 August 1967 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Never mind, you turn left into Brougham Street and park there; minding not to step into any puddles left on the unsealed road that could splash mud onto your freshly polished shoes.

Understandably you feel a little nervous so you just dash across the road to the servo to grab some chewing gum and smokes.

Eltham Courthouse, looking northeast across Main Road, 30 August 1967 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

As you take a few puffs on your cigarette you notice that people are now starting to head inside. Still, you figure you have a few more moments to help calm your nerves as you wander up Main Road taking in the scene.

Eltham Court, Main Road (looking southeast), 30 August 1967 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The coppers have now turned up in their Paddy Wagon and the suspect is bundled inside. Better get a move-on; they’ll be calling you shortly. You take one more quick drag of your smoke, stub the butt out, pop some Juicy Fruit in and dash inside.

“I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”

 

Built in 1860, the Eltham Courthouse is the oldest public building remaining in Eltham. In its early days the building was used as the meeting place and office of the Eltham District Road Board and as an overflow classroom for the local school. The Eltham Courthouse ceased operational duties in 1984 and is now used by various community groups including Eltham District Historical Society. It was listed on the Victorian Heritage Register (Number H0784) in 1982. The building is of architectural significance because it retains intact early features. These include use of handmade bricks, simple decoration, roof trusses, timber ceiling boards, original windows, doors and associated hardware and a collection of court furniture. Additions to the court house have been done in a manner which did not interfere with the fabric of the original building.

ThrowbackThursday: The Spirit of Eltham, c.1985

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 1985. The Victorian Local Government Commission has produced a report titled ‘The Restructure of Local Government in Victoria – Principles and Program’ (the Morris review). The recommendation was to amalgamate the Shires of Eltham and Diamond Valley, something that Eltham Council did not support as being appropriate for the shire or compatible with the ‘Spirit of Eltham’. In response, the Shire of Eltham produced a video showcasing the unique environmental lifestyle which embodies the ‘Spirit of Eltham’ and features Shire President, Cr. Mary Grant talking with the Hon. Pauline Toner MP and Max McDonald MP. Eltham Shire CEO Rodney Roschellor presents an alternate proposal for a shire merging more aligned to the values of the local residents. Also featured are Eltham icons such as the Eltham Railway Trestle Bridge, Montsalvat, Eltham Community Centre along with mudbrick making, artist Matcham Skipper, the Green Wedge and St Andrews Market. Other commentary is provided by locals, Judy Wadham and Lester Eaton.

MysteryMonday: Residential Street, Eltham District, c.1990

#MysteryMonday – Today’s image is of a residential street, possibly Eltham, c.1990. It was around the time the Shire was introducing speed humps.

Residential Street, possibly Eltham, c.1990 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

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

Over to you . . .

MysteryMonday: Real Estate Sales, Eltham District, c.Nov. 1992

#MysteryMonday – Today’s images are of the first two frames from a roll of negative film. They feature two separate properties up for sale and which had been sold by November 17, 1992. The other frames on the roll of film are not related but are probably the reason the film was originall donated to us. They concern an excursion undertaken by the Society to One Tree Hill Mine  on November 20, 1992. However, these images do interest us but we have no other information other than the thousand words contained in each picture.

Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 4 strips
Fuji 100 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The first is of a deceased estate sold by Peter McDougall of The Professionals; 23 acres in size on 2 titles in a prime position, with a made road frontage and close to the Pony Club with an easy drive to Eltham, Greensborough and Melbourne – so perhaps Kangaroo Ground? Given it is a made road frontage, probably one of the main roads and the property is number 100.

Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 4 strips
Fuji 100 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The second property is number 82, sold by Peter Reid Real Estate of 126 Bolton Street, Eltham. Not giving away much at all; so you either know it or you don’t.

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 . . .

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