MysteryMonday: Identity Card, Frau Fleischer, Vienna, Austria, 1919?

#MysteryMonday – Today we have a second mystery challenge. Contained within our collection is an identity card for a Frau Fleischer from Vienna, Austria in 1919. We have no detail on this item, why we have it, where it came from and have not been able to conclusively decipher her first name. Did she migrate to Australia some time after the First World War, did she end up in Eltham? We have tried tracking the name Fleischer in Eltham but no positive links so far. Perhaps she may be part of your family, if so, we’d love to know her story and solve the mystery of this Identity Card.

Legitimation The identity of the person depicted in the photograph Mrs. Johanna? Fleischer Profession ? Apartment XV. ?? and the handwritten signature is hereby officially confirmed D. o. Police Directorate Vienna, July 15, 1919

Of course the card is written in Gothic German script, the handwriting is very difficult however we have been able to decipher some of what it states.

Legitimation
The identity of the person depicted in the photograph
Mrs. Johanna? Fleischer
Profession ?
Apartment XV. ??
and the handwritten signature is hereby officially confirmed
D. o. Police Directorate
Vienna, July 15, 1919

Over to you . . .

MysteryMonday: Possibly Commercial Place, Eltham, c.1988

#MysteryMonday – Today’s mystery locations are possibly in or near Commercial Place, Eltham. There are six photos in this particular grouping believed to have been taken in the late 1980s. The focus of the images appears to be weeds in the nature strips/street fronts or what might also be a significant littering issue around Luck Street and Commercial Place. Other images are in Luck Street beside what was once Franklins and the corner of the store at the rear car park off Luck Street.

EDHS_03141-2 – Franco’s (?) possibly Commercial Place, Eltham

The first image is appears to be the entrance (or rear entrance) to a restaurant, possibly called Franco’s. Did you ever patronise this restuarant? What can you tell us about it?

EDHS_03141-6 – Commercial Place, Eltham?

The second image is a wild card, part of the same grouping – perhaps the driveway and red brickwork look familiar.

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 . . .

Significant Tree, Brougham Street, Eltham

One of the aims of the Eltham District Historical Society is to promote, encourage, or assist with the preservation and conservation of places, sites and objects of historical importance. This includes not just our built environment but also our natural environment. We have long argued that the 100 plus year old Shillinglaw trees in front of the former Eltham Shire Council office site are a navigational beacon for which we can directly connect with our past.

Over the last few years the Society has engaged in a program to digitise many of our images, some which have challenged us as to their location. Where possible it is desirable to add GPS coordinates to these images to help map our history visually. Some images do not have sufficient information with them to identify accurately and they may get put aside for review at a later stage. Many of these form the basis of our #MysteryMonday posts and a great deal have been solved through this crowd sourcing effort – thankyou.

As we get more familiar with the images and their locations, we build a greater database of knowledge and more clues become apparent. Sometimes when reviewing an image that has been put aside, the location will suddenly be obvious. When that occurs we hop onto Google Streetview to see if we can confirm the identification using navigational beacons from the past; old houses that have survived demolition or substantial alterations, and trees.

One such identification happened recently with several pictures taken of Brougham Street, Eltham in September 1966. Camera angles, zoom, etc can all play tricks in the perception of depth but the following image was suddenly recognised as looking west down Brougham street across Bible Street. The Bible Street intersection did not seem quite right but alignments, road grades, kerb and channels and road sealing can all alter the appearance of a scene significantly. In addition, there appear to be a lot more trees nowadays or those trees have matured and become much bigger blocking viewpoints. And in the case of Brougham street, there is little remaining of original housing from the 1960s to assist in identification.

Brougham Street, Eltham, c. Sep 1966 – looking west towards Bible Street.
Brougham Street, Eltham, Aug. 2019 – looking west towards Bible Street. (Google Streetview)

When zooming in to the centre of the image, one tree stands out, a shape that is as familiar today as it was 65 years ago, which enabled the location of the image to be positively confirmed. The large tree on left in centre distance with branch overhanging road still stands in 2021 and is located outside No. 102.

Brougham Street, Eltham, c. Sep 1966 – looking west towards Bible Street from near No. 113. The large tree on left in centre distance with branch overhanging road still stands in 2021 and is located outside No. 102
Near 102 Brougham Street, Eltham, Aug. 2019 (Google Streetview)

The tree still today stands today on the nature strip in front of No. 102. Its crown has been destroyed by severe pruning to clear the electrical lines but that characteristic branch continues to hang over the street. The tree appeared to be a mature specimen back in 1966, probably at least 40 years old then, which would make it over 100 years old today.

Nillumbik Shire Council – Shire of Eltham Archives Series 043 Handmade paper and covers made by ‘Sonjart’, Sonja Van Bodegraven, Heathmont, Victoria (EDHS Collection)

In the early 1990s Eltham Shire Council consolidated a Register of Significant Trees. Those trees and quite were few more were integrated into Nillumbik Shirer Council’s planning requirements to ensure their protection but many other significant trees remain in the district and in many cases, are not known. It is important we are aware of these trees so their significance to not only the natural environment but also our local history and the built environment may always be taken into consideration.

As we proceed and come across significant trees from the past that still have a presence today, we will occasionally publish a post under the hashtag #TuesdayTree with an image of the tree and how it connects us to our past.

MysteryMonday: Street Scenes, 1985

UPDATED BELOW – as locations confirmed

#MysteryMonday – Today’s images are of a sequence of street scenes from a roll of Kodachrome film (slides) processed in March 1985. It is possible the first few are not in the former Shire of Eltham but in Diamond Creek, former Shire of Diamond Valley. They are focussed on special road surfaces and gutter styles, typical of benchmarking undertaken by Eltham Council for infrastructure options in Eltham shire.

SLIDE 2 – Possibly Fantail Rise, Diamond Creek but houses and drain styles do not match
SLIDE 4
SLIDE 5

The next few slides are Shalbury Avenue (#8), Frank Street (#10, #11), Brougham street (#12, #13) and Franklin Street (#14, #16), Eltham

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. As always, Google Streetview images or links with GPS would greatly assist us in confirming suggestions.

Over to you . . .

The confirmed locations so far are:

SLIDE 7 – Sackville Street, Montmorency (Solved Fred Harrington)
SLIDE 7 (SOLVED) – Sackville Street, Montmorency (part of the Quinn Estate) looking towrds Bolton Street from outside No. 102

MysteryMonday: Eltham Shire Council Rural Road Maintenance c.1990

#MysteryMonday – Today’s images are from a series of 13 images of an Eltham Shire Council road grading operation. We have dated the images to be circa 1990 (1989-1994). The Grader is registered DSY-083, which is a 1989 registration.

The cost of providing equivalent levels of services to the more rural areas of the Shire with respect to those in the more urban areas of Eltham, Montmorency and Briar Hill was relatively expensive. Road maintenance of rural unsealed gravel roads is one of those areas of higher costs particulary as a result of water erosion. The same applies for Nillumbik Shire Council today. Here we see Council operations grading a road and laying new gravel, followed by a gravel water truck to help bed the surface down. Unfortunately there is no information with these prints as to where this particular location is.

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. As always, Google Streetview images or links with GPS would greatly assist us in confirming suggestions.

Over to you . . .

Ian and Joan Hassall and Australia’s first Open Air Gallery

By Liz Pidgeon

Joan and Ian Hassall, Eltham 1960s. EDHS Collection

Ian John Dingwall Hassall was born 1899 in Kensington (London), England, to noted illustrator John Hassall, who was known for his advertisements and poster designs, and his wife Isabel.  His father enrolled him as a member of the London Sketch Club at birth and he would become its oldest living member.

Ian’s sister, Joan Hassall OBE, was a successful artist and illustrator in her own right, designing stamps and the invitation for the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

Art would play a role throughout Ian’s life.  As a youngster Ian was a child model.  At age 16, with a world war underway he tried to enlist in the army but failed. He would successfully enlist later in a London Regiment and was gassed during his service.  

After the war he studied and taught art.  The 1920s were a period of “riotous living” and he was advised to go to Switzerland for his lungs (due to his war injury). He liked the better idea of the Canadian Rockies and obtained the medical stamp of approval.  For a couple of years, he settled in British Columbia and worked as a ranch-hand, lumberjack and trapper.  He then worked his way back to England by way of China as a deckhand on a steamer.

In 1930 Ian worked for a company “Art Direction Limited” which was established to supply film companies and others with model sets and layouts.  It was also early days of the television industry. Several art directors and artists were employed, and it was during this time that Ian met actress Joan Stevens or Joan Dare as she was known. The company was in fact owned by her soon to be ex-husband Horace Roye Narbeth. (Horace was a flamboyant photographer famous for his nudes and pictures of starlets. He would later publish his autobiography and be stabbed to death in Morocco in 2002 aged 96).

Ian and Joan married in 1932. For seven years, they lived on a sailing barge moored in the Thames, near the Houses of Parliament.  Presumably Joan shared custody of her two sons with her ex-husband.

When World War 2 broke out Ian worked as part of the Home Guard but later joined the Navy and worked on the development of secret weapons in the Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development. His boss was the rising novelist, Nevil Shute.

Later, he worked in a commercial art studio and for a newspaper during a General Strike.  He suffered injuries during the London Blitz and was sent to Portsmouth where he animated cartoons for instructive films.

After his discharge and following the death of his father, the couple were among the wave of post war migration to Australia. They arrived in Adelaide in January 1949 on the all-immigrant ship “Ormonde” with over 1,000 migrant passengers, including children and war orphans.  Ian had already secured work with British Engineering Appliances.

They settled in Dromana, Victoria (where interestingly he is listed as a fisherman on the electoral roll) where they built their own home, but for unknown reasons they left the Mornington Peninsula and went to Taroona, Tasmania, where he worked as an artist.

After travelling and painting, particularly in NSW, in 1951 he held an exhibition in Melbourne. It was opened by his friend Neville Shute.

By 1955, the couple found Eltham.  No doubt, drawn to the artistic community, they took a property on the corner of Zig Zag Road and Main Road, Eltham, north of the township (later known as 1215 Main Road). In July 1962, they opened their open-air gallery.  Hassall’s Roadside Galley, “…cradled in the fold of hills to the north of Eltham” inspired by Ian’s own experience of exhibitions along the Embankment in London.  The property included remnants of a stone quarry, paintings were hung on screens and removed at night.  Various pedestals, that looked like giant mushrooms displayed sculpture, pottery and jewellery.  It had a small natural amphitheatre at the foot of a little sandstone cliff that fall away to the bed of a stream. To enter the gallery, a visitor crossed a small freestone bridge of oriental design, built by Hassall from local stone.  The bridge spanned the stream flowing beneath great willow trees. Near the entrance wooden figures were displayed formed from pieces of local wood, said to speak to Ian Hassall’s sense of fun.

Hassall’s Roadside Gallery, Main Road, Eltham. Original paintings, sculpture and pottery are on display and for sale. (This Week in Melbourne, No. 385, October 1-7, 1966, Cover)

Hassall’s Gallery was the first gallery of its kind in Australia. Ian became a full-time artist and when it first opened, he exhibited paintings he had made while touring the outback with writer and fellow Eltham resident Alan Marshall. He also exhibited other Australian artists over time including locals Lindsay Edward and Peter Glass. 

Australian Jewish News, 19 July 1964 p. 18

In April 1970 Ian was profiled in The Australian Women’s Weekly.  At age 71, he was described as handsome with distinguished white hair, smooth tanned skin and deep blue twinkling eyes. Described as a sculptor and book illustrator, he claimed himself as a traditional artist. He painted mainly landscapes, striking bush settings with exquisite gum trees. 

Ian died a few months later in October 1970. Following a service at St Margaret’s Church Ian was buried in Eltham Cemetery.

Joan Eleanor Maud Stevens was born in London in 1910.  In 1921, under the stage name Joan Dare – she was promoted in newspapers as a “versatile vocalist and dancer” as part of a musical line-up in the town of Whitsable in Kent.  In 1928 The Bioscope, an illustrated weekly dedicated to the early years of cinema featured a photo of Joan and by the following year she was again featured in Tatler described as a “newcomer to the British Films, but well known in cabaret and musical comedy”.  Films included “The celestial city”, 1929 and “The Inseparables”, 1929. (They were silent films)

She married at age 16, (with the permission of her father who was a lawyer) and with her husband started a school of ballroom dancing. After two sons, and four years, the couple were divorced.

During WW2, Joan also enlisted and was a third officer in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.  She later taught at the London Institute of Beauty Culture and when she first arrived in Australia had planned on setting up a beaty parlour here. It is presumed that she left her sons back in England.

After Ian’s death and 38 years of marriage, Joan continued operating the open-air gallery but by 1977, she had moved to Canterbury. The Gallery later became known as Hassall’s Gallery & Antiques and Hassall’s Gallery Bazaar (antiques, furniture, curios bought and sold). It operated through to the early 1990s.  Joan passed away 33 years after her husband at age 92 in February 2003. Probate records indicate her occupation as art director and residence as Eltham.  She was buried with her husband Ian in Eltham cemetery.

In July 2003, the property was sold for $550,000.  In March 2012 it sold again for $790,000.

Hassall’s Gallery Bazaar, 1215 Main Road, Eltham, March 2014
(Photo: Liz Pidgeon, EDHS Collection)

Photographs taken in March 2014 of the property illustrate it had been derelict and neglected for some years, but the willows were still there and there were signs of the stone quarry and bridge. At one stage before that a shipping container had sat near the entrance. Vegetation and rubbish had taken over the site.

In February 2016, the property was listed for sale once again but did not sell. In May 2016 the property was on two titles being offered as one on a land area of 1.4 hectares and promoted as a development opportunity.  In November 2016 planning approval was submitted to Nillumbik Shire Council for buildings and works to construct 4 dwellings with associated vegetation removal.  This may have been denied.  In July 2017 planning approval was submitted to the Shire of Nillumbik for buildings and works to construct a dwelling and associated vegetation removal.  That has also not proceeded, and an extension of time was applied for as of 16 August 2021.

Meanwhile the property remains neglected and devoid of any recognition that it was once the site of Australia’s first open-air gallery and home to two remarkable people who contributed to the unique artistic culture and heritage of Eltham.

Remember Ian John Dingwall Hassall A great artist Born 1899 Died 1970
Joan Eleanor Maud Hassall 24.4.1910 – 26.2.2003
Eltham Cemetery, April 2021 (Photo: P. Pidgeon, EDHS collection)
Remember Ian John Dingwall Hassall A great artist Born 1899 Died 1970
Joan Eleanor Maud Hassall 24.4.1910 – 26.2.2003
Eltham Cemetery, April 2021 (Photo: P. Pidgeon, EDHS collection)
Hassall’s Gallery Bazaar, 1215 Main Road, Eltham, March 2014
(Photo: Liz Pidgeon, EDHS Collection)
Hassall’s Gallery Bazaar, 1215 Main Road, Eltham, March 2014
(Photo: Liz Pidgeon, EDHS Collection)
Hassall’s Gallery Bazaar, 1215 Main Road, Eltham, March 2014
(Photo: Liz Pidgeon, EDHS Collection)
Hassall’s Gallery Bazaar, 1215 Main Road, Eltham, March 2014
(Photo: Liz Pidgeon, EDHS Collection)
Hassall’s Gallery Bazaar, 1215 Main Road, Eltham, March 2014
(Photo: Liz Pidgeon, EDHS Collection)

MysteryMonday: Bridge Over a Creek 1987

SOLVED – It is the Cottlesbridge-Strathewen Road approaching the intersection of Chads Creek Road and School Ridge Road at Strathewen – see link in comments

#MysteryMonday – Double mystery postings today. This one is the location of a small bridge over a creek somewhere in the former Shire of Eltham. The unsealed road leads across the bridge to an intersection. In the distance is a road sign with several names and a real estate agent’s sign, tantalising but illegible, also what look like a couple of shelters – bus shelter or a sports field shelter?

Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 4 strips Kodak GB 200 5096 possibly strathewen

More than likely the road is now sealed, the bridge replaced with something less picturesque and it will not look as wide as it once did but maybe you may still be familiar with some of the surounding markers and may be able to help guide us in pinpointing it down. Google Streetview images and coodinates much appreciated . We’d love to hear from you; your thoughts and suggestions as to where it is for our catalogue record.

Over to you . . .

Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 4 strips Kodak GB 200 5096
Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 4 strips Kodak GB 200 5096

MysteryMonday: Stained Glass Leadlight Artworks

 

#MysteryMonday – Today’s image is one of a sequence of 21 slides taken in the late 1980s or ealy 1990s. We have no information about them other than they appear to be a series of art works and were in a box marked “Set B Norm. LHS RHS”. You can view the entire series on our catalogue at Victorian Collections

In a box marked Set B Norm. LHS RHS

Can you identify these works? We’d love to hear from you; your thoughts and suggestions as to what they might be, who the artist is, etc and help us catalogue them more completely.

Over to you . . .

Did You Know? Sweet Bursaria, Stokes Orchard, RAAF and World War 2

Eltham Copper Butterfly Photo: Andrea Canzano
Eltham Copper Butterfly
Photo: Andrea Canzano

#DidYouKnow that not only is the Sweet Bursaria plant essential for the survival of the Eltham Copper Butterfly but once also for another type of flying species?

In the 1940s when Frank Stokes was establishing his orchard bounded by Eucalyptus and Nyora roads, opposite the present day Pauline Toner Eltham Copper Butterfly Reserve, his only income for several years was from selling firewood, rockery stones and cut Sweet Bursaria plants. Not only is the Eltham Copper Butterfly (first discovered in 1938 and thought to have become extinct by the 1950s until its rediscovery in 1987) dependent upon the plant but so too were our brave air crew during the Second World War.

It was discovered during the 1940s that the Bursaria plant contained the sunscreen compound Aesculin. The RAAF utilised this compound from Bursaria during the war to produce sunscreen for its pilots and gunners.

Frank Stokes with daughters Dorothy (left) and Beryl (right) in his orchard, Nyora Road, Eltham, 1944

MysteryMonday: Main Road, Lower Plenty, shire of Eltham, 1973

SOLVED – Main Road, Lower Plenty between Panorama Avenue and Bolton Street (near Rangeview Road) looking towards Eltham (see update below).

#MysteryMonday – Today’s image is a main road somewhere in the former Shire of Eltham. It is a photograph that was taken on July 25, 1973 by officers of the Planning department of the former Eltham Shire Council along with several other images situated in Eltham; Shillinglaw Cottage and Eltham Town Park development (later Alistair Knox Park) as well as parks in Briar Hill, Were Street, Montmorency and the intersection of Main Road and Bolton Street.

The “Windy Mile”, Main Road, Lower Plenty near intersection of Rangeview Road, 25 July 1973

Can you identify this location? We’d love to hear from you; your thoughts and suggestions as to where it might be and help us catalogue this image.

Over to you . . .

UPDATE

This section of Main Road was known by locals as the “Windy Mile” due to its many little wists and turns. It was also the setting for Billy Cart derbies held on special occassions such as the Eltham Easter Gymkhana at Eltham Lower Park. Contestants would line up and race each other down the hill to the finish line at Bolton Street.

Main Road, Lower Plenty underwent substantial changes when it was duplicated with the road becoming two lanes each way and split level due to the cross gradient. This particular section running down the hill from Panorama Avenue to Bolton Street with its twists and turns had many of them straightened out during the road widening constuction work.

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