Fayrefield Hat Factory

A former hat factory in Sherbourne Road Eltham has in the past been used for various purposes and a self storage business currently operates from these premises.

The Karingal Yallock Creek passes through the front of the land and the creek environs are the subject of significant and unusual landscaping works, including some cascading water channels. Some of the landscaping was damaged by the Christmas Day floods of 2011, but the main elements remain intact.

The landscaped area (as distinct from the factory itself) is the subject of a Heritage Overlay under the Nillumbik Planning Scheme. The basis of this overlay is a Heritage Report by Graeme Butler and Associates in 2006. As well as an assessment of the landscaped area, it includes one background information on the history of the site (although a complete history would require more research).

The site was part of Crown Portion 3 of the Parish of Nillumbik that remained as the Montmorency Farm until early in the twentieth century. The 1911 subdivision of this farm created Lot 7 of some seven acres, which is the site of this factory. The Heritage Report lists the various owners of the site. From the rate records and aerial photos it is concluded that the site was used as an orchard and farmland until the 1940s. William F Crellin, orchardist, owned the site from 1912 to 1923. Then Edmund Williams owned it until 1951.

In 1955 the site was owned by Rupert V. Kirsch and this is the name anecdotally associated with the hat factory, where the well-known brand of Fayrefield Hats were manufactured. There is some belief that this was built about the time of the Second World War and that hats for the armed forces were made there.

The featured aerial photo from the early 1950s held by the Society shows that part of the factory complex had been built then.

Other reference items of interest include:

The Hat Factory – a personal recollection of the hat factory and followup feature on the gardens, Hat Factory Revisited

The fish pond which was part of the landscaped gardens emerged into the Victorian skateboarding scene in 1977.

Fort Knox Self Storage Tips It’s Hat To A Historical Past

A series of eight photos showing various internal views of the hat factory and staff members at Christmas 1959, held by the State Library of Victoria, can be accessed via Trove

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What is in a name? Part 2

While travelling along our local streets do you ever wonder why or how these were named? Let us have a look at some.

Josiah Holloway was responsible for the 1851 Little Eltham sub division that now comprises the Town Centre. His wife’s maiden name was Susan Maria Bible and his brother-in-law was Arthur Bible, so this explains the origin of Susan, Bible and Arthur streets in central Eltham. Part of Main Road was also originally known as Maria Street.

Brougham Street in Eltham was named after Henry Brougham, a British statesman who became Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom. Among other things he actively worked to promote the abolition of slavery, helped establish the French resort of Cannes and was also responsible for designing the four-wheeled horse drawn carriage that bears his name. The western section of Brougham Street was named Wellington Street in Holloway’s subdivision, presumably after the Duke of Wellington, but was later changed so that Brougham Street was continuous.

The name of Shalbury Avenue off Beard Street in Eltham is the result of the combination of the names of Jack Shallard and a Mr. Bradbury who subdivided the land in that area. Mr. Bradbury’s family came to Eltham in 1913 and one of his sons (Ron) had a medical practice for many years at the corner of Main Road and Brougham Street, where there is now a restaurant.

 When Mrs. Theo Handfield subdivided land in 1924 to the west of the Diamond Creek in Eltham she named Peter Street and John Street after her two sons. However, the name of John Street was later changed due to possible confusion with the other John Street off Main Road. It then became Fay Street, after Fay Harcourt the wife of the well-known local builder John Harcourt.

 Bells Hill Road at the eastern end of Main Road, Research was once part of Mt Pleasant Road.  It was re-named in the 1990s because it was separated from the main part of that road. Bells Hill is the hill in Main Road rising up from Research to Kangaroo Ground. John Bell of the pioneer Bell family of Kangaroo Ground and Yarra Glen lived at “Violet Bank”, the first of the Kangaroo Ground properties at the top of the hill.

Prepared by Russell Yeoman and Jim Connor from the Eltham District Historical Society

Main Road, Eltham

Following our earlier article about the origin of road and street names let us look at the history of Main Road as it meanders through parts of Nillumbik and Banyule. It is one of the most identifiable roads in the district and in its earliest days was in fact the main road through the area. While perhaps a bit unimaginative, it was just came to be called Main Road through common usage.

Main Road starts at the Plenty River, Lower Plenty, the western boundary of the former Shire of Eltham.  It continues through Lower Plenty, Montmorency South, Eltham and Research to the boundary of Kangaroo Ground at Bells Hill Road.  Beyond this point its official name is Eltham-Yarra Glen Road while west of the Plenty River it is known as Lower Plenty Road.

Main Road has its origin in a proclamation in 1840 under the Parish Roads Act of a road “between the” Suburban Allotments in the Parish of Jika Jika (North Fitzroy and the Village Reserve in the Parish of Nillumbik (Eltham). In many places the alignment of the road followed the dray track to Yarra Flats established by the Ryrie brothers more than ten years earlier.

From the Plenty River the road passed through the land that had been recently purchased by Benjamin Baxter.  It followed the line of today’s Main Road and Old Eltham Road and ended at today’s Bolton Street.

In 1850 a track along the Old Eltham Road route continued on towards Kangaroo Ground, roughly following the line of Main Road through the proposed Government township of Eltham and unsold Crown land. However, Holloway’s 1851 Little Eltham subdivision north of the township reserve made no provision for a through road, although between Dalton Street and York Street, Maria Street (Main Road) generally followed the well-worn track to Kangaroo Ground.

Soon after the land was subdivided the Government established a road along the line of this track through private land, the township reserve and further north, which then completed the formal road link to Kangaroo Ground

In 1869 the Eltham District Road Board opened a new road from Lower Plenty to Bolton Street, bypassing Old Eltham Road, which is what we now use when travelling along Main Road. Together with this new section and the formal connection to Kangaroo Ground, the whole length of today’s Main Road came into being. However, it would be many years before the road proclaimed in the 1850s provided convenient all weather access. How things have changed!

Prepared by Russell Yeoman and Jim Connor from the Eltham District Historical Society

Main Road, Eltham, looking south. (From the Shire of Eltham Pioneer's Photograph Collection)
Main Road, Eltham, looking south; from the Shire of Eltham Pioneer’s Photograph Collection