#MysteryMonday – Today we present a MysteryMonday of a somewhat different ilk; rather than solving the identity of a forgotten image, what we have is a tale of a mysterious event that occurred recently within our midst. It is a story of a woman’s boot, set in Eltham Cemetery, as told by Heather Eastman.
While out walking the dog one day past Eltham Cemetery on Mount Pleasant Road, I came across a very old looking boot. It was freshly dug up, most likely by a hungry and inquisitive fox looking for something to eat. It was sitting beside a sizable hole right next to the old green caretaker’s hut.
The boot appeared to be a genuine relic of the past. All leather, including the sole; laces long since gone. It had certainly seen better days with a few holes here and there and it was full of dirt.
I had seen boots like this before in pictures from the past. At a guess, it was a hundred years old, possibly more, and its owner, female with dainty feet.
I considered it may have come from the little Bootmaker’s cottage on Main Road. The cottage is still there, but of course has not witnessed boots made for years. I imagined when it did, they probably looked like this one.
I understand, around the time boots like this were worn, people were also quite superstitious. Often burying or concealing a single boot or shoe in a wall cavity or the like, to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.
I failed to take a photo of the boot that day, so I went back a few days later to do so. However, the boot was gone, and in its place, appeared a fresh pile of mulch. The boot provided a brief glimpse into our past, now a mystery as to how it got there and who once owned it. The above image is a good match for the boot.
Do you have any tales of mysterious happenings or events in the district you would like to share? If so, we’d love to hear from you
#ThrowbackThursday – With all the unseasonably warm weather we have had lately, good chance people have been able to get more use out of their pools this last summer and autumn. Of course pools require a lot of maintenance and upkeep so the local pool shop becomes a trusted friend, recommending this or advising that to keep your pool in tip top condition. Where’s your favourite pool centre now? Well today we time travel back to c.1989 and to Pete’s Pool Centre situated between 660 Main Road, Eltham and the Shell Service Station on the corner of Mount Pleasant Road, opposite Wingrove Park. And check out the price of petrol; $0.579 versus $1.519 today if you fill up.
Did you ever visit Pete’s Pool Centre? What was it like? It has gone now, the property absorbed into the Service Station and Kmart Tyre and Auto Repair business; grass where the building once stood. Ten years earlier it was the presence of Alan Whitmore Estate Agent, which we caught a sight of in a previous time jump to the 1978 Eltham Festival Parade. Maybe he sold Pete’s Pool Centre?
#MysteryMonday – Today’s images are five sequential frames from a roll of colour negative film. We are fairly certain that they are all of Route 9 through the old Shire of Eltham; pretty much because frame No. 3 shows the blue route sign. This suggests they are either of the Kangaroo Ground-Yarra Glen Road or the Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road. Again we feel that they are probably all around Kangaroo Ground.
Our collections team is keen to geo-tag as many images as we can in our collection. So, today’s MysteryMonday challenge is to identify the exact GPS coordinates for each of the five frames using whatever resources you have available. You may happen to know exactly where each of the pictures are taken. Road signage clues are always helpful; for instance, frame No. 1 warns of horse float crossings ahead. Or you may want to take a drive using Google Street View. Then again it is such a beautiful day, you may want to take a real drive and capture an up to date picture as well.
In frames No. 0 and No. 1 there appears to be a small stone building not far from the road, visible near the horse warning signage.
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.
The original Shire of Eltham was founded in 1871. Prior to its founding, the district was managed by the Eltham District Road Board, which was established in 1856. The first rate assessment commenced in 1857 for the year ending October 14, 1858.
The honour of being recorded with the first assessment went to a farm of 110 cultivated acres at Lower Plenty, owned by John Porter and occupied by Albert Baines. It was assessed at 6d/acre providing for a rate income of £2 15s.
In July 2017, officers at the Shire of Nillumbik discovered some early Eltham Road District Assessment books and donated them to the Eltham District Historical Society. We were very excited as we soon realised the seven volumes handed over to us were the district’s first six years of rate assessments. This was a unique and significant record of early settlers in the pre-Shire of Eltham. They immediately became one of the oldest and most valuable items in our collection.
An article on page 5 in the Eltham and Whittlesea Shires Advertiser, Friday, 21 November, 1941 titled: ‘District’s Early History‘ states: “The first rate book which is still in existence at the Shire Office is for the year ending October 14, 1858 and is probably the best record possible to indicate the development of the district. At the time properties were rated as follows: Cultivated land. 6d. per acre; pasture land, 1d. per acre: estimated annual value of buildings, etc., 6d in the (pound). The total amount of rate recorded for the year was £153/14/8. Properties were described as being situated at Lower Plenty, Yarra Yarra, Eltham, Lower Eltham, Kangaroo Ground, Yarra Flats, Diamond Creek and the Yarra.”
Given the precious nature of this collection, priority was given to digitise the rate books and place them in suitable archival storage to minimise further handling. Subsequent discussion amongst our Collections team arrived at the conclusion that the most appropriate home for this valuable record was the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV), the archive of the State Government of Victoria and who are charged with archiving and caring for all Government related records. An approach was made to PROV and the air of excitement was palpable, just as it had been for us. These records completed their collection of rate assessment books for Eltham.
At a small ceremony held Friday, April 20 at the Local History Centre, Eltham, members of the Society and our Collections team, along with Ms. Vicki Ward, MP for Eltham, presented the seven volumes for 1858-1863 along with the complete set of digital files to Mr. David Taylor, Community Archives Manager and Mr. Charlie Farrugia, Senior Collection Advisor, Public Record Office Victoria.
“Thank you to the Historical Society for providing us with Eltham’s earliest known rate records. The receipt of these records means that a complete set for the district is now available for researchers to access from the state archives alongside other districts across Victoria. Rate books are a valuable resource for family and property researchers and are amongst our most popular records for those who want to know more about the history of their home. It’s fantastic to be able to add these early books from 1858-1863 to our collection,” David Taylor, Community Archives Manager, Public Record Office Victoria (pictured far right).
Society Vice President, Peter Pidgeon said that whilst the Society was reluctant to see the rate assessment volumes go, it was the right thing to do as they are now re-united with their brothers and sisters and Public Record Office Victoria was best equipped to care for them in a climate controlled environment for perpetuity.
This is another example of the extended reach the Society has been able to achieve in being able to catalogue and share our collection via Victorian Collections.
The Society will continue to retain the digital version of these records in our catalogue on Victorian Collections, which are fully accessible as per the following links.
#ThrowbackThursday – From 1966 to 1968 the Shire of Eltham undertook extensive improvements to Bible Street; sealing the road surface, new concrete curb and channeling and footpaths and stone masonry work to a number of adjoining property boundaries following construction of the footpaths. The work was broken into two stages, the northern half from the top of the hill to Grove street was completed first in 1966-67 and then the southern end to Dalton Street in 1968. Today we time travel back to 1968, just south of the highest point near 71 and 74 Bible Street where we see the work in progress. The curb and channeling has been completed as has the footpath on the western side. We have arrived just in time to catch a load of gravel being delivered for final grading of the road surface prior to sealing. On the eastern side we can see the footpath has yet to be constructed and we can also see how the land has been cut into to form the footpath. Bible Street, like many other streets in the shire has stonework edges for gardens abutting footpaths where the road and footpath have been cut into the terrain. Much of this stone masonry work was undertaken for the council by C.J. Watson and Sons.
Edendale Community Environment Farm in Gastons Road, Eltham now operates as Nillumbik Council’s environmental centre. The historic homestead has undergone a significant restoration and there is on-going development of the site consistent with its community education purpose. The house and the gateway sculpture “The Fences Act 1968” by Tony Trembarth are covered by a Heritage Overlay in the Nillumbik Planning Scheme.
Our May excursion will comprise a walk through the farm property and will radiate to other nearby places of historic interest. These will include the site of the Eltham North Adventure Playground to discuss its history and destruction by fire. Also nearby is Colemans Corner where the early road system has undergone some unusual changes. If time permits we may visit some other nearby places of interest.
This short walk on Saturday 5th May will take 2 to 2.5 hours. It will start at 2pm at the car park of the Eltham North Reserve accessed off Wattletree Road, opposite the Eltham North School (Melway ref 21 K 1).
This excursion is free and is open to the general public as well as Society members.
Please note that dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.
The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.
SOLVED: Near 5 Walsh Street, Eltham; looking east up Walsh Street from near Bolton Street
#MysteryMonday – Today’s image is again of a residential area; once again featuring the new speed calming devices introduced by the Shire of Eltham, circa 1989. These residential roadscapes can sometimes be the hardest to solve unless you are familiar with the road. Given the level of success achieved so far, only two MysteryMonday posts remain unsolved since we started, we think this is a great way to assist us reducing our catalogue backlog.
Can you identify it? We’d love to hear from you; your thoughts and suggestions as to where it is and help us catalogue this image.
Over to you . . .
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia