#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back 50 years to the Main Road shops in Eltham. It is a Monday morning, July 15th, 1968 and the weather is fine but cloudy. People are off to work and school. The temperature is 41 degrees (5° C) with a high of 53 (12° C). Cars and people are navigating the roadworks which are now well under way to widen Main Road from Pitt Street to Elsa Court.
What memories does this invoke for you? One can certainly get a fuller impression now of how this area changed with the widening of the road.
#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.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 1960 and Pryor Street, Eltham near the intersection with Main Road.
Standing about halfway on the southern side of Pryor Street looking towards Main Road, we see on the northeastern corner, the new branch of the State Savings Bank of Victoria under construction. A brickie’s cement mixer stands on the footpath beside the building and the roofing is yet to be completed. In 1980 the State Savings Bank of Victoria name was revised to the State Bank of Victoria, which was eventually sold and absorbed into the Commonwealth Bank in 1990. Given the Commonwealth Bank already had a branch in Eltham, the building was acquired by the Bank of Melbourne which itself was acquired by the Westapc Bank in 1997. Despite some modifications and extensions, the current @Westpac Eltham branch building remains very recognisable especially when viewed from Pryor Street, even 58 years later.
Next door up the hill is a white timber building, Eltham Plumbing Supplies operated by Leonard and Jeannette Patricia Whiteway. Unlike the bank, this site has seen many changes. In 1963 a Petition for Bankruptcy was issued re Jeanette Patricia Whiteway of 88 Napoleon Street, Eltham, house duties, and carrying on a business at Pryor Street, Eltham in partnership with another as a plumber under the names Eltham Plumbing Supplies and L. & J.P. Whiteway. The Whiteways kept trading and four years later sought a notice for discharge. Eventually the building became the Eltham Bookshop including bric-a-brac items for sale.
With the development of the Eltham shopping district and Commercial Place, the building was demolished and a new cafe, the Eira Cafe and Lounge Bar replaced it and which more recently came under new ownership as the Jock and Eddie Cafe.
In this view, the house immediately to the left was the first house built in Pryor Street. By 1964 the property was in the ownership of the Shire of Eltham and was relocated c.1965 near to the area of the currrent Barak Bushlands.
#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.
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.
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.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to October 10, 1973 and the location bounded by Main Road and Bridge Street, Eltham. It is Arbor Day and the school children of the Shire of Eltham are planting native trees in the newly created Eltham Town Park. This event had previously been planned to take place during the visit of Sir Rohan Delacombe to the Shire on 19th September, 1973 but was cancelled that day due to the inclement weather.
The following are four images from our collection of 24 images from that day and we invite you to review all 24 in our catalogue on @victoriancollections. In these you will see the areas allocated for Montmorency Primary School and Panton Hill Primary School. The lake in the park is still under construction.
Were you part of this Arbor Day event? Do you recognise yourself or friends in the photos? A number of teachers also feature. We would really appreciate any comments you can offer that would help identify people and other memories. Comments can easily be left against each image in our catalogue record on Victorian Collections.
#MysteryMonday – Have you ever wondered how the street you live on came by its name? People, places and events shape where we live and provide us with an insight into the past and what was important at the time. For instance, Lavender Park Road in Eltham was once known as New Street. Why would they change a perfectly good name for the street, when it did not need to be, or did it?
Maybe it was because on the 29th of May 1954, a local Eltham carpenter by the name of John Swallow, committed a double murder at his home on New Street. This happened on the same day as the federal election of that year.
John 48, his wife Mary 47, and step daughter Patricia 25, all went to the Eltham Courthouse on Main Road to cast their vote in the election that Saturday. After voting they returned home to their New Street house around midday.
Patricia would later recall to ambulance officers, that she was feeling unwell, and so went to lay down when she heard an argument erupt over voting between her mother Mary and step father John.
A concerned neighbour heard loud thudding noises and yelling coming from John and Mary’s house, he went to investigate. When he arrived at the house he was met by John at the front door. He would later describe John as “having a frantic look upon his face, and manic eyes”. John must have been a sight, bleeding and clutching a cut throat razor by his side. He then announced to the neighbour, “they voted commie!” before turning and going back inside. The distressed neighbour immediately raced home to call the Police.
When the police arrived, they found Mary dead on the kitchen floor from catastrophic head injuries; her daughter, Patricia, clinging to life, slumped on her bed. Both women had been attacked by the same weapon, a large hammer, or sledge hammer as reported by the newspapers. John was also discovered in the house, bleeding from self-inflicted wounds from the razor, and had attempted to ingest caustic soda.
Patricia was taken to St Vincent’s hospital, but died the following day, the 30th of May. John was also taken to St Vincent’s, where he remained under constant police guard for several months while he recovered from his injuries, at least the physical. He was eventually well enough to be taken to the City Watch House and then Pentridge Prison before his trial in October of the same year.
When it came time for John to face the courts, the Judge called a mistrial, the Crown would not prosecute on the grounds of insanity. John was led away from the dock of The Magistrates Court and taken directly to Willsmere, the Kew Mental Asylum.
On the 9th of August 1962, John Mervyn Swallow died of heart failure, he was 57. He had been a resident of Kew for four years. John’s body was returned to Eltham Cemetery and buried in the same grave as Mary. There is no mention of his name on the head stone. Patricia’s grave is next to Mary and John. A sad irony has an angel upon her grave, “its head missing”, possibly vandals or just an accident of time and events.
What became of the home where all of this took place on New Street shall remain a mystery but within six months of this horrific event, the street had been re-named to Lavender Park Road after the original property near the end of the road, Lavender Park.
Contributed by by Heather Eastman
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia