#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to school, Eltham State School No. 209 on Dalton Street, more commonly known today as Eltham Primary. It is 1891 and the children of Grades 3 & 4 and Grade 5 are lined up on this special occasion to have their photographs taken. It is a clunky affair taking a photograph back then. The photographer has to set up his big polished wooden box on to a tripod usually made of wood and brass. He has a large black cape which he covers the rear of the box. He pops his head under the cape to peer through the lens at the front of the box. Everything he sees is upside down. He fusses around to get the children lined up in the right spots, checks his composition once more, places the lens cover back on and then inserts a cassette containing the glass plate negative into the rear of the box. Upon commanding everyone’s attention one more time, reminding them to remain perfectly still till he says they can move again, he removes the lens cap and counts; 1, 2, 3, 4, …….
No one knows how it will turn out until he has processed it that night, but he knows; it is perfect.
And the children will be able to share something very special with their fathers by the weekend. But shush now, that’s a surprise.
The children of Grades 3, 4 and 5 in 1891 want to wish all their father’s a very special day this weekend but also all of the fathers that have come after them a very special Happy Father’s Day this weekend also.
Father’s Day did not actually exist in 1891. It was initially founded in the United States in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, a Civil War veteran, William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. We wonder if William Jackson Smart was in any way connected to the Smart family children attending Eltham State School in 1891.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we travel back in time to May 1968 and a place very different back then, an unsealed lane way running behind the Main Road shops from Arthur Street through to Pryor and Luck streets. It had no name. It did not even appear on the maps of the day until the 1980s. We do not have any stories to share, we are simply going to take a stroll together along the lane from Arthur Street to Luck Street and observe. The stories to be told here today are yours; your memories and recollections of a lane behind the shops before it became a Commercial Place in Eltham Town @mykindatown
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to July 1969 to the intersection of Main Road and Grand Boulevard, Montmorency; specifically the section of land bordered by Grand Boulevard, Main Road and Looker Road. Recently it was announced that this piece of of land was the site for the all new Apex-Diamond Valley Ambulance Station.
Fast forward to 2017 and it has recently been announced that an all new Ambulance Station is to be constructed in place of the old station and that demolition of the old building will commence in November.
Demolition of the original station built back in 1969-1970 commences in November 2017 with the new upgraded station due to open in the second half of 2018.
#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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
#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.
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.
In place of our listed heritage excursion for Saturday, 1st September 2018, the Eltham District Historical Society will hold an Open Day at the Eltham Justice Precinct, on the corner of Main Road and Brougham Street, Eltham.
The intention of this event is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of our Local History Centre, which was opened on 12th July 1998 and is located in the former Police Residence adjacent to the Eltham Court House. Our Centre was established through the dedicated work of some of our members.
As part of this celebration we will also be launching our use of the replica Police Station next to our Local History Centre. The intention is to have this small timber building reflect a 1920s era Police Station, that will be used as part of our regular heritage tours for schools and community based groups.
This Open Day will be between 1pm and 4pm and is free for the general public as well as Society members. Dogs are not permitted at this event.
Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham
St Margaret’s Church in Pitt Street, Eltham was designed by Nathaniel Billing and built by well-known pioneer builder George Stebbing on land donated by Henry Dendy.
At our Society meeting at 8.00pm on Wednesday 8th August 2018 architect David Wagner from Atelier Wagner will speak about the opportunities and challenges experienced in designing and constructing a contemporary style extension to this revered historical building, highly valued by the local congregation.
Prior to becoming involved with St Margaret’s the Atelier Wagner architectural practice has, among an extensive range of projects, renovated and extended several churches. With this project there was also the challenge of incorporating, modifying and connecting the adjacent buildings that shared an entrance foyer. This project is of particular historical interest as it shows how buildings of different eras can be effectively used together.
As always, Society members and visitors are most welcome to attend this meeting.
By Russell Yeoman (reproduced from Newsletter No. 242, August 2018)
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.
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”.
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 (prior to August 1967) 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
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.
c.1986 November. Former Police Station demolished; believed to have been suffering termite damage.
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.
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).
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia