ThrowbackThursday: Ashton’s Circus the world’s greatest! c.1958

#ThrowbackThursday – Roll up! Roll up! Come on down to Bremner’s Flat and Ashton’s Circus, the world’s greatest!

Ashton’s Circus set up in Bremner’s Flat (Wingrove Park), Main Road, Eltham, c.1958. Viewed from Grace Mitchell’s shop in Mount Pleasant Road. ( Photo: Grace Mitchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

Today we time travel back to Bremner’s Flat, circa 1958 where Ashton’s Circus and Zoo have set up their Big Top. A wonderful cast of peerless performers await to entertain us with daring Trapeze Artists, Aerialists and High Wire Acts that will hold you spellbound! We will have the opportunity to see Ashton’s herd of elephants from the jungles of Malaya; a thrilling rodeo of trained horses and riders; Ashton’s Clowns, clearly the world’s funniest and Ashton’s famous circus – the most popular on the road today! Look out for Captain Shultz (late of Barnum and Bailey, the greatest show in America) and The Cage of Death – he works 10 lions and lionesses all in one cage; 3 Nacchines, Continental Clowns; the famous Flying Ashtons; Top-of-the-Tent marvels – Miss Lorraine, Leo St. Leon, brilliant equestrian – Phillis & Douglas Ashton, Miss Marie Sanderson, Mervyn Ashton and more. It’s a show not to be missed.

Ashton’s Circus set up in Bremner’s Flat (Wingrove Park), Main Road, Eltham, c.1958. Viewed from Grace Mitchell’s shop in Mount Pleasant Road. ( Photo: Grace Mitchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

 

Notes:

  • Bremner’s Flat was the original name given to the reserve located opposite the intersection of Mount Pleasant Road and Main Road, Eltham. It was renamed to Wingrove Park circa 1970.
  • According to the National Library of Australia; Ashton’s Circus was founded in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1847 by Thomas Mollor, and acquired in February 1850 by James Henry Ashton, a man schooled in the tradition of English circus and who had experienced the hard times of the nineteenth century. The circus operated as the Royal Amphitheatre or Royal Circus. When founder James Henry Ashton died in 1889, his son Fred, then aged 22, inherited the circus. The circus continued to be handed down throughout the family, and today it is run by the 6th generation of Ashtons, Michelle and Joseph and their sons, Jordan and Merrik. As Joseph had founded ‘Circus Joseph Ashton’ in 1998 prior to his grandfather’s retirement in 2000, it was decided to apply this name to the family’s main circus reflecting the current state of ownership and operations. The prior name of “Ashton’s Circus” was retired.
  • Circus acts referenced from various newspaper advertisements of the time accessed through the National Library of Australia’s website, Trove

 

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MysteryMonday: Yvonne’s Dressmaking and Alteration Service, 1987

#MysteryMonday – Today’s image is a Main Road somewhere in the former Shire of Eltham. It was taken in 1987 and displayed along with a number of other panels at the 1987 Eltham Community Festival as part of the Eltham Shire Council display of infrastructure and services. Only problem is, we can not work out where this particular photo was taken. The only real identifying feature is the shop sign for Yvonne’s Dressmaking and Alteration Service. And no, it is not 23 Paris Street, Alliston, Ontario, Canada.

Main road street scene showing Yvonne’s Dressmaking and Alteration Service, c. October 1987 ( from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

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 images.

Over to you . . .

. . . and remember, if this proves to easy for you, there is always last week’s MysteryMonday, which remains unsolved.

ThrowbackThursday: Main Road Bridge, Lower Plenty, 1966

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to September 1966 to the boundary of the Shire of Eltham and the City of Heidelberg on the Plenty River and the construction site of the new Lower Plenty Bridge. Work is well under way preparing for the provision of utility services and the roadway; the concrete piers and prefabricated steel and concrete girders having been put in place the month before. The bridge was completed and open for use by November 1966. It was subsequently duplicated along with Main Road in 1970.

Construction of the new Main Road Bridge, Lower Plenty, c.August 1966. The new Lower Plenty Hotel in background. ( from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Construction of new Main Road Bridge, Lower Plenty, c.August 1966 ( from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Construction of new Main Road Bridge, Lower Plenty, c.August 1966 ( from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
New Main Road Bridge, Lower Plenty, November 1966 ( from the Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection, No. 802, held in partnership between Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory and Yarra Plenty Regional Library (Eltham Library) @YarraPlentyRegionalLibrary @threalelthamlibrary )

MysteryMonday: Rural Road Infrastructure, Shire of Eltham, c.1987

#MysteryMonday – Today’s images are from a roll of 35mm colour negative film. There are 12 images in total; part of the Shire of Eltham infrastructure works on rural roads. It is believed they were taken around 1987.

Frame 1
Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 4 strips, Kodak CP100 5094
( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Frame 2
Frame 3
Frame 6
Frame 7
Frame 8
Frame 9
Frame 11

Can you identify these? Not all the frames have been posted as they are of detail like potholes, etc that add no value to the identification of the road or area.

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 . . .

ThrowbackThursday: Snow Falls, Stokes Orchard, Nyora Road, Eltham, 1951

#ThrowbackThursday – As we now head gradually into warmer spring weather, leaving behind what many would call a colder than normal winter, can you think back to even colder winter seasons. Have you ever heard of it snowing in Eltham? We have often heard tale of this event but never actually seen any photographs of it. Well, today we are going to time travel back to the morning of Thursday, July 19th, 1951, to Nyora Road, Eltham at the corner with Eucalyptus Road and Pitt Street. But bring some warm, wet weather gear with you, and your camera, because right now the snow is falling.

The Stokes family home blanketed with snow, Nyora Road, Eltham, winter 1951 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory; donated by Beryl Bradbury (nee Stokes), daughter of Frank Stokes)

Standing in Nyora Road just east of Eucalyptus Road, which itself is not much more than an unmade track, we look towards the southeast and the home built by Frank Stokes for his family just a few years earlier. Now the home of Nyora Studio Gallery @NyoraStudioGallery, it was originally built by Frank towards the end of the war over a two year period as he established his orchard  to the north east bounded roughly by Nyora, Eucalyptus and Diosma Roads.

Stokes Orchard blanketed with snow, Nyora Road, Eltham, winter 1951 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory; donated by Beryl Bradbury (nee Stokes), daughter of Frank Stokes)

Turning to the opposite direction, as we look across Nyora through the wet falling snow, we see the orchard running down the hill and up the other side, a blanket of snow starting to cover the ground. Eucalyptus Road runs roughly along the line of trees to the west.

This event was reported in The Age the next day: –

“SNOW HEAVIEST FOR 20 YEARS: State Shivers in Antarctic Winds”

“Snow falls yesterday were the most widespread in the State’s history and the heaviest in Melbourne for 20 years. Many western, northern and eastern suburbs had snow.”

“Icy winds blowing in from the Antarctic gave Melbourne its coldest July day for 50 years and the second coldest on record.”

“At Eltham an inch had fallen by 11 a.m., and trees were festooned with snow.”

“At noon Melbourne’s temperature of 39.1 deg. was .9 deg. colder than the temperature recorded at Macquarie Island, in the Antarctic, 600 miles to the south. The minimum for the day, however, was 37.2 deg. at 12.50. Through most of the day the temperature was below 40 deg. and the maximum (at 9 a.m.) was only 44.5. Essendon had a record low midday temperature of 34 deg. — two deg. above freezing point.”

Do you remember snow ever falling in Eltham? Do you have photos that you would like to share/donate to our Society? We would love to hear your stories of this event. Perhaps we had better put another log on the fire. . . .

Notes:

Frank Stokes first traveled to the district by train in 1944 to find land with the intention to establish an orchard. By chance he met Arthur Bird of Bird Orchard (bounded by Pitt Street, Eucalyptus Road and Wattle Grove) and they got talking over their common interest. Arthur put Frank up for the night and pointed out the land, part of Crown Allotment 15, Section 5, Parish of Nillumbik (CA15) somewhat diagonally opposite Bird Orchard. Frank bought the land and for the next two years would travel by train from Melbourne to Eltham every weekend establishing Stokes Orchard and building a home for his family, which they eventually moved into in 1946.

The Society is very fortunate to have recently received a donation of photographs and other items of interest pertaining to the Stokes family, Stokes Orchard and the Stokes Orchard Estate from Beryl Bradbury (nee Stokes), eldest daughter of Frank and Gladys (nee Bolduan) Stokes. Much of the Stokes family orchard history had been held and cared for by Beryl’s younger brother, David Stokes, and was lost during the terrible Black Saturday fires on 7 February 2009, which tragically took David as well.

References:

Stokes Orchard – An Incomplete History

1951 ‘SNOW HEAVIEST FOR 20 YEARS’, The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), 20 July, p. 1. , viewed 13 Sep 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article205338273

 

Advertised Sale of Former Shire Office Site and War Memorial Precinct

895 and 903-907 Main Road Eltham

The Eltham District Historical Society notes the recent advertising by Nillumbik Shire Council for the sale of properties at 895 and 903-907 Main Road Eltham.

Our Society has previously stated our position on these properties on our website and Facebook page and directly to all Nillumbik Shire Councillors.

We repeat this statement:

Our Society is of the firm opinion that the original Eltham War Memorial complex of buildings including the entrance gates should not be sold, nor demolished. The site should remain in community ownership and be retained as a form of living memorial with a specific focus directed towards the welfare of the children of the district to ‘be a constant reminder of those who fought for us and the little ones for whom they fought and died’.

Further, Eltham District Historical Society also holds the position that the three Mediterranean Cypress trees (Shillinglaw trees), which are well over 100 years old, still standing proudly in front of the adjoining former Shire of Eltham Office site, are of local heritage significance. These trees represent a navigational beacon between the past, present and future landscape and history of the district and are covered by a heritage overlay. The Society is determined that they should be protected; they should not be disturbed by relocation and that the land they reside upon should also remain in community hands, not private ownership.

The Eltham District Historical Society is disappointed there has not been full disclosure to prospective investors and developers of the historical value of the Eltham War Memorial complex and the Shillinglaw trees in this advertising information.

There are few historically related properties remaining in public ownership within our Shire. The property at 903-907 Main Road contains both First and Second World War memorials in commemoration of the members of our community who paid the ultimate sacrifice to benefit our future legacy. These memorials should be protected as sacred sites in perpetuity, held in community ownership and honouring the purpose for which they were intended and for which the land was donated by the community. They should not be sacrificed for short term gain nor placed in private ownership.

EDHS Position Statement download

ThrowbackThursday: Pitt Street, Eltham from Hotel to Milk Bar, c.1966

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to the corner of Pitt Street and Main Road, circa September 1966 where we will commence our walk eastwards to Bible Street.

Eltham Hotel, corner of Pitt Street and Main Road, c. September 1966 ( from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

On the southeast corner of Pitt and Main we see the iconic Eltham Hotel with its sunny Beer Garden out back and Drive In Bottle Shop accessed from Pitt Street. A sign on the left advises us of roadwork ahead.  Reconstruction of Bible Street and a number of the cross streets was undertaken by the Shire of Eltham as part of infrastructure upgrades from 1966 through 1968. Typically the underground services would be completed then new footpaths and nature strips along with many of the characteristic rock retaining walls. Lastly, the new road surfaces would be sealed.

Eltham Hotel, corner of Pitt Street and Main Road, Eltham, October 2017 (Google Street View)
Looking east along Pitt Street, Eltham, c. September 1966, Stebbing Cottage on right ( from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

As we head towards Bible Street we have to walk along the road. Pitt Street is still unsealed and there are no footpaths on the nature strip, just the odd track. On the left we see some of the large underground pipes placed on the nature strips in preparation for the roadworks that are under way. On the right we see a glimpse of Stebbing Cottage at 88 Pitt Street, built by George Stebbing over 100 years ago around 1860. In the distance we can see Pitt Street climbing the hill east of Bible Street.

Looking east along Pitt Street near Stebbing Cottage (on right), September 2016 (Google Street View)
Looking east along Pitt Street towards the intersection with Bible Street, Eltham, c. September 1966 ( from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

As we dip down the hill towards Bible Street we can now see the local Milk Bar on the southeast corner of Pitt and Bible streets. A Bulla delivery truck is pulled up out front delivering a fresh load of milk, cream and ice cream. A red Telephone Box stands on the nature strip. Apart from the Milk Bar, no other buildings or houses are visible on the southern side of Pitt Street and only a few on the northern side as we look up the hill. Some children are riding on bikes.

Looking east along Pitt Street towards intersection with Bible Street, Eltham, September 2016 (Google Street View)
Local neighbourhood Milk Bar, corner of Bible and Pitt streets, Eltham, c. September 1966 ( from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

As we arrive at Bible Street, also unsealed, we notice the red kerosene warning lanterns placed on stakes on the road verges around the intersection in preparation for the road works. The Bulla truck just pulled away. A little girl walks past us carrying a bag and heading up Pitt Street. The local Milk Bar also offers a Delicatessen and Self Service Grocery and Drive Through customer car park. Perhaps she just picked up some groceries from the Milk Bar for her mum who has promised to bake her a cake for afternoon tea.

What memories do you have of the Eltham Milk Bar and other local neighbourhood Milk Bars? It remains a survivor in our time poor, modern society; a link to a more leisurely pace in our past. There used to be two others within a short distance; one in Hartland Way and one in Eucalyptus Road, both now re-purposed more than a decade ago.

Eltham Milk Bar at intersection of Pitt and bible streets, September 2016 (Google Street View)