William MacMahon Ball (“Mac” Ball) was Professor of Political Science at Melbourne University from 1949 to 1968, having lectured there since 1923. He became known as an ABC commentator on international affairs from the early 1930s to the early 1960s. Between 1940 and 1944 he was Controller of Overseas Broadcasting (which later became Radio Australia). In 1945, he was political consultant to the Australian Delegation at the conference leading to the establishment of the United Nations, and in 1946 was the British Commonwealth Representative on the Allied Council during the post-war occupation of Japan.
Mac and his wife Katrine (plus daughter Jenny) came to Eltham in 1942, and in 1945 moved into an old timber cottage at the eastern end of York Street. With help from Alistair Knox, Sonia Skipper, Gordon Ford and John Harcourt, the house was totally renovated to become an early example of Eltham mud-brick.
Mac died in 1986 and is buried in Eltham Cemetery with Katrine. Part of their land backing onto Bridge Street was donated to Eltham Shire Council and is now a reserve called MacMahon Ball Paddock.
MacMahon Ball Paddock
Marshall, Marguerite; Nillumbik now and then : Eltham and beyond; with photographs by Ron Grant, Eltham 2002
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back 50 years to 1969 and the northwest corner of Metery and Mount Pleasant Roads, Eltham, overlooking Carrucan’s Dairy on Dalton Street. The Carrucan farm included land within the area bounded by Dalton Street, Metery Road and Mount Pleasant Road, as well as other land in various locations around Eltham.
A number of members of the Carrucan family left their homes in West Clare, Ireland in the 1850s to settle in various parts of the world including Australia. The book Dirt Poor Spirit Rich produced in 2011 by The Carrucan Family Fellowship tells the story of the history of this extensive family.
Newly married Patrick and Mary Carrucan travelled to Melbourne in 1856 and settled in Eltham. They purchased a small farm property at the corner of Bible Street and Dalton Street and lived there for the rest of their lives. By the time Patrick died in 1896 they had substantial land holdings around Eltham.
The farm passed to their son Michael (Mick) and later to his son John (Jack). Jack built a modern dairy in the 1940s and that would be the dairy shown in this photograph. The family home is located opposite the dairy at the corner of Bible Street. Over the years and particularly in the 1970s various parts of the farm were sold for residential subdivision including the dairy site. Jack died 5 May 1976 leaving no family. The family house was demolished around July 1976 and the last part of the property was subdivided.
Another family closely connected with the Carrucan family is that descended from Thomas Sweeney, honoured as the pioneer settler in early Eltham.
This image along with some 400 others (mostly Hurstrbridge Line trains) was recently donated to the Society by George Coop. George is also the photographer of the well known image of the ‘Red Rattler’ wooden bodied Tait train on the Eltham Trestle Bridge, taken in 1981, which he donated to the Society some years back. We are most appreciative of George’s generousity and will feature a number of his other images in the future.
#OnThisDay – 25 years ago #OTD the community celebrated the opening of the new Eltham Library in Panther Place followed by the Shire President’s Picnic.
In 1987 Council set up a Library Review Working Party (which later became the Library Occasional Advisory Committee) with a task to prepare for a new library as the current library, opened in 1971, could no longer cope with growing demand. Council developed a strategy to set aside capital funds, from 1988 annually, to provide for preliminary planning and consultative expenses, with a projected construction completion in early 1997. The community was consulted throughout the process and over 1,000 questionnaires were distributed to library users and non-users seeking their input.
In 1992 the Commonwealth Government established the Local Capital Works Program and Council made application for a grant of almost $900,000, applying the full amount towards a new library. Council funded a further $2 million to build the new library, which enabled the project to be accelerated in completion. The project was commenced in September 1992.
In his address to the assembled guests at the opening, the Hon. Peter Staples, Member for Jagga Jagga said:
“I think you will find that it will become a centre of life in Eltham just as Montsalvat over the years has become a feature and a part of the spirit of Eltham.”
“It will be something that will be shared by people not only in Eltham but in other places for many years to come. I am quite confident in predicting that it will become more of a focus of the life and the culture and the spirit of Eltham than any other public building around.”
We are all familiar with the meaning of 20-20 hindsight. Well, grab a cuppa and give yourselves a 28 minute time-out to join us in this journey in time to see what great foresight our former Eltham Shire Councillors had for our community.
The video features an introductory look at the new library with the assembled guests and music performed by Eltham High School. A welcome speech is given by Shire President, Cr Pamela Sladden followed by the Hon. Peter Staples, Member for Jagga Jagga. Cr. Robert J. (Bob) Manuell, Chairperson, Eltham Library Redevelopment Special Committee then gives a sometimes humourous analogy of the history of the project’s development from conception to delivery with reference to the Year of the International Family (1994). At the end of the speeches there are scenes of guests looking over the library followed by scenes of the Shire President’s picnic.
William Bravery Andrew, born in England, came to Melbourne in 1842 and settled in Brighton, where he became acquainted with Henry Dendy. He moved to Eltham in the 1850s and opened a produce store on “Policeman’s Hill”, at the corner of Maria Street (now Main Road) and Franklin Street. He took a lively interest in the public affairs of the town and district, and with his wife Ellen continued to run the store for some fifty years. He died in 1907 and is buried with his wife in Eltham Cemetery.
His son Ernest James Andrew took over the business, which became a general store and news agency. Later, it shifted to the main Eltham shopping centre as a combined news agency and haberdashery/clothing shop. Ernie too was married to an Ellen and they lived in Arthur Street at so-called “Cook’s Cottage” (due to its resemblance to Captain Cook’s Cottage in the Fitzroy Gardens). He was an Eltham Shire Councillor between 1920 and 1950 and was Shire President for a time. Andrew House at Eltham High School and Andrew Oval in Diamond Street, Eltham are named after him. Ernie died in 1950 and is buried with Ellen in the Eltham Cemetery.
The original weatherboard building at the corner of Franklin Street is long gone and was replaced by a brick structure, which is now a cafe called Zen Den.
Alfred Patrick Armstrong was born in England in 1825 and was employed under the renowned Isambard Kingdom Brunel as a civil engineer during the construction of the Great Western Railway and the South Wales Railway. He came to Melbourne in 1852 and purchased property in Eltham. He became a mining surveyor and was Inspector of Mines and the Mining Registrar for the St Andrews Division of the Castlemaine Mining District.
In 1855, he chaired a meeting calling for a bridge to be erected across the Yarra River between Eltham and Temple Stow. He was registered as an innkeeper in 1858, was involved in raising money for the establishment of Eltham Primary School, and was on the Eltham Cemetery Trust in 1860. He was elected to the Eltham District Road Board (forerunner of Eltham Shire Council) from 1867 to 1871 and then served as an Eltham Shire Councillor from 1871 to 1878 (including Shire President in 1873).
Alfred died in 1893, having been in ill health for some time, and is buried in the Eltham Cemetery with his wife Margaret. The monument features a tall pillar capped with a draped urn: a symbol of death.
Meet at 2.00pm at the corner of Bible and Bridge streets, Eltham (Melway ref 21 K6). The planned walk will take about two hours.
This excursion is planned to be a walk through the precinct covering John Street, Eltham and nearby streets where there are a number of mud brick houses dating from the 1940s through to quite recent times. This free guided walk passes houses built by Alistair Knox, Gordon Ford, Peter Glass and others who made significant contributions to the Eltham tradition of earth building.
Most of the route traverses streets of Josiah Holloway’s 1851 Little Eltham subdivision. We will discuss this subdivision and the origin of some of the street names. On the way to and from John Street we will view some other places of historical or heritage interest.
The walk is open to Society members and the general public. Please note that this walk does not include internal inspection of any houses.
Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.
The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia