Recently we promoted some work via our Website and Facebook page that the collections team had done digitising some old audio tapes in the collection. Now we need to listen to them and provide improved information and keywords. If anyone would like to help out with this project, please get in touch, and we can arrange for you to access a recording.
A favourite resource for local and family historians and just the curious, Trove brings together a vast range of collections from almost 1,000 cultural, community and research organisations all over Australia. It includes specific content that cannot be easily found via a typical search engine. Trove has re-launched with a refreshed logo, colour, overall design and new features.
Eltham Library (and six other YPRL branches) is open from 30 June with restrictions in place.
Local historian and former EDHS member Bruce Draper passed away recently. His daughter has curated Up The Creek, a collection of his articles about the pioneers, people and local history of Arthurs Creek and surrounding districts.
Australia Post wants to mark this moment in our nation’ s history. They are inviting Australians to write a letter to share our experience of the COVID-19 pandemic with their Dear Australia Project. Record your impressions of this remarkable time. Please send EDHS a copy too!
A picture tells A thousand words is the inspiration for this new online exhibition from NSW State Archives and Sydney Living Museums.
The Royal Historical Society of Victoria has responded to recent events with official statements:
Our Little Eltham Street Library remains open and proving to be very popular, with a broad selection of titles on offer. So if you are out walking, please drop in at the Local History Centre at 728 Main Road, Eltham. . . . Take a book – leave a book – share a book !
on behalf of the committee of the Eltham District Historical Society
During the COVID-19 Pandemic State of Emergency Stage 3 lockdown, our Collections team has continued to work in the background from home, digitising material and cataloguing it onto Victorian Collections. Included amongst these items are a number of old audio compact cassette tapes. Even though we say ‘old’ (because they are), many of us are still familiar with these items. Finding the old analog technology still functional to play them is increasingly difficult.
One of the tapes was recorded for us in April 2002 on the occasion of the centenary of Alan Marshall’s birth, by long term society member and local artist, Joh Ebeli (1918-2012). In 1977 Joh undertook to create a sculpture of the face of Alan Marshall. Joh recorded a conversation he had with Alan during one sitting in 1977 at Alan’s studio bungalow, 13 Park Road, Eltham. (The property owned by Alan’s sister was sold shortly after his death and was only recently sold again in March 2020.)
During this pandemic, we have decided to make this audio recording accessible for all to enjoy. It runs for just over 32 minutes and consists of general chit chat and banter between Joh Ebeli and Alan Marshall on various current affairs, matters of the past, artists and Joh’s method of sculpture production.
In this short video you will be given a brief look at the Eltham Justice precinct on Main Road and how it came about in Little Eltham as well as some background history leading to the establishment of the Shire of Eltham Historical Society (now Eltham District Historical Society) arising from the relocation of Shillinglaw Cottage.
A permant link to the video and others is accessible from the right hand sidebar of our website.
Greetings to all from Eltham District Historical Society; from our homes to your homes.
As an initiative to keep in touch with our members during the COVID-19 State of Emergency Stage 3 lock-down, our committee initiated a one-page information sheet to be sent approximately every two weeks to our members.
As part of documenting our own history and in the interests of sharing with all in the community, we are now going to make these Touchstone newsletters accessible via our web site, along with our regular Newsletter.
The following is a reproduction of Touchstone No. 1 and this issue and an archive of subsequent issues may be accessed from the Main Menu at the top of each page.
No.1 – 9th April 2020
We send our best wishes to all our members.
Until we are able to see you again for our Society Meetings and Heritage Excursions, we hope all our members are well and staying safe, during these times of enforced isolation.
EDHS will continue to connect with you, distribute our newsletters and email any other information of interest. There are also other ways you can still stay connected with our local history.
Here you can see an extensive range of local history stories about the northern suburbs.
During this down time perhaps consider writing your memories and stories of living and working in Eltham and District for our archives. See the attached as a guide.
You could go through your photos and share your memories with family members. Consider donating archives, including photos relating to Eltham and District to EDHS. We can also arrange to digitise these.
So, while we cannot be with you in person, at this time, you are in our thoughts.
Please take care, we hope you are able to stay safe.
President, on behalf of the committee of the Eltham District Historical Society
#ThrowbackThursday – In February 1965, Staffs Railway Store, the oldest business premises in the Eltham shopping district was demolished. Formerly a self-service grocery, restaurant and electrical repair shop, the building for many years housed Eltham’s only ‘family’ grocer and feed store. Earlier it had appeared to have been the town’s bakery. The building had been purchased in late March 1939 by Mr Eric N. Staff. At the time of E.N. Staff’s purchase there were huge bakers’ ovens located at the rear and the building also had a well and four toilets for employees.
When the ‘pictures’ came to Eltham with the opening of the Eltham Public Hall across the road in 1941, Mr E.N. Staff extended the business and opened a milk bar and sweet shop. Further extensions re-established the tea rooms of days gone by. Mr E.N. Staff conducted business for about 15 years before handing over the reins to his son, Ray Staff.
When his son Ray took over, the milk bar and tea rooms were closed for several years but the milk bar and was later re-opened and subsequently became a greengrocers and later again, a restaurant. The tea rooms section was converted to an electrical repair shop about 1955.
Electoral Roll records for 1967 record Raymond Charles Staff at 929 Main Road, Eltham, grocer, and in 1968 at Lot 4, Hillcrest Avenue, Eltham, taxi truck operator. So it would appear that Ray continued to run the business for approximately two years after the original store was demolished and a new supermarket was built.
Today, 929 Main Road is the Nongkhai Thai Restaurant and is precisely where the original Staffs store stood. Even though the facade has been modified at eye level with new larger windows, the upper facade is identical to that of the new Eltham Big Star Food Centre of 1965/66.
But how did the original building, the oldest premises in the 1965 era shopping centre come about? Well let us tell you about a man named Jed . . . well, Luther actually, so let us travel back further in time to 1902; August 12th to be precise, to the Eltham Courthouse.
Appearing before T. Smallman, Esq,. Police Magistrate, and Messrs. W. Duncan and W.J. Taylor, Justices of the Peace is Luther Haley, baker. Wilfred Henry Johnston, by his agent Stanley Ernest Elder has applied for a warrant of ejectment under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1890 against Luther Haley from the bakery premises at the corner of Main Road and York Street.
From the evidence presented we hear that Mrs Burgoyne of Eltham had purchased the property some months earlier from Mr Johnston, which consists of a store and bakery establishment at Eltham occupied by Mr. Luther Haley, and whose lease expired some little time back, and up to the present time, Mr. Haley was not prepared to leave. He informs the court that he is unable to secure at Eltham a suitable house in which to carry on his business, but he is now building a place near the railway station which he expects to be done in about three weeks time, and he is then prepared to give up possession of the premises he now occupies.
Mr Smallman informs the defendant, Luther Haley, that he will have to quit the premises in three weeks from the present date, and that a warrant of ejectment would be issued. However he also informs Mr Haley that he would order the warrant to lie in the office for three weeks from that date.
The premises under construction refered to by Luther Haley in court were situated on the western side of Main Road, near the railway station slightly opposite present day Arthur Street. It was opened around September 1902 as a General Store, Bakery and Tea Rooms.
This was the original building in the present day shopping precinct. At the time the only thing nearby was the railway station. Luther Haley’s business appeared to prosper and he would have catered to not only the locals abut also day visitors by train on Sundays coming up from Melbourne, offering fresh baked produce, tea rooms and summer drinks. The fields across Main Road running between present day Arthur Street and Luck Street were known as Haley’s Paddock and at times were used for community festivities and picnics. A newspaper report on the annual State schools picnic held at Haley’s Paddock on March 11, 1904 described it as “quite close to the railway station, and is quite capable of holding comfortably 10,000 people. With its ample shade shade and hilly surroundings, it is an ideal place for any gathering.” Unfortunately for Luther, just two months earlier his son, Leslie, aged 12 years had gone with a companion to bathe in the Diamond Creek and had accidentally drowned. But that’s another story.
Luther Haley successfully ran his general store, bakery and tea rooms until 1917 when he and his family departed the district and moved to Westgarth Street in Northcote where he changed careers and became a publisher.
It was then taken over by Hannah Lloyd and became known as Lloyd’s Railway General Store from 1917 to 1920. From then it had a succession of owners, one as short as two months until March 31, 1939 when the Grocery Business formerly carried on by Mr. T.K. White of Eltham for the previous eight years was purchased by Mr Eric N. Staff of Research and became known as E.N. Staff’s Railway Store.
The ownership timeline for the store is as follows:
Luther Haley Sep 1902-1917
Hannah Lloyd 1917-c.Feb 1920
Messrs J.R. & N.E. Lee 1920-Sep 1922
A. & E. Copeland Sep 1922-Sep 1925
Mr Price Sep 1925-Nov 1925
Mr Warren Nov 1925?-Nov 1926
A.W.J. Edwards Nov 1926-1931
T.K. White 1931-Mar 1939
Eric Staff Apr 1939-c.1954
Ray Staff c.1954-Feb 1965 then demolished
Ray Staff Eltham Big Star Food Centre c.1965-1967
If anyone has old photos of Staffs store or the shopping district, particularly in the 1930s through 1960s then we would love to hear from you. Perhaps you might consider donating them to the Eltham District Historical Society or if you prefer, we could borrow them and scan them at archival quality and then return them along with a digital copy.
ELTHAM COURT OF PETTY SESSIONS. (1902, August 15). Evelyn Observer, and South and East Bourke Record (Vic. : 1882 – 1902), p. 5 (MORNING.). Retrieved April 16, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64029690
#OnThisDay ( #OTD ) – 88 years ago, Good Friday, March 25th, 1932, a terrible and frightening railway accident occurred for a family on holidays from Cobram whilst passing through Wattle Glen.
As reported on page 1 of the Advertiser, Friday 1 April 1932 and many other newspapers throughout Melbourne and the country.
Railway Accident at Wattle Glen
TRAIN DERAILED IN LEVEL CROSSING ACCIDENT MOTOR CAR TORN TO PIECES OCCUPANTS HAVE MARVELLOUS ESCAPES
A sensation went through the district when it became known that there had been a railway accident at Wattle Glen on Good Friday morning. All sorts of alarming rumors were current, and it was a relieved community which learned that, although the train had been derailed and a motor car almost torn to pieces, all the persons who were in the train and car escaped with comparatively minor injuries.
Traffic on the line was completely disorganised for some time as a section of the line had been torn up by the train when it left the rails, and until the line was repaired and the necessary repairs made, a fleet of taxis and a railway bus were used to carry on.
The accident occurred about 11.40 a.m. when the 11.10 a.m. “up’ train was travelling from Hurstbridge to Melbourne. The train was almost entering the Wattle Glen station when the mishap occurred.
Mr. Donald F. Paterson, manager of the Bank of Australasia at Cob-ram, with his wife and two children, had arrived from Cobram on the day before, and had spent the night with Mrs. Paterson’s mother (Mrs. Herbert), whose home is near the station.
Set Out for the Beach
They had decided to visit the beach, and were on their way to reach the Hurstbridge-Melbourne road.
Waited for Another Car
At the railway crossing Mr. Paterson, waited a while to allow another car travelling in the opposite direct-ion, to negotiate the crossing first, and then proceeded. When his car was on the crossing it was struck broadside on by the train.
Hurled Over Culvert
The car was dragged broadside on for some distance, and was then hurled over into a culvert on the west side of the line.
The train, the two leading carriages of which had left the line, continued on, lurching sickeningly as the derailed wheels ploughed up the permanent way.
Post Snapped Like a Reed
The head of the train wobbled from side to side, carrying before it an 18-inch post used to support the over-head electrical equipment. This pole was, snapped like a reed, and did not decrease the speed of the runaway train to any appreciable extent.
All this time the air brakes had been applied, and when the train eventually came to a standstill the leading carriages were canted over at a dangerous angle.
The injured were:
Donald Fary Paterson, aged 36 years, manager of the Bank of Australasia, Cobram. Bruises and shock.
Mary Winifred Paterson, his wife, aged 32 years. Broken bone in right foot and shock.
Richard Paterson, aged 6 years, and Betty Paterson, aged 2 years, their children. Slight abrasions and shock.
J. Howse, driver of train. Shock.
Mrs M. Barnes, Hurstbridge, passenger on the train. Shock.
After the Accident
An inspection of the site revealed a mass of torn up line, whilst the car was literally a mass of twisted scrap iron: -The culvert over which the car had been hurled, and where there is a drop of about 12 feet, was badly splintered, and it is a wonder that the train did not follow the car when it went over the culvert.
To the Rescue
Mr. James McCannon, who was working In his garden, nearby, heard the crash and rushed over to give what assistance he could. There were others also in the neighborhood who hurried to the scene.
Mrs .Paterson was limping about, searching frantically for her two children, completely ignoring the terrible pain from her injured foot. Searchers found Mr. Paterson pinned beneath the wreckage of the car, and across his knees was his son, Richard. The daughter Beatrice was found on the road at the crossing, she apparently having been thrown clear of the car at the time of the impact.
In the train were only the driver (Motorman Howse), the guard, and one passenger (Mrs. Barnes, of Hurstbridge).
The driver had a marvelous escape, his cabin being splintered when It struck the pole carrying the overhead gear, but he escaped with bruises and a few lacerations caused by glass from the broken windscreen of his cabin. The roof of the driver’s compartment had been splintered, and the front crushed.
Mrs. Barnes had a nerve-wracking experience. She was tossed from side to side as the train lurched on its way after leaving the track, sustaining shock and considerable bruising. She was taken to a nearby residence, and after resting awhile recovered sufficiently to return home.
Motorists took Mr. and Mrs. Paterson to the Eltham Hospital, where they were admitted for treatment, and their two children were taken to the home of Mr. Paterson’s mother at Greensborough.
Passengers to Eltham, Diamond Creek on the trains following hear all sorts of sensational rumors of what had happened. At Heidelberg passengers were told that the train was not going any further, but after some time all got aboard again, and the train proceeded to Eltham, where all passengers were again told to get out. They finally re-embarked and were taken to Diamond Creek, from which station they continued their interrupted journeys by taxis and a railways motor bus, which continued the interrupted service. Passengers, who left Melbourne for Hurstbridge at about 11 a.m. finally reached their destination at about 3 p.m.
Restoring the Damage
The railways officials were soon on the spot, and immediately work was started to rebuild the tracks and re store the overhead gear. Work continued throughout the day and all Friday night, normal running being resumed about midday on Saturday.
The derailed carriages were not re placed on the rails until a quarter to 6 o’clock on Friday evening. During this operation one of the large hooks of the steam crane pierced the wood work of a carriage, causing consider able damage.
Mr. Paterson said he did not see the train until it was almost on his car, his attention having been occupied in seeing that another car got clear of the crossing before he negotiated it. Had he not waited for that car he would have cleared the crossing in ample time.
Motorman House said that at this spot the line curved. He was emphatic that he sounded his siren as he approached the spot. His view of the crossing was obscured by sap lings at the curve and he saw the first car get clear, but did not see Paterson’s car as it was on the “blind” side of his cabin.
Mrs. Barnes; who is staying at Cr. J. Ryan’s house, is still suffering very much from shock. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan were in Sale at the time of the accident, but returned as soon as they heard of it.
Mr. J. Howse has been off duty since the accident.
The sub-station at Greensborough was also damaged on account of the heavy surge of current which blew the fuses and damaged the switches. It is expected that the damage to the railways will amount to over £1,000.
It is understood that the insurance on the motor car that was smashed expired the previous week.
Meet at 2.00 pm (Melway ref 21 H6) at the parking area below the Eltham Community and Reception Centre at the western end of Pitt Street.
The watercourse now known as Karingal Yalloc was once called the Eltham West Drain. It enters the Diamond Creek near Brougham Street, Eltham and drains an area extending to St Helena and part of Greensborough. The creek has been undergrounded through part of the Eltham industrial area.
In 2013 we explored this creek upstream from Meruka Drive. For our March excursion we will follow the creek as closely as possible from the Diamond Creek to where it crosses under the railway line near Sherbourne Road. This is mainly through the industrial area and we will discuss Eltham’s industrial history along the way. A particular feature is the former hat factory (Fort Knox Self Storage) at the end of the walk.
The distance is less than 2 km one way and should take about two hours, including plenty of time to stop and talk. There will be an informal return walk but those who wish to can catch a bus back.
The walk is open to Society members and the general public. Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.
#ThrowbackThursday – 50 years ago, the Shire of Eltham Historical Society (now Eltham District Historical Society) worked closely with acclaimed and distinguished Australian author, Alan Marshall in preparing a history of the Shire of Eltham to celebrate its centenary in 1971. The book, Pioneers & Painters: One Hundred Years of Eltham and its Shire, edited by Alan Marshall was the result of that effort and was published in 1971.
Here we see Alan dictating part of the manuscript for Pioneers & Painters to his secretary, Pat Wiltshire, in his bungalow located at 13 Park Road, Eltham in 1970 (now 13 Park West Road). The bungalow was built c.1955 and was Alan’s home from about 1955 to 1980. It is located at the rear of the house, which at the time was owned by Marshall’s sister, Margaret McIntyre Marshall. It is understood the property was sold in September 1981. Marshall died 21 January 1984 and is buried at Nillumbik Cemetery, Diamond Creek.
The Alan Marshall Bungalow at 13 Park West Road, Eltham is registered on the Victorian Heritage Database and is protected by Heritage Overlay, HO 147 in the Nillumbik Planning Scheme, which covers the bungalow and its surrounding site to a radius of 15 metres. It is significant as it was Marshall’s home at the time he wrote Pioneers & Painters and the basic nature of it is illustrative of Marshall’s lifestyle.
Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham
In previous years for our first meeting of the year, we have investigated some treasured pictures from our archives. This meeting we will showcase some of the highlights from new acquisitions and donations throughout 2019, as well as some of our other collections digitised during the year.
These are available due to the consistent efforts of our collections team, who over recent years has been active in scanning and cataloguing a range of images, including to our extensive catalogue on the Victorian Collections website.
Many of images to be shown at this meeting are still awaiting cataloguing online on Victorian Collections and so this will present
their first public viewing.
Our meeting will be held at our usual venue, the Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre in Library Place Eltham. Members and guests are
welcome to attend. Please note our meetings now start at 7.30pm.
We look forward to seeing you then.
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia