All posts by elthamhistory

ThrowbackThursday: Eltham Railway Station, 17 July 1983

#ThrowbackThursday – Over the years there have been a number of various electric train models that have traveled the Hurstbridge line to Eltham. Today we time travel back 36 years to 17 July 1983 and Eltham Railway Station where we have the unique experience to witness four generations of electric train all lined up together.

Four generations of electric trains at Eltham Railway Station, 17 July 1983
L-R: Tait (Red Rattler) wooden bodied train (1919-1952); Comeng stainless steel bodied train (1981 to curr.); Hitachi stainless steel bodied train (1972-2014); Harris (Blue) steel bodied train (1956-1988)
(Photo: George Coop, from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The railway line to Eltham first opened in 1902. In those days the trains were all hauled by steam locomotives but in April 1923 the line was electrified and the first electric trains commenced service to Eltham. Those initial electric trains were a Tait wooden body design first introduced in 1910 to be hauled by steam locomotives and converted to electric from 1919. The Tait trains were manufactured from 1909 to 1952. There were a number of different versions; swing doors and sliding doors and all had beautifully appointed interiors. Of course most people referred to them as ‘Red Rattlers’.

Interior of a Red Rattler Tait train, 22 August 1983
(Photo: George Coop, from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The Harris (Blue) steel bodied train was introduced 1956 and operated until 1988 when the final trains were withdrawn from service. They had an ignominious ending as these trains were full of asbestos. They were wrapped up in plastic and buried in landfill near Clayton.

In 1981 Comeng stainless steel bodied trains were first introduced to replace the last of the Tait trains and these underwent refurbishment between 2000-2003. Some examples currently still remain in service.

Hitachi stainless steel bodied trains were operated on the Melbourne network between 1972-2014.

In 2003 orders were placed for a mixture of Siemens Nexas  and Alstom X’Trapolis 100 units. Braking issues plagued the Siemens model with subsequent orders being directed towards the X’Trapolis model.

This week in the news we saw that French train manufacturer Alstom who produces the X’Trapolis model electric train in Ballarat has a new X’Trapolis 2.0 model ready to be introduced to replace the ageing Comeng electric trains by 2026.

 

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Heritage Walk: Exploring Lower Plenty – 6 July, 2019

Meet at 2.00 pm (Melway ref 33 B1) at the corner of Bonds and Stawell Roads, Lower Plenty. (Street parking is available in Montpelier Drive)

The predominant feature of this walk in the Bonds Road area, Lower Plenty is the large number of magnificent old River Red Gums that line the route. These trees are of the spreading woodland form of this species indicating that they must have been originally growing in a reasonably open setting. The walk also includes parts of the historic Cleveland Estate and the homestead “Rosehill” established by pioneer farmer Henry Stooke. The walk distance is about 3km and will take 2 to 2.5 hours.

This area was the site of the first recorded European settlement in what was to become the Shire of Eltham when the Willis brothers arrived in the late 1830s. From the southern part of Cleveland Avenue there are extensive views across and along the Yarra Valley.

The walk is open to Society members and the general public. Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions. The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.

All are welcome…..but numbers are limited

ThrowbackThursday: Station Master’s House, Eltham Railway Station, 21 August 1983

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 21 August 1983 and the access road to the Eltham Railway Station (present day St Laurence Lane). We are standing near the Post Office (now Eltham Newsagency) and the Country Art Store (now Platform 3095) looking north east in the direction of Pryor Street. In the distance behind the trees and across the road we can see the State Bank of Victoria (now Westpac) and the Commonwealth Bank on the opposite corner of Pryor Street. Right in front of us is the former Eltham Station Master’s house which is situated in what is the present day short term car park and bus bay. The most tangible evidence of what remains is the spotted gum standing in front of the house to our right.

Station Master’s House, Eltham Railway Station, 21 August 1983. The Commonwealth Bank on the corner of Pryor Street and Main Road can be seen past the Spotted Gum that remains today in what is now the short term car park and bus bay (Photo: George Coop; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
View from St Laurence Lane of the short term car park and bus bay at Eltham Railway Station. The only link to the former Eltham Station Master’s house is the Spotted Gum (Google Street View April 2018)
Station Master’s House, Eltham Railway Station, 21 August 1983. The State Bank of Victoria can be seen in the distance across Main Road (Photo: George Coop; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

 

George Bird (1845-1920)

George Bird was born in England in 1845 and arrived in Australia in 1856 as a child of assisted migrants. Soon afterwards he came out to Eltham to live with his uncle George Stebbing, working for him as bricklayer’s assistant in building, amongst others, Shillinglaw Cottage and the Anglican and Methodist Churches in Eltham. He later purchased 72 acres at the eastern end of Pitt Street (bounded by Eucalyptus Road, Mount Pleasant Road and present-day Rockliffe Street) and established the property “View Hill”, which was worked as a mixed farm and orchard.

Bird family orchard, Pitt Street, Eltham, c.1980s. View looking northeast from near the junction of Wattle Grove and Mount Pleasant Road across to Eucalyptus Road on right and Pitt Street at top.

In 1878 he married Janet Kilpatrick, who had emigrated from Scotland. They had ten children, three of whom died in infancy. The wedding in 1904 of their eldest surviving daughter Sarah (“Sis”) to Edward Pepper appears to have been quite a society event.

Wedding of Sarah Ann Bird (b.1881) to Edward Ernest Pepper (b.1874) held at the Bird family home of “View Hill’, Eltham, 1904. Sarah Bird 4th from left (seated) and Edward Pepper on her left (standing). George Bird, 2nd from right (seated).
Digitised from original held in private collection

George was a staunch Methodist, a Church Steward and a Sunday School Superintendent in about 1890. Janet died in 1915 and George died in 1920 (though his gravestone says 1921). George’s will stated that his property was to be divided between all his children in equal shares. This necessitated subdivision of the ‘View Hill’ property, between 1922 and 1926. George, Janet and several descendants, are buried in a family plot in the cemetery.

One son, George Hugh Bird, operated a drapery store in Main Road (near Bridge Street) in around 1915.

George Hugh Bird’s Cash Drapery Mart on right, looking south along Maria Street (Main Road), Eltham near Bridge Street, c.1909. Post Office on left

Later, in the 1920s, he ran a greengrocer’s shop (also selling confectionery) in Main Road opposite Eltham Station. It was the first shop in Eltham to have plate glass windows. At the same time, his brother Reg had a grocery store on the station side of Main Road.

Bibliography:

Private Research, Bird family; copy held by EDHS

References:

1904 ‘ORANGE BLOSSOM.’, Evelyn Observer and Bourke East Record (Vic. : 1902 – 1917), 18 November, p. 3. (MORNING.), viewed 14 Mar 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60628991

 

 

 

 

William MacMahon Ball (1901-1986)

William MacMahon Ball; Photo: Australian War Memorial Accession No. 003532

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

Grave of William MacMahon Ball (1901-1986) and his wife, Katrine (1899-1991), Eltham Cemetery, c.2002
References:

Marshall, Marguerite; Nillumbik now and then : Eltham and beyond; with photographs by Ron Grant, Eltham 2002

 

 

ThrowbackThursday: Carrucan’s Dairy, Dalton Street, Eltham, 1969

#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.

Carrucan’s Dairy on Dalton Street, Eltham, c.1969; viewed from the intersection of Mount Pleasant Road and Metery Road looking northwest. The dairy is in the foreground situated on Dalton Street. An unmade Bible Street can be seen running down the hill at the left to intersect with Dalton Street. Dalton Street runs from left to right between the dairy and the Carrucan family home was located opposite on the southeast corner of Bible and Dalton streets (Photo: George Coop; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

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.

OTD: Opening of the new Eltham Library, 22 May 1994

#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.

Aerial view showing the new Eltham Library, 1994. Architects: Greg Burgess and Peter Ryan of Gregory Burgess Pty Ltd. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

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.

Aerial view showing the new Eltham Library and relocated Shillinglaw Cottage, 1994. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

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.”

Aerial view showing the Shire of Eltham office, new Eltham Library and relocated Shillinglaw Cottage, 1994. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

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.

Construction of the new Eltham Library, c.1993. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Construction of the new Eltham Library, c.1993. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Construction of the new Eltham Library, c.1993. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Construction of Eltham Library; fitting out stage, April 1994. (Photo: Linda McConnell, Branch Manager of the former Eltham Library located in the Shire of Eltham offices; donated via Yarra Plenty Regional Library. Linda McConnell Collection, March 2018 and held in joint partnership. Digitised from negatives held by Eltham District Historical Society. Print copies held by YPRL and EDHS)