Category Archives: About Us

Eltham’s first Rate Books handed over to Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)

The original Shire of Eltham was founded in 1871. Prior to its founding, the district was managed by the Eltham District Road Board, which was established in 1856. The first rate assessment commenced in 1857 for the year ending October 14, 1858.

The honour of being recorded with the first assessment went to a farm of 110 cultivated acres at Lower Plenty, owned by John Porter and occupied by Albert Baines. It was assessed at 6d/acre providing for a rate income of £2 15s.

Eltham Road District; Assessment for the Year ending October 14th, 1858

In July 2017, officers at the Shire of Nillumbik discovered some early Eltham Road District Assessment books and donated them to the Eltham District Historical Society. We were very excited as we soon realised the seven volumes handed over to us were the district’s first six years of rate assessments. This was a unique and significant record of early settlers in the pre-Shire of Eltham. They immediately became one of the oldest and most valuable items in our collection.

An article on page 5 in the Eltham and Whittlesea Shires Advertiser, Friday, 21 November, 1941 titled: ‘District’s Early History‘ states: “The first rate book which is still in existence at the Shire Office is for the year ending October 14, 1858 and is probably the best record possible to indicate the development of the district. At the time properties were rated as follows: Cultivated land. 6d. per acre; pasture land, 1d. per acre: estimated annual value of buildings, etc., 6d in the (pound). The total amount of rate recorded for the year was £153/14/8. Properties were described as being situated at Lower Plenty, Yarra Yarra, Eltham, Lower Eltham, Kangaroo Ground, Yarra Flats, Diamond Creek and the Yarra.”

Given the precious nature of this collection, priority was given to digitise the rate books and place them in suitable archival storage to minimise further handling. Subsequent discussion amongst our Collections team arrived at the conclusion that the most appropriate home for this valuable record was the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV), the archive of the State Government of Victoria and who are charged with archiving and caring for all Government related records. An approach was made to PROV and the air of excitement was palpable, just as it had been for us. These records completed their collection of rate assessment books for Eltham.

At a small ceremony held Friday, April 20 at the Local History Centre, Eltham, members of the Society and our Collections team, along with Ms. Vicki Ward, MP for Eltham, presented the seven volumes for 1858-1863 along with the complete set of digital files to Mr. David Taylor, Community Archives Manager and Mr. Charlie Farrugia, Senior Collection Advisor, Public Record Office Victoria.

L-R: Jim Connor (EDHS President), Charlie Farrugia (PROV), Vicki Ward (MP for Eltham), Peter Pidgeon (EDHS Vice President) and David Taylor (PROV); 20 April 2018

“Thank you to the Historical Society for providing us with Eltham’s earliest known rate records. The receipt of these records means that a complete set for the district is now available for researchers to access from the state archives alongside other districts across Victoria. Rate books are a valuable resource for family and property researchers and are amongst our most popular records for those who want to know more about the history of their home. It’s fantastic to be able to add these early books from 1858-1863 to our collection,” David Taylor, Community Archives Manager, Public Record Office Victoria (pictured far right).

Society Vice President, Peter Pidgeon said that whilst the Society was reluctant to see the rate assessment volumes go, it was the right thing to do as they are now re-united with their brothers and sisters and Public Record Office Victoria was best equipped to care for them in a climate controlled environment for perpetuity.

Ms. Vicki Ward, MP for Eltham, with Eltham District’s first rate assessment book for the year ending October 14, 1858 at the Local History Centre, 728 Main Road, Eltham; 20 April 2018
Ms. Vicki Ward, MP for Eltham and Mr. David Taylor, Community Archives Manager, Public Record Office Victoria inspect Eltham’s earliest rate assessment books; 20 April 2018.

This is another example of the extended reach the Society has been able to achieve in being able to catalogue and share our collection via Victorian Collections.

The Society will continue to retain the digital version of these records in our catalogue on Victorian Collections, which are fully accessible as per the following links.

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1858

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1859

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1860 (Version 1)

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1860 (Version 2)

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1861

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1862

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1863

 

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April Meeting: Briar Hill Timber and Trading Co Pty Ltd

Annual General Meeting

11th April 2018 at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Our meeting at 8.00pm on Wednesday 11th April 2018 is our Annual General Meeting, which includes the presentation of annual reports and the election of office bearers for the coming year. The official notification of the Annual General Meeting and Agenda are on page 9 of our April Newsletter. Copies will be available on the night at the meeting or can be requested via email to edhsoffice@gmail.com.

Briar Hill Timber & Trading Co. Pty. Ltd, c.1956. Advertisement material promoting association with the Government’s Olympic Village Project for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).

At this meeting we are pleased to be able to show a film of the early activities of the Briar Hill Timber and Trading Co Pty Ltd, in Sherbourne Road, Briar Hill. This film details the various operations involved in this business during the 1950s/60s, from sourcing trees and machining the timber through to the manufacturing of various building materials and components.

Bob Manuel, who was an active part of this family owned business will attend our meeting to add his comments and insights about some of the scenes shown.

Frederick and Hazel Squire established this company in 1934 and their properties covered approximately 15 acres, on either side of Sherbourne Road. Their large timber mill that started in 1941 processed timber from Kinglake, Flowerdale and the Otways.

The company was noted for supplying timber to the Australian government for construction during World War Two, as well as joinery for the Heidelberg Olympic Village in the 1950s.

Everyone is welcome to attend this meeting.

 

Editorial: Identity Theft; Are You A Witness To It?

In March 2017, in recognition of Eltham District Historical Society’s 50th Anniversary, a small group of volunteer members commenced the immense task of digitising the Society’s collection. The purpose was two-fold; to ensure its preservation in case of disaster and  catalogue it on Victorian Collections in order to share our local history with the extended community. This has only been made possible by the generosity of a handful of members who have personally donated thousands of dollars to purchase the equipment, as well as hundreds of hours each of their own time to scan, process and catalogue the images. In just under a year, this small group have created almost 12,000 digital records and catalogued almost 6,200 items on Victorian Collections; freely available for the public to access and appreciate.

We are very much aware that as soon as you upload something to the Internet, someone will take it for their own personal use. That is the nature of the beast we deal with, especially social media where it is a two-edged sword in getting the story out but also having your work taken for granted. For this very reason, many historical societies are reluctant to share their collections. Up until now, Eltham District Historical Society has resisted the placement of watermarks on our images, as some societies do, and which was more common place a decade ago with the major museums,  the National and State Libraries.

Recently our attention was drawn to an individual who had downloaded a number of images specific to one of the districts we cover (Eltham, Eltham North, Research, Kangaroo Ground, Montmorency, Briar Hill and Lower Plenty) and who had then uploaded them to a Facebook group without any acknowledgement of the source of the images. Now we applaud that this individual clearly has an interest in our local history (why not join the Society?) but by not acknowledging the source of the images, he has denied us and the members of that group the ability to engage with each other and share more stories, helping to capture and preserve that local knowledge. In this particular instance, the images had only been catalogued and uploaded to Victorian Collections less than 24 hours earlier. One image we had been preparing for use in our popular #ThrowbackThursday post that week but this individual had stolen our ‘surprise and delight’ moment, at least for now, and a substitution had to be arranged.

The images taken were all subject to protection under Australian Copyright law. This individual and in turn Facebook via its group had breached the photographer’s copyright. Any image taken since January 1, 1955 is protected under copyright law. In the case of photos within our collection that remain in copyright, Eltham District Historical Society has either a full or limited license to use the images. This license is not transferable, so taking those images and republishing them is theft; identity theft. Even when photographs are no longer within copyright and considered to be in the public domain, Australian Copyright law still maintains that the artist/photographer is credited under the Moral Rights requirement.

Upon investigation, it was found that over the past three months, this individual had taken approximately 100 images from our collection and re-posted them. Never once did they acknowledge the source of the images, the photographer or whether they were still in copyright. People could mistakenly believe that these images were the personal property of the individual who posted them and not the result of significant efforts undertaken by a band of dedicated volunteers.

To take someone else’s images without acknowledgement is identity theft; it is immoral and in some situations a blatant breach of copyright law.

The administrator of the group was contacted and informed of this situation. We were pleased to see the offending posts were all removed within two days of notification.

Our volunteers have donated significant amounts of money and time to share these collections. To simply come along and take the images  to upload somewhere else without permission or any accreditation as to the source of the image or the photographer is disrespectful of our volunteers and their efforts as well as the donors of these images. It is disheartening and demoralising and curtails their enthusiasm to continue with this work. It also has the potential to curb future donations of material to the Society as donors may place restrictions on the use of their material and do not wish to see it posted all over the Internet without proper credit.

We are happy for our images to be shared but we want to be part of the discussion. The best way to share them is simply copy the link from our catalogue record and paste it into the Facebook post. Perhaps even tag us “@elthamhistory” in a comment. It could not be easier. Facebook automatically posts a thumbnail image for people to view and clicking on it will take you directly to the catalogue entry in Victorian Collections where more information may be found. It also helps facilitate our engagement with group members who may be interested in the image and have requests for further information.

Unfortunately, instances of this type of identity theft are still occurring. Have you witnessed examples? Have you seen posts on social media and wondered where did that image come from? Call it out and ask the person who posted it to provide the actual source of the image and the name of the photographer where possible. If you are an administrator to one of these social media groups, perhaps consider adding a group rule, pinned to the top of your page, requesting all images to have appropriate accreditation attached; source (with link where possible) and name of photographer. Many Facebook groups already have these rules in place and some even restrict images from being made public until the required information is provided.

As such, we feel that if we wish to continue sharing our collection, we have no choice but to watermark every image in future. A classic case of a few individuals spoiling it for everyone.

Please don’t steal our identity; share the link instead, and in doing so, share the love for our shared local history.

Nillumbik 2018 Community Group of the Year

2018 Community Group of the Year – Nillumbik Shire Council

Members of Eltham District Historical Society with Nillumbik Shire’s Mayor, Cr. Peter Clarke at the Nillumbik Shire Council Australia Day Awards held at Eltham Community Reception Centre, Australia Day, 26 January 2018.

The Eltham District Historical Society Incorporated is honoured to have received the 2018 Community Group of the Year Award from Nillumbik Shire Council, at the Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony in Eltham on 26th January 2018.
Eltham District Historical Society President Jim Connor said:

‘I am very pleased to accept this award on behalf of all members, past and present, who have contributed to our historical society, since it was established in 1967.’

‘Our society appreciates this recognition, especially as it follows the celebration of our 50th anniversary in 2017.’

‘Each of the significant milestones and achievements over the last 50 years have been the result of consistent efforts by dedicated and passionate believers in our local history, intent on encouraging the recognition and preservation of our valuable historical records representing activities and events that have occurred in the Eltham area. Receipt of this award is another page in the history of the Eltham District Historical Society.’

‘Stories of history we tell not only shape our past, they shape our future as well. We look forward to being an active part of Nillumbik’s future.’

History Matters

Photo: Eltham c.1900 (from the collection of EDHS)

History Matters by Jim Connor

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
          – Martin Luther King Jnr.

History matters… to our sense of place, where we are both physically and mentally, where we fit into the place where we are and how we relate to our surroundings.

History matters… when locating yourself in time, in your part of your own history, whether it is your family, your community, your culture, your lived life experiences. These all form part of our own history we carry with us and build on as we proceed on our life journey.

History matters… to the political climate of the time, what has or has not occurred and how those decisions impact on our past, current and future history.

History matters… to how we honour our own history and of those we relate to.

History matters… to how our built and natural environment evolves, how it reflects and respects the past and how it is developed or changed around us and by us.

History matters… if we think it does, if we believe it does, if we encourage others to understand it does.

History matters… to our memories that retain our history and to the memories of those around us.

History matters… to the stories we know and tell and the stories of other people.

History matters… to how we see ourself in the world.

History just matters!

Stories of history we tell not only shape our past, they shape our future as well.

April Meeting: Dr Andrew Lemon – Fifty years of the EDHS and why it matters

Eltham District Historical Society Annual General Meeting

12th April at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Our meeting at 8.00pm on Wednesday 12th April 2017 is our Annual General Meeting, which includes the presentation of annual reports and the election of office bearers for the coming year. The official notification of the Annual General Meeting and Agenda are on page 8 of our April Newsletter. Copies will be available on the night at the meeting or can be requested via email to edhsoffice@gmail.com.

At this meeting we are pleased to have as our guest speaker Dr. Andrew Lemon, a great friend of EDHS and a Fellow and the immediate Past President of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

Andrew is an independent Melbourne historian, author of numerous books on local history, shipwrecks, biography, schools and sport and winner of national literary awards. He has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Melbourne for his published works. Andrew edited the Victorian Historical Journal throughout the 1990s and served on the Library Board of Victoria and the Heritage Council.

Andrew is a very entertaining presenter and in our 50th Anniversary year he has chosen to speak about ‘Fifty years of the EDHS – and why it matters.’ We look forward to again welcoming Andrew to share time with us.

 

EDHS Local History Centre Open Day – Sat March 4th

edhs-1967The former police residence at 728 Main Road, Eltham was built in 1859-60 to house the local police officer, with the first occupant being Constable Peter Lawlor and his family. This building is on the Victorian Heritage Register and is considered to be of state heritage significance as the oldest public building in Nillumbik, after the adjacent Court House, also built in 1859-60. A single stall brick stables building with a loft was also built in the rear yard, but has been substantially altered since. The original two-cell bluestone lockup, located where the rear car park now is, was demolished in the 1950s. Some of the bluestone blocks have been used as edging for garden beds.

Police activities ceased about 1952 when a new police station was opened in central Eltham. The residence was then used by the State Lands Department, followed by a Community Youth Support Scheme and later for the Shire of Eltham Parks and Environment Section.

edhs-2017Since 1998 our Society has appreciated occupying this former residence for our Local History Centre as the base for our operations and to house a range of local history resources, records and documents.

During the last six months we have undertaken a substantial refurbishment and reorganisation of the premises and to celebrate this achievement we will be holding an Open Day and official ‘reopening’ on Saturday 4th March from 2.00pm. Society members and visitors are invited to visit, browse around and explore some of our local history.