Category Archives: Bridges

ThrowbackThursday: Timber Railway Trestle Bridge, Eltham, c.1913

Trestle Bridge, Eltham, c.1912; note the Catholic Church in Henry Street and Shillinglaw Cottage visible in background

(from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

#ThrowbackThursday – Eltham today is just getting busier and busier; more housing and unit developments, more people and lots more traffic. And a stroll along the Diamond Creek Trail during footy season weekends near Central Park will encounter plenty of people watching the latest game; you would be lucky to even find a car park. Next time you wander along the trail or head down to watch a game, cast your mind back a hundred years or so and ponder what it was like. To set the scene, today we time travel back to circa 1913 to a point just beside the Diamond Creek, south of Central Park. As we cast our eyes to the east we immediately see two of the iconic sights of Eltham; the timber railway trestle bridge built just over ten years earlier and Shillinglaw Cottage in its original location and the Shillinglaw trees standing proudly in front. If you look carefully beyond the trestle bridge, past where the current Eltham Library now stands, you will also see a weatherboard building standing in isolation. This is the new St Mary’s Catholic Church on Henry Street near Main Road (or Maria Street). The church site had been relocated from further south along Main Road (near Wingrove Cottage) in order to be more central to the congregation following the shifting of the township away from Little Eltham and closer to the railway station. It was subsequently destroyed by fire in 1961.

Postcard of St Mary’s Catholic Church, cnr Main Road and Henry Street, Eltham which was opened 13 October 1912 and subsequently destroyed by fire.
(Donated by: Garnet Burges; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
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MysteryMonday: Long Gully Road Bridge, c.1970

Long Gully Road Bridge over Long Gully at Panton Hill, c.1970 (Photo: Russell Yeoman; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

MYSTERY SOLVED – Long Gully Road Bridge over Long Gully at Panton Hill. The house in the background (believed to be 50 Long Gully Road burnt down in 1977.)

#MysteryMonday – Today we start a new feature; a mystery challenge. As we progress through our collection we sometimes come across a photo where we have no information about its identification or location, etc. Or sometimes we may just want to verify our own thoughts. So on Mondays, not necessarily every Monday, we will post a challenge and throw it open to the experts in our community to see if we can add more information to these wonderful old records.

Today’s image is of a local Eltham bridge. Can you identify it? We’d love to hear from you; your thoughts and suggestions as to where it is, any stories you can tell about it, and better still, any similar photos you can share?

Over to you . . .

ThrowbackThursday: Rafting in the Yarra, 1985

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 1985 and the Candlebark Park carpark just in time to catch an adventurous soul taking a dip  in the Yarra below the Fitzsimons Lane Bridge. No bikini for this keen swimmer, rather a Holden Gemini seemed more the go. Seems the Gemini twins couldn’t decide whether to go to Templestowe or Eltham. Or perhaps it was a late entry in the Great Yarra Raft Race of 1985?

A Holden Gemini in the Yarra River at Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)
A Holden Gemini in the Yarra River at Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)
At least the Ford entry could float, Great Yarra Raft Race, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)
And the Jeep could float as well, Great Yarra Raft Race, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)
The Great Yarra Raft Race, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)
The Great Yarra Raft Race, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)
The Great Yarra Raft Race, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)
The Great Yarra Raft Race, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)
The Great Yarra Raft Race, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)
The Great Yarra Raft Race, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)
The Great Yarra Raft Race, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe, 1985. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.)

We recently digitised an album containing these images of the car in the Yarra and the Great Yarra Raft Race but apart from the date of 1985, have very little other information to record about them.

Does anyone remember this incident and the circumstances? Were there any news stories at the time about it? Or were you involved in the Great Yarra Raft Race? Any details or stories are greatly appreciated.

ThrowbackThursday: 1934 Diamond Creek Flood

#ThrowbackThursday – In our July 6th post on Ansell and Muir’s chicken shop, we stated that because the store stood within the 1934 flood zone, the property was unable to be redeveloped. Consequently the former Shire of Eltham acquired the land and the building was subsequently demolished. But why did 1934 become the benchmark for our modern day flood zone planning laws? Well today we time travel back to November/December 1934 where we can gain some appreciation of the devastation that flood brought to the district; to its infrastructure and the community.

In early November 1934 much damage was done around the Shire from recent rains, detailed at the Council meeting held Monday, 5th November 1934 (1).

However, worse was to come. On Thursday evening, November 29th, the rains came again, ceasing the following Saturday morning, December 1st. It was reported in the Advertiser on Friday November 30th, more than 8 inches of rain had been recorded at Eltham North that morning; 80% of the annual total and nearly five times that of the previous November (2).

1934 Diamond Creek flooding across Main Road looking towards Eltham at the intersection with Falkiner Street; a Council truck blocking Main Road; Eltham Lower Park on right; Eltham Park Tea Rooms (later Ansell and Muir) on left flooded. The bridge can just be seen on far right centre (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society, donated by the former Shire of Eltham)

The flooding was the highest level recorded in the district for over 40 years. Lower Eltham Park was under 5 feet of water which also covered Main Road  for over a mile (3).

Floodwater from Diamond Creek across Main Road in 1934 at what is present day Wingrove Park. In the distance, left of centre, is Mr. Montieth’s Ford Wagonette stranded in the floodwater near Wingrove Cottage looking up Main Road towards Eltham. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society, donated by Peter Bassett-Smith)

The Diamond Creek rose rapidly engulfing all before it; houses and shops were submerged, livestock and poultry swept away and drowned in the raging torrents, bridges severely damaged or destroyed, fences laid flat and trees uprooted. At 1pm on Friday December 1st, Main Road was under water and cut off. Early in the afternoon, Mr R. Monteith’s ‘bus became stranded near the concrete bridge. The driver and passengers escaped but the bus was stuck there till  the floods receded the following Tuesday morning. By that afternoon it was back in service and people could start returning to their homes. What they found was a six inch layer of slime, which covered floors, furniture and bedding; crockery piled up against doors and window openings, bodies of dead pets which had failed to escape. And in some cases, snakes had sought refuge in the houses. Not since 1868 had floods caused so much damage. The levels recorded were now reported as the highest in 60 years (4).

At a Special Council meeting held Wednesday, December 12th, the Shire Engineer reported that damage was estimated to be £2,000 to roads and bridges; two large bridges being completely washed away. In today’s terms, based on economic project costs that would equate to almost $4 million. A detailed breakdown of damage throughout the Shire and private property was reported. Council applied for a grant towards the cost of repairs and opened a local relief fund through the Lord Mayor of Melbourne’s Flood Relief program for those whose homes had been inundated. It was noted that whilst other districts also suffered, Eltham Shire was particularly impacted not just through the loss of livestock but also because some of the cultivated land had been totally washed away rendering it unusable in the future for further cultivation (5).

Of course over the years Eltham has seen further regular flooding, the most recent significant event occurring Christmas day, 2011. Some of our members can remember the 1934 floods but they were only very small children then. What are your experiences and memories of floods in the area? Do you have any photos to share?

Main Road looking north adjacent to Lower Eltham Park near Falkiner Street in 1986. Ansell and Muir’s Chicken Shop (former Eltham Park Tea Rooms) can be seen at centre.(From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society; Photo: Marjorie North)
Main Road looking north adjacent to Lower Eltham Park near Falkiner Street, Feb 2017 (Google Street View)
Main Road looking north towards Wingrove Cottage adjacent to Wingrove Park, Feb 2017 (Google Street View)
A view of the area showing it in 1945 (Melbourne 1945)

 

References
  1. 1934 ‘Eltham Council’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 9 November, p. 6. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56747061
  2. 1934 ‘DARING RESCUES AT NORTH ELTHAM’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 7 December, p. 2. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56747404
  3. 1934 ‘DISTRICT’S RECORD FLOOD’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 30 November, p. 7. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56747355
  4. 1934 ‘FLOODS AT ELTHAM’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 7 December, p. 1. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56747374
  5. 1934 ‘SPECIAL ELTHAM COUNCIL MEETING’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 21 December, p. 2. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56747561