#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to circa 1966-1967 and Main Road, Eltham, just north of Bridge Street where we cast our eyes northwest across the fields that in a few years time will be developed into the Eltham Town Park and later Alistair Knox Park. In the distance, to the right, we see the recently relocated Shillinglaw Cottage and further on, the new Eltham Shire Offices, which were opened in 1965. In front of Shillinglaw Cottage is what will be developed into Eltham Common, later the site for the new Eltham Library in 1994 but presently still dominated by the Eltham Tip. To the left and behind the tip we see the iconic Eltham Railway Trestle Bridge and beyond that, Eltham Central Park and what appears to be part of the Football Club pavillion or is it part of the former Eltham Swimming Pool?
Everything we see is on what was once part of the original Shillinglaw farm which covered some 30 acres bordered by Main Road, Bridge Street, the Diamond Creek and Diamond Street.
Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham
Prior to Shillinglaw Cottage (c.1878-80) being relocated to where it is now operated as a popular cafe near the Eltham Library, it was within Josiah Holloway’s 1850s subdivision known as Little Eltham, which later became the centre of the first Eltham township. Originally a farmer’s cottage it is historically significant because it is one of the Shire’s oldest dwellings and a fine example of the work of the well-known pioneer builder George Stebbing.
In 1964 the then Shire of Eltham purchased the Shillinglaw property with the intention of demolishing the cottage and constructing new Shire offices on the site. However extensive community action resulted in funds being raised to have the building saved and relocated further south to the Eltham Common, where it was joined by the Eltham Library in 1994.
The new Shire offices opened in 1965, but following municipal restructure in 1994 these were demolished in 1996 and the land sold to a developer, which precipitated a dramatic trail of community angst, threats of legal action, the sacking of a newly elected council and several unsuccessful development proposals, by subsequent councils.
After all these years the vacant site there is still guarded by the three trees that were outside the front of the Shillinglaw Cottage.
At our Society meeting on Wednesday, 13th June, 2018, Jim Connor will speak about the dramatic tale encompassing the history of the former Eltham Shire office site and the adjoining War Memorial Buildings complex, which are now being considered for sale or redevelopment by the current Nillumbik Shire Council.
As always, Society members and visitors are most welcome to attend this meeting at 8.00pm on Wednesday 13th June, in the Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to November 3, 1967 to the intersection of Para Road and Sherbourne Road, Briar Hill; or is it? In fact, Sherbourne Road still ends at the railway overpass, in a T-intersection with Para Road and Simms Road is a T-intersection off Para Road a few yards down from the railway bridge. On the corner of Simms Road and Para Road is an older house, which belongs to Mrs Cameron. Her daughter married a man named Davey after whom Davey Street is named. But there is a bulldozer at work and a large section of land is being cleared and levelled. Work is under way to commence the realignment of Para Road and Sherbourne Road in preparation of a new railway overpass. The access to Simms Road will change significantly and Mrs Cameron’s house has its days numbered as it is about to become the site of the new Montmorency Secondary College, which will open in 1969. Where the two cars are parked is where the roundabout intersection is sited today.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 1983 and Eltham Railway Station. A single carriage ‘Red Rattler’ Tait train from Hurstbridge is about to arrive at Platform 1 where it will shortly depart again for Hurstbridge. A Hitachi electric train sits at Platform 2 awaiting departure for Flinders Street. The last of the Tait trains were withdrawn from service in December 1984.
#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.
#ThrowbackThursday – “Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?I’ve been up to London to look at the queen!” Well, we are going to save you the trouble of going to London to look at the Queen because today we time travel back to 24 February 1954 and Main Road, Eltham when the Queen is visiting Eltham to look at us. A public holiday was declared to enable people to welcome Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Were you present in the crowd? Or were your parents? Do you have any photos? We would love to hear about your personal stories and any photos you may have of the event you would like to share.
#ThrowbackThursday – With all the unseasonably warm weather we have had lately, good chance people have been able to get more use out of their pools this last summer and autumn. Of course pools require a lot of maintenance and upkeep so the local pool shop becomes a trusted friend, recommending this or advising that to keep your pool in tip top condition. Where’s your favourite pool centre now? Well today we time travel back to c.1989 and to Pete’s Pool Centre situated between 660 Main Road, Eltham and the Shell Service Station on the corner of Mount Pleasant Road, opposite Wingrove Park. And check out the price of petrol; $0.579 versus $1.519 today if you fill up.
Did you ever visit Pete’s Pool Centre? What was it like? It has gone now, the property absorbed into the Service Station and Kmart Tyre and Auto Repair business; grass where the building once stood. Ten years earlier it was the presence of Alan Whitmore Estate Agent, which we caught a sight of in a previous time jump to the 1978 Eltham Festival Parade. Maybe he sold Pete’s Pool Centre?
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia