Category Archives: Buildings

ThrowbackThursday: Eltham Big Star Food Centre, Main Road, 1966

Eltham Big Star Food Centre on Main Road, c.1966 (Photo: poss. Ray Staff; from the collection of 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.

929 Main Road Eltham (Google Streetview August 2019)

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.

General Store and Bakery, cnr Main Road and York Street, c.1902. Pictured are most likely Mrs Burgoyne (given her age compared with Mrs Haley) and three of her children shortly after taking possession. Note the “Summer Drinks” sign on the side of the building, possibly a legacy of Luther Haley’s time operating the business. (Photo: unknown; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

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.

Eltham, Main Road near station, c.1904.  Looking north towards Research along Main Road near the intersection with Dudley Street. Haley’s General Store on left promoting refreshments and summer drinks. With the opening of the railway to Eltham in 1902, Melbourne residents would regularly enjoy a Sunday excursion journey on the train to Eltham for a day’s outing to the countryside. (Photo: poss. Tom Prior; Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photo Collection No. 610 in partnership between Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library)

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.

Possibly the annual State schools picnic held by the Board of Advice at Haley’s Paddock near Eltham railway station on 11 March, 1904. (Photo: Believed taken by Tom Prior, Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection, No. 612 in partnership between Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library)

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.

Lloyd’s Store, Main Road, Eltham, c.1917-c.Feb 1920 (Photo: edited, from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society; original, State Library of Victoria)

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.

References

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

STATE SCHOOLS’ PICNIC. (1904, March 19). Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165173087

ACCIDENTALLY DROWNED. (1904, January 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 7. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10593935

ELTHAM (1939, March 31). Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), p. 2. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56963085

ThrowbackThursday: Alan Marshall in his Bungalow, 13 Park Road, Eltham, 1970

#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.

Alan Marshall at his Eltham home with secretary, Pat Wiltshire, 1970 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

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.

Alan Marshall’s manuscript for Pioneers & Painters, 1971 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

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.

Alan Marshall at his Eltham home with secretary, Pat Wiltshire, 1970 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Alan Marshall at his Eltham home, 1970 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Alan Marshall at his Eltham home with secretary, Pat Wiltshire, 1970 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Alan Marshall at his Eltham home with secretary, Pat Wiltshire, 1970 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Book launch “Pioneers & Painters”; Mr. Alan Marshall, 13 Park West Road, Eltham. Editor of “Pioneers and Painters”, 7 July 1971. ( Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection SEPP_3058 held in partnership by Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory and Yarra Plenty Regional Library @YarraPlentyRegionalLibrary )

 

OTD: “The game’s on!” Wild Gunfight at Commercial Bank, Eltham, 15 Dec 1949

Are you familiar with the little yellow and orange brick Op-shop building at 810 Main Road, Eltham, just in front of the Uniting Church (formerly Methodist Church)  on the corner of John Street? Nowadays, not many people may realise that this was once the Eltham agency of the Commercial Bank of Australia. Measuring just 3.6 x 4.5 m inside, it was built in 1878 by George Stebbing and is said to have stored gold in the early Eltham-Research mining days.

Well . . .

The Commercial Bank at Eltham, The Age, 16 December 1949, p1

#OnThisDay – 70 years ago #OTD Thursday, December 15, 1949, the quiet little bank was embroiled in an infamous wild shoot-out between a daring thief and two bank officers. Today, the building still carries the scars ; a bullet hole remains visible in a cedar bench testifying to the events that played out that day.

But let us first time travel back to a few days prior to this incident. It is 3.30 a.m., Friday, December 9. The manager of the Commercial Bank branch at Greensborough, Mr Harry Wallace and his wife are asleep in their bedroom of the little house behind the branch. Harry is awakened by a noise and sees an intruder in a corner of the bedroom. He calls out but the intruder who has switched off the power in anticipation flees through a side door and scarpers down Main Street. Harry summons the police but a search by First Constable Thomas of the Greensborough Police assisted by a wireless patrol car is unsuccessful. A report is filed noting the theft of a .25 calibre pistol from the wardrobe.

Scene of the gun battle at Eltham (Vic.), The Daily Telegraph, 16 december, p1

Fast forward six days to Thursday, December 15th. It is 1pm and the Commercial Bank has just opened. The branch is only open Mondays and Thursdays from 1-3pm. The morning started off a little cool with some scattered showers but it has fined up and the temperature is now around 61 degrees (16 C). A new grey Singer sports car with soft-top pulls up on the opposite side of the road and a young man, neatly dressed in a dark blue suit, wearing a grey hat and carrying a brief case exits the vehicle. He looks around then crosses the road and walks up the steps and through the door into the bank. There are three people inside; Mr. Jack Burgoyne whose grocery store is situated just 50 yards up the road, Mr. Lindsay A. Spears, the Eltham Agency Receiving Officer and by chance, Mr Harry Wallace, manager of the Greensborough branch.

Jack Burgoyne takes note of the young stranger; thinking to himself he appears nervous.

Mr. Lindsay Spears ,Receiving Officer, Commercial Bank of Australia, Eltham, The Age, 17 December 1949, p3

The man approaches the counter and introduces himself as John Henderson of Greensborough and explains that he wishes to open a new account. He places his hat and £3 on the counter. Mr Spears attends to the paperwork. He asks the young man to sign two forms, which he does but then he withdraws from the counter and starts walking towards the door. Suddenly he spins around pulling an automatic pistol from his right-hand pocket. He exclaims forcefully;

“The game’s on! I’ll take the lot!”

Spears appears to comply by pretending to open a drawer. The man shouts loudly,

“Keep your hand away from that drawer.”

Spears instead reaches for a pistol in his pocket and challenges the man,

“Here it is. Come and get it!”

At the same time, Harry Wallace pulls a pistol from his pocket as well.

The bandit fires a shot but misses, the bullet striking the counter. Both Spears and Wallace open fire and Jack Burgoyne ducks for cover.

As the bandit turns and runs for the door leaving his £3 behind, he fires another shot, which strikes the ceiling. Spears fires back, and thinks he may have hit him in the foot. The bandit flees the bank and heads for the grey Singer car, registration NO-106, parked opposite. Wallace and Spears pursue him to the door and open fire again, striking the car three times around the driver’s door. Spears lets off eight shots and Wallace, seven before his gun jams.

Senior-Constable N. Forbes examining -bullet holes (indicated) in the body of a stolen car in which the bandit escaped, The Age, 16 December 1949, p1

The getaway car initially heads slowly down Main Road towards Bridge Street. About 100 yards down the road, Dave Adams, a PMG employee, who has heard the shots, throws a steel manhole step at the driver. It hits the roof of the car nine inches above the driver’s head and tears the hood. Another witness claims to have seen the door blow open and the driver raise his hand.

The car gathers speed and swings left into Bridge Street racing along at about 60 miles an hour careering recklessly past council employee, Mr. Percy Williams, who is driving a dray along Smarts Road [believed to be Bridge Street].

BANK HOLD-UP: SHOTS ECHOED IN QUIET STREET, The Argus, Friday, December 16, 1949, p3

At the end of the road the Singer fails to get round the sharp turn and crashes into an embankment skidding to a stop outside the home of Mr John Clifford. One side of the car is wrecked. Mr Clifford, an aircraft engineer hears the fast travelling car bump heavily into the road bank at about 1.25 p.m. Hearing the whine of an engine he goes outside to find the grey Singer parked at the side of the road.

Jack George also lives at the corner and hears the car crash.

“The bandit opened the car door, ran 50 yards, and suddenly turned back,” exclaims Jack. “He took something from the car. It might have been a gun.”

In his haste, the bandit drops his grey felt hat, size 6 7/8, on the road and dashes up Sherbourne Road for about 200 yards then disappears into the scrub carrying a brief case and a bundle in which a sailor’s cap can be seen.

About 3 p.m., Mr H.D. Pettie of Mountain View Road, Montmorency is looking through his field glasses and notices a young man walking through thick scrub on private property some distance from his house. The man is wearing a sailor’s cap and disappears along the railway track toward Montmorency.

ELTHAM HOLD-UP. — (Left) — Shire employe Percy Williams narrowly escaped a collision as the bandit fled in a stolen car. (Right) A police constable searching in the scrub where the fugitive disappeared after abandoning the car, The Age, 16 December, 1949, p3

As the day progresses, ten police cars, one motor cycle, and about 40 police led by Det. Sgt. McMennemin of Malvern CIB are searching for him. They believe he is hiding in thick scrub along the bank of the creek about half-a-mile outside Eltham township. Wireless patrol cars, four mobile traffic cars and the CIB area cars from Malvern and Kew are taking part.

Police check the thief’s car and discover it was stolen from Helen Baxter, of Doncaster Road, North Balwyn from outside Victoria Barracks.

Harry Wallace informs the police that he believes he recognised the bandit as the man who took his pistol from his bedroom the previous Friday morning.

As night falls, armed police are posted at strategic points in the Eltham-Greensborough district. Police in cars are watching the roads. Others are searching the bush and checking passengers on trains. Little do they realise the young man has already slipped out of the net.

SEQUEL
YOUTH OF 19 CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED ARMED ROBBERY OF BANK AT ELTHAM

Weekly Times, Wednesday 15 February 1950, page 6

Detectives who raided a house in Bell St., Coburg, Melbourne, charged a 19-year-old youth, of South Yarra, with attempted armed robbery at the Commercial Bank’s Eltham (Vic.) receiving depot on Dec. 15. Police say they recovered a loaded automatic pistol, diamond and signet rings worth more than £200, a complete set of house-breaking instruments, a sailor’s uniform, and chloroform gauze in the raid.

The youth was charged that while armed with an offensive weapon, he attempted to rob Lindsay George Spears of a sum of money.

He was further charged on six counts of breaking, entering and stealing.

Police allege that the person who tried to hold up Mr Spears in the Commercial Bank receiving depot at Eltham on December 15. escaped in a stolen car, after Mr Spears and Mr Henry Wallace, manager of the bank’s Greensborough branch, had fired at him.

After the car crashed, he escaped into thick scrub and is alleged to have changed into a sailor’s uniform.

On December 9 an automatic pistol was stolen from Mr Wallace’s bedroom at the Greensborough bank. The chloroform pad recovered is alleged to have been stolen from the Dental Supply Company, Plenty Road, Preston.

The rings are alleged to have been taken in a £513 burglary from the shop of James Paton. Sydney Road, Coburg.

Det. Sgt. H. McMennemin conducted the investigations with Senior Dets. R. Newton and M Downie, Detectives l. Dent, R. Rayner, P. Pedersen and M. Handley and First Constable A. Thomas. The youth will appear at Eltham Court on February 22.

Manager’s Gun Used in Holdup at Bank

The Age, Thursday 23 February 1950, page 4

It was stated in Eltham court yesterday that a youth who robbed a bank manager of his pistol, later used it in an attempt to hold-up the bank.

Kay Arthur Morgan, 19, draftsman, of Castle-street, South Yarra, was committed for trial on charges of breaking and entering, and stealing a pistol and attempted robbery while armed with an offensive weapon. He pleaded guilty.

The manager of Eltham branch of the Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd., Henry Clifton Cabot Wallace, said he disturbed someone in the bedroom, in which he and his wife were sleeping, at 3 a.m. on December. 9, 1949. Later he found that his automatic- pistol was missing.

On December 15 a youth, who said his name was John Henderson, entered the bank and opened a new account. As the youth was leaving the bank he turned round with a pistol in his hand and said: — “I want the lot.” Spear indicated a drawer under the counter; and said.— “Here it is. Come and get it.” The youth said:— “Keep your hand away from that drawer.”

Witness said Spear then drew his pistol from his hip pocket. The youth fired at them, and Spear returned the fire. “I pulled my pistol and fired, too” said witness. The youth fired again, ran out to a car and drove off. Witness and Spear fired several shots at the car.

The youth was the accused Morgan, sitting in court, witness said.

Evidence was given that one bullet was found in the celling and the other in the bank.

Morgan was allowed £100 bail on each charge.

 

But wait, there’s more; another twist

Morgan ended up serving three years for the failed armed robbery and became a notorious criminal. He had twin sons, Peter and Doug and even though only ten years old, Morgan would get his sons to act as lookouts whilst he committed burglaries. The lads became building contractors but when the industry suffered a downturn in 1977 and they were short on cash, they returned to the family business. Over the following 23 months they undertook 24 raids on country and outer-suburban TABs and banks. Whilst robbing one country bank for the third time, just like their father, it all went wrong ending up with a police officer shot. They were nick-named the “After-dark” bandits and are considered to be Australia’s last bushrangers. They were convicted and served 17 years in prison.

References

1949 ‘Took Pistol From Bank’, The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), 9 December, p. 3. , viewed 12 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article244149395

1949 ‘GUNFIGHT IN BANK NEAR MELBOURNE’, The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), 15 December, p. 1. , viewed 12 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article244139967

1949 ‘Hunt for bandit switches to city’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 16 December, p. 1. , viewed 12 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22798717

1949 ‘POLICE HUNT FOR ELTHAM BANDIT’, The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), 16 December, p. 1. , viewed 12 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article189482129

1949 ‘-Police Search for Bank Intruder’, The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), 16 December, p. 3. , viewed 12 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article189482349

1949 ‘BANK OFFICIALS FOIL BANDIT’, The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1931 – 1954), 16 December, p. 1. , viewed 13 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article248155927

1949 ‘Search of Scrub Proves Fruitless’, The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), 17 December, p. 3. , viewed 12 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article189481390

1950 ‘Eltham Bank Arrest Leads to Other Charges’, The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), 14 February, p. 3. , viewed 12 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article187348311

1950 ‘YOUTH OF 19 CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED ARMED ROBBERY OF BANK AT ELTHAM’, Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954), 15 February, p. 6. , viewed 12 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225452914

1950 ‘Manager’s Gun Used in Holdup at Bank’, The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), 23 February, p. 4. , viewed 12 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article187348043

1950 ‘”Guilty” plea to pistol theft COURT TOLD OF LAD’S HOLD-UP BID’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 23 February, p. 7. , viewed 12 Dec 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22812474

‘Australia’s last bushrangers were twins’ by John Sylvester, The Age, April 27, 2019, https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/australia-s-last-bushrangers-were-twins-20190424-p51gqb.html

‘Australia’s last bushrangers: How twin brothers robbed banks across Victoria while bamboozling police by escaping in taxis, bikes and even a canoe – and the one mistake that lead to their capture’ by Sahar Mourad, 9 May 2019 (also includes video of an interview with Peter and Doug Morgan aired on A Current Affairhttps://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/australias-last-bushrangers-how-twin-brothers-robbed-banks-across-victoria-while-bamboozling-police-by-escaping-in-taxis-bikes-and-even-a-canoe-and-the-one-mistake-that-lead-to-their-capture/ar-AAB8N3H?li=AAgfIYZ&%252525253BOCID=ansmsnnews11

 

 

OTD: Dedication of the Shire of Eltham War Memorial, 16 Nov. 1951

#OnThisDay – In 1951 #OTD the Governor of Victoria, Sir Dallas Brooks dedicated the war memorial tower and caretaker’s cottage at Garden Hill, Kangaroo Ground.

The tower has been a landmark since 1926 and above the portal on one side are the names of men who fell in the 1914-18 war. On another tablet unveiled by the Governor were inscribed the names of men who gave their lives in the 1939-45 war:-
Archer R., Bates A. L., Butherway J. H., Castledine G. E., Cary A. E., Clark R. C., Clerke A. C., Davies N. A., Dunlop C. D., Feldbauer T., Field K. F., Gahan S. M., Galletiy L. W. A., Guy T., Handley R . H. W., Hanlon H., F. L., Hellens W., Ingram L. S., McDonald E. H., McKimmie G. J., McLean S. C. A., McMahon .J. F., Morris A., Moyes J. A., Mynott L. R., Nichols, M. J., Walters G. W., West P.

The tower rising 50 feet was built by the people and committed to the care of the Eltham Shire Council in 1926. The suggestion of a memorial park was credited to Mr. V. A, Wippell (of Ivanhoe) and of a tower to Mr. B. Hall (of Panton Hill) being a replica of the watchtowers of early England and Scotland. The stone was the gift of Professor Osborne and was quarried on his Kangaroo Ground property. From the same area came the stone for the caretaker’s cottage added in 1951 by the Shire Council and which had charge of the arrangements.

Let’s take a journey 68 years back in time to that moment and join in the ceremonies . . .

Meeting at Lower Plenty, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Sir Dallas Brooks, is attended by Capt. T. Kirwan Taylor. They are met at the Lower Plenty bridge (the line of demarcation between the municipalities of Eltham and Heidelberg) by the Shire President (Cr. F. .Griffith) and the Shire Secretary (Mr. R. J. Ham). Mr. G . Moir (as vice president) is representing the State branch of the R.S.L..

Lower Plenty School’s welcome, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Hearing that the Governor would be passing the Lower Plenty school on his way to open the Memorial at Kangaroo Ground an unrehearsed “reception” was quickly arranged. Obtaining permission from the headmaster, the school boys’ band got ready. As the Governor arrives at the school they strike up and play the National Anthem, of course! The Governor is pleasantly surprised,  thanks the children and grants them a holiday. He then returns to his car and the official party set off on the remainder of their journey to Kangaroo Ground.

The Tower . . Kangaroo Ground, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

At Garden Hill, 30 minutes later there is an air of excitement stirring among the gathered crowd as whispers start passing along the line that the official party have just arrived. In the company gathered around the edifice are numerous residents who remember the original unveiling by Lord Stonehaven on Armistice Day, a few days and 25 years ago.

The approach pathway is lined with children from many of the district schools and men who served in both wars are lining up to form a guard of honor section near the tower. There are veterans and young men and women, wearing on their breasts the colors, medals and other decorations won in battle. In charge is Mr. F. D. Stevens, the president of the R.S.L..

Introducing Guard of Honour, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

His Excellency finds time to amuse the children with some brief words and shakes hands with every member of the guard and with the next-of-kin of the honored dead.

Meeting R.S.S.A.I.L.A. Representative, Mr. G. Moir, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
Shire President’s Address, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
R.S.S.A.I.L.A. Representative’s Address, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
His Excellency’s Address, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
Portion of Guests, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Following the addresses by the President and Mr. Moir, the Governor in a moving ceremony of dedication releases the flag-covering of the memorial tablet. As the flag falls to the side revealing the new memorial tablet, a simple unforgettable tribute resonates from from tower-top with the stirring bugle note of “Last Post” and “Reveille.”

Presentation, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Mr R.J. Ham, the Shire Secretary then presents the Governor with a beautifully prepared brochure programme and for Lady Brooks, a gold bar brooch on which is mounted a small nugget.

Afternoon Tea, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The official party and guests then make their way to the Kangaroo Ground hall where an excellent afternoon tea has been prepared by the wonderful ladies from the various branches of the Country Women’s Association led by the Diamond Valley Group president, Mrs. V. Middleton.

Afternoon Tea, 16 Nov 1951
(Photo: Stuart Tompkins; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

It has been a day packed full of excitement, tears of sadness over our lost loved ones  and lots of good things to eat. But now it’s time to return to present day and hopefully reflect upon what those who came before us, wished for us to benefit from.

* Lest We Forget *

References

1951 ‘Dedication of Memorial Tower’, The News; The Newspaper of the City of Heidelberg and the Shire of Eltham (Heidelberg, Vic), 23 (?) November

OTD: Unveiling of the Shire of Eltham War Memorial, 11 Nov. 1926

#OnThisDay – In 1926 #OTD the community gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the Shire of Eltham War Memorial in Memorial Park, at Garden Hill, Kangaroo Ground.

This uncommon and picturesque war memorial, which affords an excellent view of the surrounding district was unveiled by His Excellency the Governor-General (Lord Stonehaven). The tower was constructed of stone obtained in the Eltham district, and given to the memorial fund by Professor Osborne.

Shire of Eltham, Soldiers’ War Memorial, unveiled 11-11-26, Garden Hill, Kangaroo Ground (Photo: Tom Prior, c.1926; Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection, No. 406; held in partnership between Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory and @YarraPlentyRegionalLibrary (ELtham Library) and the Reynolds-Prior collection held by EDHS). This image was also used on a postcard and in news reports published in The Argus (13 Nov. 1296, p33) and the Advertiser (19 Nov. 1926, p3). Note the unfinished slate-stones at base and Honour Roll not yet erected.

As reported in the Advertiser the next day:

“Garden Hill, Kangaroo Ground, presented a unique scene yesterday afternoon, inasmuch as 1500 people attended to pay tribute to the silent soldiers of the Great War, and at the same time Nature presented to them, in perfect sunshine, one of the most glorious panoramic views to be seen in the Commonwealth. The unveiling ceremony of the memorial tower, erected through the efforts of the Shire of Eltham War Memorial League, is to commemorate the memory of the fallen soldiers who enlisted from the shire.

A Guard of Honor was formed by the school children from Eltham, Panton Hill, Hurstbridge, Kangaroo Ground, Research and Queenstown, as His Excellency the Governor-General and Lady  Stonehaven approached the tower, when the National Anthem was sung, followed by the hymn, “O God our help in ages past.” Chaplain Green, of St. Martin’s, Hawkesburn, offered up a thanksgiving and prayer, dedicating the monument to the glory of those who laid down their lives for others.

Kipling’s “Recessional” was then sung, Mrs D. Rodger being organist.

Sir Wm. Irvine said he had been asked, as a resident of the shire of Eltham, to welcome their Excellencies, but they were so well known as to hardly require an introduction in any part of the Commonwealth. From where they stood they could see a large part of the shire, and all felt deep gratitude to those who fell in the Great War.

The Governor-General, in a very impressive address, said there was no more appropriate day to unveil a memorial than Armistice Day. It is a day that brings home to us the realities of the Empire, and from the time the people in Melbourne commenced that morning to pay tribute to God, when the people of the Old Country were asleep, there would be celebrations at every hour of the day in different parts of the Empire. The magnitude of the sacrifice was not, and could not, be fully realised. We live under such free institutions that we do not recognise it until we are in danger. What would our position be if the war had ended differently ? Let us not forget the sacrifice the men made, nobly supported by the women of the Empire. The memorial is worthy of the great memory of the dead,  which it seeks to celebrate-a plain, strong, simple tower, typical of the men we are reminded of. It is to be hoped Armistice Day will continue to be celebrated, so that future generations will realise what they have to pay in their time to the State. By the glorious deeds of the men of this country history has been made, which started Australia off with the rest of the nations that contribute to the British Empire.

The Honor Board was then unveiled, disclosing over 70 names.

“Stand Fast” was sounded by Mr J. H. Page, of the Returned Soldiers’ Band, followed by two minutes’ silence, then “The Last Post” and “Reveille.”

The names of the fallen and a description of the tower will appear in next issue.

The reception committee entertained the Governor-General and
party to afternoon tea, after which they left amidst the cheers of the
people.”

Entrance to the Shire of Eltham Memorial Park, Garden Hill, Kangaroo Ground: carriageway from Eltham-Yarra Glen Road to top of Memorial Park; view to south-east, c.1923
References

1926 ‘Memorial to Fallen Soldiers.’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 12 November, p. 3. (AFTERNOON), http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56660460

1926 ‘ELTHAM MEMORIAL TOWER’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 13 November, p. 33., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3820851

1926 ‘THE ELTHAM SHIRE WAR MEMORIAL TOWER.’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 19 November, p. 3. (AFTERNOON.), http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56660470

EDHS Open Day – Sunday, October 13, 2.00-4.30 pm

Eltham Local History Centre, former 1860 Police Residence and home of the Eltham District Historical Society, 728 Main Road, Eltham, 13 November 2017 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

As part of Local History Week, our Society will again hold an Open Day event on Sunday, October 13th between 2.00 pm and 4.30 pm.

Located at the Eltham Heritage Justice Precinct, on the corner of Main Road and Brougham Street, there will be local history presentations, photographs to view and some special treats.

The former Eltham Courthouse, the former Police House (Local History Centre) and replica Police Station will be open for inspection, as will the renovated Lock Up.

Come along and view one of the few intact heritage precincts left in Victoria.

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)

 

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)

Heritage Walk: John Street, Eltham Mud Brick Precinct – 4 May, 2019

 

Glass House (Photo: Alistair Knox; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Meet at 2.00pm at the corner of Bible and Bridge streets, Eltham (Melway ref 21 K6). The planned walk will take about two hours.

This excursion is planned to be a walk through the precinct covering John Street, Eltham and nearby streets where there are a number of mud brick houses dating from the 1940s through to quite recent times. This free guided walk passes houses built by Alistair Knox, Gordon Ford, Peter Glass and others who made significant contributions to the Eltham tradition of earth building.

Most of the route traverses streets of Josiah Holloway’s 1851 Little Eltham subdivision. We will discuss this subdivision and the origin of some of the street names. On the way to and from John Street we will view some other places of historical or heritage interest.

The walk is open to Society members and the general public. Please note that this walk does not include internal inspection of any houses.

Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.

The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.