Category Archives: Buildings

Eltham and District 1865

The Victorian Gazetteer – 1865

Eltham
37º 44’ S. lat., 145° 10’ E. long. (Co. Evelyn), is a postal village in the parish of Nillumbik, and electoral district of Eltham, situated 14 miles from Melbourne on the road to Queenstown. The river Yarra is 1½ mile distant. There is a steam flour mill (Dendy’s), a brewery, and a tannery in the village. The neighbourhood is generally elevated and rangy, except along the course of the creek. It is principally pastoral, with but little agricultural land. In several of the gullies in the vicinity gold has been found in small quantities, but there is no gold field known by any distinctive name. From 3 to 4 miles N.W. are two quartz reefs, known as Phipp’s and Orme’s reefs, both on private property. The nearest towns are Warringal, 6½ miles S.W.; Templestowe, 3 miles S.; Greensborough 2½ miles N.W.; and Kangaroo ground 6 miles N. There is communication with Warringal and the Kangaroo ground by coach, but none with the other places, except by horse or dray. The distance from Melbourne is 14 miles, and there is communication up and down on the Wood’s Point line each day. The hotels are the Eltham and the Fountain. There are no regular carriers or coaching offices, but parcels left at the hotels are taken up by the coach, and goods are taken to New Chum, Wood’s Point, and Melbourne, both by horse and bullock drays. Eltham is under the control of a road board, the population is about 350; and the geological formation is upper silurian rock with sandstone shales, &c.

The Eltham electoral division commences at a point on the river Plenty due W. of the southern boundary of portion 1, Section 12, parish of Morang; thence E. to Arthur’s creek; thence by that creek to a point due W. of Stevenson’s bridge; thence E. to the said bridge; thence S. to the river Yarra-Yarra; and thence by the rivers Yarra Yarra and Plenty to the commencing point.

The Eltham road board district has an area of 344,960 acres, and an estimated population of 1500 persons, the number of dwellings being about 150. The total value of rateable property amounts of £55,000; the estimated annual value of rateable property amounts to £6,800; the revenue from all sources to £1614 13s. 10d.; and the expenditure to £2,082 17s. 9d.

Advertisements

Eltham Bakehouse Secrets

The following newspaper article comes from the Diamond Valley Local, Tuesday, February 16th, 1954.

It relates to a site at the corner of York Street and Main Road, Eltham. It contained a weatherboard shop and dwelling fronting Main Road and a brick bakery at the rear fronting York Street. The shop was at various times a baker’s shop and a grocery shop. These buildings were demolished in 1979 and replaced by residential units named Bakehouse Court.

Murder Mystery-3-2

“WAS WOMAN FOUND IN WELL PUT IN IT? 

Eltham Bakehouse was the scene of a drama whose details have never been cleared. Was the woman whose body was found in the old well inside the back part of the home murdered by her husband? Eltham bakehouse and residence now occupied by Mr Jim Arnett and family is one of the very old residences of Eltham. Mr J. J. Burgoyne, father of J. N. Burgoyne, so long known in Eltham in connection
 with the P.O. and store took over the bakery in 1896. At that time mystery was at its height, for the baker’s wife had been found down the well.

Did she fall, or was she pushed? No one knows.

But her ghost didn’t trouble the Burgoyne family, who had plenty of work on hand. The bakehouse supplied 20 large loaves of bread a day to far-scattered pioneers. Mr Burgoyne recalls his breadcarting days, and says that roads were rough. But they had metal on them. At least that puts them a few points ahead of how they stand today. When the bakehouse was sold six years later it baked 200 loaves a day. All of this is early history stuff, now being collected by the LOCAL. It has some wonderful stories, too.

Right, or Else 

Today, the quaint old house is still giving shelter and the bakehouse is equipped with an automatic “no-hands-touch-anything” machine which forms 2,000 large loaves an hour. What happens inside that bakehouse is worth telling. Strong and weak flours are blended to make dough. Strong flour alone would provide a loaf burst everywhere and misshapen. Weak flour bakes into a hard, miniature loaf. Just the right mix has yeast food added, then a malt improver, then vitamised powdered milk, then yeast, and finally water. The temperature of the dough is carefully regulated. If it goes over 82F. there is trouble. Ice water keeps it back in very hot weather. Acid calcium phosphate is added to prevent sourness during hot spells.  A lot of trouble isn’t it? But if the dough is one degree over 82F the oven will require 15 degrees more heat. The huge 18ft. by 15ft. Scotch oven is fired to 550F. Its firebricks glow all over. When the dough is ready a very wet cloth is scuffled over the floor of the oven. This produces steam and temporarily cools the sole of the oven to 500F. The burn on the sole of the oven is just taken out long enough to save burning the bottoms of the loaves.

Endless Care 

Loaves stay 35 to 40 minutes in the oven. Then they are turned out on to movable wire-mesh trolleys. Old J. J. Burgoyne would indeed be astonished if he could see what has been put inside his old bakehouse without changing the outside appearance. There are some thousands of pounds’ worth of the most modern machinery very much in use inside. Master baker Jim Arnett is obviously a man who takes a pride in the quality of the bread he bakes. The trouble and care taken is a revelation to anyone who hasn’t thought previously of what goes to make a loaf of bread. Formulas are exact. Records are kept of each bake. On big master sheets every detail of dough temperature, outside temperature, and oven temperature are kept. After so much care has been taken to produce good bread, it seems a pity that bread-eaters don’t keep it as carefully as they keep milk, for example.”

Fayrefield Hat Factory

A former hat factory in Sherbourne Road Eltham has in the past been used for various purposes and a self storage business currently operates from these premises.

The Karingal Yallock Creek passes through the front of the land and the creek environs are the subject of significant and unusual landscaping works, including some cascading water channels. Some of the landscaping was damaged by the Christmas Day floods of 2011, but the main elements remain intact.

The landscaped area (as distinct from the factory itself) is the subject of a Heritage Overlay under the Nillumbik Planning Scheme. The basis of this overlay is a Heritage Report by Graeme Butler and Associates in 2006. As well as an assessment of the landscaped area, it includes one background information on the history of the site (although a complete history would require more research).

The site was part of Crown Portion 3 of the Parish of Nillumbik that remained as the Montmorency Farm until early in the twentieth century. The 1911 subdivision of this farm created Lot 7 of some seven acres, which is the site of this factory. The Heritage Report lists the various owners of the site. From the rate records and aerial photos it is concluded that the site was used as an orchard and farmland until the 1940s. William F Crellin, orchardist, owned the site from 1912 to 1923. Then Edmund Williams owned it until 1951.

In 1955 the site was owned by Rupert V. Kirsch and this is the name anecdotally associated with the hat factory, where the well-known brand of Fayrefield Hats were manufactured. There is some belief that this was built about the time of the Second World War and that hats for the armed forces were made there.

The featured aerial photo from the early 1950s held by the Society shows that part of the factory complex had been built then.

Other reference items of interest include:

The Hat Factory – a personal recollection of the hat factory and followup feature on the gardens, Hat Factory Revisited

The fish pond which was part of the landscaped gardens emerged into the Victorian skateboarding scene in 1977.

Fort Knox Self Storage Tips It’s Hat To A Historical Past

A series of eight photos showing various internal views of the hat factory and staff members at Christmas 1959, held by the State Library of Victoria, can be accessed via Trove

The Blacksmith and the Wheelwright

In November 1985 a monument was installed near the corner of Main Road and Pitt Street in Eltham, within the gardens at the front of what is now the Eltham Community and Reception Centre. This monument commemorates Victoria’s 150th anniversary and the former location of the Eltham Town Centre, which existed along this section of Main Road, then known as Maria Street. Beneath the site is a time capsule to be opened in the year 2035. A plaque was also erected at this site in October 1987 to commemorate the Shire of Eltham Historical Society’s 20th anniversary.

The main feature of this monument is a ‘tyring disc’, a blacksmith’s implement that was found on this site. This consists of a large iron disc that was used as a platform for fitting iron tyres (like the one shown on top of the platform) to wooden spoked cart wheels. The local blacksmith and wheelwright worked together to assemble the wheel, which was clamped to the platform placed close to the fire. The red hot iron hoop, previously forged to the correct size was lifted with tongs by the blacksmith over the outside of the rim, then hammered down amid flames from the scorching timber. The wheelwright drenched the tyre with cold water as soon as it was in position.

 A clamp placed on the naff (hub) and screwed down tightly kept the spokes at a constant angle as the tyre cooled. An even pressure from the contracting tyre tightened the joints at each end of the spokes and formed a vice-like grip, which would last for the life of the wheel.

 The Shire of Eltham Historical Society was originally established in 1967 to cover what was then the Shire of Eltham and its early activities extended over the whole Shire from Lower Plenty to Kinglake. The establishment of other local historical societies as well as municipal restructuring in 1994 has meant that the Society’s activities are now more confined to the Eltham district, which includes Eltham, Research, Kangaroo Ground, Montmorency, Briar Hill, and Lower Plenty. While this is reflected in the later change of name to the Eltham District Historical Society our collection of local records extends to cover the whole of the former Eltham Shire.

Blacksmith's shop, Main road, opposite Pitt street. Left Bill Baker, Right, Sid Brown.
Blacksmith’s shop, Main road, opposite Pitt street. Left Bill Baker, Right, Sid Brown.

Benjamin Wallis and the Eltham Hotel

by Russell Yeoman

In our Newsletter No. 217 July 2014 there was an article about Benjamin Oliver Wallis who was a prominent Eltham resident, publican and Councillor during the second half of the nineteenth century. He owned the house that is now the Nillumbik Living and Learning Centre at 739 Main Road Eltham. The article concluded by indicating that further research was required on Wallis’ ownership of the Eltham Hotel.

That previous article followed an enquiry from Christopher Wallis, a resident in Germany and it transpired that Benjamin Wallis was a member of the same family that came from the Cornish village of Newlyn. Christopher Wallis has now provided the results of his research complete with reference sources and it includes significant additional information on Benjamin Wallis and his connection with the Eltham Hotel.

What follows here is summarised from Christopher Wallis’ article, which starts with the background of the Wallis family in Cornwall where Benjamin trained as a mason and built a number of houses. He migrated to Melbourne in 1853 but his wife and children remained in Cornwall for a further 10 years. Later in 1853 Richard Warren engaged Wallis to build the Eltham Hotel and it opened in 1854 or 1855. The Fountain of Friendship Hotel on the opposite side of Maria Street (Main Road) opened at about the same time.

In 1858 Warren fell into financial difficulties and had to sell the hotel. Wallis bought the hotel and obtained a publican’s licence in 1861. In the 1850s the Fountain had been the more popular hotel but after that the Eltham Hotel became more popular.

The article argues that in about 1857 Wallis probably built the “Living and Learning house” for tanner John Pearson. In 1868 Pearson became bankrupt and Wallis acquired the house and he lived there until his death in 1896. For some of this time the house was in the name of Benjamin’s son Richard but he died in 1888 and ownership reverted to his father.

Much information is provided about Wallis and his family and especially his standing in the Eltham community. He was a member of the Eltham Jockey Club and in 1867 his wife Anna rode her horse Charlotte in the Annual Races. Anna was also an angler and is reported to have caught a large perch in the Yarra River. She died in 1887.

On 16th September 1886 Wallis sold the hotel to Christopher Watson (Snr). Watson died in 1887 and the hotel passed to his son Christopher Watson (Jr) who owned it for many years. It eventually passed to his son Herbert. Our Society records have to date not recorded the fate of the original Eltham Hotel although diligent research of the local press would have answered this question.

Assumptions have been made that the hotel gradually evolved from that building to the present day complex. However Christopher Wallis’ article and other recent research by Alan Sheehan shows that the hotel was demolished in 1925 when Herbert Watson was still the owner. A new hotel was built that included the façade currently standing at the corner of Main Road and Pitt Street. Many subsequent extensions have completely changed this hotel from its beginnings in the earliest years of Eltham’s development.

Heritage Walk: Belle Vue Farm – 7 March, 2pm

Photo of Belle Vue sourced from Morrison Kleeman Estate Agents Eltham advertisement, February 2013

Belle Vue farm comprised about 56 ha (140 acres) extending northerly from the northern boundary of Holloway’s 1851 Little Eltham subdivision. On the present day map the southern boundary was just north of Elsa Court and Grove Street. The western boundary was the Diamond Creek and extended northerly to Main Road where it turns easterly towards Research. It was traversed by the main road to Kangaroo Ground and beyond and from 1912 by the railway to Hurstbridge.

From 1895 the farm was owned by William Williams and his wife Mary Ann. In 1914-15 they built a new house now known as “Belle Vue”. They sold the land in 1920 and residential subdivision began soon after that.

A recent image of Belle Vue
A recent image of Belle; February 2015

“Belle Vue” today remains on a large residential lot in Livingstone Road. The house and many old trees on the site have been subject to a heritage overlay under the Nillumbik Planning Scheme. Despite that overlay most of the heritage trees have been removed.

For our excursion on 7th March we intend to walk through the former farm area that is now a residential neighbourhood. The route will include views of “Belle Vue” and a number of other interesting houses and features of historic interest.

This walk is about 3.5 km in length and will take 2 to 2.5 hours. It will start at 2pm at the northern end of the Eltham railway station carpark in Main Road opposite Luck Street. (Melway ref.21 K4).

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

Eltham South Preschool

35 Fordhams Road, Eltham South

This preschool building was designed by the architect Charles Duncan who was a proponent of the organic style inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, a renowned American architect. Charles Duncan was one of a number of young Melbourne architects who designed Wrightian style buildings in the 1960s. The building has a triangular floor plan with a bell-cast slate-clad roof with a large metal spire designed by Matcham Skipper. Duncan scaled the interior of this preschool to a child’s proportion.

Photograph from the Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photo Collection