Category Archives: Eltham Cemetery Stories

George Bird (1845-1920)

George Bird was born in England in 1845 and arrived in Australia in 1856 as a child of assisted migrants. Soon afterwards he came out to Eltham to live with his uncle George Stebbing, working for him as bricklayer’s assistant in building, amongst others, Shillinglaw Cottage and the Anglican and Methodist Churches in Eltham. He later purchased 72 acres at the eastern end of Pitt Street (bounded by Eucalyptus Road, Mount Pleasant Road and present-day Rockliffe Street) and established the property “View Hill”, which was worked as a mixed farm and orchard.

Bird family orchard, Pitt Street, Eltham, c.1980s. View looking northeast from near the junction of Wattle Grove and Mount Pleasant Road across to Eucalyptus Road on right and Pitt Street at top.

In 1878 he married Janet Kilpatrick, who had emigrated from Scotland. They had ten children, three of whom died in infancy. The wedding in 1904 of their eldest surviving daughter Sarah (“Sis”) to Edward Pepper appears to have been quite a society event.

Wedding of Sarah Ann Bird (b.1881) to Edward Ernest Pepper (b.1874) held at the Bird family home of “View Hill’, Eltham, 1904. Sarah Bird 4th from left (seated) and Edward Pepper on her left (standing). George Bird, 2nd from right (seated).
Digitised from original held in private collection

George was a staunch Methodist, a Church Steward and a Sunday School Superintendent in about 1890. Janet died in 1915 and George died in 1920 (though his gravestone says 1921). George’s will stated that his property was to be divided between all his children in equal shares. This necessitated subdivision of the ‘View Hill’ property, between 1922 and 1926. George, Janet and several descendants, are buried in a family plot in the cemetery.

One son, George Hugh Bird, operated a drapery store in Main Road (near Bridge Street) in around 1915.

George Hugh Bird’s Cash Drapery Mart on right, looking south along Maria Street (Main Road), Eltham near Bridge Street, c.1909. Post Office on left

Later, in the 1920s, he ran a greengrocer’s shop (also selling confectionery) in Main Road opposite Eltham Station. It was the first shop in Eltham to have plate glass windows. At the same time, his brother Reg had a grocery store on the station side of Main Road.

Bibliography:

Private Research, Bird family; copy held by EDHS

References:

1904 ‘ORANGE BLOSSOM.’, Evelyn Observer and Bourke East Record (Vic. : 1902 – 1917), 18 November, p. 3. (MORNING.), viewed 14 Mar 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60628991

 

 

 

 

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William MacMahon Ball (1901-1986)

William MacMahon Ball; Photo: Australian War Memorial Accession No. 003532

William MacMahon Ball (“Mac” Ball) was Professor of Political Science at Melbourne University from 1949 to 1968, having lectured there since 1923. He became known as an ABC commentator on international affairs from the early 1930s to the early 1960s. Between 1940 and 1944 he was Controller of Overseas Broadcasting (which later became Radio Australia). In 1945, he was political consultant to the Australian Delegation at the conference leading to the establishment of the United Nations, and in 1946 was the British Commonwealth Representative on the Allied Council during the post-war occupation of Japan.

Mac and his wife Katrine (plus daughter Jenny) came to Eltham in 1942, and in 1945 moved into an old timber cottage at the eastern end of York Street. With help from Alistair Knox, Sonia Skipper, Gordon Ford and John Harcourt, the house was totally renovated to become an early example of Eltham mud-brick.

Mac died in 1986 and is buried in Eltham Cemetery with Katrine. Part of their land backing onto Bridge Street was donated to Eltham Shire Council and is now a reserve called MacMahon Ball Paddock.

MacMahon Ball Paddock

Grave of William MacMahon Ball (1901-1986) and his wife, Katrine (1899-1991), Eltham Cemetery, c.2002
References:

Marshall, Marguerite; Nillumbik now and then : Eltham and beyond; with photographs by Ron Grant, Eltham 2002

 

 

William Bravery Andrew (1842-1907)

William Bravery Andrew, born in England, came to Melbourne in 1842 and settled in Brighton, where he became acquainted with Henry Dendy. He moved to Eltham in the 1850s and opened a produce store on “Policeman’s Hill”, at the corner of Maria Street (now Main Road) and Franklin Street. He took a lively interest in the public affairs of the town and district, and with his wife Ellen continued to run the store for some fifty years. He died in 1907 and is buried with his wife in Eltham Cemetery.

W.B. Andrew’s Corn Store, cnr Maria (Main Road) and Franklin streets. The site is now occupied by Cafe Zen Den.

His son Ernest James Andrew took over the business, which became a general store and news agency. Later, it shifted to the main Eltham shopping centre as a combined news agency and haberdashery/clothing shop. Ernie too was married to an Ellen and they lived in Arthur Street at so-called “Cook’s Cottage” (due to its resemblance to Captain Cook’s Cottage in the Fitzroy Gardens). He was an Eltham Shire Councillor between 1920 and 1950 and was Shire President for a time. Andrew House at Eltham High School and Andrew Oval in Diamond Street, Eltham are named after him. Ernie died in 1950 and is buried with Ellen in the Eltham Cemetery.

The original weatherboard building at the corner of Franklin Street is long gone and was replaced by a brick structure, which is now a cafe called Zen Den.

Grave of William Bravery Andrew (1842-1907) and his wife, Ellen (d.1906), Eltham Cemetery, c.2002

Alfred Patrick Armstrong (1825-1893)

Alfred Patrick Armstrong was born in England in 1825 and was employed under the renowned Isambard Kingdom Brunel as a civil engineer during the construction of the Great Western Railway and the South Wales Railway. He came to Melbourne in 1852 and purchased property in Eltham. He became a mining surveyor and was Inspector of Mines and the Mining Registrar for the St Andrews Division of the Castlemaine Mining District.

In 1855, he chaired a meeting calling for a bridge to be erected across the Yarra River between Eltham and Temple Stow. He was registered as an innkeeper in 1858, was involved in raising money for the establishment of Eltham Primary School, and was on the Eltham Cemetery Trust in 1860. He was elected to the Eltham District Road Board (forerunner of Eltham Shire Council) from 1867 to 1871 and then served as an Eltham Shire Councillor from 1871 to 1878 (including Shire President in 1873).

Alfred died in 1893, having been in ill health for some time, and is buried in the Eltham Cemetery with his wife Margaret. The monument features a tall pillar capped with a draped urn: a symbol of death.

Grave of Alfred Patrick Armstrong (1825-1893), Eltham Cemetery, c.2002