Category Archives: People

ThrowbackThursday: Weekly Garbage Service

#ThrowbackThursday – Who remembers the old galvanised steel garbage bin? Who still has one?

Hazard to Garbage Collectors (Damaged bin, Sharp Objects in plastic bags)

Today we time travel back to the 80s to celebrate the garbo man; a person whom we got to know and say g’day to – to a time when the garbo man left you a Xmas card and you left him a slab. None of these sanitised, oversized wheelie bins and trucks where the garbo man operates in a safe, climate controlled environment. Where’s the challenge in that when he can wrestle with a beat up old tin can or a broken plastic one on his shoulder and goodness knows what spikey, smelly things lurking in that green or black plastic bag just waiting to spill all over him. And when you ask how business is, his cheery response invariably is, “It’s picking up!”

Weekly Garbage Service, Shire of Eltham, 1980s

If you would like to see more photos from our collection of around the Shire of Eltham in the 80s then make sure to drop into Eltham Library throughout June and check out the display. We welcome any feedback especially in helping identify some of the people.

Heritage Excursion: An Eltham South Ramble – 6th May 2017

Saturday, 6th May, 2017 at 2.00pm

Early view of Main Road looking south from Brougham Street to Dalton Street; site of the Avenue of Honour in memory of the 1914-1918 War.

In the early days of our Society our excursions were usually bus trips to places of historic interest away from Eltham. For nearly 20 years our excursions have been far more local, mainly comprising walks around many parts of the Eltham district. The first such walk was a leisurely stroll through the Eltham South area.

Although that walk has been repeated several times with some variations it is considered appropriate in this our 50th year to again take a ramble visiting historic sites in Eltham South. On the way we will pass such places as White Cloud Cottage, the old buildings of Eltham Primary School, teacher David Clark’s cottage “Shoestring” and artist Percy Leason’s house “Landscape”. We will walk through the historic Eltham Cemetery and Wingrove Park, a site of Aboriginal significance.

This walk on Saturday 6th May 2017 is about 3.5 km in length and will take 2 to 2.5 hours. It will start at 2pm at the Eltham Local History Centre 728 Main Road (Melway ref 21J7). Our early walks finished with a cuppa and biscuit and we will reinstate that feature for this walk.

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.

Photos of Percy Leason’s Residence Studio “Landscape” by David Bick from the Shire of Eltham Heritage Study 1992.

Source: RESIDENCE AND REAR CONCRETE STUDIO – “LANDSCAPE”, 60 LAVENDER PARK RD – See more at: http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/63480

At the Movies

At the Movies by Maureen Jones was first published in our November 2014 newsletter.

Our Society has very little on movie theatres in Eltham and we are looking for members and friends to help us out with this.

The Advertiser of 21st March 1930 described a travelling picture company which entertained an audience in the Eltham public hall with two dramas and a comedy. The chief drama “The Freedom of the Press” emphasized to what personal sacrifice proprietors and editors had to undergo to maintain the duty a newspaper owed to its readers and the general public. Sound familiar? The article goes on ‘It is a strange thing that at Eltham most picture shows, although many of them present quite good programmes, are as a rule poorly patronized. Perhaps this is accountable for by the comparative proximity of the city and suburban theatres.’

This was the time when Kooringarama Films, then the only amateur moving picture company in Australia, and which took its name from the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Boake (York Street), were busily engaged in making their second film. Their first film was “Borrowed Plumes.” Mr. E. Lyall, a local resident was the cameraman and many of the principals and actors were known locally.

eltham-town-hall
Eltham Shire Office and Hall cnr Arthur Street and Main Road

The Cinema and Theatre Historical Society of Australia (CATHS) was able to tell us that there were movies in the Plaza from 1943-1965 and they ceased sometime between 1966 and 1968. The Plaza was probably another name for the Shire Hall facilities. Charles Plowman was the theatre licensee 1943 -1957, L. Riley 1961-1964 and E.H. Gibson in 1965. From our own resources we have this photograph of the Hall. From our own members we know that Charlie Plowman lived in Lavender Park Road and for all car buffs he drove a 1937-38 era Crossley motor vehicle. Albie Parsons volunteered as a doorman, Jim Crick was the projectionist with Tom Williams as his assistant.

CATHS have evidence that films were shown in Montmorency at the Public Hall and it was registered for 120 seats. ‘Exhibitors’ were F. Daley (1949-50), H. Murphy (1950-1951), D.W. Griggs (1951- 1954) and W.J. Mogridge 1954-1955 to 1959-1960). The theatre name was shown in Film Weekly as ‘Public Hall’ until 1955-56 then it was called ‘Mechanics’ for three years then reverted to ‘Public Hall’ until 1959-1960. At one time it was called the Morency theatre. It was listed as a country theatre in late 1950s.

In 1975 the idea of having a dedicated movie theatre was generated by Eltham Rotary with an eye to using a disused building in Montmorency. Because of the scale of the project Rotary invited Eltham Apex to become a partner. A management committee was formed and a co-operative finance scheme approved. By combining the two names the Rotex Cinema was named. An architect from Clarke Hopkins and Clarke Pty. Ltd. was engaged and shareholders were drawn from the community. The award winning project involved leasing the disused supermarket in Were Street and renovating it in such a way as to enhance the streetscape and provide a theatre especially for the young and families in the area. This was to be achieved in a straightforward and ecological way designed to make maximum use of voluntary and unskilled labour. From the initial idea to opening took about 18 months. The auditorium seated 200. The decor of curtains, drapes, carpets and seats was in various shades of purple. The theatre opened in August 1976. Mr. Les Clarke won an award for the conversion.

Later the theatre was taken over by local commercial interests and renamed the Were Street Theatre. In 1988 the property sold at auction for $625,000 and had its final screening on 12th October, 1988.

Further to the publication of “At the Movies” in our November 2014 Newsletter, the Society was able to acquire some stills from the movie “Borrowed Plumes” from the National Library of Australia. An update was subsequently published in our March 2015 Newsletter.

Additional research has unearthed details of the interesting family surrounding Kooringarama Films. The movie was filmed by amateur enthusiast Eric Lyall. Eric Cecil Lyall was born in Tooradin in the Westernport District in 1904. His mother Cecile Garnet Warburton (nee Carr) Lyall died in childbirth.

Eric was raised by his maternal aunt Ethel May Geraldine (nee Carr) Boake and his uncle Alfred Hogarth Boake. The Boakes lived at Kooringarama in York Street, Eltham. The house, later owned by Alistair Knox, still exists. Eric was the grandson of William Lyall, born in Foveran, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, who had followed his father John Lyall a farmer who had migrated to Van Diemen’s Land in 1832. In 1847 his son William moved to the Port Phillip District and began trading in fat bullocks for the Tasmanian market. In 1851 in partnership with John Mickle and John Bakewell he acquired Tooradin Station in Westernport adjacent to the Kooweerup swamp. The partnership also acquired Yallock, Monomeith, Tobin Yallock Swamp and Red Bluff. He built his substantial homestead Harewood at Tooradin which is now open for tourists. Apart from his farming interest William was a local Councillor, and became a Member of the Lower House of the Victorian Parliament in 1859. Following on from the making of “Borrowed Plumes” Eric Lyall went on to make another film for the Eltham Fire Brigade, and it appears that he may have made one for the local Anglican Church. No trace of these films has been found.

In 1929 a four reel, one hour film was produced locally with the title “As Ye Sow”. The principals in the cast were Jack Cornwall, Norman D’Arcy, Marie Bucknell and Gwen Pritchard. The film was directed by Mr. Stanley Walpole of St. Kilda who had had considerable experience in motion picture work in Hollywood, U.S.A. Eric Lyall was one of the photographers. No copies exist of this film either. Eric married one of the “movie stars”, Marie Bucknell in 1930. Eric became a radiographer and was the manager of a company providing tuberculosis screening for servicemen during the Second World War. He died in 1944 at 29 The Ridge, Canterbury, aged 40.

His aunt, Ethel Boake, along with Miss Florence Garner operated Kooringarama as a guest house and at one time it was a convalescent home for tuberculosis sufferers. Eric’s uncle Alfred Hogarth Boake died in Eltham in 1940 and it appears that soon after Ethel Boake left the district. She died at Camberwell in 1954 and with her husband Alfred and nephew Eric is buried at Fawkner Cemetery.

Scene from "Borrowed Plumes"; Australian National Library collection
A scene from “Borrowed Plumes” (National Library of Australia)

This photograph from the collection of the National Library of Australia depicts a dramatic scene from the movie “Borrowed Plumes”. With Doug Orford’s expertise we have narrowed the car down to a Jowett “Short 7 1924”; 7 hp 907cc side valve flat twin engine. 11,444 vehicles were produced (including both Short and Long 7s) between 1919 and 1930. It was a 2 door fabric saloon, with a three speed gearbox. Jowett’s was founded in 1901 by brothers Benjamin and William Jowett with Arthur V. Lamb. They started in the cycle business and went on to make V – twin engines. In 1904 they became the Jowett Motor Manufacturing Company based in Bradford, Yorkshire and their first Jowett car was produced in February 1906.

October Meeting – Community Groups

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

12th October at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Community groups are the backbone of any community and the former Shires of Eltham and now Nillumbik are no exception. In our area there are some groups with a long history of consistently contributing to the development, enrichment and benefit of our local communities. Some we are well aware of, others not so much.

At our next meeting we are pleased to have representatives from three long established community groups to talk to us about their histories, how they have been a part of the Eltham scene for many years and how their contributions have supported many other local organisations and initiatives.

This meeting will be held at 8.00pm on Wednesday 12th October
2016 in the Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham (Melway Map 21 ref J5).

New members and visitors are most welcome to join us on this evening.

August Meeting – Creators, Makers and Shakers

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

10th August at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Alistair Knox - a 'Maker'
Alistair Knox – a ‘Maker’

We can consider ourselves very fortunate to have such a rich local history. So many individuals have contributed to bring us to where we are and what we have today.

At our next meeting Russell Yeoman and Jim Connor will speak about some of these significant ‘Creators, Makers and Shakers’.

Some are the Creators, such as the many creative artists who have lived in our area; some are the Makers, those who have helped design and build our places and spaces and then there are the actual Shakers, those who have helped change our world, influence our politics and provide the challenging ideas in the various forms we live with today.

As at all of our meetings, new members and visitors are most welcome.

Heritage Walk: Back – track walk to Fitzsimons Lane – 2 July, 2pm

Saturday 2nd July 2016 at 2.00pm

Robin Woods
‘Robin Woods’ – the house formerly known as ‘Robin Hill’

Today residents of Eltham and beyond take it for granted that they cross the Yarra River at Fitzsimons Lane to travel to Templestowe and further on to southern and eastern suburbs. It has not always been the case. Prior to the building of the Fitzsimons Lane Bridge in 1961 there was no road crossing of the river between Banksia Street Heidelberg and Warrandyte.

Fitzsimons Lane seems an odd name for a main road carrying large volumes of traffic. Prior to the opening of the bridge it was a farm access road extending northerly from Porter Street Templestowe to the Yarra River. Land on the east side was owned by the Fitzsimons family. In 1961 the Country Roads Board constructed a bridge across the Yarra and acquired land to link Fitzsimons Lane with Main Road, Eltham. Much of this land came from the 15 acre property of Frank (Robin) and Margery Robinson Wood. The Woods’ house was named “Robin Hill”. It remains today with the name “Robin Woods” and fronts Yarra Hill Close, formerly the southern end of Bolton Street. In 1991 a new bridge was built to the west of the original bridge and Fitzsimons Lane was widened to four lanes of traffic.

Our July heritage excursion will be a walk to Yarra Hill Close and Fitzsimons Lane Bridge and will include commentary on the history of this corner of the Town of Eltham. This walk will follow a “there and back” route, that is returning over much the same course. It is about 2.5 km in length and is expected to take 2 to 2.5 hours.

It will start at 2pm at the corner of Bolton Street and Old Eltham Road (Melway ref. 21 F10). This free walk is open to the general public as well as Society members. Dogs are not
permitted on Society excursions.

Everyone is welcome to this free event from the Eltham District Historical Society

All are welcome……… but numbers are limited

Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.

Phone number of contact on the day is 0409 021 063

June Meeting – … about Thompsons Pharmacy, Eltham

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

8th June at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Thompsons Pharmacy
1928 ‘Advertising’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 20 July, p. 3. (AFTERNOON.), via Trove http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57757783

Shortly after the First World War Ivan Thompson, a pharmacist in Fairfield, expanded into the Diamond Valley by opening pharmacies at Eltham, Greensborough and Watsonia.

In the early 1950’s, Norm Williams considered he was fortunate to be able to serve an apprenticeship with Ivan Thompson at his Eltham pharmacy. He was with the business when it moved in 1952 to the present site at 964 Main Road, Eltham, which was the first brick shop built in the Eltham Town Centre. When in 1958 Ivan Thompson decided to sell his pharmacies Harry Brown and Norm Williams were able to purchase the Eltham business and expanded with pharmacies in Fairfield and Lower Plenty.

At this meeting Norm Williams will speak about how Thompsons Pharmacy has developed, while continuing to supply a range of services for generations of Eltham families. His stories, supported by a collection of personal photographs and recollections, will entertain as well as give an insight into how pharmacy practices and the Eltham shopping centre has changed.

As at all of our meetings, new members and visitors are most welcome.