#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.
#MysteryMonday – Today we present a MysteryMonday of a somewhat different ilk; rather than solving the identity of a forgotten image, what we have is a tale of a mysterious event that occurred recently within our midst. It is a story of a woman’s boot, set in Eltham Cemetery, as told by Heather Eastman.
While out walking the dog one day past Eltham Cemetery on Mount Pleasant Road, I came across a very old looking boot. It was freshly dug up, most likely by a hungry and inquisitive fox looking for something to eat. It was sitting beside a sizable hole right next to the old green caretaker’s hut.
The boot appeared to be a genuine relic of the past. All leather, including the sole; laces long since gone. It had certainly seen better days with a few holes here and there and it was full of dirt.
I had seen boots like this before in pictures from the past. At a guess, it was a hundred years old, possibly more, and its owner, female with dainty feet.
I considered it may have come from the little Bootmaker’s cottage on Main Road. The cottage is still there, but of course has not witnessed boots made for years. I imagined when it did, they probably looked like this one.
I understand, around the time boots like this were worn, people were also quite superstitious. Often burying or concealing a single boot or shoe in a wall cavity or the like, to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.
I failed to take a photo of the boot that day, so I went back a few days later to do so. However, the boot was gone, and in its place, appeared a fresh pile of mulch. The boot provided a brief glimpse into our past, now a mystery as to how it got there and who once owned it. The above image is a good match for the boot.
Do you have any tales of mysterious happenings or events in the district you would like to share? If so, we’d love to hear from you
Newsletter No 236 October 2017 contained a report on the unveiling of a significant new art project at the Eltham Cemetery. Titled “Our Eltham – Artistic Recollections” it features 31 ceramic panels containing artwork with a local history theme. The work is the joint creation of artist Nerina Lascelles and ceramicist Linda Detoma, supported with stonework by Leigh Wykes and steelwork by Neil Carter, all skilled local Nillumbik artisans.
The main purpose of our excursion on Saturday 3rd March 2018 at 2.00pm will be to view the panels and will include readings from the interpretive booklet published by the Cemetery Trust. There will also be the opportunity to inspect other artworks within the cemetery.
Enter the cemetery from Metery Road (Melway Ref. 21 K9) and proceed to the adjacent car park.
This excursion is free and is open to the general public as well as Society members.
Please note that dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.
The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when efforts were under way to try and save an early settler’s cottage located in Ely Street, Eltham.
In 1978 the society was investigating means of preserving a timber cottage in Ely Street probably dating from the 1850s and believed to have been owned by the pioneer Falkiner family. The land on which the cottage stood was to be sub divided into residential lots. With the consent of the owners the society applied to the Historic Buildings Preservation Council for assessment of the building and inclusion on the Register of Historic Buildings.
Around May 1979, the owner Cronus Pty. Ltd, offered the building and the land on which it stood to the Council free of charge, subject to certain minor modifications to the subdivision. The Council agreed to support the modification.
Considerable research into the history of the building was carried out on behalf of the Historic Buildings Preservation Council. The origins of the building were somewhat obscure. The land on which the house stood was within the Crown Township of Eltham and was known as cultivation allotment 3 with an area of just over 1 ha. It comprised only about one quarter of the land to be subdivided. This land was sold by the Crown in 1852 to Charles Brown, a stock commission agent of Bourke Street, Melbourne, for nine pounds fifteen shillings.
Brown apparently did not live on the land and probably bought it and other nearby land for speculative purposes. The land was soon sold to one Frederick Edward Falkiner who had occupied the area prior to the land sales and had bought one of the cultivation allotments (C.A. 17) without having to compete at public auction. The reason for the purchase of C A 17 in this manner was that improvements on the property were regarded as the property of Falkiner according to Surveyor Hurst (son of Henry of Hurstbridge fame) the improvements comprised “1 ½ acres of cultivation, a very dilapidated; five-roomed hut of sawn slabs, also a rough hut used as a dairy, total value 30 pounds.”
The house was apparently built or shifted to the site by Falkiner, probably in the 1850s. Suggestions that it was previously a school have not been supported by any available evidence. The house was owned by the Falkiner family until the 1920s when it was bought by Mr. R. Maynard, who then sold the land to Cronus Pty. Ltd.
The most significant participant in the history of this house is Frederick Falkiner and it is appropriate to record some further details of his residence in this area.
Falkiner came to Port Phillip in October 1836 and began business as a horse dealer. He purchased his pastoral run on the lower Diamond Creek in 1847 from Joseph Wilson who in turn purchased it from Henry Foley in 1845. Foley was the original occupier of this area in 1840. These purchases were of course before the original freehold land sales and involved only squatting rights or leasehold land together with any improvements. In 1849, Falkiner applied for three 640 acre leases in the Parish of Nillumbik. Also in that year, Mr. John Semar who held a licence to depasture stock on the run known as “Semars” or “Arthur” on the Diamond Creek requested that the licence be transferred to “Alex Falconer of Melbourne”. This person may well have been Frederick Falkiner.
Falkiner’s name appears from time to time in various records of the area. In 1848 a complaint was made by Thomas Sweeney and others that Falkiner was impounding their cattle. In 1854 Falkiner was appointed Eltham’s first postmaster, a position which he held for just over a year. The existing house may well have been the first post office. Also in that year Falkiner complained about the Building Committee of the Little Eltham School, a complaint deemed “frivolous and vexatious” by the Rev. Goodman of Heidelberg. In 1858 he was fined five pounds for carelessly setting fire to his stubble yet in the same year he was auditor of the accounts of the Eltham District Road Board.
The present Falkiner Street adjoins Falkiner’s original crown grant.
Around August 1980, the Historic Buildings Preservation Council advised that the cottage was not to be added to the Register of Historic Buildings. The Council’s classifications sub-committee considered that on a state wide basis there were better examples of vernacular buildings and there was insufficient historical data to establish that the building was of importance, even to the district.
The decision did not mean that the building was not worthy of preservation but it would not have had any legislative protection. The cottage and a small area of surrounding land was transferred to the Shire of Eltham with the intention of to still achieve this aim. However by May 1982 it was in a derelict condition due to its age and action by vandals and the Council had received complaints from nearby residents requesting that some action be taken.
Restoration would have required replacement of most components except the external cladding, the cost of which would have been high. Without any identified beneficial use for the building, allocation of funds by any body had to be justified purely on the historic value of the building.
From an appearance point of view the house now appeared to be almost squashed into the back yards of the recently constructed houses and was very much out of character with its surroundings. In its former setting facing a large open paddock it did contribute to the character of the area.
In late 1983 the cottage was demolished. Arrangements were made with Mr David Willis of Kyneton Mill for him to salvage useful material from the building for use in restoring the mill along with an appropriate acknowledgement in the mill of the source of the materials.
References: Shire of Eltham Historical Society Newsletters, numbers 4 (Nov 1978), 6 (May 1979), 14 (Sep 1980), 24 (May 1982), 25 (Jul 1982), 30 (May 1983) and 31 (Jul 1983)
This is our final ThrowbackThursday post for our 50th anniversary year. The Society wishes all of its members and interested supporters and very merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year holiday season.
#ThrowbackThursday – Who knows what that large circular monument is in front of the Eltham Community Centre across Main Road from the Eltham Hotel? Well, today we time travel back to the future, 2035 in fact, or more precisely, 1985 when the foundations were cast by the Shire of Eltham Historical Society to celebrate the Eltham of 1985 with that of 2035.
It is November 10th, 1985 and the Eltham Festival is in full swing; the Parade has finished and Eltham Town Park (or Alistair Knox Park) is full of people and displays. Included on the official program at 2.00 pm is a Time Capsule Ceremony where a time capsule is to be lowered into a monument established by the Shire of Eltham Historical Society to commemorate 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.
The monument was constructed with a concrete base and the main feature is an old tyring plate or disc. The Time Capsule Ceremony involved lowering the sealed time capsule into place, bolting down its container lid and then concreting over the lid.
The capsule contains items relating to present day (1985) Eltham and its people including a video film made by Joh Ebeli and also details of families and organizations who have contributed to construction of the monument. It is to be opened in the year 2035.
The Society received an excellent response from local people, firms and organizations by way of assistance with this project. Graham Beyer, who originated the project, arranged many of the donations. He and his firm, Package Handling Equipment, donated the time capsule itself and carried out fabrication of sections of the monument. The design of the monument was adapted by Graham Beyer from drawings by Joh Ebeli. Charmac Industries donated the container for the time capsule and a cast gun metal name plate for the monument. BMG Concrete donated concrete for the base which was constructed by Caridi Construction Company. Northbourne Garden Supplies donated materials for the paving around the monument.
Robert Becker from Eltham Apex directed construction of the paving by Society members. Terry Hutchinson donated the use of his crane to lift the tyring disc into place.
Financial contributions were also made by the Eltham Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Eltham.
Leaping forward two years to 1987 and the Society is now celebrating its 20th Anniversary. In commemoration of that event, the Society commissioned a plaque which explains the functions of the various items used in the Society’s Victorian 150th Anniversary Monument with an unveiling by its designer, Joh Ebeli, on October 10, 1987. The plaque was Joh’s idea and he provided the impetus for its completion. Joh’s dedication address is repeated below.
“We are here to finalise this monument by unveiling a plaque which explains the functions of the items for the adjacent monument.
I have brought six different people here and have asked them “What do you think of this monument” No one could tell me – some thought it was a sort of modern decoration, so I felt there and then that we still had to do more to make this monument understood and most of all, appreciated.
Therefore, we need to know a bit of the history of the wheel, the subject cart wheel has certainly a magnificent history for us all! Where should we be without the invention of the wheel!
Making a spoked wheel calls for a sort of genius for its structure is a great deal more complex than might be imagined.
There is a scribe in Iraq nearly 6,000 years ago which showed a wheeled cart. This was the earliest surviving evidence – the transport breakthrough that helped man to advance into civilisation. The wheels of this cart ·were not the crude unevenly rounded slices of tree trunk that might be imagined. They were made from three planks joined by cross struts to form a circle. The middle piece being bored centrally to hold the axle end. A wheelwright had been at work and a new craft was born!
Then came the time that allowed the wheel to turn freely instead of the former method of fixing the wheels to an axle that revolved through two hoops slung under the wagon.
In Egypt around 1,750 B.C. a light battle-chariot was used for hunting lions and other animals. In Tutankhamen’s tomb a casket was found from the 15th or 14th century B.C. bears a marvellous painting of several chariots. interestingly, the wheels have only 6 spokes.
Since the Middle Ages at least, it has been customary to fit 12 spokes – to heavier wheels 14 and sometimes 16. Around 1500 B.C. the rims of wheels began to be fitted with metal bands of tyres. This was a great improvement upon the earlier practice of binding them with leather which must have had a very short life on the uneven tracks and roads of the time. I myself, got a buggy and fitted on the 2 wheels are solid rubber tyres.
Well, I can carry-on a long time on my hobby subject but to come back to our monument …
The large iron disc was a platform used for fitting iron tyres to wooden spoked cart wheels (like the one on top of the platform). The local blacksmith and wheelwright used to work side by side. The wheel was clamped to this platform, this held the naff (or hub) tightly and the spokes at a constant angle.
A fire was next to it. An iron hoop or tyre previously forged to the correct size was dropped in the fire – when this tyre was red-hot the blacksmith lifted this with tongs over the outside of the wooden rim. The men hammered the hoop down amid flames from the scorching timber. Then the wheelwright drenched the tyre with cold water as soon as it was in position.
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. As you can see, it calls for a sort of genius and, talking about geniuses, we have two here in the gathering. Firstly, the Society wants to thank Bob Mclellan and his sons of Charmac here in Bridge Street for their donation of a beautiful plaque. He made it exactly as my design was including the illustration and logo. Next the second genius, Mr. Graham Beyer of Package Handling. He also made and donated this solid super special construction for us and we also are very grateful to him for doing this.
All I want to say is may this monument be helpful to students of the High School for making their essays about the history of the wheel and also to keep our monument alive.
Thanks for listening to me – it was only a “blast from the past!”
Herewith I then unveil this plaque and may this be here shining in the sun in the year 2037!”
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to the early 1950s to Main Road, Eltham, opposite the Railway Station. Specifically we are visiting the Eltham Hardware & Timber Company operated by J.N. Burgoyne and Sons.
The Eltham Hardware and Timber Company first opened on Main Road opposite the Railway Station around late 1922. An advertisement placed in the Hurstbridge Advertiser advised that the Hardware Store had just opened with a varied stock of Saws, Hammers, Nails, Shovels, Screw Drivers, and every article required in a house or on a farm. People were also encouraged to try their Jams, Pickles, Sauces, Cups and Saucers, etc. (1).
A few months later in May 1923, William Walker, a plumber, placed an advertisement wishing to to announce that he had taken over the
ELTHAM HARDWARE STORE, and asked for the continued support of the district. He also noted that all kinds of Plumbing work was done.
Walker remained the proprietor of the Hardware Store for many years regularly advertising its services and wares up until at least 1941. The trail goes a bit quiet then but he does appear in the 1944 Electoral Roll listed as a Plumber, of Main Street, Eltham. However he is not listed in the 1949 Electoral Roll but his son, Thomas Roy Walker, also a plumber of Main Road is listed. Thomas had been on active duty overseas during the Second World War and returned at the end of 1945. It is assumed that William died sometime between 1945 and 1949.
On November 18th, 1950 the Hardware Store and residence was auctioned on site by Scarff Bros. Pty Ltd. The advertisement stated (2):
THIS DAY ELTHAM
At 3 p.m. On the property
FREEHOLD SHOP and 4-rm Dwelling and Hardware and General Agency Business, Including Petrol Reseller’s Licence, as a Going Concern. Also Freehold Lock-up Shop Adjoining. Let on a Weekly Tenancy. Land 50 x 150. This Affords Prospective Purchasers an Unequalled Opportunity to Secure a Going Concern with Unlimited Scope. Particularly as the property is Situate on a Main Arterial Road and the Petrol Sales Can be Vastly Improved with a Minimum of Expense. Trade Figures, Title Parts, &c. from the Auctioneers.
SCARFF BROS PTY LTD
379 Collins Street, Melbourne
MB3238. After Hours WM2051
It is presumed that this is when J.N. Burgoyne and Sons took over the business. It would have been around this time the picture of the store was taken for only three years later, in October 1953, the business and dwelling was again put up for sale, this time by Trebilcock Bros, in two separate lots (3). Coincidentally, the Hardware Store was taken over by Richard Phillip Trebilcock, an electrical engineer from Mayona Road, Montmorency (4).
SAT., OCTOBER 24. At 3 p.m.
SPLENDID HARDWARE BUSINESS and DEVELOPMENT SITE
Two Adjoining Properties
OPPOSITE STATION ENTRANCE.
To Be Sold In Separate Lots.
LOT 1. — ELTHAM HARDWARE AND TIMBER CO.
Freehold and Property, Plant, Fittings and Business; Plus Stock at Valuation. To be Sold as a Going Concern.
THE FREEHOLD PROPERTY Comprises Large Brick and Timber Shop. Well Fitted. Has Good Light. Comfortable 3-Room Dwelling and Detached Bungalow, H.W.S., Phone, Garage and Outbuildings. Situate on Large Allotment, 50 Ft. x 150 Ft. Aprox.
THE BUSINESS: Flourishing Hardware and Builders’ Supplies, Crockery, Glassware and Gifts, Dry Cleaning Agency and Petrol Reseller Licence (1 Bowser Installed), Oil Storage. Annual Turnover Aprox. £12,000. Audited Figures Available, Old-established Business Comprehensive Stock is Good, Clean and Saleable (Value Approx. £4000).
LOT 2. — Superb Shop Sites. Adjoining the Above Property. Land 58 Ft. x 150 Ft. (Approx.). Erected on Land Is Old Style 4-r Timber Dwelling, Set Well Back from Footpath. Leaving Ample Apace to erect Shops. Also Small Shop Let as Agent’s Office. To Be Sold Subject to Existing Tenancies, Gross Rentals £106 12/ Per Annum. Terms: £1000 Deposit, Balance 30 days.
GENERAL: Eltham Is a Rapidly Developing Area only 12 Miles from G.P.O. Street Frontage of these Two Adjoining Properties Is 108 Feet By Depth of 150 Feet in the Heart of Expanding Shopping Centre, directly Opposite Station Entrance. Full Details and Inspection Available on Application from the Auctioneers:
#ThrowbackThursday – This weekend brings us another exciting Rotary Eltham Festival. The first Eltham Community Festival was held in 1975 with great success but it was not always held at this time in late spring. In the 1970s the festival was conducted over a ten day period held during August however in the early 1980s it was reduced to two or three days duration and shifted to mid-late October. From 1984 it moved to its more familiar spot around the second week of November where it has remained ever since.
Up until the early 1990s a highlight of the festival was the Eltham Community Festival Parade which started towards the northern end of the shops, either from Youth Road or Cecil Street, then proceeded south along Main Road, finishing up either at Eltham Lower Park in the first years and later Eltham Common, or more recently Alistair Knox Park where many displays and stalls were set up.
The Shire of Eltham Historical Society (as we were known prior to council amalgamations in 1995) first participated in the Parade in 1979 and was a regular entrant up to and including 1990. During those 12 years the Society won a number of awards including “Best Effort by Locals”, “Best Eltham Theme”, “Best Display” and in 1986 even took out the Grand Prize.
Each year the Society endeavoured to undertake a unique theme for the parade float and display and today we time travel back 30 years to November 7th, 1987 when our float with its colonial washing day theme won the trophy for the best display.
The display was installed on Bruce Ness’ truck using a number of larger implements owned by or available to the Society such as an early washing machine, troughs, copper and mangle. Joh Ebeli and Russell Yeoman set up further items on a trailer loaned by Denis McKay. (Many of these items are now part of the Andrew Ross Museum at Kangaroo Ground.) Members came dressed in appropriate period costume and musicians from the Victorian Folk Music Club who regularly accompanied the Society on the float again joined us in the Parade with their lively music, assembling in Cecil Street at 11.30 a.m. prior to the start of the parade at 12 noon.
Some images from the Shire of Eltham display
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia