#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to around the 1950s to the corner of Brougham and Bolton streets where we find the property “Southernwood”. Built around 1891 it was originally owned by the Harbey family until purchased by the artist, Walter Withers in 1902. Withers added a studio to the property in 1903. The house was further modified in 1948 and remains essentially the same profile we see today.
Contained within the Society’s collection are two undated photographs, one of Southernwood and another looking east down Brougham Street from Bolton street, adjacent to the home.
The image of the home appears to present its current profile so it reasonable to assume that both these images were taken post the 1948 additions, most likely in the 1950s. It is also noted both Brougham and Bolton streets remain unsealed at that time.
Of particular interest is the view looking down Brougham Street compared to today as it is apparent two of the trees present in the earlier image to the left of Brougham Street remain in place today. No doubt they probably greeted Walter Withers as he left his home and strolled down Brougham Street on his way to the railway station. What other stories could those trees tell us? At that time behind those trees was open fields, now an industrial estate. Let’s hope as progress continues its march that these trees remain as a link to our community’s heritage and days gone by.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to around 1990 to the southern end of Bolton Street where we find the popular Bolton Street shops. At that time the shops consisted of Bolton Fish & Chips, Bolton Pizza & Pasta, Fleur de Feliss Florist, Bolton Street Fruit Market, Stephens Meats, Ian Reid Real Estate, Bolton Street Hot Bread Kitchen, Welcome Mart, Milk Bar and Sub-Newsagency. Amazingly today, only three of those businesses have changed. Ian Reid Real Estate is now the The Cheesecake Shop, the Welcome Mart is now Bolton Street Deli and the Milk Bar & Sub-Newsagency is now Charcoal Chicken @ Bolton.
Do you have a favourite shop at Bolton Street? Seems like everyone does. What is yours and do you have any good stories to share from earlier times?
The building of the McDonalds Restaurant at the other end of Bolton Street in the late 1980s in the industrial estate was surrounded with controversy and protest but fast forward to today and it is a well accepted focal point within our community. Likewise the Bolton Street upgrade is generating some discontent but more than likely in the future will also be seen as a vast improvement for residents with improved visual appeal, livability and road safety. Whilst the shops at either end of the street have essentially remained the same over this quarter of a century, history is happening before our eyes today in between and in ten years time we will struggle to remember what it was like. In recognition of this, EDHS is capturing a visual record of the changes starting with the northbound lane closure and we have included below a number of these images captured this week along Bolton Street from Bridge Street to Main Road.
#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.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to the turn of the millennium to December 1999 to the corner of Bible and York streets, Eltham, specifically 68 Bible Street. Here we find a small cottage originally built in 1880. In the 1930s it was owned by the then Roads Foreman for the Shire of Eltham, Mr. L. Burke. Originally the house was built with a galvanised iron roof but over the years was modernised with a tiled roof as well as an extension to the rear.
This particular photograph forms part of a Millennium project undertaken by one of our Society’s members, a descendant of the original Shillinglaw family who had become concerned at how the pre 1960s parts of Eltham were disappearing. She wanted to record as many of the older houses in the Eltham township area before they were lost forever. Many of the streets running between Main Road and Bible Street were photographed and these films are currently being digitised. And indeed it is staggering the level of change that the developed landscape has undergone even since 2000.
The property history report for 68 Bible Street reveals in more recent times it was sold in January 1994 for $38,000 but quickly turned over just four months later in May 1994 for $25,000 – that must have hurt. The next recorded sale is in June 1999, just before this picture was taken when it sold for $129,950. Ten years later in April 2009 it achieved $272,000 and again sold just four months later in August 2009 for an undisclosed price. In 2010 a building permit was issued to reblock the house and in May of 2013 it was leased out at $300 per week.
In July of this year, Council issued a building permit for demolition of the existing dwelling, shed’s and associated garage and the construction of a double story dwelling, garage, decks, alfresco area and retaining walls.
By September the trees and shrubs had been removed and construction fencing erected around the property.
Between October 19 and 20, the 137 year old cottage was flattened and Eltham lost another little piece of its history but hopefully not its story.
Some of us were born here, some of us chose to move to Eltham because of its character. That character is changing before our eyes, faster than at times is appreciated. Just because something has always been there during our time does not mean it will remain so. What exists today could well be history tomorrow.
This is not a protest about one little cottage; times change. Not everything old is necessarily significant but it is still part of our community’s history and history matters.
Rather this is a call to be on the lookout for other old homes that may one day also be potentially under threat and to photograph them and record their history before they are lost forever. Eltham District Historical Society is happy to receive all such photos and information in order that we may preserve the legacy of what came before so that our future generations are able to appreciate and understand their roots.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 1985 and the Candlebark Park carpark just in time to catch an adventurous soul taking a dip in the Yarra below the Fitzsimons Lane Bridge. No bikini for this keen swimmer, rather a Holden Gemini seemed more the go. Seems the Gemini twins couldn’t decide whether to go to Templestowe or Eltham. Or perhaps it was a late entry in the Great Yarra Raft Race of 1985?
We recently digitised an album containing these images of the car in the Yarra and the Great Yarra Raft Race but apart from the date of 1985, have very little other information to record about them.
Does anyone remember this incident and the circumstances? Were there any news stories at the time about it? Or were you involved in the Great Yarra Raft Race? Any details or stories are greatly appreciated.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to Main Road and the approach to Eltham shops from Research nearly 50 years ago. It was February 1968 and big changes were in stall for duplication of the road from Bridge street all the way to our vantage point just near Elsa Court.
We can see the shops in the distance and a few cars on the road and on the left hand side are three houses. They are gone now of course and in their place are the Eltham Mind & Body Clinic and Maroush Restaurant. We are not sure who occupied them in 1968 but if we jump back another 30 years to circa 1937 we see the same three houses.
In the 1930s these three houses were the homes (from left) of the Lowerson family, Mowatt family and Mrs. Pratt. At a casual glance it does not look that much different from 1968; progress moved at a slower pace back then as you can well see by the sheep being driven along Main Road. Imagine coming across that scene today!
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back 87 years to March 1930, Main Road, Eltham where Edward Gadd runs his Blacksmith and Coachbuilding operations. They were located roughly where the gardens in front of the Eltham Community and Reception Centre is situated today.
Edward Gadd who was a native of England operated his blacksmith business in Eltham for about 17 years (1920-1937) and had a high reputation in the community for the quality of his work. He lived in Research and was actively involved with the Research Hall having been largely instrumental in its establishment. Gadd always wore leggings and played the violin at local dances. Accompanying him would be Sam Howard who played banjo and Mrs Read (Jock’s mother) who played piano by ear. He died of pneumonia on July 22nd, 1937, leaving behind a wife and three sons, one whom was in Albury and the other two in America. (1).
The poster on the wall of the business is promoting a campaign to protect vineyards by voting No against Prohibition. This would date the photo to c.March 1930 when a vote was being held by the Victorian government to introduce Prohibition. Vineyard growers were opposed to Prohibition due to the ramifications it would have upon the wider industry for dried fruits and table grapes, etc. It was also perceived as being seen to be in direct conflict with the Commonwealth government’s actions to place former WW1 soldiers into vineyards through the WW1 Soldiers Settlements program given the potential of Prohibition to ruin them finacially. (2)
Following Gadd’s death, the blacksmith business was promptly purchased by Mr P. Sloan of Warrandyte who intended to commence operations on Monday August 2nd, 1937, opening on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or more frequently if demand warranted. (3)
The blacksmith shop is memorialised today with a monument and time capsule installed to commemorate Victoria’s 150th anniversary and the former location of the Eltham Town Centre. The main feature of the 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.