On a foggy night in June 1967 a large group of local people attended a meeting in Eltham that subsequently led to the establishment of the Shire of Eltham Historical Society. Since then many members have continued to encourage the preservation and recognition of the valuable historical records and memorabilia representing activities and events that have occurred in the Eltham area. Society meetings cover a wide range of subjects regarding local history, other historical subjects and other matters of local interest, with involvement by a variety of speakers.
The Society was originally established 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 have 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.
Over the years there has been significant interaction between the Society and the Council, initially Eltham and later Nillumbik. Involvements have included assisting with the publication in 1971 of the Shire’s centenary history “Pioneers and Painters”, researching and assisting with historical photos, consultations on historical matters and major input into local Heritage Studies. During 1990 the Society assisted with the establishment of a museum at the former residence of the Kangaroo Ground School and following discussions with Nillumbik Council in 1996-7 the Eltham Local History Centre was established in the former Eltham police residence at 728 Main Road, Eltham, which is now the home of the Society.
Eltham is associated with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and under its auspices the Association of Eastern Historical Societies. There have been many visits to Eltham by members of other societies and excursions to other areas as guests of local societies. Our Society has strong contacts with the Eltham Society in the historic town of Eltham, an outer suburb of London, England and has also established contact with the historical society in Eltham, New Zealand.
Society members have been involved in various community based activities, festivals, local history courses and presentations to schools, as well as organising many heritage walks for the public around Eltham. The Society newsletter is a long established and on-going feature, which includes news of activities together with articles of historical interest.
Many, many people have contributed to the successful history of both the Shire of Eltham Historical Society and the Eltham District Historical Society. History never finishes and we are all part of this on-going process.