Finding a home

By Russell Yeoman (reproduced from Newsletter No. 242, August 2018)

Eltham Police Station (on right) and Police Residence, c.1900.  Present day Local History Centre, home of Eltham District Historical Society (Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection #627 held in partnership between Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library)

For more than 30 years following its establishment in 1967 our Society had no permanent “home”. Society meetings were held in various places, firstly in the Eltham Shire Hall, then the War Memorial Hall in the War Memorial complex of buildings and finally in the Eltham Senior Citizens; where we still meet today. There were other one-off meeting venues such as the Great Hall at Montsalvat, Metzner Hall at Judge Book Village and once in the Eltham Shire Offices. Committee meetings were originally held in these halls but later in the homes of committee members. A favourite place for a number or years was the home of Blanche and Jack Shallard in Montmorency. Supper here consisted of Blanche’s excellent cheese scones.

The Society was significantly involved with the Eltham Shire Council. The President was Cr. Charis Pelling, Shire Secretary Max Watson was Vice President and Secretary Russell Yeoman also worked for the Council. From 1967 the Society began accumulating historical records but was somewhat inhibited by lack of a place to store them. Many records were stored in the Shire Offices and there was little distinction as to what was owned by the Society and what was owned by the Council. The collection of historical records and photographs was significantly augmented in 1971 by the Council collecting material for the publication of “Pioneers and Painters”.

As the volume of Society acquisitions grew further storage locations were required. As well as records some artefacts were added to the collection including items collected by the Shillinglaw Cottage Preservation Committee. Although the cottage had been preserved the plan to use it as a museum did not eventuate. Some items that were to be donated remained with the donors pending a suitable place to keep them. An example was a large collection of farming and other artefacts donated by Bruce and Joy Ness of Kangaroo Ground that was kept in their barn. Storage of the Society’s paper based records fell in large part to Russell Yeoman as Secretary and these were kept at his house, generally in less than optimum conditions. There was a filing cabinet in the laundry and various boxes in other parts of the house and in the shed. Large plans were kept in a cardboard folder under a bed. Workshops to get these records into some sort of order were held at the Yeoman house.

Fast forward to 1998. Nillumbik Shire Council has succeeded the Eltham Council. Much of the Society’s collection of artefacts has been passed on to the fledgling Andrew Ross Museum. Society President Harry Gilham has successfully negotiated with the Commissioners in charge of the Council to secure the long term use of the former Eltham Police Residence by the Society. This State Government owned building had been used by Eltham Council as its Parks and Environment office. The long task of moving the Society’s collection from its various storage locations began. This historic building has become our Local History Centre and it has enabled the acquisition of far more historical material than had previously been possible and has helped secure the future of the Eltham District Historical Society.

Moving items into the new Local History Centre, July 1998 L-R: Mark Gilham, Margaret Ball, Sue Law, Harry Gilham.

As we celebrate the 20th year in our Local History Centre we acknowledge and are forever indebted to Harry Gilham and the other members who worked so hard to establish and maintain our “home”.

 

Harry Gilham, President, Eltham District Historical Society, Opening Ceremony of Local History Centre, 728 Main Road, Eltham, 12 July 1998

 

Addendum
Eltham Police Station and Residence: A brief history

1860 Eltham Courthouse built in Main Road, together with an adjoining police residence, office, lock–up and stables.

1959 Police Department purchases a house in Pryor Street to be refurbished as Eltham Police Station

1961 Police in Eltham move into Pryor Street refurbished buildings and office.

c.1961-1981 Occupied by Vermin and Noxious Weeds Destruction Section of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey. Former Police Station dragged around to rear of Police Residence (prior to August 1967) to make way for the construction of a driveway and access from Main Road. The building was placed on the site of a former Scullery and modified for Lands Department use.

1981 Shire of Eltham take over management of old Police Residence in Eltham. It remains unoccupied for a period of time whilst its future is discussed in Council.

1981-1985 Used for community job creation scheme

The former Police Residence under renovation prior to occupation by the Shire of Eltham Parks and Environment department, 1985

1985 Shire of Eltham Parks and Environment occupy the residence. Council improve the driveway but later add a second rear access from Brougham Street due to the dangerous nature of the Main Road entrance. Also add a rear toilet facility between the Police Residence and former Police Station, which was doubling up as a lunch room. Council also commence discussions to re-establish a replica Police Station.

The original Eltham Police Station was demolished c.Nov. 1986.

c.1986 November.  Former Police Station demolished; believed to have been suffering termite damage.

The former Police Residence when occupied by the Shire of Eltham Parks and Environment, 1988

c.1989 After some years of discussion a replica Police Station is built, based on photographs, to act as a lunch room and meeting room for Parks and Environment staff and volunteers doing community service.

1996 Eltham District Historical Society in discussions with Nillumbik Shire Council commisioners throughout the year regarding a home for the Society. A proposal put forward by the Society in October to occupy the former Police Residence.

1997 March.  Eltham District Historical Society gains access to former Police Residence.

 

Former Police Residence, 728 Main Road, Eltham, c. April 1998.

1998 July 12th.  Eltham District Historical Society Inc moves into its Local History Centre, 728 Main Road Eltham (the former Police Residnce built in 1860).

Eltham Local History Centre; the former Eltham Courthouse, Police Residence and replica Police Station, December 2000.

2018 July. Eltham District Historical Society gains access to the replica Police Station for use as part of regular heritage tours for schools and community based groups.

Advertisements

ThrowbackThursday: A Day in Court, Eltham Courthouse, 1967

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to August 30, 1967. It’s a Wednesday morning and you have been summoned to appear at the Eltham Courthouse, 730 Main Road, Eltham at 10 a.m. You have never appeared in court before and this leaves you feeling a little anxious. The weather forecast is mostly fine with a maximum of 61 (16°C). It was 48 (9°C) when you got up and had rained overnight but the sun was out now. The rain ultimately meant it would only get up to 58 (14.5°C). You check the summons one more time to verify the time and head off. You do not want to be late.

Eltham Court, 730 Main Road (looking southeast), 30 August 1967 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

You approach the courthouse heading south down Main Road from Pitt Street. People are already there, mingling around outside chatting. Seems everybody else had the same idea about arriving early and all the parking spots out front are already taken; on both sides.

Looking west from Brougham Street near Eltham Courthouse across Main Road, 30 August 1967 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Never mind, you turn left into Brougham Street and park there; minding not to step into any puddles left on the unsealed road that could splash mud onto your freshly polished shoes.

Understandably you feel a little nervous so you just dash across the road to the servo to grab some chewing gum and smokes.

Eltham Courthouse, looking northeast across Main Road, 30 August 1967 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

As you take a few puffs on your cigarette you notice that people are now starting to head inside. Still, you figure you have a few more moments to help calm your nerves as you wander up Main Road taking in the scene.

Eltham Court, Main Road (looking southeast), 30 August 1967 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The coppers have now turned up in their Paddy Wagon and the suspect is bundled inside. Better get a move-on; they’ll be calling you shortly. You take one more quick drag of your smoke, stub the butt out, pop some Juicy Fruit in and dash inside.

“I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”

 

Built in 1860, the Eltham Courthouse is the oldest public building remaining in Eltham. In its early days the building was used as the meeting place and office of the Eltham District Road Board and as an overflow classroom for the local school. The Eltham Courthouse ceased operational duties in 1984 and is now used by various community groups including Eltham District Historical Society. It was listed on the Victorian Heritage Register (Number H0784) in 1982. The building is of architectural significance because it retains intact early features. These include use of handmade bricks, simple decoration, roof trusses, timber ceiling boards, original windows, doors and associated hardware and a collection of court furniture. Additions to the court house have been done in a manner which did not interfere with the fabric of the original building.

ThrowbackThursday: Main Road Shops, Eltham, Winter 1968

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back 50 years to the Main Road shops in Eltham. It is a Monday morning, July 15th, 1968 and the weather is fine but cloudy. People are off to work and school. The temperature is 41 degrees (5° C) with a high of 53 (12° C). Cars and people are navigating the roadworks which are now well under way to widen Main Road from Pitt Street to Elsa Court.

Looking north along Main Road, Eltham from just south of Dudley Street, 15 July 1968 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

What memories does this invoke for you? One can certainly get a fuller impression now of how this area changed with the widening of the road.

 

ThrowbackThursday: The Spirit of Eltham, c.1985

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 1985. The Victorian Local Government Commission has produced a report titled ‘The Restructure of Local Government in Victoria – Principles and Program’ (the Morris review). The recommendation was to amalgamate the Shires of Eltham and Diamond Valley, something that Eltham Council did not support as being appropriate for the shire or compatible with the ‘Spirit of Eltham’. In response, the Shire of Eltham produced a video showcasing the unique environmental lifestyle which embodies the ‘Spirit of Eltham’ and features Shire President, Cr. Mary Grant talking with the Hon. Pauline Toner MP and Max McDonald MP. Eltham Shire CEO Rodney Roschellor presents an alternate proposal for a shire merging more aligned to the values of the local residents. Also featured are Eltham icons such as the Eltham Railway Trestle Bridge, Montsalvat, Eltham Community Centre along with mudbrick making, artist Matcham Skipper, the Green Wedge and St Andrews Market. Other commentary is provided by locals, Judy Wadham and Lester Eaton.

MysteryMonday: Residential Street, Eltham District, c.1990

#MysteryMonday – Today’s image is of a residential street, possibly Eltham, c.1990. It was around the time the Shire was introducing speed humps.

Residential Street, possibly Eltham, c.1990 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Can you identify this? We’d love to hear from you; your thoughts and suggestions as to where it is and help us catalogue these images.

Over to you . . .

ThrowbackThursday: Pryor Street, Eltham, c.1960

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 1960 and Pryor Street, Eltham near the intersection with Main Road.

Looking west along Pryor Street, Eltham near intersection with Main Road, c.1960 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

Standing about halfway on the southern side of Pryor Street looking towards Main Road, we see on the northeastern corner, the new branch of the State Savings Bank of Victoria under construction. A brickie’s cement mixer stands on the footpath beside the building and the roofing is yet to be completed. In 1980 the State Savings Bank of Victoria name was revised to the State Bank of Victoria, which was eventually sold and absorbed into the Commonwealth Bank in 1990. Given the Commonwealth Bank already had a branch in Eltham, the building was acquired by the Bank of Melbourne which itself was acquired by the Westapc Bank in 1997. Despite some modifications and extensions, the current @Westpac Eltham branch building remains very recognisable especially when viewed from Pryor Street, even 58 years later.

Next door up the hill is a white timber building, Eltham Plumbing Supplies operated by Leonard and Jeannette Patricia Whiteway. Unlike the bank, this site has seen many changes. In 1963 a  Petition for Bankruptcy was issued re Jeanette Patricia Whiteway of 88 Napoleon Street, Eltham, house duties, and carrying on a business at Pryor Street, Eltham in partnership with another as a plumber under the names Eltham Plumbing Supplies and L. & J.P. Whiteway. The Whiteways kept trading and four years later sought a notice for discharge. Eventually the building became the Eltham Bookshop including bric-a-brac items for sale.

With the development of the Eltham shopping district and Commercial Place, the building was demolished and a new cafe, the Eira Cafe and Lounge Bar replaced it and which more recently came under new ownership as the Jock and Eddie Cafe.

Looking west along Pryor Street, Eltham near intersection with Main Road, c.1986. Showing the State Bank of Victoria and former Eltham Plumbing Supplies, by then the Eltham Bookshop on the right (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory).
Looking northwest along Pryor Street, Eltham near intersection with Main Road, c.1986. Showing the State Bank of Victoria and former Eltham Plumbing Supplies, by then the Eltham Bookshop. (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Looking west along Pryor Street, Eltham near intersection with Main Road, Oct 2017 (Google Street View)
Looking west along Pryor Street, Eltham near intersection with Main Road, c.1960 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

In this view, the house immediately to the left was the first house built in Pryor Street. By 1964 the property was in the ownership of the Shire of Eltham and was relocated c.1965 near to the area of the currrent Barak Bushlands.

Looking west along Pryor Street, Eltham near intersection with Main Road, c.1960 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Looking west along Pryor Street, Eltham, Oct 2017 (Google Street View)

 

References:

1963 ‘SEQUESTRATION ORDERS AND FIRST MEETINGS’, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (National : 1901 – 1973), 12 September, p. 3259. , viewed 10 Jul 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article241015035

1967 ‘NOTICE OF ORDERS OF DISCHARGE’, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (National : 1901 – 1973), 11 May, p. 2427. , viewed 10 Jul 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article241040009

@Westpac

@Jock&Eddie

MysteryMonday: Real Estate Sales, Eltham District, c.Nov. 1992

#MysteryMonday – Today’s images are of the first two frames from a roll of negative film. They feature two separate properties up for sale and which had been sold by November 17, 1992. The other frames on the roll of film are not related but are probably the reason the film was originall donated to us. They concern an excursion undertaken by the Society to One Tree Hill Mine  on November 20, 1992. However, these images do interest us but we have no other information other than the thousand words contained in each picture.

Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 4 strips
Fuji 100 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The first is of a deceased estate sold by Peter McDougall of The Professionals; 23 acres in size on 2 titles in a prime position, with a made road frontage and close to the Pony Club with an easy drive to Eltham, Greensborough and Melbourne – so perhaps Kangaroo Ground? Given it is a made road frontage, probably one of the main roads and the property is number 100.

Roll of 35mm colour negative film, 4 strips
Fuji 100 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The second property is number 82, sold by Peter Reid Real Estate of 126 Bolton Street, Eltham. Not giving away much at all; so you either know it or you don’t.

Can you identify these? We’d love to hear from you; your thoughts and suggestions as to where they are and help us catalogue these images.

Over to you . . .

Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia