Peter Paul Lawlor (1821-1876)

Headstone of Peter Lawlor, Eltham Cemetery, Sept. 2017

The Victorian gold rush came to Eltham in the early 1850s and with it came a crime wave. Local traders called for police protection. This led to the appointment in 1857 of Irish-born Peter Lawlor as Senior Constable at Eltham. In 1859 Peter and his wife Kate were able to move into an official police residence at the corner of Maria Street (now Main Road) and Brougham Street, with stables out the back and a large paddock for grazing across the road. Some of their children went to Eltham Primary School. That 1859 police residence is now the home of the Eltham District Historical Society. The small wooden building on the very corner is a modern replica of the separate police station/office built around 1885-1900.

Cases investigated by Constable Lawlor included murders, stealing  (horses, cattle, fowls, watches, linen, clothing), a search for a missing person, and two separate instances of abandoned children seeking help. He was officially commended in 1866 for bringing to justice a man who had indecently assaulted an 11-year old girl. Sadly, there was a similar but unconnected case only a few months later. But events had a lighter side; in 1871 Kate lent her piano to the Snowflakes Christy Minstrels for a Catholic Church fund-raising concert.

Peter was transferred to Prahran in 1872. He died in 1876 and is buried in Eltham Cemetery with four of his children. His headstone was stolen  some time after May 1990 but was returned anonymously (broken into three pieces) in August 2013. It is resting on his grave but has not been re-erected.

Headstone of Peter Lawlor, Eltham Cemetery, May 1990

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heritage Walk: Eltham Cemetery – 2.00 pm Saturday, 19 October, 2019

Meet at 2.00 pm (Melway ref 21 K9) in the cemetery car park entered from Metery Road.

Gate, Eltham Cemetery c.1960 (Photo: George Bell, from the collection of EDHS)

The Eltham Cemetery is the custodian of more than 150 years of Eltham’s history.

As part of Local History Week activities, this special walking tour will visit the historical sections of the cemetery where we will share information about selected pioneers who contributed to the establishment of early Eltham. We will also talk about interesting and important local people buried in more recent times.

The walk is open to Society members and the general public. Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.

All are welcome…..but numbers are limited

EDHS Open Day – Sunday, October 13, 2.00-4.30 pm

Eltham Local History Centre, former 1860 Police Residence and home of the Eltham District Historical Society, 728 Main Road, Eltham, 13 November 2017 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

As part of Local History Week, our Society will again hold an Open Day event on Sunday, October 13th between 2.00 pm and 4.30 pm.

Located at the Eltham Heritage Justice Precinct, on the corner of Main Road and Brougham Street, there will be local history presentations, photographs to view and some special treats.

The former Eltham Courthouse, the former Police House (Local History Centre) and replica Police Station will be open for inspection, as will the renovated Lock Up.

Come along and view one of the few intact heritage precincts left in Victoria.

October Meeting – Heritage Advocacy with Dr. Andrew Lemon AM

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

Wednesday, 9th October at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Dr. Andrew Lemon AM

It was intended that Dr. Andrew Lemon AM would be our guest speaker at our last meeting on Wednesday 14th August 2019, to talk about Heritage Advocacy – the role of historical research and historical societies. Unfortunately, due to a clash of commitments Andrew apologised for not being able to attend and we are delighted he will now be our speaker at our next meeting on Wednesday 9th October. As mentioned in our last newsletter, this presentation was very well received when Andrew was the keynote speaker at the recent Regional Conference of the Association of Eastern Historical Societies.

Andrew is an independent professional historian who has published many commissioned local and institutional histories since his first book, Box Hill, forty years ago. He has now written sixteen books, four of which have won prizes, on subjects ranging from local history, sport, education and biography.

Andrew received his doctorate of letters from the University of Melbourne in 2004 because of the excellence of a body of work, not one single piece, as in a thesis. He has been a consistent supporter of our Society and a long term member, who has spoken at a number of our meetings, over many years.

Members and visitors are welcome to attend this meeting, on Wednesday 9th October 2018, at 8:00 pm at the Eltham Senior Citizen’s Centre. We look forward to seeing you then.

Are you related to the DILLON, MURRAY or SWEENEY families?

The Eltham Cemetery Trust needs your help.

Gravestone in memory of Michael DILLON, d.1916 and his wife, Bridget Cecilia, d.1927.
Photo: Eltham Cemetery Trust 2016

Are you related in some way to Michael Dillon (1851-1916) or Bridget Cecilia Dillon (1849-1927) who are buried in the Eltham Cemetery?

It is our understanding from a rudimentary search of records available from Ancestry.com that Bridget was the daughter of John Wright MURRAY(1816-1867) and Mary SWEENEY(1833-1909). She married Hamilton DRAIN(1847-1886) in 1884 and they had a daughter, Mary Ellen DRAIN(1886-1888).

Following husband Hamilton Drain’s death in 1886, and her infant daughter Mary’s death in 1888,  Bridget married Michael Dillon in 1894. It appears that she and Michael had no children together.

Electoral roll records indicate that Michael was a farmer and that he and Bridget lived in Research, Vic.

Some damage has occurred to their monument and the Eltham Cemetery Trust must take reasonable steps to attempt to locate a next of kin or family member. Unfortunately, there was no purchase information recorded, only the following details; no next of kin.

Deceased Location Date of Death Interment Date
Michael Dillon Roman Catholic 205 10/12/1916 11/12/1916
Bridget Cecilia Dillon Roman Catholic 206 7/04/1927 19/04/1927

The photo of the headstone is dated 4 May 2016, which provides the best detail of the inscription.The headstone has deteriorated further in the last few years.

If you are related or have information that may be of assistance to the Eltham Cemetery Trust in preserving this headstone from further damage, please contact:

Julia Drew | Governance & Projects Coordinator
ELTHAM CEMETERY TRUST
Burial Grounds: Mt Pleasant Road, Eltham
PO Box 423, Eltham Vic 3095
Phone: : (03) 9432 1963
Email: : projects@elthamcemetery.com
Website: : http://www.elthamcemetery.com

Heritage Walk: Culla Hill – 7 September, 2019

 

Early sketch of “Culla Hill”, Eltham, (‘Sweeneys’), home of Thomas Sweeney (EDHS collection)

Meet at 2.00 pm (Melway ref 22 A9) at the corner of Kent Hughes and Lavender Park roads, Eltham.

Pioneer Eltham farmer Thomas Sweeney (1803-1867) named his house, ‘Culla Hill’ after the area in Ireland that he came from. His house, now called ‘Sweeneys’, remains on a ridge line overlooking the Yarra River. It is recorded that Thomas Sweeney did well out of carting potatoes and other supplies to the various gold fields such as Bendigo, McIvor (Heathcote), Mount Alexander and Beechworth.

Culla Hill is now the name of the road providing access to subdivided lots of the former Sweeney property.

The Culla Hill walk will start at the corner of Kent Hughes and Lavender Park roads, Eltham (Melway ref. 22 A9) at 2.00pm on Saturday 7th September. Street parking is available in Kent Hughes Road. The distance is about 3km., and will take 2 to 2.5 hours. The walk will include Culla Hill with its views over the Yarra Valley, views of ‘Sweeneys’ and a visit to the Sweeneys Flats section of the Yarra Valley Metropolitan Park.

The walk is open to Society members and the general public. Please note this walk does not include internal inspection of any houses. Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions. The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.

All are welcome…..but numbers are limited

ThrowbackThursday: Eltham Railway Station, 17 July 1983

#ThrowbackThursday – Over the years there have been a number of various electric train models that have traveled the Hurstbridge line to Eltham. Today we time travel back 36 years to 17 July 1983 and Eltham Railway Station where we have the unique experience to witness four generations of electric train all lined up together.

Four generations of electric trains at Eltham Railway Station, 17 July 1983
L-R: Tait (Red Rattler) wooden bodied train (1919-1952); Comeng stainless steel bodied train (1981 to curr.); Hitachi stainless steel bodied train (1972-2014); Harris (Blue) steel bodied train (1956-1988)
(Photo: George Coop, from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The railway line to Eltham first opened in 1902. In those days the trains were all hauled by steam locomotives but in April 1923 the line was electrified and the first electric trains commenced service to Eltham. Those initial electric trains were a Tait wooden body design first introduced in 1910 to be hauled by steam locomotives and converted to electric from 1919. The Tait trains were manufactured from 1909 to 1952. There were a number of different versions; swing doors and sliding doors and all had beautifully appointed interiors. Of course most people referred to them as ‘Red Rattlers’.

Interior of a Red Rattler Tait train, 22 August 1983
(Photo: George Coop, from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The Harris (Blue) steel bodied train was introduced 1956 and operated until 1988 when the final trains were withdrawn from service. They had an ignominious ending as these trains were full of asbestos. They were wrapped up in plastic and buried in landfill near Clayton.

In 1981 Comeng stainless steel bodied trains were first introduced to replace the last of the Tait trains and these underwent refurbishment between 2000-2003. Some examples currently still remain in service.

Hitachi stainless steel bodied trains were operated on the Melbourne network between 1972-2014.

In 2003 orders were placed for a mixture of Siemens Nexas  and Alstom X’Trapolis 100 units. Braking issues plagued the Siemens model with subsequent orders being directed towards the X’Trapolis model.

This week in the news we saw that French train manufacturer Alstom who produces the X’Trapolis model electric train in Ballarat has a new X’Trapolis 2.0 model ready to be introduced to replace the ageing Comeng electric trains by 2026.

 

Heritage Walk: Exploring Lower Plenty – 6 July, 2019

Meet at 2.00 pm (Melway ref 33 B1) at the corner of Bonds and Stawell Roads, Lower Plenty. (Street parking is available in Montpelier Drive)

The predominant feature of this walk in the Bonds Road area, Lower Plenty is the large number of magnificent old River Red Gums that line the route. These trees are of the spreading woodland form of this species indicating that they must have been originally growing in a reasonably open setting. The walk also includes parts of the historic Cleveland Estate and the homestead “Rosehill” established by pioneer farmer Henry Stooke. The walk distance is about 3km and will take 2 to 2.5 hours.

This area was the site of the first recorded European settlement in what was to become the Shire of Eltham when the Willis brothers arrived in the late 1830s. From the southern part of Cleveland Avenue there are extensive views across and along the Yarra Valley.

The walk is open to Society members and the general public. Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions. The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.

All are welcome…..but numbers are limited

ThrowbackThursday: Station Master’s House, Eltham Railway Station, 21 August 1983

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 21 August 1983 and the access road to the Eltham Railway Station (present day St Laurence Lane). We are standing near the Post Office (now Eltham Newsagency) and the Country Art Store (now Platform 3095) looking north east in the direction of Pryor Street. In the distance behind the trees and across the road we can see the State Bank of Victoria (now Westpac) and the Commonwealth Bank on the opposite corner of Pryor Street. Right in front of us is the former Eltham Station Master’s house which is situated in what is the present day short term car park and bus bay. The most tangible evidence of what remains is the spotted gum standing in front of the house to our right.

Station Master’s House, Eltham Railway Station, 21 August 1983. The Commonwealth Bank on the corner of Pryor Street and Main Road can be seen past the Spotted Gum that remains today in what is now the short term car park and bus bay (Photo: George Coop; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)
View from St Laurence Lane of the short term car park and bus bay at Eltham Railway Station. The only link to the former Eltham Station Master’s house is the Spotted Gum (Google Street View April 2018)
Station Master’s House, Eltham Railway Station, 21 August 1983. The State Bank of Victoria can be seen in the distance across Main Road (Photo: George Coop; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

 

George Bird (1845-1920)

George Bird was born in England in 1845 and arrived in Australia in 1856 as a child of assisted migrants. Soon afterwards he came out to Eltham to live with his uncle George Stebbing, working for him as bricklayer’s assistant in building, amongst others, Shillinglaw Cottage and the Anglican and Methodist Churches in Eltham. He later purchased 72 acres at the eastern end of Pitt Street (bounded by Eucalyptus Road, Mount Pleasant Road and present-day Rockliffe Street) and established the property “View Hill”, which was worked as a mixed farm and orchard.

Bird family orchard, Pitt Street, Eltham, c.1980s. View looking northeast from near the junction of Wattle Grove and Mount Pleasant Road across to Eucalyptus Road on right and Pitt Street at top.

In 1878 he married Janet Kilpatrick, who had emigrated from Scotland. They had ten children, three of whom died in infancy. The wedding in 1904 of their eldest surviving daughter Sarah (“Sis”) to Edward Pepper appears to have been quite a society event.

Wedding of Sarah Ann Bird (b.1881) to Edward Ernest Pepper (b.1874) held at the Bird family home of “View Hill’, Eltham, 1904. Sarah Bird 4th from left (seated) and Edward Pepper on her left (standing). George Bird, 2nd from right (seated).
Digitised from original held in private collection

George was a staunch Methodist, a Church Steward and a Sunday School Superintendent in about 1890. Janet died in 1915 and George died in 1920 (though his gravestone says 1921). George’s will stated that his property was to be divided between all his children in equal shares. This necessitated subdivision of the ‘View Hill’ property, between 1922 and 1926. George, Janet and several descendants, are buried in a family plot in the cemetery.

One son, George Hugh Bird, operated a drapery store in Main Road (near Bridge Street) in around 1915.

George Hugh Bird’s Cash Drapery Mart on right, looking south along Maria Street (Main Road), Eltham near Bridge Street, c.1909. Post Office on left

Later, in the 1920s, he ran a greengrocer’s shop (also selling confectionery) in Main Road opposite Eltham Station. It was the first shop in Eltham to have plate glass windows. At the same time, his brother Reg had a grocery store on the station side of Main Road.

Bibliography:

Private Research, Bird family; copy held by EDHS

References:

1904 ‘ORANGE BLOSSOM.’, Evelyn Observer and Bourke East Record (Vic. : 1902 – 1917), 18 November, p. 3. (MORNING.), viewed 14 Mar 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60628991

 

 

 

 

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