Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
William MacMahon Ball (“Mac” Ball) was Professor of Political Science at Melbourne University from 1949 to 1968, having lectured there since 1923. He became known as an ABC commentator on international affairs from the early 1930s to the early 1960s. Between 1940 and 1944 he was Controller of Overseas Broadcasting (which later became Radio Australia). In 1945, he was political consultant to the Australian Delegation at the conference leading to the establishment of the United Nations, and in 1946 was the British Commonwealth Representative on the Allied Council during the post-war occupation of Japan.
Mac and his wife Katrine (plus daughter Jenny) came to Eltham in 1942, and in 1945 moved into an old timber cottage at the eastern end of York Street. With help from Alistair Knox, Sonia Skipper, Gordon Ford and John Harcourt, the house was totally renovated to become an early example of Eltham mud-brick.
Mac died in 1986 and is buried in Eltham Cemetery with Katrine. Part of their land backing onto Bridge Street was donated to Eltham Shire Council and is now a reserve called MacMahon Ball Paddock.
MacMahon Ball Paddock
Marshall, Marguerite; Nillumbik now and then : Eltham and beyond; with photographs by Ron Grant, Eltham 2002
#OnThisDay – 25 years ago #OTD the community celebrated the opening of the new Eltham Library in Panther Place followed by the Shire President’s Picnic.
In 1987 Council set up a Library Review Working Party (which later became the Library Occasional Advisory Committee) with a task to prepare for a new library as the current library, opened in 1971, could no longer cope with growing demand. Council developed a strategy to set aside capital funds, from 1988 annually, to provide for preliminary planning and consultative expenses, with a projected construction completion in early 1997. The community was consulted throughout the process and over 1,000 questionnaires were distributed to library users and non-users seeking their input.
In 1992 the Commonwealth Government established the Local Capital Works Program and Council made application for a grant of almost $900,000, applying the full amount towards a new library. Council funded a further $2 million to build the new library, which enabled the project to be accelerated in completion. The project was commenced in September 1992.
In his address to the assembled guests at the opening, the Hon. Peter Staples, Member for Jagga Jagga said:
“I think you will find that it will become a centre of life in Eltham just as Montsalvat over the years has become a feature and a part of the spirit of Eltham.”
“It will be something that will be shared by people not only in Eltham but in other places for many years to come. I am quite confident in predicting that it will become more of a focus of the life and the culture and the spirit of Eltham than any other public building around.”
We are all familiar with the meaning of 20-20 hindsight. Well, grab a cuppa and give yourselves a 28 minute time-out to join us in this journey in time to see what great foresight our former Eltham Shire Councillors had for our community.
The video features an introductory look at the new library with the assembled guests and music performed by Eltham High School. A welcome speech is given by Shire President, Cr Pamela Sladden followed by the Hon. Peter Staples, Member for Jagga Jagga. Cr. Robert J. (Bob) Manuell, Chairperson, Eltham Library Redevelopment Special Committee then gives a sometimes humourous analogy of the history of the project’s development from conception to delivery with reference to the Year of the International Family (1994). At the end of the speeches there are scenes of guests looking over the library followed by scenes of the Shire President’s picnic.
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia