Photographs from the Eltham Pioneers Collection

Unveiling of the Obelisk, corner of Main Road and Bridge Street, Eltham

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

11 February 2015 at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

In 2013 our Society was involved in a project for digitisation of the Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection. This was joint project with the Yarra Plenty Regional Library and was funded by a State Government Local History grant. It involved the digitisation of the historic photo collection established by Eltham Shire Council in 1971 and held at the Eltham Library. This project involved some 400 items and concluded the digitisation of the complete collection started earlier by the library. The project was co-ordinated by Liz Pidgeon from YPRL.

The agenda item for our February 2014 meeting was a presentation comprising about 40 images from this collection. For our February meeting this year we will show a further 40 or so slides. Pictures will be selected for their visual interest or for the story that they tell. They will be a representative sample from the whole of the former Shire of Eltham, extending from Lower Plenty to Kinglake.

Introduction and commentary on the pictures will be provided by Maureen Jones, Russell Yeoman and other members. Russell has been involved with the collection since its inception and Maureen has assisted with the recent project. It is hoped that the presentation will inspire comment from members on the photographs or more broadly on their subject matter.

As at all of our meetings, new members and visitors are most welcome.

Wedding Bells

In the 1902 and 1904 Evelyn Observer, the local newspaper of the Shire of Eltham, there was a column named ‘Wedding Bells’. Along with the names of the couples, their parents, the Church, the names of people connected to the Bride and Groom, the report of the presents at the after service gatherings, were listed as to who gave what from their side of the families.

The following items have been listed in the two weddings of Miss Florence Maud Knapman (1902) and Miss Catherine Emma Gilsenan (1904):

A kitchen stove, piano, set of jugs, pair of primrose vases, ruby vases, canary in a cage, teapot, crumb tray and brush, apron, supper cloth, marble clock, fruit dishes, picture frames, pair of mats, hanging brush rack, serviettes, pair of d’oyleys, cheques, pair of hall curtains, candle sticks, cow in full milk, pair of pickle jars, set of afternoon tea spoons, dinner set, cheese cover, drawing room lamp, silver marmalade dish, jardinere, glass cream jug and basin, water jug and glasses, silver mounted biscuit barrel, glass fruit stand and tray cloth, picture of local scenery, silver bread fork and butter knife, serviette rings, cedar table, along with household linen and items of ‘handsome and costly’ presents of a personal nature.

 

Eltham South Preschool

35 Fordhams Road, Eltham South

This preschool building was designed by the architect Charles Duncan who was a proponent of the organic style inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, a renowned American architect. Charles Duncan was one of a number of young Melbourne architects who designed Wrightian style buildings in the 1960s. The building has a triangular floor plan with a bell-cast slate-clad roof with a large metal spire designed by Matcham Skipper. Duncan scaled the interior of this preschool to a child’s proportion.

Photograph from the Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photo Collection

Photo: Eltham – R.C. Priest

Mystery surrounding a historical photograph collection sparked fervent debate among members keen to identify the baffling images during a Society meeting in 2014.

The digitised Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photo Collection generated lively discussion as members speculated about various places and people captured in the old black and white photographs.

None more so baffling than a turn-of-the century blurred image captioned “Eltham – R.C. Priest” depicting a cleric posing next to an early-model car sporting a top hat with another two unknown figures.

Furious email exchanges ensued in the following days between members who eventually identified the motorcar as a Unic Taxi built in the United Kingdom purportedly about 1908 – although the actual manufacturing date too fueled yet more speculation.

Attention soon turned to the priest wearing the top hat, long coat and a clerical collar (a good clue) while members surmised the man wearing the bowler hat near in the foreground was the taxi driver, expected to sit exposed to the elements while passengers remain protected inside the cabin.

Our resident super sleuth Maureen Jones soon identified the priest as the Reverend John P. Carney born c1880 in Ballaghaderreen, County Mayo, Ireland. He was ordained at All Hallows College, Dublin, Ireland before arriving in Melbourne in 1902 where he would go on to serve as a priest in the Melbourne Archdiocese.

He started as assistant priest at St. Francis, Melbourne followed by Castlemaine and Gordon before establishing the new mission at Diamond Creek where he would spend the next five years doing “fine pioneering work and put the parish on a good working basis”. He spent his later years serving congregations in Footscray and later Yarraville.

Who said there is no mystery in local history!!

Eltham Line

According to a correspondent in ‘The Argus’ on Saturday residents of the Eltham district are desirous that the morning trains from Eltham should arrive at Melbourne an hour earlier. It is also contended that the time occupied on the journey on weekdays should be reduced to about the same as that taken on Sundays. It is stated by railway officials that some time ago a number of residents requested that the train which was due to leave Eltham at 7.33 a.m. should be started an hour earlier. Regular travelers who had made their business arrangements in connection with this train were consulted by the department, but as the majority of them were strongly opposed to any alteration of the time-table no further action was taken. On Sundays trains ran through to Eltham, and, as there was no transference of passengers at Heidelberg, the journey was naturally covered in a quicker time than on week days. When the new station at Heidelberg was built however, there would be very little detention.

Source: 1911 ‘ELTHAM LINE.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 12 December, p. 5

Picture: Steam train at Eltham Station

Can you identify this building?

This photo is an enlarged section of one from the Reynolds/Prior collection held by our Society.

The two story building in question was located where ‘Plum Tree Creek’ is now located or alternatively at 14-16 Ingrams Road, Research.

Since early August 2014 there has been debate on the ‘Lost Research’ Facebook site as to what the building was. Whilst many ideas have been thrown up no definitive answer has been given that can identify the building’s use.

Can you help us?

Eltham District Newspapers on the Web

by Liz Pidgeon

Trove

In early 2007 the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program was launched.  The National Library of Australia, in collaboration with Australian State and Territory libraries, began a program to digitise Australian newspapers for access and preservation purposes. By May 2009 Trove had been launched as a resource for information about Australians for Australians. It includes digitised newspapers from 1803-1954, The Australian Women’s Weekly to 1982, journals, articles and datasets, books, pictures, photos, objects, music sound and video,  maps, diaries, letters and archives, archived websites, people and organisations and lists.

Trove includes four separate specific newspapers for local research:

Eltham and Whittlesea Shires Advertiser (Vic. : 1940 – 1942)

Eltham and Whittlesea Shires Advertiser and Diamond Creek Valley Advocate (Vic. : 1917 – 1922)

Heidelberg News and Greensborough and Diamond Creek Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 – 1916)

Heidelberg News and Greensborough, Eltham and Diamond Creek Chronicle (Vic. : 1916 – 1918)

Trove also includes major newspapers for each state.  For Victoria,The Argus [1848 – 1957], is included. Also now being added is The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954).

The site uses electronically translated text and as such there are some errors, so for this reason think about your search strategy and possible spelling variations when looking for your subject of interest.  Once registered, a researcher can correct text.  Local news was reported widely so don’t restrict your search to local newspapers only.

This site continues to grow and has become the major online resource for Australian history.