#ThrowbackThursday – From 1966 to 1968 the Shire of Eltham undertook extensive improvements to Bible Street; sealing the road surface, new concrete curb and channeling and footpaths and stone masonry work to a number of adjoining property boundaries following construction of the footpaths. The work was broken into two stages, the northern half from the top of the hill to Grove street was completed first in 1966-67 and then the southern end to Dalton Street in 1968. Today we time travel back to 1968, just south of the highest point near 71 and 74 Bible Street where we see the work in progress. The curb and channeling has been completed as has the footpath on the western side. We have arrived just in time to catch a load of gravel being delivered for final grading of the road surface prior to sealing. On the eastern side we can see the footpath has yet to be constructed and we can also see how the land has been cut into to form the footpath. Bible Street, like many other streets in the shire has stonework edges for gardens abutting footpaths where the road and footpath have been cut into the terrain. Much of this stone masonry work was undertaken for the council by C.J. Watson and Sons.
#ThrowbackThursday – In October 1967 the Shire of Eltham Historical Society was formed, which we celebrated with our 50th anniversary throughout last year. About the same time, newlyweds, a young engineer by the name of Alan Rendle and his wife, Delia moved in to their new home at 82 Bible Street. So we today we time travel back to 1968 for a quick visit to ponder what these newlyweds’ outlook on life would have been from their new home.
For Alan, it was just a short walk up the hill from his previous residence at number 70 Bible Street on the corner of York Street. And from Electoral Roll records we are able to see that Alan and Delia made No. 82 their home at least until the 1980s; so clearly it was a home and location they loved.
Situated just north of the highest point on Bible Street, the outlook from the property would have commanded extensive views to the west across the township. Built c.1885 on top of the hill and part of a much larger estate, the home in 1968 remains very rural in its setting on two blocks, numbers 82-84. As we have mentioned previously, 1967-1968 was the beginning of much change around Eltham and the Rendles were witness to much of this from their veranda. Right outside, in 1968, Bible Street itself was being extensively reconstructed and sealed and new homes were being built. On the north side of the hill the works had been undertaken during 1966-1967 and the southside in 1968. To the northeast, the Rendles would have been witness to the development of Arthur Street to the east and in a further decade the beginnings of the Woodridge Estate.
The photographer and neighbour, Fred Mitchell, noted that this picture was taken before the sale. It is not known if the the Rendles sold off a portion of their land sometime after 1968 or subsequent owners did post 1980 but today the property contains the original house at No. 82 as well as No. 82A (c. 1980) and No. 84 (c. 1985).
#ThrowbackThursday – In October 1967 the Shire of Eltham Historical Society was formed, which we celebrated with our 50th anniversary throughout last year. Coincidentally, 1967-1968 was also the beginning of much change around the centre of Eltham with the widening of Main Road and extensive road construction along Bible Street and Arthur Street. So whilst we are still in our 50th anniversary mood we will again today time travel back 50 years to visit a more quiet Bible street near the intersection of Arthur Street and then take a peek down the hill along Arthur Street at what is yet to come.
Here we are looking north along Bible Street towards the intersection with Arthur Street in 1967. It appears a storm has recently passed through, the sun is shining but the road is wet; leaves strewn across it. No roundabout of course, that would have come in the late 1980s and note the horse rider; you probably would not see that today with cars zooming along, bypassing Main Road as they weave around all the parked cars whose occupants have walked down the hill to catch the train. These were quieter times.
As we approach the intersection of Arthur Street we take a peek to the east, down to the right. It is now 1968. There is a new road surface and gutters and footpath but Arthur Street itself still only extends to the top of the hill, stopping at the future intersection of Doodson Court. Most of the houses in view have changed or gone.
The blue Valiant is parked outside what was no. 43, now part of a unit complex at no. 41. Immediately in front of the Valiant is no. 45, which has been a vacant block since before 1990. The gentleman in the hat holding a paper and walking up the hill is outside no. 39, now a unit complex and the old house on left is no. 37 (since replaced), which borders what is now the Walter Withers Reserve.
Note the other activity occurring in the picture. Apart from the gentleman walking up the hill, at the very bottom of the hill is a fellow mowing his lawn at no. 51 with his new Victa lawnmower (a classic today) and the spray of green grass clippings all over the road. And to the left of his property can be seen the pathway for pedestrian access linking Arthur Street to Lilian Parade. And up the hill in the distance outside no. 64 we see four children playing on the road. These were definitely quieter times.
Addendum: Recently the Eltham District Historical Society was very privileged to receive a donation of nearly 300 images from Fred Mitchell, an avid photographer who captured every day life in Melbourne and the district around his home in Eltham of more than forty years from the 1950s onward. The images showcased today are part of that collection and were also featured in Fred’s book, Retro Melbourne published in 2014 by New Holland Publishers Pty Ltd. We are very grateful to Fred for his generousity.
If like Fred Mitchell you have treasured images from Eltham and district of years gone by and would like to see them preserved for posterity, please consider making a donation to the Eltham District Historical Society. If you wish to hold on to your originals, we are happy to arrange a loan where we can undertake a high resolution archival quality scan from prints (or negatives if available) and then return the originals plus a digital copy. Please refer to our Donations page for more information.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to the turn of the millennium to December 1999 to the corner of Bible and York streets, Eltham, specifically 68 Bible Street. Here we find a small cottage originally built in 1880. In the 1930s it was owned by the then Roads Foreman for the Shire of Eltham, Mr. L. Burke. Originally the house was built with a galvanised iron roof but over the years was modernised with a tiled roof as well as an extension to the rear.
This particular photograph forms part of a Millennium project undertaken by one of our Society’s members, a descendant of the original Shillinglaw family who had become concerned at how the pre 1960s parts of Eltham were disappearing. She wanted to record as many of the older houses in the Eltham township area before they were lost forever. Many of the streets running between Main Road and Bible Street were photographed and these films are currently being digitised. And indeed it is staggering the level of change that the developed landscape has undergone even since 2000.
The property history report for 68 Bible Street reveals in more recent times it was sold in January 1994 for $38,000 but quickly turned over just four months later in May 1994 for $25,000 – that must have hurt. The next recorded sale is in June 1999, just before this picture was taken when it sold for $129,950. Ten years later in April 2009 it achieved $272,000 and again sold just four months later in August 2009 for an undisclosed price. In 2010 a building permit was issued to reblock the house and in May of 2013 it was leased out at $300 per week.
In July of this year, Council issued a building permit for demolition of the existing dwelling, shed’s and associated garage and the construction of a double story dwelling, garage, decks, alfresco area and retaining walls.
By September the trees and shrubs had been removed and construction fencing erected around the property.
Between October 19 and 20, the 137 year old cottage was flattened and Eltham lost another little piece of its history but hopefully not its story.
Some of us were born here, some of us chose to move to Eltham because of its character. That character is changing before our eyes, faster than at times is appreciated. Just because something has always been there during our time does not mean it will remain so. What exists today could well be history tomorrow.
This is not a protest about one little cottage; times change. Not everything old is necessarily significant but it is still part of our community’s history and history matters.
Rather this is a call to be on the lookout for other old homes that may one day also be potentially under threat and to photograph them and record their history before they are lost forever. Eltham District Historical Society is happy to receive all such photos and information in order that we may preserve the legacy of what came before so that our future generations are able to appreciate and understand their roots.
UPDATE: 15 March 2018
Of course, it’s also interesting to capture construction progress of new buildings as one day what we see now will be hidden by facade materials – new today, history tomorrow.
While travelling along our local streets do you ever wonder why or how these were named? Let us have a look at some.
Josiah Holloway was responsible for the 1851 Little Eltham sub division that now comprises the Town Centre. His wife’s maiden name was Susan Maria Bible and his brother-in-law was Arthur Bible, so this explains the origin of Susan, Bible and Arthur streets in central Eltham. Part of Main Road was also originally known as Maria Street.
Brougham Street in Eltham was named after Henry Brougham, a British statesman who became Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom. Among other things he actively worked to promote the abolition of slavery, helped establish the French resort of Cannes and was also responsible for designing the four-wheeled horse drawn carriage that bears his name. The western section of Brougham Street was named Wellington Street in Holloway’s subdivision, presumably after the Duke of Wellington, but was later changed so that Brougham Street was continuous.
The name of Shalbury Avenue off Beard Street in Eltham is the result of the combination of the names of Jack Shallard and a Mr. Bradbury who subdivided the land in that area. Mr. Bradbury’s family came to Eltham in 1913 and one of his sons (Ron) had a medical practice for many years at the corner of Main Road and Brougham Street, where there is now a restaurant.
When Mrs. Theo Handfield subdivided land in 1924 to the west of the Diamond Creek in Eltham she named Peter Street and John Street after her two sons. However, the name of John Street was later changed due to possible confusion with the other John Street off Main Road. It then became Fay Street, after Fay Harcourt the wife of the well-known local builder John Harcourt.
Bells Hill Road at the eastern end of Main Road, Research was once part of Mt Pleasant Road. It was re-named in the 1990s because it was separated from the main part of that road. Bells Hill is the hill in Main Road rising up from Research to Kangaroo Ground. John Bell of the pioneer Bell family of Kangaroo Ground and Yarra Glen lived at “Violet Bank”, the first of the Kangaroo Ground properties at the top of the hill.
Prepared by Russell Yeoman and Jim Connor from the Eltham District Historical Society
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia