#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to circa 1966-1967 and Main Road, Eltham, just north of Bridge Street where we cast our eyes northwest across the fields that in a few years time will be developed into the Eltham Town Park and later Alistair Knox Park. In the distance, to the right, we see the recently relocated Shillinglaw Cottage and further on, the new Eltham Shire Offices, which were opened in 1965. In front of Shillinglaw Cottage is what will be developed into Eltham Common, later the site for the new Eltham Library in 1994 but presently still dominated by the Eltham Tip. To the left and behind the tip we see the iconic Eltham Railway Trestle Bridge and beyond that, Eltham Central Park and what appears to be part of the Football Club pavillion or is it part of the former Eltham Swimming Pool?
Everything we see is on what was once part of the original Shillinglaw farm which covered some 30 acres bordered by Main Road, Bridge Street, the Diamond Creek and Diamond Street.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to July 1967. Eltham Shire officers from the Engineering and Planning department are about to set off from their new Shire offices at 895 Main Road to photo document Alma Road and Kett Street in Lower Plenty. Armed with a fresh roll of film they shoot off two images on the roll on to ensure all of of the exposed film leader is wound on. At the time these two images were just innocuous and possibly irrelevant to the task but today they capture a perfect time capsule of memories that are now decades gone.
Standing at the south western corner of the Shire Offices they shot an image looking across to the south west at what would become known as Eltham Common. But in July 1967 what we see running down the hill is the western end of Henry Street, which used to run across Main Road and down to the Eltham Tip on the right of the image. At the left just beyond Henry Street is the newly relocated Shillinglaw Cottage, which was relocated from the site we are looking from to make way for the new Shire Offices. If we were to stand there today on what is now a vacant site it would be impossible to even see this view today as directly in front of us would be the new Eltham Library opened in 1994. But back then in 1967, even the old Eltham Library did not exist. That did not come till August 1971 when the southern wing extension to the Shire Offices was built.
Our photographer then turned to his left to shoot his second image, capturing the southern end of the new Shire Offices. You can just see Main Road, which was duplicated a year later. This view was lost when the southern wing was added in 1971 to provide a home for the Planning Department and the new/old Eltham Library.
Prior to 1971, the Shire operated a library initially from November 1965, serviced by the newly formed Heidelberg Regional Library Service, with a mobile library stop near the Shillinglaw trees and then from 1966 out of the converted ‘Brinkotter’ Cottage in Dudley Street staffed by the City of Heidelberg Library. A Children’s Toy Library operated from the Eltham War Memorial Building from 1952.
#ThrowbackThursday – This weekend brings us another exciting Rotary Eltham Festival. The first Eltham Community Festival was held in 1975 with great success but it was not always held at this time in late spring. In the 1970s the festival was conducted over a ten day period held during August however in the early 1980s it was reduced to two or three days duration and shifted to mid-late October. From 1984 it moved to its more familiar spot around the second week of November where it has remained ever since.
Up until the early 1990s a highlight of the festival was the Eltham Community Festival Parade which started towards the northern end of the shops, either from Youth Road or Cecil Street, then proceeded south along Main Road, finishing up either at Eltham Lower Park in the first years and later Eltham Common, or more recently Alistair Knox Park where many displays and stalls were set up.
The Shire of Eltham Historical Society (as we were known prior to council amalgamations in 1995) first participated in the Parade in 1979 and was a regular entrant up to and including 1990. During those 12 years the Society won a number of awards including “Best Effort by Locals”, “Best Eltham Theme”, “Best Display” and in 1986 even took out the Grand Prize.
Each year the Society endeavoured to undertake a unique theme for the parade float and display and today we time travel back 30 years to November 7th, 1987 when our float with its colonial washing day theme won the trophy for the best display.
The display was installed on Bruce Ness’ truck using a number of larger implements owned by or available to the Society such as an early washing machine, troughs, copper and mangle. Joh Ebeli and Russell Yeoman set up further items on a trailer loaned by Denis McKay. (Many of these items are now part of the Andrew Ross Museum at Kangaroo Ground.) Members came dressed in appropriate period costume and musicians from the Victorian Folk Music Club who regularly accompanied the Society on the float again joined us in the Parade with their lively music, assembling in Cecil Street at 11.30 a.m. prior to the start of the parade at 12 noon.
Some images from the Shire of Eltham display
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia