Tag Archives: Eltham Common

OTD: Opening of the new Eltham Library, 22 May 1994

#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.

Aerial view showing the new Eltham Library, 1994. Architects: Greg Burgess and Peter Ryan of Gregory Burgess Pty Ltd. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

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.

Aerial view showing the new Eltham Library and relocated Shillinglaw Cottage, 1994. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

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.”

Aerial view showing the Shire of Eltham office, new Eltham Library and relocated Shillinglaw Cottage, 1994. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)

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.

Construction of the new Eltham Library, c.1993. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Construction of the new Eltham Library, c.1993. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Construction of the new Eltham Library, c.1993. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory)
Construction of Eltham Library; fitting out stage, April 1994. (Photo: Linda McConnell, Branch Manager of the former Eltham Library located in the Shire of Eltham offices; donated via Yarra Plenty Regional Library. Linda McConnell Collection, March 2018 and held in joint partnership. Digitised from negatives held by Eltham District Historical Society. Print copies held by YPRL and EDHS)
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ThrowbackThursday: Icons of Eltham, Main Road, Eltham, c.1967

A view of part of the original Shillinglaw farm acreage, c.1967. Shows the trestle bridge to the left, Eltham Tip in centre and the Eltham Shire Office prior to extensions and Shillinglaw Cottage (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

#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: Henry Street, west of Main Road, Eltham, 1967

#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.

Looking southwest from Eltham Shire Offices towards Shillinglaw Cottage, Henry Street and the Eltham Tip site, c.July 1967 (Photo: Shire of Eltham; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

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.

The new Shire of Eltham Offices, opened 1965, c.July 1967 (Photo: Shire of Eltham; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

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.

Completing the south wing of Eltham Shire Offices for Library and Planning Departments, 1971. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

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: Eltham Festival Community Parade 1987

#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.

Setting up in Cecil Street prior to the start of the Eltham Community Festival Parade at 12 noon; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Setting up in Cecil Street prior to the start of the Eltham Community Festival Parade at 12 noon; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Flo Spicer setting up in Cecil Street prior to the start of the Eltham Community Festival Parade at 12 noon; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Russell Yeoman (left) and Matthew Smith carry the Society Banner ahead of the float driven by Bruce Ness in the Eltham Community Festival Parade, Main Road, Eltham; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Society members Opal Smith, Eileen Gibbon and Flo Spicer, Eltham Community Festival Parade, Main Road, Eltham; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Society members Opal Smith, Eileen Gibbon and Flo Spicer, Eltham Community Festival Parade, Main Road, Eltham; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Society members Sue Law (President) and Garnet Burges, Eltham Community Festival Parade, Main Road, Eltham; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Society member Sue Law and members of the Victorian Folk Music Club, Eltham Community Festival Parade, Main Road, Eltham; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Members of the Victorian Folk Music Club, Eltham Community Festival Parade, Main Road, Eltham; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Russell Yeoman (left) and Matthew Smith carry the Society Banner past the Shire Offices and Catholic Church ahead of the float driven by Bruce Ness in the Eltham Community Festival Parade, Main Road, Eltham; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Society member Jock Read bringing up the rear guard in the Eltham Community Festival Parade, Main Road, Eltham; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
The parade enters Panther Place; Society members Sue Law (President) and Garnet Burges, Eltham Community Festival Parade, Main Road, Eltham; 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society).
Jock Read at the end of the parade beside the Society float/display, Eltham Festival Community Parade, 7 November 1987 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society; photo: Joh Ebeli).
Shire of Eltham Historical Society members and friends pose beside their winning display, Eltham Community Festival, 7 November 1987
Shire of Eltham Historical Society members and friends pose beside their winning display, Eltham Community Festival, 7 November 1987

Some images from the Shire of Eltham display

Shire of Eltham display, Eltham Community Festival, 7 November 1987 (from the collectuon of Eltham District Historical Society).
Shire of Eltham display, Eltham Community Festival, 7 November 1987 (from the collectuon of Eltham District Historical Society).
Shire of Eltham display, Eltham Community Festival, 7 November 1987 (from the collectuon of Eltham District Historical Society). Many of these display photos are now part of the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.
Shire of Eltham display, Eltham Community Festival, 7 November 1987 (from the collectuon of Eltham District Historical Society). Many of these display photos are now part of the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.
Shire of Eltham display, Eltham Community Festival, 7 November 1987 (from the collectuon of Eltham District Historical Society). Many of these display photos are now part of the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.
Shire of Eltham display, Eltham Community Festival, 7 November 1987 (from the collectuon of Eltham District Historical Society). Many of these display photos are now part of the collection of Eltham District Historical Society.
Shire of Eltham display, Eltham Community Festival, 7 November 1987 (from the collectuon of Eltham District Historical Society).