During the COVID-19 Pandemic State of Emergency Stage 3 lockdown, our Collections team has continued to work in the background from home, digitising material and cataloguing it onto Victorian Collections. Included amongst these items are a number of old audio compact cassette tapes. Even though we say ‘old’ (because they are), many of us are still familiar with these items. Finding the old analog technology still functional to play them is increasingly difficult.
One of the tapes was recorded for us in April 2002 on the occasion of the centenary of Alan Marshall’s birth, by long term society member and local artist, Joh Ebeli (1918-2012). In 1977 Joh undertook to create a sculpture of the face of Alan Marshall. Joh recorded a conversation he had with Alan during one sitting in 1977 at Alan’s studio bungalow, 13 Park Road, Eltham. (The property owned by Alan’s sister was sold shortly after his death and was only recently sold again in March 2020.)
During this pandemic, we have decided to make this audio recording accessible for all to enjoy. It runs for just over 32 minutes and consists of general chit chat and banter between Joh Ebeli and Alan Marshall on various current affairs, matters of the past, artists and Joh’s method of sculpture production.
#ThrowbackThursday – Who does not enjoy the aroma that permeates a baker’s shop? Often when going into a bakery the smell can instantly take us back in time to a favourite bakery of our childhood and the anticipation of some freshly baked bread, still warm from the oven or maybe even some small sweet treat.
Today we time travel back to September 1979 to the old Eltham Bakehouse at the corner of Main Road and York Street. It has not been a bakery for some time now and looks sad and run down.
But this was once at the centre of a thriving community. It is nearly 120 years old and has stood on this spot, still recognisable, since the 1860s. It even holds some secrets; an unsolved murder mystery from the late 1890s. And it seems those secrets may never be revealed for today we are to witness the demolition of this once busy building.
There has recently been a substantial amount of publicity in the local press regarding the demolition of the old baker’s shop on the corner of Main Road and York Street, Eltham.
The old weatherboard building comprises a dwelling with a shop in the front room opening off a timber verandah deck which directly fronted the Main Road footpath.
At the rear is a brick building of much later date which was for many years used for the bakery. The buildings are being demolished for flat construction.
Recent publicity has been oriented towards moves to preserve the weatherboard building. Preservation initiatives have come from a number of individuals including members of this Society. It should be noted that the Society has no official connection with any proposal to retain the building or any part of it on any other site. The issues involved in this matter are part of a wider consideration of the matter of preservation of historic buildings.
In this case the Society and in particular the committee has been aware for some years of the impending demolition. The possibility of the preservation of the building has been canvassed on a number of occasions. The Society’s view is that whilst the baker’s shop is an interesting old building which contributes to the character of Main Road, it is not of sufficient importance to wage an organised campaign for its preservation. It is considered that if the building were to be preserved for historical reasons it would be far more feasible to retain it in its present location than to re-build it on another site.
Unfortunately as we can see standing in front of the building on this grey September day in 1979, demolition is now well in progress. It is not known whether the proposal to retain part of the building for re-erection elsewhere is proceeding or not. Substantial funds would be required for any re-erection and restoration project. The Society considers that at this time the highest priority for allocation of any funds available for local historical preservation works is the restoration and preservation of the old cottage in Ely Street. But that is for the future and another leap in time.
Back to the future – Whilst the Society was not engaged in any preservation efforts, Society member Joh Ebeli along with Howard Elwers certainly did try to salvage some portions of the building. Enquiries today indicate that ultimately nothing came of this but hopefully some of these items; the timbers and fittings did find new life, integrated into the fabric of other buildings, either new or restored. And maybe, just maybe, those other secrets may still be discovered.
EDHS Newsletter No. 8, September 1979
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia