Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham
All are welcome to come along to our first meeting of the year to be held Wednesday, 14th February, 8:00 p.m. at the Senior Citizen’s Centre and our 303rd meeting since the Shire of Eltham Historical Society was formally established in October 1967.
Through the magic of Historypin we plan to travel back in time, 50 years to February 1968. Big changes to the township were afoot with the pending duplication of Main Road. A series of approximately 50 photos were taken in February 1968 by an unknown person of the section of Main Road planned for duplication, commencing at Pitt Street and traveling towards Research through the shopping centre, finishing just past Elsa Court.
These images now form our first showcase collection on Historypin, an online tool which combines with Google Street View to transition between views from ‘Then’ and ‘Now’.
At our meeting we will introduce this Historypin collection and view a number of the key images. The intention for this meeting is to provide a two-way discussion; so comments, personal recollections and corrections are most welcome as we take a Valentine Day’s walk down Main Road together.
As at all of our meetings, new members and visitors are most welcome.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back 52 years to the site of the newly built offices for the Shire of Eltham, a beautiful 1960s design erected on the original site of Shillinglaw Cottage, where we are witness to the asphalting of the driveway. Following the dissolution of the Shire of Eltham in December 1994 and its amalgamation with the Shire of Diamond Valley, the offices were demolished in August 1996 and the driveway became part of Library Place. Interesting given that the Eltham Library was located in the opposite (southern) end of the Shire Office building until the new library was built in its present location in 1994. This view is from the northern end of the Shire Office looking east towards Main Road and the Eltham War Memorial Hall building. The grass section is the site of the current Eltham Senior Citizens Centre and the location of our Society meetings, built sometime between this photo being taken and 1968, the future of which is itself now up for discussion. The Senior Citizens Centre can be seen in the 1968 image of the Shire Office below.
#ThrowbackThursday – Who knows what that large circular monument is in front of the Eltham Community Centre across Main Road from the Eltham Hotel? Well, today we time travel back to the future, 2035 in fact, or more precisely, 1985 when the foundations were cast by the Shire of Eltham Historical Society to celebrate the Eltham of 1985 with that of 2035.
It is November 10th, 1985 and the Eltham Festival is in full swing; the Parade has finished and Eltham Town Park (or Alistair Knox Park) is full of people and displays. Included on the official program at 2.00 pm is a Time Capsule Ceremony where a time capsule is to be lowered into a monument established by the Shire of Eltham Historical Society to commemorate Victoria’s 150th anniversary and the former location of the Eltham Town Centre, which existed along this section of Main Road, then known as Maria Street.
The monument was constructed with a concrete base and the main feature is an old tyring plate or disc. The Time Capsule Ceremony involved lowering the sealed time capsule into place, bolting down its container lid and then concreting over the lid.
The capsule contains items relating to present day (1985) Eltham and its people including a video film made by Joh Ebeli and also details of families and organizations who have contributed to construction of the monument. It is to be opened in the year 2035.
The Society received an excellent response from local people, firms and organizations by way of assistance with this project. Graham Beyer, who originated the project, arranged many of the donations. He and his firm, Package Handling Equipment, donated the time capsule itself and carried out fabrication of sections of the monument. The design of the monument was adapted by Graham Beyer from drawings by Joh Ebeli. Charmac Industries donated the container for the time capsule and a cast gun metal name plate for the monument. BMG Concrete donated concrete for the base which was constructed by Caridi Construction Company. Northbourne Garden Supplies donated materials for the paving around the monument.
Robert Becker from Eltham Apex directed construction of the paving by Society members. Terry Hutchinson donated the use of his crane to lift the tyring disc into place.
Financial contributions were also made by the Eltham Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Eltham.
Leaping forward two years to 1987 and the Society is now celebrating its 20th Anniversary. In commemoration of that event, the Society commissioned a plaque which explains the functions of the various items used in the Society’s Victorian 150th Anniversary Monument with an unveiling by its designer, Joh Ebeli, on October 10, 1987. The plaque was Joh’s idea and he provided the impetus for its completion. Joh’s dedication address is repeated below.
“We are here to finalise this monument by unveiling a plaque which explains the functions of the items for the adjacent monument.
I have brought six different people here and have asked them “What do you think of this monument” No one could tell me – some thought it was a sort of modern decoration, so I felt there and then that we still had to do more to make this monument understood and most of all, appreciated.
Therefore, we need to know a bit of the history of the wheel, the subject cart wheel has certainly a magnificent history for us all! Where should we be without the invention of the wheel!
Making a spoked wheel calls for a sort of genius for its structure is a great deal more complex than might be imagined.
There is a scribe in Iraq nearly 6,000 years ago which showed a wheeled cart. This was the earliest surviving evidence – the transport breakthrough that helped man to advance into civilisation. The wheels of this cart ·were not the crude unevenly rounded slices of tree trunk that might be imagined. They were made from three planks joined by cross struts to form a circle. The middle piece being bored centrally to hold the axle end. A wheelwright had been at work and a new craft was born!
Then came the time that allowed the wheel to turn freely instead of the former method of fixing the wheels to an axle that revolved through two hoops slung under the wagon.
In Egypt around 1,750 B.C. a light battle-chariot was used for hunting lions and other animals. In Tutankhamen’s tomb a casket was found from the 15th or 14th century B.C. bears a marvellous painting of several chariots. interestingly, the wheels have only 6 spokes.
Since the Middle Ages at least, it has been customary to fit 12 spokes – to heavier wheels 14 and sometimes 16. Around 1500 B.C. the rims of wheels began to be fitted with metal bands of tyres. This was a great improvement upon the earlier practice of binding them with leather which must have had a very short life on the uneven tracks and roads of the time. I myself, got a buggy and fitted on the 2 wheels are solid rubber tyres.
Well, I can carry-on a long time on my hobby subject but to come back to our monument …
The large iron disc was a platform used for fitting iron tyres to wooden spoked cart wheels (like the one on top of the platform). The local blacksmith and wheelwright used to work side by side. The wheel was clamped to this platform, this held the naff (or hub) tightly and the spokes at a constant angle.
A fire was next to it. An iron hoop or tyre previously forged to the correct size was dropped in the fire – when this tyre was red-hot the blacksmith lifted this with tongs over the outside of the wooden rim. The men hammered the hoop down amid flames from the scorching timber. Then the wheelwright drenched the tyre with cold water as soon as it was in position.
As the tyre cooled an even pressure from the contracting tyre tightened the joints at each end of the spokes and formed- a vice-like grip which would last for the life of the wheel. As you can see, it calls for a sort of genius and, talking about geniuses, we have two here in the gathering. Firstly, the Society wants to thank Bob Mclellan and his sons of Charmac here in Bridge Street for their donation of a beautiful plaque. He made it exactly as my design was including the illustration and logo. Next the second genius, Mr. Graham Beyer of Package Handling. He also made and donated this solid super special construction for us and we also are very grateful to him for doing this.
All I want to say is may this monument be helpful to students of the High School for making their essays about the history of the wheel and also to keep our monument alive.
Thanks for listening to me – it was only a “blast from the past!”
Herewith I then unveil this plaque and may this be here shining in the sun in the year 2037!”
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to the early 1950s to Main Road, Eltham, opposite the Railway Station. Specifically we are visiting the Eltham Hardware & Timber Company operated by J.N. Burgoyne and Sons.
The Eltham Hardware and Timber Company first opened on Main Road opposite the Railway Station around late 1922. An advertisement placed in the Hurstbridge Advertiser advised that the Hardware Store had just opened with a varied stock of Saws, Hammers, Nails, Shovels, Screw Drivers, and every article required in a house or on a farm. People were also encouraged to try their Jams, Pickles, Sauces, Cups and Saucers, etc. (1).
A few months later in May 1923, William Walker, a plumber, placed an advertisement wishing to to announce that he had taken over the
ELTHAM HARDWARE STORE, and asked for the continued support of the district. He also noted that all kinds of Plumbing work was done.
Walker remained the proprietor of the Hardware Store for many years regularly advertising its services and wares up until at least 1941. The trail goes a bit quiet then but he does appear in the 1944 Electoral Roll listed as a Plumber, of Main Street, Eltham. However he is not listed in the 1949 Electoral Roll but his son, Thomas Roy Walker, also a plumber of Main Road is listed. Thomas had been on active duty overseas during the Second World War and returned at the end of 1945. It is assumed that William died sometime between 1945 and 1949.
On November 18th, 1950 the Hardware Store and residence was auctioned on site by Scarff Bros. Pty Ltd. The advertisement stated (2):
THIS DAY ELTHAM
At 3 p.m. On the property
FREEHOLD SHOP and 4-rm Dwelling and Hardware and General Agency Business, Including Petrol Reseller’s Licence, as a Going Concern. Also Freehold Lock-up Shop Adjoining. Let on a Weekly Tenancy. Land 50 x 150. This Affords Prospective Purchasers an Unequalled Opportunity to Secure a Going Concern with Unlimited Scope. Particularly as the property is Situate on a Main Arterial Road and the Petrol Sales Can be Vastly Improved with a Minimum of Expense. Trade Figures, Title Parts, &c. from the Auctioneers.
SCARFF BROS PTY LTD
379 Collins Street, Melbourne
MB3238. After Hours WM2051
It is presumed that this is when J.N. Burgoyne and Sons took over the business. It would have been around this time the picture of the store was taken for only three years later, in October 1953, the business and dwelling was again put up for sale, this time by Trebilcock Bros, in two separate lots (3). Coincidentally, the Hardware Store was taken over by Richard Phillip Trebilcock, an electrical engineer from Mayona Road, Montmorency (4).
SAT., OCTOBER 24. At 3 p.m.
SPLENDID HARDWARE BUSINESS and DEVELOPMENT SITE
Two Adjoining Properties
OPPOSITE STATION ENTRANCE.
To Be Sold In Separate Lots.
LOT 1. — ELTHAM HARDWARE AND TIMBER CO.
Freehold and Property, Plant, Fittings and Business; Plus Stock at Valuation. To be Sold as a Going Concern.
THE FREEHOLD PROPERTY Comprises Large Brick and Timber Shop. Well Fitted. Has Good Light. Comfortable 3-Room Dwelling and Detached Bungalow, H.W.S., Phone, Garage and Outbuildings. Situate on Large Allotment, 50 Ft. x 150 Ft. Aprox.
THE BUSINESS: Flourishing Hardware and Builders’ Supplies, Crockery, Glassware and Gifts, Dry Cleaning Agency and Petrol Reseller Licence (1 Bowser Installed), Oil Storage. Annual Turnover Aprox. £12,000. Audited Figures Available, Old-established Business Comprehensive Stock is Good, Clean and Saleable (Value Approx. £4000).
LOT 2. — Superb Shop Sites. Adjoining the Above Property. Land 58 Ft. x 150 Ft. (Approx.). Erected on Land Is Old Style 4-r Timber Dwelling, Set Well Back from Footpath. Leaving Ample Apace to erect Shops. Also Small Shop Let as Agent’s Office. To Be Sold Subject to Existing Tenancies, Gross Rentals £106 12/ Per Annum. Terms: £1000 Deposit, Balance 30 days.
GENERAL: Eltham Is a Rapidly Developing Area only 12 Miles from G.P.O. Street Frontage of these Two Adjoining Properties Is 108 Feet By Depth of 150 Feet in the Heart of Expanding Shopping Centre, directly Opposite Station Entrance. Full Details and Inspection Available on Application from the Auctioneers:
#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.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to Main Road and the approach to Eltham shops from Research nearly 50 years ago. It was February 1968 and big changes were in stall for duplication of the road from Bridge street all the way to our vantage point just near Elsa Court.
We can see the shops in the distance and a few cars on the road and on the left hand side are three houses. They are gone now of course and in their place are the Eltham Mind & Body Clinic and Maroush Restaurant. We are not sure who occupied them in 1968 but if we jump back another 30 years to circa 1937 we see the same three houses.
In the 1930s these three houses were the homes (from left) of the Lowerson family, Mowatt family and Mrs. Pratt. At a casual glance it does not look that much different from 1968; progress moved at a slower pace back then as you can well see by the sheep being driven along Main Road. Imagine coming across that scene today!
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back 87 years to March 1930, Main Road, Eltham where Edward Gadd runs his Blacksmith and Coachbuilding operations. They were located roughly where the gardens in front of the Eltham Community and Reception Centre is situated today.
Edward Gadd who was a native of England operated his blacksmith business in Eltham for about 17 years (1920-1937) and had a high reputation in the community for the quality of his work. He lived in Research and was actively involved with the Research Hall having been largely instrumental in its establishment. Gadd always wore leggings and played the violin at local dances. Accompanying him would be Sam Howard who played banjo and Mrs Read (Jock’s mother) who played piano by ear. He died of pneumonia on July 22nd, 1937, leaving behind a wife and three sons, one whom was in Albury and the other two in America. (1).
The poster on the wall of the business is promoting a campaign to protect vineyards by voting No against Prohibition. This would date the photo to c.March 1930 when a vote was being held by the Victorian government to introduce Prohibition. Vineyard growers were opposed to Prohibition due to the ramifications it would have upon the wider industry for dried fruits and table grapes, etc. It was also perceived as being seen to be in direct conflict with the Commonwealth government’s actions to place former WW1 soldiers into vineyards through the WW1 Soldiers Settlements program given the potential of Prohibition to ruin them finacially. (2)
Following Gadd’s death, the blacksmith business was promptly purchased by Mr P. Sloan of Warrandyte who intended to commence operations on Monday August 2nd, 1937, opening on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or more frequently if demand warranted. (3)
The blacksmith shop is memorialised today with a monument and time capsule installed to commemorate Victoria’s 150th anniversary and the former location of the Eltham Town Centre. The main feature of the monument is a ‘tyring disc’; a blacksmith’s implement that was found on this site. This consists of a large iron disc that was used as a platform for fitting iron tyres (like the one shown on top of the platform) to wooden spoked cart wheels. The local blacksmith and wheelwright worked together to assemble the wheel, which was clamped to the platform placed close to the fire. The red hot iron hoop, previously forged to the correct size was lifted with tongs by the blacksmith over the outside of the rim, then hammered down amid flames from the scorching timber. The wheelwright drenched the tyre with cold water as soon as it was in position. A clamp placed on the naff (hub) and screwed down tightly kept the spokes at a constant angle as the tyre cooled. An even pressure from the contracting tyre tightened the joints at each end of the spokes and formed a vice-like grip, which would last for the life of the wheel.