#ThrowbackThursday – Roll up! Roll up! Come on down to Bremner’s Flat and Ashton’s Circus, the world’s greatest!
Today we time travel back to Bremner’s Flat, circa 1958 where Ashton’s Circus and Zoo have set up their Big Top. A wonderful cast of peerless performers await to entertain us with daring Trapeze Artists, Aerialists and High Wire Acts that will hold you spellbound! We will have the opportunity to see Ashton’s herd of elephants from the jungles of Malaya; a thrilling rodeo of trained horses and riders; Ashton’s Clowns, clearly the world’s funniest and Ashton’s famous circus – the most popular on the road today! Look out for Captain Shultz (late of Barnum and Bailey, the greatest show in America) and The Cage of Death – he works 10 lions and lionesses all in one cage; 3 Nacchines, Continental Clowns; the famous Flying Ashtons; Top-of-the-Tent marvels – Miss Lorraine, Leo St. Leon, brilliant equestrian – Phillis & Douglas Ashton, Miss Marie Sanderson, Mervyn Ashton and more. It’s a show not to be missed.
Bremner’s Flat was the original name given to the reserve located opposite the intersection of Mount Pleasant Road and Main Road, Eltham. It was renamed to Wingrove Park circa 1970.
According to the National Library of Australia; Ashton’s Circus was founded in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1847 by Thomas Mollor, and acquired in February 1850 by James Henry Ashton, a man schooled in the tradition of English circus and who had experienced the hard times of the nineteenth century. The circus operated as the Royal Amphitheatre or Royal Circus. When founder James Henry Ashton died in 1889, his son Fred, then aged 22, inherited the circus. The circus continued to be handed down throughout the family, and today it is run by the 6th generation of Ashtons, Michelle and Joseph and their sons, Jordan and Merrik. As Joseph had founded ‘Circus Joseph Ashton’ in 1998 prior to his grandfather’s retirement in 2000, it was decided to apply this name to the family’s main circus reflecting the current state of ownership and operations. The prior name of “Ashton’s Circus” was retired.
Circus acts referenced from various newspaper advertisements of the time accessed through the National Library of Australia’s website, Trove
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to September 1966 to the boundary of the Shire of Eltham and the City of Heidelberg on the Plenty River and the construction site of the new Lower Plenty Bridge. Work is well under way preparing for the provision of utility services and the roadway; the concrete piers and prefabricated steel and concrete girders having been put in place the month before. The bridge was completed and open for use by November 1966. It was subsequently duplicated along with Main Road in 1970.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to the corner of Pitt Street and Main Road, circa September 1966 where we will commence our walk eastwards to Bible Street.
On the southeast corner of Pitt and Main we see the iconic Eltham Hotel with its sunny Beer Garden out back and Drive In Bottle Shop accessed from Pitt Street. A sign on the left advises us of roadwork ahead. Reconstruction of Bible Street and a number of the cross streets was undertaken by the Shire of Eltham as part of infrastructure upgrades from 1966 through 1968. Typically the underground services would be completed then new footpaths and nature strips along with many of the characteristic rock retaining walls. Lastly, the new road surfaces would be sealed.
As we head towards Bible Street we have to walk along the road. Pitt Street is still unsealed and there are no footpaths on the nature strip, just the odd track. On the left we see some of the large underground pipes placed on the nature strips in preparation for the roadworks that are under way. On the right we see a glimpse of Stebbing Cottage at 88 Pitt Street, built by George Stebbing over 100 years ago around 1860. In the distance we can see Pitt Street climbing the hill east of Bible Street.
As we dip down the hill towards Bible Street we can now see the local Milk Bar on the southeast corner of Pitt and Bible streets. A Bulla delivery truck is pulled up out front delivering a fresh load of milk, cream and ice cream. A red Telephone Box stands on the nature strip. Apart from the Milk Bar, no other buildings or houses are visible on the southern side of Pitt Street and only a few on the northern side as we look up the hill. Some children are riding on bikes.
As we arrive at Bible Street, also unsealed, we notice the red kerosene warning lanterns placed on stakes on the road verges around the intersection in preparation for the road works. The Bulla truck just pulled away. A little girl walks past us carrying a bag and heading up Pitt Street. The local Milk Bar also offers a Delicatessen and Self Service Grocery and Drive Through customer car park. Perhaps she just picked up some groceries from the Milk Bar for her mum who has promised to bake her a cake for afternoon tea.
What memories do you have of the Eltham Milk Bar and other local neighbourhood Milk Bars? It remains a survivor in our time poor, modern society; a link to a more leisurely pace in our past. There used to be two others within a short distance; one in Hartland Way and one in Eucalyptus Road, both now re-purposed more than a decade ago.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to July 1969 to the intersection of Main Road and Grand Boulevard, Montmorency; specifically the section of land bordered by Grand Boulevard, Main Road and Looker Road. Recently it was announced that this piece of of land was the site for the all new Apex-Diamond Valley Ambulance Station.
Fast forward to 2017 and it has recently been announced that an all new Ambulance Station is to be constructed in place of the old station and that demolition of the old building will commence in November.
Demolition of the original station built back in 1969-1970 commences in November 2017 with the new upgraded station due to open in the second half of 2018.
#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.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to August 30, 1967. It’s a Wednesday morning and you have been summoned to appear at the Eltham Courthouse, 730 Main Road, Eltham at 10 a.m. You have never appeared in court before and this leaves you feeling a little anxious. The weather forecast is mostly fine with a maximum of 61 (16°C). It was 48 (9°C) when you got up and had rained overnight but the sun was out now. The rain ultimately meant it would only get up to 58 (14.5°C). You check the summons one more time to verify the time and head off. You do not want to be late.
You approach the courthouse heading south down Main Road from Pitt Street. People are already there, mingling around outside chatting. Seems everybody else had the same idea about arriving early and all the parking spots out front are already taken; on both sides.
Never mind, you turn left into Brougham Street and park there; minding not to step into any puddles left on the unsealed road that could splash mud onto your freshly polished shoes.
Understandably you feel a little nervous so you just dash across the road to the servo to grab some chewing gum and smokes.
As you take a few puffs on your cigarette you notice that people are now starting to head inside. Still, you figure you have a few more moments to help calm your nerves as you wander up Main Road taking in the scene.
The coppers have now turned up in their Paddy Wagon and the suspect is bundled inside. Better get a move-on; they’ll be calling you shortly. You take one more quick drag of your smoke, stub the butt out, pop some Juicy Fruit in and dash inside.
“I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”
Built in 1860, the Eltham Courthouse is the oldest public building remaining in Eltham. In its early days the building was used as the meeting place and office of the Eltham District Road Board and as an overflow classroom for the local school. The Eltham Courthouse ceased operational duties in 1984 and is now used by various community groups including Eltham District Historical Society. It was listed on the Victorian Heritage Register (Number H0784) in 1982. The building is of architectural significance because it retains intact early features. These include use of handmade bricks, simple decoration, roof trusses, timber ceiling boards, original windows, doors and associated hardware and a collection of court furniture. Additions to the court house have been done in a manner which did not interfere with the fabric of the original building.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back 50 years to the Main Road shops in Eltham. It is a Monday morning, July 15th, 1968 and the weather is fine but cloudy. People are off to work and school. The temperature is 41 degrees (5° C) with a high of 53 (12° C). Cars and people are navigating the roadworks which are now well under way to widen Main Road from Pitt Street to Elsa Court.
What memories does this invoke for you? One can certainly get a fuller impression now of how this area changed with the widening of the road.
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia