#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.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to the intersection of Kalbar Road and Main Road, Eltham, circa April-May 1989. We recently digitised some negatives covering Main Road from Beard Street to Kalbar Road. The roll of film included the new Food Plus at the corner of Beard and Main (previously featured as the Eltham East Service Centre) and the newly built shops opposite the Food Plus. And closer to Kalbar Road was the new Eltham Gateway Motel and Conference Centre under construction. At Kalbar Road is Eltham Garden Nursery, now a 7-Eleven and car wash and next door Eltham Garden Supplies, now Webster Farm and Garden. But what really excited us was the discovery of a never before seen photo of the Eltham Barrel as viewed from Main Road and an advertisement for the upcoming entertainment on May 12 (presumably 1989); a Joke Night featuring Shane Bourne as well as the Kids of Rock with Brian Cadd and Max Merritt. The Barrel had been purchased by former Sydney Swans footballer Mr Paul Morwood and his wife Linda in December 1988 and by all reports, business was improving. Unfortunately it was burnt down by an arsonist on the evening of June 4th, 1989 so the Kids of Rock may well have been one of the last entertainments put on at the Barrel. The loss of the Barrel certainly led to a change in the built landscape at Kalbar and Main.
Do you remember the Eltham Garden Nursery? Did you landscape your new home with plants from there? Did you get your landscaping supplies from next door? And did you go see Shane Bourne, Brian Cadd and Max Merritt at the Barrel? What was it like? The sign is clipped so we don’t know who was performing with Shane Bourne, but if you went and remember, we’d love to hear your stories.
#ThrowbackThursday – It’s school holidays and the traffic has eased somewhat but do you remember a time when it was pretty good all the time? Today we time travel back almost 50 years to revisit Main Road between Henry and York streets. Progress had arrived at little Eltham and the planners had put in place plans to ease traffic concerns with the duplication of Main Road from Bridge Street to Elsa Court commencing in 1968.
This small selection captures some of the scenes after duplication (c.1972) between York and Henry Streets. On the east side is A.R. Warren Fuel Merchant and the Grain and Feed store on the corner with York Street, now @LePineFunerals and on the southeast corner of York Street is the old Bakery. Looking north on the west side in the distance we can see the former Shire of Eltham offices and that too underwent significant change in this period with the addition of a southern wing that housed Eltham Library and the Shire Engineers in 1971. And in the foreground is what would become Alistair Knox Park.
What else can you see in this time-capsule? What memories do they stir up within you?
#ThrowbackThursday – Who can’t resist a good parade? We can’t. A few weeks ago we featured the Eltham Community Festival Parade of November, 1982. Today we time travel back to August 4, 1978 just in time to catch the parade as it passes the service station on the corner of Main Road and Mount Pleasant Road opposite Wingrove Park.
This series of images of is from a recent mystery donation received in August. They were contained in an envelope dropped into our letterbox at 728 Main Road; no explanation or information about the donor. So whoever you are; we thank you and appreciate this valuable addition to our collection.
The photos are an example of the damage that the old-style ‘magnetic’ albums can do to your prints and it is always best to use proper archival storage materials. The images have a significant orange-red colour cast and we have attempted to restore them but the red wavelength has clearly degraded much quicker than the other primary colours, which is why we have purple fire trucks!
All these images are now included in our rapidly growing catalogue on Victorian Collections (@victoriancollections) to help preserve and share these precious moments in time.
The Shire of Eltham Historical Society (as we were known then) was involved with the Warrandyte Historical Society (@warrandytehistoricalsociety) in arranging an exhibition at the Community Centre and also provided notes and a map for a self-guided walking tour of historic buildings and locations around Eltham. The exhibition was divided into two sections. The Eltham Society displayed early photographs associated with the walking tour, whilst the Warrandyte Society showed their photographs and artifacts of the Warrandyte gold era. An outstanding feature was the large “blow-up” photos of early Warrandyte.
Does anyone remember this festival and parade? Did you or your community group participate in the parade? And who is our mystery donor? There was very little information provided other than a motion blurred image of several ladies from the Country Women’s Association Montmorency along with their names; Edi Levi, Joyce Finster, Thelma Smith, Jean Spencer and Norma Williams.
#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back 50 years to revisit the east side of Main Road in Eltham between Dudley and Luck Streets. In February 1968, shortly after the founding of the Shire of Eltham Historical Society a few months earlier, an unknown person, possibly one of the Society’s founding members, took a walk from the Eltham Hotel on Pitt Street in a northerly direction along Main Road through the shopping centre and on to Elsa Court. They had the foresight to photo-document their walk and these photographs now provide a valuable resource in the Society’s collection. They provide us with a fascinating insight to days gone by when Eltham had less hustle and bustle. Many of you will probably recognise a number of the shops, no doubt some were even favourite haunts.
This small selection captures some of the scenes between Dudley and Luck Streets. The various businesses include the Bank of N.S.W. Browne’s Self-Service, Caltex Service Station, Chemist, Clinton’s Hardware, Commonwealth Bank, Dairy Queen, Delicatessen, Eltham Real estate, Home Heating, Mac’s Meats, Milk Bar(s), N.H. Baxter Estate Agent, Radio & TV, Thompson’s Pharmacy, Willet’s Food Centre and Wine Shop.
What else can you see in this time-capsule? Do these images provide flash-backs of sights, sounds, smells and good memories?
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia