Tag Archives: Shillinglaw Trees

June Meeting – History of the former Shire of Eltham Office site

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

Wednesday, 13th June 2018 at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Eltham – Shire Office, at time of Main Road widening (formerly site of Shillinglaw Cottage), 1968. (Source: Shire of Eltham; from the Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection No. 657 held jointly by Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library.)

Prior to Shillinglaw Cottage (c.1878-80) being relocated to where it is now operated as a popular cafe near the Eltham Library, it was within Josiah Holloway’s 1850s subdivision known as Little Eltham, which later became the centre of the first Eltham township. Originally a farmer’s cottage it is historically significant because it is one of the Shire’s oldest dwellings and a fine example of the work of the well-known pioneer builder George Stebbing.

In 1964 the then Shire of Eltham purchased the Shillinglaw property with the intention of demolishing the cottage and constructing new Shire offices on the site. However extensive community action resulted in funds being raised to have the building saved and relocated further south to the Eltham Common, where it was joined by the Eltham Library in 1994.

The new Shire offices opened in 1965, but following municipal restructure in 1994 these were demolished in 1996 and the land sold to a developer, which precipitated a dramatic trail of community angst, threats of legal action, the sacking of a newly elected council and several unsuccessful development proposals, by subsequent councils.

After all these years the vacant site there is still guarded by the three trees that were outside the front of the Shillinglaw Cottage.

At our Society meeting on Wednesday, 13th June, 2018, Jim Connor will speak about the dramatic tale encompassing the history of the former Eltham Shire office site and the adjoining War Memorial Buildings complex, which are now being considered for sale or redevelopment by the current Nillumbik Shire Council.

As always, Society members and visitors are most welcome to attend this meeting at 8.00pm on Wednesday 13th June, in the Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham.

Advertisements

ThrowbackThursday: Roadworks, Bridge Street and Main Road, Eltham, 1968

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 1968 and the intersection of Bridge Street and Main Road. Roadworks are well under way for the widening of Main Road from Pitt Street to Elsa Court. Extensive works were being undertaken to revise the intersection of Bridge Street. As a consequence, traffic delays were an everyday occurrence.

Excavating at the corner of Main Road and Bridge Street, Eltham, 1968; Roadworks for duplication of Main Road
(Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
Reconstruction of the corner of Bridge Street and Main Road, Eltham, 1968; Roadworks for duplication of Main Road
(Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
Excavating at the corner of Main Road and Bridge Street, Eltham, 1968; Roadworks for duplication of Main Road
(Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
Reconstruction of the corner of Bridge Street and Main Road, Eltham, 1968; Roadworks for duplication of Main Road
(Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
Traffic delays at the corner of Bridge Street and Main Road, Eltham whilst surveyors check the alignment, 1968; Roadworks for duplication of Main Road
(Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
New embankment on southeast corner of Bridge Street and Main Road, 1968; Roadworks for duplication of Main Road
(Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
New embankment on southeast corner of Bridge Street and Main Road, 1968; Roadworks for duplication of Main Road
(Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
Main Road duplication at intersection with Bridge Street, Eltham, 1968. Shows the Eltham Shire Office, the construction of Panther Place and the new section of Main Road which was to become the northbound lanes.
(Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)

 

ThrowbackThursday: Timber Railway Trestle Bridge, Eltham, c.1913

Trestle Bridge, Eltham, c.1912; note the Catholic Church in Henry Street and Shillinglaw Cottage visible in background

(from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

#ThrowbackThursday – Eltham today is just getting busier and busier; more housing and unit developments, more people and lots more traffic. And a stroll along the Diamond Creek Trail during footy season weekends near Central Park will encounter plenty of people watching the latest game; you would be lucky to even find a car park. Next time you wander along the trail or head down to watch a game, cast your mind back a hundred years or so and ponder what it was like. To set the scene, today we time travel back to circa 1913 to a point just beside the Diamond Creek, south of Central Park. As we cast our eyes to the east we immediately see two of the iconic sights of Eltham; the timber railway trestle bridge built just over ten years earlier and Shillinglaw Cottage in its original location and the Shillinglaw trees standing proudly in front. If you look carefully beyond the trestle bridge, past where the current Eltham Library now stands, you will also see a weatherboard building standing in isolation. This is the new St Mary’s Catholic Church on Henry Street near Main Road (or Maria Street). The church site had been relocated from further south along Main Road (near Wingrove Cottage) in order to be more central to the congregation following the shifting of the township away from Little Eltham and closer to the railway station. It was subsequently destroyed by fire in 1961.

Postcard of St Mary’s Catholic Church, cnr Main Road and Henry Street, Eltham which was opened 13 October 1912 and subsequently destroyed by fire.
(Donated by: Garnet Burges; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

ThrowbackThursday: Main Road, Eltham; A Century From York to Henry Streets

#ThrowbackThursday – We last featured Main Road between York and Henry streets at a point in time just after the road had been duplicated in 1968. Today we are traveling back in time to that same section but to shortly before duplication, circa 1965, and then another leap further back of about the same duration in time to the turn of the century.

Main Road, Eltham, c.1965. Looking north from near Bridge Street. York Street on right.
(Photo: ©Michael Aitken; from the ‘Michael Aitken Collection’, Eltham District Historical Society)

In the first image, circa 1965, we see the old Bakery standing on the the nearest side of the intersection of York Street and on the opposite side, the Eltham Feed Store, also previously featured in another ThrowbackThursday post. Just beyond the Feed store is A.R. Warren’s yard. Looking to the distance, on the crest where Henry Street still crosses Main Road, we see the newly constructed Shire of Eltham Offices, which were opened in 1965 at 895 Main Road. Standing proudly in front of the Shire Office are the three Shillinglaw trees (Mediterranean Cypress trees) which were originally part of the Shillinglaw Cottage garden. They remain in place today and are well over 100 years old and of local heritage significance. These trees represent a navigational beacon in time for those interested in old images and the early landscape and history of this district.

Main Road, Eltham, c.1910. Looking north from near Bridge Street. York Street on right. (Postcard from the ‘Michael Aitken Collection, Eltham District Historical Society. See also Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection #SEPP_0707 held jointly between Yarra Plenty Regional Library (Eltham Library) and the Eltham District Historical Society)

Travelling back another 55 years to circa 1910 we see the old Bakery again, though back then it was just the Bakery and not so old. And in the distance we see our navigation reference point, the Shillinglaw Trees though now they stand proudly within the garden of the Shillinglaw Cottage. On the middle left of the photo is the Gahan House and it is to the left of this house that the Shillinglaw Cottage was relocated in 1964 when the Shire acquired the Shillinglaw site to build the new Shire Offices.

‘Nearing the Station, Eltham’, Main Road, Eltham, c.1910. Looking north from near Bridge Street. York Street on right. (Postcard from the ‘Michael Aitken Collection, Eltham District Historical Society. See also Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection #SEPP_0618 held jointly between Yarra Plenty Regional Library (Eltham Library) and the Eltham District Historical Society)

This photo, titled ‘Nearing the Station, Eltham’ is also about 1910; the landscape appearing much the same as the other. It most likely features a group of Sunday excursion visitors to Eltham out for a day of sightseeing who have traveled from Melbourne via train on the recently constructed railway line and station which was opened in 1902.

https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-37.7183777,145.1463332,3a,75y,3.96h,90.76t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sPQq3qiamGbMud_1EbcwA4g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
Looking north along Main Road from near York Street, Eltham, Oct 2017. (Google Street View Oct 2017)

Today, much has changed; the old Bakery is gone as has the Feed store. The Gahan House is gone, demolished shortly after Shillinglaw Cottage was relocated. Main Road has been duplicated and the newly constructed Shire Offices that took pride of place in the original Shillinglaw site have also gone, demolished by the Government appointed Commissioners in August 1996 following the re-amalgamation of councils in December 1994. Even the original Shire of Eltham is gone. But the Shillinglaw Trees remain as a living connection to our shared history.

Shillinglaw Trees watching over a community rally, Save Community Reserves, 4 March 2018 (Photo: © Peter Pidgeon, with permission)