#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to the turn of the millennium to December 1999 to the corner of Bible and York streets, Eltham, specifically 68 Bible Street. Here we find a small cottage originally built in 1880. In the 1930s it was owned by the then Roads Foreman for the Shire of Eltham, Mr. L. Burke. Originally the house was built with a galvanised iron roof but over the years was modernised with a tiled roof as well as an extension to the rear.
This particular photograph forms part of a Millennium project undertaken by one of our Society’s members, a descendant of the original Shillinglaw family who had become concerned at how the pre 1960s parts of Eltham were disappearing. She wanted to record as many of the older houses in the Eltham township area before they were lost forever. Many of the streets running between Main Road and Bible Street were photographed and these films are currently being digitised. And indeed it is staggering the level of change that the developed landscape has undergone even since 2000.
The property history report for 68 Bible Street reveals in more recent times it was sold in January 1994 for $38,000 but quickly turned over just four months later in May 1994 for $25,000 – that must have hurt. The next recorded sale is in June 1999, just before this picture was taken when it sold for $129,950. Ten years later in April 2009 it achieved $272,000 and again sold just four months later in August 2009 for an undisclosed price. In 2010 a building permit was issued to reblock the house and in May of 2013 it was leased out at $300 per week.
In July of this year, Council issued a building permit for demolition of the existing dwelling, shed’s and associated garage and the construction of a double story dwelling, garage, decks, alfresco area and retaining walls.
By September the trees and shrubs had been removed and construction fencing erected around the property.
Between October 19 and 20, the 137 year old cottage was flattened and Eltham lost another little piece of its history but hopefully not its story.
Some of us were born here, some of us chose to move to Eltham because of its character. That character is changing before our eyes, faster than at times is appreciated. Just because something has always been there during our time does not mean it will remain so. What exists today could well be history tomorrow.
This is not a protest about one little cottage; times change. Not everything old is necessarily significant but it is still part of our community’s history and history matters.
Rather this is a call to be on the lookout for other old homes that may one day also be potentially under threat and to photograph them and record their history before they are lost forever. Eltham District Historical Society is happy to receive all such photos and information in order that we may preserve the legacy of what came before so that our future generations are able to appreciate and understand their roots.
#ThrowbackThursday – Located today at the corner of Main Road and York Street is @LePineFunerals Eltham where many gather to share cherished memories and stories of loved ones recently departed. Today we share a memory of that site from circa 1985, scene of the former Eltham Feed Store located at 846 Main Road on the corner of York Street. No doubt many have memories of visits to the store to purchase feed for loved pets and other animals and we would certainly like to hear your recollections of the store and its local characters.
[Note: Date estimate has been revised from 1980 to 1985 (late) based on other images on roll of negative film.]
At the Movies by Maureen Jones was first published in our November 2014 newsletter.
Our Society has very little on movie theatres in Eltham and we are looking for members and friends to help us out with this.
The Advertiser of 21st March 1930 described a travelling picture company which entertained an audience in the Eltham public hall with two dramas and a comedy. The chief drama “The Freedom of the Press” emphasized to what personal sacrifice proprietors and editors had to undergo to maintain the duty a newspaper owed to its readers and the general public. Sound familiar? The article goes on ‘It is a strange thing that at Eltham most picture shows, although many of them present quite good programmes, are as a rule poorly patronized. Perhaps this is accountable for by the comparative proximity of the city and suburban theatres.’
This was the time when Kooringarama Films, then the only amateur moving picture company in Australia, and which took its name from the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Boake (York Street), were busily engaged in making their second film. Their first film was “Borrowed Plumes.” Mr. E. Lyall, a local resident was the cameraman and many of the principals and actors were known locally.
The Cinema and Theatre Historical Society of Australia (CATHS) was able to tell us that there were movies in the Plaza from 1943-1965 and they ceased sometime between 1966 and 1968. The Plaza was probably another name for the Shire Hall facilities. Charles Plowman was the theatre licensee 1943 -1957, L. Riley 1961-1964 and E.H. Gibson in 1965. From our own resources we have this photograph of the Hall. From our own members we know that Charlie Plowman lived in Lavender Park Road and for all car buffs he drove a 1937-38 era Crossley motor vehicle. Albie Parsons volunteered as a doorman, Jim Crick was the projectionist with Tom Williams as his assistant.
CATHS have evidence that films were shown in Montmorency at the Public Hall and it was registered for 120 seats. ‘Exhibitors’ were F. Daley (1949-50), H. Murphy (1950-1951), D.W. Griggs (1951- 1954) and W.J. Mogridge 1954-1955 to 1959-1960). The theatre name was shown in Film Weekly as ‘Public Hall’ until 1955-56 then it was called ‘Mechanics’ for three years then reverted to ‘Public Hall’ until 1959-1960. At one time it was called the Morency theatre. It was listed as a country theatre in late 1950s.
In 1975 the idea of having a dedicated movie theatre was generated by Eltham Rotary with an eye to using a disused building in Montmorency. Because of the scale of the project Rotary invited Eltham Apex to become a partner. A management committee was formed and a co-operative finance scheme approved. By combining the two names the Rotex Cinema was named. An architect from Clarke Hopkins and Clarke Pty. Ltd. was engaged and shareholders were drawn from the community. The award winning project involved leasing the disused supermarket in Were Street and renovating it in such a way as to enhance the streetscape and provide a theatre especially for the young and families in the area. This was to be achieved in a straightforward and ecological way designed to make maximum use of voluntary and unskilled labour. From the initial idea to opening took about 18 months. The auditorium seated 200. The decor of curtains, drapes, carpets and seats was in various shades of purple. The theatre opened in August 1976. Mr. Les Clarke won an award for the conversion.
Later the theatre was taken over by local commercial interests and renamed the Were Street Theatre. In 1988 the property sold at auction for $625,000 and had its final screening on 12th October, 1988.
Further to the publication of “At the Movies” in our November 2014 Newsletter, the Society was able to acquire some stills from the movie “Borrowed Plumes” from the National Library of Australia. An update was subsequently published in our March 2015 Newsletter.
Additional research has unearthed details of the interesting family surrounding Kooringarama Films. The movie was filmed by amateur enthusiast Eric Lyall. Eric Cecil Lyall was born in Tooradin in the Westernport District in 1904. His mother Cecile Garnet Warburton (nee Carr) Lyall died in childbirth.
Eric was raised by his maternal aunt Ethel May Geraldine (nee Carr) Boake and his uncle Alfred Hogarth Boake. The Boakes lived at Kooringarama in York Street, Eltham. The house, later owned by Alistair Knox, still exists. Eric was the grandson of William Lyall, born in Foveran, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, who had followed his father John Lyall a farmer who had migrated to Van Diemen’s Land in 1832. In 1847 his son William moved to the Port Phillip District and began trading in fat bullocks for the Tasmanian market. In 1851 in partnership with John Mickle and John Bakewell he acquired Tooradin Station in Westernport adjacent to the Kooweerup swamp. The partnership also acquired Yallock, Monomeith, Tobin Yallock Swamp and Red Bluff. He built his substantial homestead Harewood at Tooradin which is now open for tourists. Apart from his farming interest William was a local Councillor, and became a Member of the Lower House of the Victorian Parliament in 1859. Following on from the making of “Borrowed Plumes” Eric Lyall went on to make another film for the Eltham Fire Brigade, and it appears that he may have made one for the local Anglican Church. No trace of these films has been found.
In 1929 a four reel, one hour film was produced locally with the title “As Ye Sow”. The principals in the cast were Jack Cornwall, Norman D’Arcy, Marie Bucknell and Gwen Pritchard. The film was directed by Mr. Stanley Walpole of St. Kilda who had had considerable experience in motion picture work in Hollywood, U.S.A. Eric Lyall was one of the photographers. No copies exist of this film either. Eric married one of the “movie stars”, Marie Bucknell in 1930. Eric became a radiographer and was the manager of a company providing tuberculosis screening for servicemen during the Second World War. He died in 1944 at 29 The Ridge, Canterbury, aged 40.
His aunt, Ethel Boake, along with Miss Florence Garner operated Kooringarama as a guest house and at one time it was a convalescent home for tuberculosis sufferers. Eric’s uncle Alfred Hogarth Boake died in Eltham in 1940 and it appears that soon after Ethel Boake left the district. She died at Camberwell in 1954 and with her husband Alfred and nephew Eric is buried at Fawkner Cemetery.
This photograph from the collection of the National Library of Australia depicts a dramatic scene from the movie “Borrowed Plumes”. With Doug Orford’s expertise we have narrowed the car down to a Jowett “Short 7 1924”; 7 hp 907cc side valve flat twin engine. 11,444 vehicles were produced (including both Short and Long 7s) between 1919 and 1930. It was a 2 door fabric saloon, with a three speed gearbox. Jowett’s was founded in 1901 by brothers Benjamin and William Jowett with Arthur V. Lamb. They started in the cycle business and went on to make V – twin engines. In 1904 they became the Jowett Motor Manufacturing Company based in Bradford, Yorkshire and their first Jowett car was produced in February 1906.
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia