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Monday, 20 January 2020

The Woodmen

I'll bet you thought you know everything you need to know about woodyards.  Well, Marilyn Kenny has proved all of us wrong, so the first Time Travellers excursion for 2020 will be a visit to local woodyards, starting at Essendon Station.  Don't trip on the steps.

Marilyn will tell us everything we ever wanted to know about "The Woodmen" - who they were, what they did, and how good they were at football.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

The Swamp Vanishes

I've been missing in action for a while now, but if you want to know what I have been doing, call in at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria where I have been curating an  exhibition called "The Swamp Vanishes". 

The view in the poster above was taken from Flagstaff Hill, which is just across the road from the RHSV headquarters.  Right up until comparatively recently you would have seen a great pool of water known as West Melbourne Swamp, in earlier times called Batman's Swamp.  This swamp, or wetland, was the end point of the water flowing through the Moonee Ponds Creek in a wet year, but also received floodwaters from the Yarra River.  It was only some years later when concerted efforts were made to drain the swamp that the Moonee Ponds Creek was diverted elsewhere.

The exhibition opens next Thursday and can be seen on 9 am to 5 pm weekdays, at our headquarters at 239 A'Beckett St, Melbourne.  (A short walk from Flagstaff Station, opposite Flagstaff Gardens in William St.) 

Thursday, 5 September 2019

"Roughie" Peat at the Royal Hotel

Tom Peat, far right, at the bar of the Royal Hotel, Essendon, circa 1935.   Courtesy of Robert Hildebrandt.
Robert Hildebrandt shares with us the life of his grandfather, Thomas "Roughie" Peat, who in his younger days worked in timber camps as an axeman, and in later years as the strong arm of an SP bookie who operated in the lane behind the Royal Hotel. Robert's vivid collection of photos includes Tom Peat at work in timber camps, WW2 army camps, and of course the Royal Hotel. This kind of detail of the life of a labourer is not all that easy to find so we thank Robert for his lovely collection of photos.   See the Time Travellers website for more great photos, and the story of his grandfather Tom Peat.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Essendon Rail Bridge

Shirley Peat, circa 1948, courtesy of Robert Hildebrandt. 
This photo shows Shirley Peat standing next to Mt Alexander Rd, Essendon, outside her workplace.  The Essendon rail bridge is off to the right.  Click on the link to see a photo essay on the rail bridge and surrounds.  

Sunday, 1 September 2019

For Wattle Day - A Spray of Wattle Blossom

Sisters Elsie and May Watkin operated a small school for girls called "Tweedside" in Robb St, Essendon from 1894 until 1905.   The address was variously given as No 7, 2 and 3, which probably does mean that they moved from house to house in Robb St.  The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works shows that No 7 is now No 9, and 3 is now No 5.  

The sisters were part of a large Methodist family which produced several missionaries.  May wrote stories for the Methodist newspaper Spectator, winning a prize one Christmas. In 1908 May published a book called A Spray of Wattle Blossom, which was described as being four stories of Melbourne, Sydney and the Riverina.  

A search through Trove from 1901 will find a handful of stories written by May Watkin.  

The first suggestion for a Wattle Day occurred, co-incidentally to the publishing of May's book, in 1908.  In the early days of Federation there was a nation-wide search for a meaning for the nation, and for national symbols, and as the wattle occurred right round Australia, it was thought to be appropriate for a national flower.  

I believe it would make an appropriate date for Australia Day, without any political overtones but the first day of spring. 

Happy Wattle Day, everyone!

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Essendon State School class photos, 1939 to 1943

Time Travellers can see a lovely new group of Essendon State School class photos from Grade 4 in 1939 to Grades 7 and 8 in 1943, courtesy of Robert Hildebrandt.  Go to the Time Travellers webpage for Essendon State School.   Please do let me know if you are able to identify any of the pupils in these, or any other photos on the website.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Bibliography update

I have just taken a few moments to trawl through the catalogues of the State Library of Victoria and the Sam Merrifield Library, looking for any recent publications which I hadn't yet included in my bibliography of Local and Family History Resources for Essendon,  Flemington and Keilor.  

I last updated the bibliography in 2017.  Among the books of local interest I saw the above Remarkable: the Good Guys Story, and also "Whose Little Cottage is This?" 33 Vida St, Essendon: a history, 1945-2014 by Grant and Steven Barlow.   

Some of the books I added have been recently published, others are a little older.  The additions are all highlighted in red.

The Good Guys story started in 1952, when Ian Muir withdraw all his savings to open a small shop in Essendon. Ian Muir had a vision of the future in the electrical appliances industry, and he showed that he could make his vision good.