Historical information

Unknown local paper c.1960s

Recent years have seen a rapid change in the appearance of Eltham’s business centre - so rapid, in fact, that the growth of premises has been almost 300%.

For more than thirty-five years Eltham had little more than a dozen traders - the town's business area spreading from Pryor Street in the north, to Pitt Street in the south.

The greatest density of businesses - no more than a handful of shops - were situated in the present shopping centre but other essential services such as the Post Office, were located half a mile away.

As the town's population grew and the need for more shops became apparent, the growth was centralised around the railway station and Shire hall.

Few of the old premises are used for their original form of business today, though many are still in existence.

One of the oldest (seen clearly in the illustration) still in use is now Ferrari's Greengrocery.

This shop was Eltham's butchery in early days, conducted by Jim Ryan. Up to twenty years ago, Mr. Ryan ran his business from the shop. whilst his son toured Eltham in his horse and cart, cutting his customers' orders as he went from door to door.

Another business - one of the few still trading in the same goods-was Burgoyne's Hardware. This is now owned by Mr. R. Clinton, a new shop has recently been added and shortly the old premises will disappear completely.

The Burgoyne family were well known to Eltham's population. The Post Office and Store (then in Main Road, near Bridge Street) was run by Mr. and Mrs. Burgoyne. The Post Office was later moved, and attached to the hardware store.

In this same area was the old Eltham Hotel, almost opposite the present hotel. The building still stands, but has been converted into a house. The hitching rail can still be seen by the roadside.

Back in the township was Barber's Blue Gum store, later conducted by Mrs. Burges (mother of Garnet Burges) and claimed to be Eltham's oldest shop.

Further down the road, just past the hardware store, was the barber shop and billiard saloon. Next door was E. J. Andrew's news agency, library and State Savings Bank.

Eltham's original chemist's shop, or dispensary as it was called, is now an electrical repair shop. On this side of the street too, was Mrs. Monteith - Draper. Mr Monteith was the owner of Eltham' s bus service.

This bus service had no regular route, but deposited passengers at the point nearest their homes - a. door to door taxi service.

Next to Mrs. Monteith stood another grocery - and general store, and next again, the local blacksmith. Another of Butcher Ryan's sons was Eltham's blacksmith and obviously an enterprising man he conducted a timber business next door to his smithy's shop. These two premises are still run by one man - Garnet Burges.

Twenty years ago, when Thompson's took over Eltham's pharmacy they occupied the old shop adjoining the Shire hall.

The building of Thompson's new premises, from which· they operate today, was the beginning of Eltham's recent growth and development.

With another grocery store and a bakery at the corner of York Street, a butcher near Franklin Street, a cobbler's shop opposite the State School (did you ever wonder what that-little building attached to one of Eltham's oldest houses had been?), and an estate agency conducted by Mr. Clark, now Eltham Real Estate - only one trader remained - and today, still carries on, the only original owner of one of Eltham's .oldest established businesses - Mr. Dave Lyon, of Lyon Bros. Garage, which was formerly located in what was later used as Chenowyth's Foundry in Main Road.

From the early twenties until little more than six or seven years ago that was the picture of Eltham. Some businesses had changed hands - many years before Mr. C. Rains had acquired Andrew's news agency, Mrs. Monteith's drapery had become Mrs. R. Smith's home-made cake shop, to change again and again to many other types of business.

But generally, Eltham was unchanged, for nearly thirty years.

Then suddenly new shops mushroomed. The new news agency and drapery, the chemist and adjoining shops, a new butcher, a green grocer and several more.

In the space of a few years, fifteen new shops, two banks, a restaurant and a post office were built at Eltham.

New types of businesses found a ready market in an area which was quickly almost doubling its population.

A little over twelve months ago, another wave of progress hit Eltham. Since then eight more shops have been built - a cake shop and fish shop in Dalton [sic – Dudley] Street - for building areas are unprocurable in the Main Street shopping centre now – have been built by Mr. D. Kimball; a new ladies’ and children’s wear shop has been opened by Rains; Eltham Dry Cleaners have another of these new shops, and Mr. R. Clinton has built elaborate new premises.

Further down the road, Mr. C. Campbell has built a new butcher's shop, and next door, at present under construction, are a self service store and a shop which Mr. J. Hodges will open on completion.

In addition to these new shops, Mr. J. Millett has extended his grocery to almost twice its original size.

Outside the central area, other businesses are flourishing.

Latimer's felt factory is being developed in a picturesque rustic setting; P. J. Timber and Trading Company have recently completed a large showroom and timber yard, and in the town itself Nicholson and Merritt are now completing the extension of their foot wear factory to double its former area.

This is Eltham today. Progress is moving rapidly in this rural area on the fringe of the metropolis.

Less than a decade has seen vast development. The years to complete that span of time will see even greater changes and greater prosperity in this heart: of the Diamond Valley.

Perhaps the most famous landmark in Eltham's' business section disappeared last Wednesday when the towering blue gum in Pryor Street at the rear of Main Road shops was felled.

The tree, stated to be more than 80 feet high, was the one for which the adjoining café was named, when that business was Eltham’s only provision store, long before the turn of the century.

Mr. J. Millett, who now owns the property on which the tree stood, deeply regretted its removal, but was mindful of the need for expansion in the business area.

The "Old Blue Gum" was removed by Mr. A. Wilson, expert tree feller, from Heidelberg. Its proportions might be assessed by these facts – it took a gang of experienced men two days to completely fell and clear the tree, and, falling sections being brought down by cable tipped electricity wires on the opposite side of Pryor Street.

Physical description

A3 photocopy