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Brighton Historical Society Brighton, Victoria

Since our founding in 1963, the Brighton Historical Society has been working to collect, preserve and share items and information connected to the history and heritage of Brighton, Victoria. We have an extensive and diverse collection, including photos, documents, maps, art, artefacts and a large costume collection of State significance.

Contact Information

location
PO Box 266 Brighton Victoria 3186 (map)
phone
+61 03 9553 8650

Contact

Opening Hours

Our rooms are open to visitors and researchers on Thursdays, from 12 noon to 5:00 pm

Entry Fee

Entry is free. We undertake email and written research requests for a fee of $20 per hour which includes photocopying and postage

Location

First Floor Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre (Old Brighton Town Hall) Corner Carpenter and Wilson Streets Brighton Victoria

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The Bayside community is fortunate to have an extensive collection of costume, representing social life and fashions in our local area from early settlement through to the modern day. Our costume collection is of State significance and is the most comprehensive collection of costume in any historical society or small museum in Victoria. 

The collection includes children’s wear, evening gowns, dresses, hats, gloves, shawls, nightgowns, underwear, menswear, fans, shoes, swimwear and handbags. 

The Brighton Historical Society will loan costume to recognised organisations that use current conservation techniques. We have previously loaned items to the Bayside Council for an exhibition at the Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre and to the National Trust for exhibitions at Rippon Lea and Como House. 

We welcome donations to our costume collection. Items are assessed and accepted on the basis of their relevance to the ongoing history of the area, their connection to Brighton or their rarity.

Costume has been donated since the Society began in 1963. Some was even purchased in the days when Victorian items were still to be found on sale in local op shops. The origins and size of the collection are attributable to the foresight of the founder of the BHS, Mrs Rosalind Landells OAM. 

In the early days little was known of conservation techniques but as time progressed and we became aware of the treasures held, methods were implemented by volunteers to care for the costumes in the best way possible using available funds. 

Four conservation friendly wardrobes were purchased from the Performing Arts Museum to house the collection and later a Bayside Council Grant enabled us to have six more wardrobes built. Volunteers triple washed unbleached calico in pure Lux soap flakes before sewing covers for costumes and for coat hangers. Some acid free boxes were purchased from Zetta Florence to store our most important items. 

Thanks to a 2017 Local History Grant from the Public Record Office Victoria, we have been able to further improve our collection storage and records, and share more of our fascinating costume with the public. Items are continually being added to Victorian Collections, and a community workshop is being planned.

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173 items

173 items

Cover - Cushion cover

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Pale pink satin cushion cover with pale blue fringe. Embroidered with the words "Souvenir From Egypt / Cairo / 1915", above the image of a crown flanked by crossed Australian and French flags. Below this is embroidered two pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza, bordered by flowers, with a red bow at the bottom.

Historical information

Items such as this cushion covers were purchased by Australian men and women serving during the First World War as souvenirs of their travels and gifts for their loved ones at home. BHS records indicate that this cushion cover belonged to Mary Crombie, an early Victorian dentist who lived in Brighton while she was studying at the Australian College of Dentistry in the mid-1900s, and later returned to the area in her retirement from 1949-1971. It is likely it was given to her as a gift by a friend of family member who served in Egypt.

Inscriptions & Markings

Written in blue pen on reverse side: "Memento of World War I / from Mary Crombie".

Cover - Cushion cover

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Black velvet cushion cover featuring the embroidered image of a white and yellow dove bearing a draped French flag, alongside a spray of red and pink flowers. Embroidered in pale yellow are the words "Souvenir de Salonigue / 1916".

Historical information

Items such as this cushion covers were purchased by Australian men and women serving during the First World War as souvenirs of their travels and gifts for their loved ones at home. The allies established a base at Thessaloniki in 1915. BHS records indicate that this cushion cover was among a collection of items received from the Harkaway studio of Brighton-born artist Jessie Traill following her death in 1967. During the First World War, Jessie served for three and a half years in hospitals in England and France with the Voluntary Aid Detachment. As she did not serve in Thessaloniki, where this item was made, it is unlikely she purchased it herself, but may have received it as a gift.

Cover - Cushion cover

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Black velvet cushion cover featuring the embroidered image of a white and yellow dove bearing red, white and blue ribbons along with red and pink flowers. Embroidered in pale yellow are the words "Souvenir de Salonigue / 1916".

Historical information

Items such as this cushion covers were purchased by Australian men and women serving during the First World War as souvenirs of their travels and gifts for their loved ones at home. The allies established a base at Thessaloniki in 1915. BHS records indicate that this cushion cover was among a collection of items received from the Harkaway studio of Brighton-born artist Jessie Traill following her death in 1967. During the First World War, Jessie served for three and a half years in hospitals in England and France with the Voluntary Aid Detachment. As she did not serve in Thessaloniki, where this item was made, it is unlikely she purchased it herself, but may have received it as a gift.

Dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Cream terylene chiffon dress with all-over daisy appliqués. High band collar with v-shaped scoop at back. Sheer long sleeves with gathered cuffs.

Historical information

This dress belonged to Brighton local Paula Folks, who wore it to her niece's wedding at St John's, Toorak in 1970. It also bears a second connection to Brighton through the label, Elegance, a Flinders Lane fashion house co-owned by Rudy Brill and Brighton resident Robert Salter. Paula was a longtime manager and owner of Pearl's Boutique, a well-known local fashion boutique established by Elsebe Wilhelmine Wills and Pearl Murray in 1965. The two friends had grown up together in Horsham, and decided to go into business together after reading in Fashionweek that women in their thirties, forties, fifties and older had trouble finding young-looking styles. Setting out to fill this gap in the market, they established a store at 240 St Kilda Street, near the Brighton Yacht Club, with Elsebe handled the buying while Pearl fronted the shop. They moved to 40 Church Street, Brighton in 1967. Paula joined the business as a manager in 1968, became a partner in 1971 and took over from the original owners in 1988. When she closed the boutique in 2005, she donated a number of garments to Brighton Historical Society. Reflecting fondly on her 38 years at Pearls, she told The Age, "I have enjoyed all my days here because people are special to me. I love fashion. It's been a pleasure to dress people, to make them look good and feel pleased with themselves."

Inscriptions & Markings

Label: "miss Elegance / TERYLENE".

Suit

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Cream wool ladies suit consisting of a jacket and skirt. Jacket is partially lined with silk, quilted around shoulders. Fastens with four self-covered buttons, one attached to a belt. Two box pleats at front and back, each featuring four decorative self-covered buttons at the waist. Upturned cuffs, each with two buttons. The skirt features a fabric belt and triangular pockets in each side with decorative self-covered buttons. Hook fastenings at side.

Historical information

This ladies suit belonged to an elderly neighbour of the donor, Margot Miller, who lived in Black Street, Brighton in the 1970s. The neighbour had offered Margot a selection of her old clothing, dating from the early 20th century, as she wanted somebody to hold onto and care for the items after she died. Before Margot could take the items the neighbour was moved into a nursing home and, while cleaning out the house, the woman's son took the clothing to the tip with a load of rubbish. Margot happened to see him leave and was able to follow him and retrieve the clothes. They remained in the Miller family for many years; some were worn by Margot's daughters and some were ultimately passed on to others. Based on our research, we believe that the suit's original owner may have been Julia Richards (nee O'Keefe, c. 1882-1976), who lived at 59 Black Street during this time. Born in Ireland, Julia emigrated to Queensland in 1900. She married William Alfred Richards in 1911 and lived with him in Ayr, near Townsville, where they ran a hotel. It is unclear what became of William, but by the mid-1920s Julia and her two children were living in Brighton, where she remained until her death in 1976, aged 94.

Table linen - Table runner

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Hand crocheted table runner featuring an interlocking diamond pattern in cream, pale purple and pale yellow. Bordered by pale yellow fringe.

Historical information

This table runner was made by Corporal Herbert Burdekin during the First World War around 1916 while he was recovering from a bullet wound. Herbert joined the 8th (Reserve) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Rifles) in November 1914 and was deployed to France in April 1915. In July 1916 he received a gunshot wound to the arm and was sent home to England to recover, during which time he crocheted this table runner. He returned to France in early 1917 and was wounded a second time by a gas shell on 23 July 1917. Herbert likely never fully recovered from his exposure to gas during the war. He received a medical discharge in November 1918 due to "debility caused by war service" and died only a few years later in 1922, aged 26. His widow Mary and young daughter Hilda moved to Australia and settled in Brighton, with Mary living at 4 Collins Street until her death in 1966.

Dress - Wedding dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Cream silk wedding dress with a long train. High neck and long sleeves. Yoke with horizontal pintucks and self-covered buttons. Side zip.

Historical information

This wedding dress was worn by two Brighton brides, sisters Floss and Vera McMinn, during the Second World War. The McMinn family moved to Brighton from Castlemaine around 1924, when the sisters were still children. Their father, Horace Henry McMinn, was a fruiterer and greengrocer who ran the Fruit Palace at 123 Church Street. Florence May "Floss" McMinn (1912-2007) married William Thomas Vivian on 3 February 1940 at the Brighton Church of Christ. Her sister Vera was her bridesmaid. Vera Olive McMinn (1918-2006) wore the same dress two years later when she married Geoffrey Walter Holmes on 15 August 1942 at Scotch College Chapel.

Bag - Bookmaker's bag

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

White painted leather bag with metal fastening mechanism. A short painted leather handle is joined to the bag by metal fastening clips. A long painted leather strap is joined to the bag by metal fastening clips.

Historical information

Bags such as this one were used by bookmakers (in this case, C. C. Cox) to collect and securely hold punters' bets at racing events. Charlie Cox was a second-generation bookmaker, the son of George Gordon Cox, who operated primarily during the 1920s and 1930s. After serving in the Air Force during the Second World War, Charlie entered the bookmaking business during the 1940s, initially fielding at greyhound, trots and gallop meetings. In the early 1960s he moved to Melbourne, where he got his first big financial break when he was offered an interstate license to operate on the rails at all city tracks. He was a leading Melbourne bookmaker on the interstate rails racing circuit from the 1960s to the 1990s, from which period this bag originated.

Inscriptions & Markings

Painted on one side of the bag in black letters: "C.C. COX / INTERSTATE RAILS". "C.C. COX" is also painted in black at either end of the shoulder strap.

Bag - Bookmaker's bag

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

White painted leather bag with metal fastening mechanism. A short painted leather handle is joined to the bag by metal fastening clips.

Historical information

Bags such as this one were used by bookmakers (in this case, C. C. Cox) to collect and securely hold punters' bets at racing events. Charlie Cox was a second-generation bookmaker, the son of George Gordon Cox, who operated primarily during the 1920s and 1930s. After serving in the Air Force during the Second World War, Charlie entered the bookmaking business during the 1940s, initially fielding at greyhound, trots and gallop meetings. In the early 1960s he moved to Melbourne, where he got his first big financial break when he was offered an interstate license to operate on the rails at all city tracks. He was a leading Melbourne bookmaker on the interstate rails racing circuit from the 1960s to the 1990s, from which period this bag originated.

Inscriptions & Markings

Painted on one side of the bag in black letters: "C.C. COX / INTERSTATE RAILS".

Badge - School badge

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Metal Shirley College school badge in the shape of a hollow crest containing the interlocking letters "S" and "C". The back has a hook rather than a proper clasp; possibly it was originally attached to a school hat.

Historical information

This Shirley College school badge belonged to Gladys Elvira Linton, nee Richardson (b. 1891). Shirley College was a private girls' school situated in a large single-storey house in Seymour Grove, Brighton from around 1898 until 1912. The school was first run by the Misses Bird and later by Miss Elizabeth Stewart. Gladys married First World War veteran and Brighton local Richard Vivers Linton in 1919. She looked back fondly on her days at Shirley College and helped to organise school reunions well into the 1930s, long after the school itself was gone.

Inscriptions & Markings

Motto engraved around border: "NISI DOMINUS FRUSTRA" (Latin, "without God, [it is] in vain").

Shoe - Child's shoe

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Brown leather child's shoe with an ankle strap, fastening with a mother-of-pearl button. Heavily deteriorated.

Historical information

This child's shoe was found underneath the floorboards of the historic Brighton house St Ninian's, 10 Miller Street, during its demolition in September 1974. One of Brighton's earliest buildings, St Ninian's was built around 1841 for merchant, politician and former British naval officer George Ward Cole (1783-1879) and his family. Ward Cole was a prominent member of Victorian society in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. He served in the Victorian Parliament from 1853-55 and 1859-79. His seaside home in Brighton was a fashionable rendezvous for many important identities who shaped Melbourne’s history. Victoria’s first royal visitor, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, was a guest there in 1867. It is possible the shoe belonged to one of the Ward Cole children. During the demolition of St Ninian's in September 1974 the Brighton Historical Society's then-secretary, Rosalind Landells, snuck onto the work site in the hope of saving some part of the building and its history. She found this shoe under the partially-demolished floor of the house.

Inscriptions & Markings

Handwritten in pencil on the sole of the shoe: "Found under floor at St Ninians 1974 Sept during demolition".

Dress and vest - Dress and tunic vest

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Long-sleeved crimplene dress (.1) with white bodice and short purple skirt. High collar, cuffs and waist have a purple and yellow checkerboard-patterned trim. Four self-covered buttons down the centre front of skirt. Zip at back. Long purple tunic vest (.2) worn over the top.

Historical information

This dress belonged to Nola Jennings, a long-time Brighton resident. Bindi of Melbourne was the youth label of Australian commercial fashion house Len Vogue.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label in both dress and vest, white with black text: "Fashioned for / Bindi / of MELBOURNE" Two smaller labels at bottom: "SIZE 10 / TO FIT / BUST 32" / HIP 34"" and "CRIMP TERY. / C 145 4".

Hat - Brighton Technical School hat

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Navy blue fur felt hat with rounded crown and slighty upturned brim. Navy blue grosgrain hat band with narrow red, gold and brown stripes.

Historical information

This hat is part of the former Brighton Technical School girls' uniform. Brighton Technical School was officially opened in Berwick Street, Brighton on 28 July 1922, following a ten-year campaign to establish a local public secondary school. A separate girls' campus was opened two years later at Cora Lynn, a Victorian-era Italianate villa in 45 Cochrane Street. Generations of Brighton students went through the school until it was closed by the Victorian Department of Education in 1991.

Inscriptions & Markings

Interior label: "CREATED BY / VARDEN / MELB. / 'AKUBRA' FINEST FUR FELT". On the reverse side, the name "Eleanor Clark" is written in blue pen.

Purse - Coin purse

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Cream vinyl coin purse with conversion table for pre-decimal and decimal currency printed in black on each side. Hinged silver metal opening and kiss clasp. Unlined.

Historical information

Australia converted to decimal currency on 14 February 1966. This coin purse is printed with a simple conversion table to help the user navigate the switch from pounds, shillings and pence to the new dollars and cents.

Bag - Evening purse

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

French petit point tapestry bag featuring seven people in a bucolic scene, with trees and buildings in the background. Black border. Gold metal hinged opening with ornamental clasp and gold chain.

Historical information

This bag belonged to by Mrs Alice "May" Moss CBE (1869-1948), Australian suffragist, social welfare campaigner and longtime resident of 59 North Road, Brighton. Born Alice Frances Mabel Wilson in Ballarat, in 1887 May married Isidore Moss, the son of Norwood's builder Mark Moss. While her children were young, she began to campaign for the rights of women and served as vice-president of the Australian Women's National League in 1906-14, during which time she actively campaigned in Victoria for women's suffrage. She was an Australian delegate at the League of Nations Assembly at Geneva in 1927, where she was the first woman to sit on a finance committee. She attended the International Council of Women in Geneva in the same year and in 1928 was elected as vice president of the ICW, a position she held until her death. She was the first president of the National Council of Women of Australia, serving from 1931 to 1936. May was active in many other community organisations and causes, including the Royal Women's Hospital, the Collingwood Crèche and the Free Kindergarten movement. She served on the board of management of the City Newsboys' Society in 1906-48 and was the first woman lay-member of the National Health and Medical Research Council in 1936-45. She was also member of the International and Lyceum clubs, with an interest in the theatre, painting and woodcarving.

Flag - Pennant

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

White triangular pennant with a blue border. The pennant features the image of the Olympic rings, with the central ring replaced by the image of the Olympic flame burning in a cauldron atop a Grecian pillar. Inside each of the four remaining rings are images of athletes competing in sporting events: a hurdler, a shooter, two boxers and a cyclist.

Historical information

This Venezuelan 1956 Olympic pennant was souvenired by Marlene Austin, nee Trenberth in 1956 when she was working as an official driver for the Melbourne Olympic Games. Marlene, who was living with her parents in Brighton at the time, took leave from her job as a stenographer to work as a driver at the Olympics. She drove officials and dignitaries from a variety of nations (including Thailand, Italy, Cuba and Sweden) to and from events, collecting a number of souvenirs. Marlene's family have lived in Brighton since 1941, when her parents moved into a house at 15 Moffat Street. The house remained in the family for more than 75 years, before it was sold in 2018.

Inscriptions & Markings

Above the Olympic flame, the word "MELBOURNE" is printed in black. To the right of the image, printed in yellow, red and blue, is the text "VENEZUELA A LOS / XVI / JUEGOS OLIMPICOS" At the far right is the year "1956" in yellow text on a black background.

Earrings

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Six-sided bell-shaped silver screw-back earrings for non-pierced ears. Each of the six sides features a vine pattern with black inlays. Each earring has a hollow interior containing a small metal bead dangling on a chain, causing the earrings to jingle when the wearer moves.

Historical information

These earrings were given to Marlene Austin, nee Trenberth by members of the Thai Olympic delegation when she drove them around Melbourne during the 1956 Olympic Games. Marlene, who was living with her parents in Brighton at the time, took leave from her job as a stenographer to work as an official driver at the Olympics. She drove officials and dignitaries from a variety of nations (including Thailand, Italy, Cuba and Sweden) to and from events, collecting a number of souvenirs. Marlene's family have lived in Brighton since 1941, when her parents moved into a house at 15 Moffat Street. The house remained in the family for more than 75 years, before it was sold in 2018.

Hat - Beret

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Green wool beret featuring an oval-shaped white patch embroidered with the five Olympic rings. Grey lining.

Historical information

This beret was worn by Marlene Austin, nee Trenberth in 1956 as part of the uniform of an official driver for the Melbourne Olympic Games. Marlene, who was living with her parents in Brighton at the time, took leave from her job as a stenographer to work as a driver at the Olympics. She drove officials and dignitaries from a variety of nations (including Thailand, Italy, Cuba and Sweden) to and from events, collecting a number of souvenirs, including a Venezuelan pennant and a pair of earrings gifted by the Thai delegation. Marlene's family have lived in Brighton since 1941, when her parents moved into a house at 15 Moffat Street. The house remained in the family for more than 75 years, before it was sold in 2018.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label in lining, cream with yellow text: "COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT CLOTHING FACTORY / MELBOURNE" Stamped on top of this text in black: "7⅛"

Dress - Evening dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Long-sleeved silk chiffon evening dress with yellow/gold floral print and brown, red and black border at hem. Ruffled neckline and cuffs. Snap fastenings at cuffs and zip at back. Matching silk chiffon sash.

Historical information

This item is part of the Di Reidie collection. Di Reidie was a volunteer and president of Brighton Historical Society from 1999-2016. Originally from New Zealand, Di and her family have lived in Male Street, Brighton for many years and been active community members. During her time at BHS, Di has contributed significantly to the establishment, preservation and promotion of the costume collection as well as the Brighton Historical Society as a whole. Di was also a vintage clothing dealer and amassed her own large collection of costume and ephemera, a significant portion of which she donated to BHS in 2017-19. Di purchased this dress as a vintage item. Elvie Hill (1917-2018) was a Melbourne fashion designer and a longtime Brighton resident. She established her eponymous label and became well-known for her elegant and feminine designs. She dressed some of Australia's best known women, including Lady Sonia McMahon and Dame Pattie Menzies, and was also known for her boutiques in Melbourne (the last store closed in 1991). She retired in 1999, aged 80.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, inside collar, black on white: "ELVIE HILL / OF MELBOURNE" Label inside seam: "SIZE 10 / TO FIT / Bust 80cm"

Dress - Evening dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Sleeveless gold lurex evening dress. Zip at back, partially covered by three small cream bows.

Historical information

This item is part of the Di Reidie collection. Di Reidie was a volunteer and president of Brighton Historical Society from 1999-2016. Originally from New Zealand, Di and her family have lived in Male Street, Brighton for many years and been active community members. During her time at BHS, Di has contributed significantly to the establishment, preservation and promotion of the costume collection as well as the Brighton Historical Society as a whole. Di was also a vintage clothing dealer and amassed her own large collection of costume and ephemera, a significant portion of which she donated to BHS in 2017-19. Di purchased this dress as a vintage item. Brian Samuel, son of Hartnell owner Ralph Samuel, viewed this dress at BHS in 2019 and suggested that it may potentially have originally belonged to his mother Shirley Samuel (nee Slonim, 1922-2006).

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, pale blue on cream "Exclusively Yours / Hartnell / REGD / MELBOURNE"

Dress - Evening dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Light brown floor-length silk evening dress featuring a band of black and bronze beading around neckling. Circular beaded buckles at either side of waist. Zip at back.

Historical information

This item is part of the Di Reidie collection. Di Reidie was a volunteer and president of Brighton Historical Society from 1999-2016. Originally from New Zealand, Di and her family have lived in Male Street, Brighton for many years and been active community members. During her time at BHS, Di has contributed significantly to the establishment, preservation and promotion of the costume collection as well as the Brighton Historical Society as a whole. Di was also a vintage clothing dealer and amassed her own large collection of costume and ephemera, a significant portion of which she donated to BHS in 2017-19. Di purchased this dress as a vintage item.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, pale blue on cream "Exclusively Yours / Hartnell REGD / MELBOURNE" Label, black on pale grey: "Exclusive Finest / IMPORTED FABRIC".

Dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Short sleeved peach silk dress featuring beige lace appliqué on neckline, along with original rectangular brown cardboard box.

Historical information

This item is part of the Di Reidie collection. Di Reidie was a volunteer and president of Brighton Historical Society from 1999-2016. Originally from New Zealand, Di and her family have lived in Male Street, Brighton for many years and been active community members. During her time at BHS, Di has contributed significantly to the establishment, preservation and promotion of the costume collection as well as the Brighton Historical Society as a whole. Di was also a vintage clothing dealer and amassed her own large collection of costume and ephemera, a significant portion of which she donated to BHS in 2017-19. Di purchased this dress as a vintage item and wore it around 2010-18, before donating it to BHS. The Mooney sisters, Nell and Ida, were situated beside the Regent Theatre in Collins Street, Melbourne and were well respected milliners and dressmakers.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label: "MF 2900 / Misses Mooney / of Collins Street" Printed on lid of box: "Misses Mooney / 189 Collins Street, Melbourne"

Cape - Capelet

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

White ostrich feather capelet. Feathers sewn onto crescent-shaped cream cotton fabric, with an elaborate silk tassel at either end.

Historical information

This capelet belonged to Ellen Grace Snowball, nee Anketell, (1866-1945), who lived with husband Oswald Robinson Snowball (1859-1928) at 'Wolsingham', 11 Boxshall Street, Brighton. Oswald Snowball was a solicitor and politician who was active in the Freemasons and the Orange Order. Active in Protestant moral crusades during the 1990s, he was a vocal opponent of liquor and gambling and advocated Bible reading in public schools. In 1909 he succeeded Sir Thomas Bent as Brighton's representative in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, a seat he held for close to twenty years until his death in 1928. During his last year of life, despite serious illness, he served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly under the Hogan government.

Dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Sleeveless black silk crepe dress with V-neck and scalloped hem. Covered with black beaded designs, with white bead and iridescent pink sequin accents.

Historical information

This dress belonged to Ellen Davis, nee McLaughlin (1870-1956), great-grandmother of Margaret Lake. Ellen was born in County Donegal, Ireland. She married George Washington Davis in 1890 and the couple moved to South Africa, where George owned a bicycle store. During this time, Margaret says, Ellen "had a life of luxury, having servants at her beck and call and even sleeping at the foot of her bed to protect her from any harm". She was a "tiny lady of 5 foot tall" and George "could put his hands around her waist of 18 inches". On coming to Australia they opened a garage and taxi service in Graham Street, Port Melbourne. They lived here until Ellen's death in a road accident in 1956. Ellen gave the dress to her great-granddaughter when Margaret was ten years old. Aged 62, Margaret told BHS, "I have worn it on several occasions, mostly to costume parties and fancy-dress balls when I was younger. I have loved it all this time and displayed it on a dress model in my last home". As she had no granddaughter of her own to leave it to, she decided to donate the dress so that it would continue to be cared for.

Dress - Wedding dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Cream mini-dress of net and wool lace with textured floral pattern. High round neck and long sleeves, with small frill at collar, cuffs and hem. Satin lined, with a zip at the back.

Historical information

This wedding dress belonged to Barbara Stewart, nee Bellamy, who married Alexander Stewart at St Andrews Church in Brighton on 15 June 1968. The dress was made by 'Madam', a dress shop in Church Street. At the time of donation, Barbara had been a Brighton resident for 80 years.

Dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Sleeveless navy blue crepe dress. Scoop neck and high waist. Bodice features three self-covered fluorescent yellow buttons and fluorescent yellow bow. Two fluoresecent yellow stripes around hem. Zip at back.

Historical information

This dress belonged to Nola Jennings, a long-time Brighton resident. Nola purchased and wore this in the 1960s; she recalls that navy and fluorescent yellow were a popular colour combination at the time.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, cream with green text: "STYLED BY / Zal Miller / OF MELBOURNE" Two smaller labels attached underneath: "crepe / Finesse / an Alcorso fabric / 100% TRIACETATE / washable" and "XSSW".

Bodice

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Black satin bodice, boned, with black faceted glass buttons down the front. High collar. Both collar and cuffs are edged with a black net ruffle. Two rows of seven black crochet-covered buttons at each cuff, fastening with loops. Stray brown threads poking through fabric around the collar, shoulders and back indicate that these areas may originally have featured lace embellishments.

Historical information

This bodice belonged to Mary Crombie, an early Victorian dentist, who lived in Brighton while she was studying at the Australian College of Dentistry in the mid-1900s, and later returned to the area in her retirement from 1949-1971. Mary Margaret Crombie (1884-1971) was born at Coan Downs Station near Walgett, northern New South Wales, where her father Henry was station manager. After Henry’s untimely death in 1895, Mary and her mother loved for a few years with family members in St Kilda, before moving into a cottage of their own, ‘Rosewood’, at 42 Asling Street, Brighton around 1899. From here, Mary attended Oberwyl Ladies College in St Kilda and later the Australian College of Dentistry, one of only a few women to study dental surgery at the time. She was apprenticed to Ada Tovell (1865-1932), one of Victoria’s first female dentists, who had her own practice in Collins Street. Mary graduated in 1907 and the following year moved with he mother to Yarram in South Gippsland, where she took over the running of a practice owned by Sale dentist Charles Trood, eventually purchasing it from him in 1915. Speaking to a Brighton newspaper in 1961, Mary said she believed that she was the first woman to start a dental practice in Gippsland. For some locals, this took a little getting used to: “Many were amazed, and had some misgivings, when they found that the local dentist was a woman,” she said. “I always remember a huge farmer (he was about 6 ft. 4 in.), who had fortified himself at the local hotel to face the ordeal of visiting the dentist. He almost turned and ran when he saw me. … He was still more amazed when I pulled out his tooth without undue trouble.” The farmer was the best advertisement she could have asked for, telling everybody about the diminutive lady dentist who had calmly extracted his tooth. Mary practiced in Yarram until her retirement in 1949. After selling her practice she returned to Brighton, where she spent the last two decades of her life residing at 25 Oak Grove. Following her death in 1971, her relatives in Brighton donated a number of items from her home to BHS.

Bed jacket

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Cream crocheted wool bed jacket. Loose around bust with wide sleeves and open sides. Fastens at collar with thin braided ties, and at waist with two pearlescent plastic buttons.

Historical information

This bed jacket was crocheted for Carmela Materia (1931-2018) by her mother, Giuseppa Auditore, around the time they emigrated from Italy to Melbourne. Both women were longtime Brighton locals, residing in the area from the 1950s until their deaths. Carmela Auditore was the first woman from her home village of Scaletta, Italy to emigrate to Australia. Setting sail alone in 1950 at the age of 19, she joined her brother John and uncle Frank in McCallum St, Brighton. Frank had arrived some years earlier and had spent the duration of the First World War in an internment camp. John worked at the Brighton Case Company, a box manufacturer on Nepean Highway, and paid for her passage. Carmela found a job sewing children's clothing at Drummonds, a small factory in Church St. Working eight hours a day, five days per week, netted her a weekly wage of three pounds. To earn a little extra, she washed dishes at a St Kilda Road restaurant for ten shillings a shift. Her parents, Salvatore and Giuseppa Auditore, joined her in Brighton in 1952. They rented a house behind an antique shop in Bay Street. Salvatore had been a fisherman in Scaletta, but quickly adapted to the job he found helping around the Garage at Brighton Motors in Male Street. On 14 February 1953, Carmela married her sweetheart, Salvatore Materia, at St James Catholic Church in Gardenvale. Salvatore had been living with his aunt in Well Street and worked on the wharves. Both Carmela and Salvatore were hard workers. They owned a fruit shop in Church Street where Woolworths now stands, and years later Carmela recalled the familiar 6am tap on her window each morning when her husband returned from the market. On dark winter mornings, she felt as if her hands would freeze as she helped Salvatore unload cold cabbages and cauliflowers from his truck. They later owned a shop in Ludstone Street in Hampton. After Salvatore died suddenly at the age of 48, Carmela returned to sewing, working at the Willow Fashions knitting mill in Gardenvale. She later went into partnership with her sister and brother-in-law, this time in the delicatessen business. Her parents, Giuseppa and Salvatore, spent the rest of their days with Brighton. Carmela recalled her father cheerfully walking the streets, greeting people by name. He knew everybody. He loved being in Australia and enjoyed life to the last, insisting on having bread and wine on the table at every meal.

Apron

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Cream linen embroidered half apron. White lace along hem, along with white embroidered initials, "T.P." Coloured floral and abstract embroidery along sides in red, black, blue and green.

Historical information

Three generations of women are represented in this apron. The linen used was woven by Olga's great-grandmother Efstathia in the late nineteenth century with flax grown on the island of Ithaca. Olga's mother Toula Raftopoulos added the whitework around 1908 at age 16 - the first piece of lacework she made on her own - and embroidered her initials on the front. Olga embellished the apron with coloured embroidery around 1950 at age 20. Olga Maria Black was born in Melbourne in 1930, the daughter of Ithacan migrants Constantine and Toula Mavrokefalos. Constantine first emigrated to Australia in 1902, returning to Greece circa 1912-13 to serve his home country in the Balkan Wars. Toula's family had left Ithaca for Romania when she was only six months old, but she happened to be visiting the island at the very time that Constantine arrived, fresh from the war. Within three weeks they were married, and when Constantine returned to Melbourne in 1914 his new bride came with him. Constantine had trained as an accountant, but his qualifications were not recognised in Australia. Changing his surname to the Anglicised "Black", he started off working in his older brother Dionysios's cafés before going into business on his own. In 1917 he opened the Paris Residential Café at 54-56 Swanston Street, which offered both dining and accommodation. The business saw some years of success, but did not survive the Great Depression. Constantine died in 1944. Olga's mother Toula learned to sew as a child, while growing up in the Romanian village of Brila. She developed her skills making lace and embroidering items for her trousseau. Some of the linen she embroidered had been woven from flax on Ithaca by her own grandmother, Efstathia. During the Depression, when money was scarce, Toula embroidered at home, doing work for a factory in Flinders Lane. Using a cotton reel, a threepence and a sixpence she created and embroidered designs on hundreds of blouses. Olga spent her preschool days sitting at the table where her mother worked. Toula would involve Olga by allowing her to help choose the colour combinations. Toula lived with Olga in Brighton until her death in 1976. Olga inherited her mother's sewing skills. She re-invented some of Toula’s trousseau nightdresses and skilfully altered other clothing, making dresses which she wore around Brighton for many years.

Dress - Wedding dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Cream silk dress with boat neck, short sleeves and back zip. Guipure lace flowers on sleeves and skirt.

Historical information

This wedding dress belonged to Rayleen Haig OAM, nee Janetzki, who married Donald Haig in Geelong on 15 August 1964. The dress was designed for Rayleen and made by Deon's of Melbourne, which specialised in wedding gowns (she believes it was above Sportsgirl in Collins Street). It cost about one hundred pounds. The reception was held in the Carlton Hotel, Geelong. A longtime local resident, Rayleen was a Brighton councillor (1983-92) and mayor (1989-90). She was awarded the OAM in 2007 for "service to local government and to the community through health, historical and aged care organisations, particularly within the City of Bayside, and to the National Council of Women of Australia".