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Heidelberg Historian
Our Newsletter

The Heidelberg Historian newsletter has been published more than 250 times. The first issue was produced in August 1967, and an issue has come out every second month since.

A copy is made available to all members — another benefit of joining Heidelberg Historical Society. Readers can look forward to reports on guest speakers' presentations at out meetings, activities around the museum and thumbnails of events from the past.

The Historian is an excellent source of information about people, places, events and institutions in the district. Members and visitors can read our complete collection of newsletters at the museum.

We also have the whole collection of Historians in the database in searchable pdf format, dating back to the first edition in 1967. Researchers can do searches for topics, which saves a vast amount of time and effort.

The examples below give an idea of the variety of information to be found in the Heidelberg Historian. Click "more" to read the full articles.




Charterisville and Banyule

Mr. Richard Peterson was our guest speaker at the June meeting with his topic the histories of "Charterisville" and "Banyule", two of Heidelberg's most significant houses. He showed a number of slides past and present of the properties and their surroundings, and gave a brief account of the lives and careers of the various owners.

"Charterisville" was built by the manager of the Bank of Australasia, David Charteris McArthur on property he purchased in 1839 from Thomas Walker. There was a hut on the site at first, then a cottage called "Honeymoon Cottage." The house dates from 1846. McArthur lived here until his death in 1887, when the property was sold to Roberts &. Fergusson. In 1890 the building was let to William Peet and James B. Durham. Then followed a colourful period when sub-tenants included several artists such as Walter Withers. Sir Lionel Lindsay rented the gardener's cottage in front of the house - at that time the property stretched to the river.


On page 2, we have the following report on important early resident, Charles Rouch.

A well-known resident of early Heidelberg, Charles Rouch, resided in Hawdon Street. He died in September, 1934, at the age of 72 years. He was born in Cambridge Street, Fitzroy. His parents emigrated to the new land of Australia, several years prior to 1861, from London, his father who was a grocer, having entered into business as general storekeeper on several goldfields during the exciting gold rushes of the pioneer days before settling at Fitzroy.



An old red-brick building which has been a landmark on Rosanna Road near Burgundy Street has disappeared. The building was erected in 1859 as the Wesleyan Church and served a population which included many ex-miners from the gold fields further north. Services for Wesleyans were first held locally in 1851 but there were services earlier at Greensborough and Eltham. A wooden building erected next to the hall was moved to Hawdon Street in later years. The Independent Order of Rachabites then held the building until late in the 1940's and it was then sold to private owners. In 1968 demolition became imminent, as the owners plan for expansion included this land. Enquiries were made by the Historical Society and the owners offered the building free for removal. However, the building had been condemned for years, and experts established that the bricks were crumbling and it would involve far too much finance to remove and restore the building, which contained nothing of actual historic value, and was of no architectural significance.

The view expressed above might well be different in 2022, as the building was so old and was one of the earliest church buildings in the district.



The famous old "Canoe" tree on Mount Eagle standing in a private park off Summit Drive will be assured of long life with the recent plans of the Heidelberg City Council to provide for its preservation. The top of the old tree will be cut off, the remaining surface painted with clear creosote, and the hole in the base of the tree cemented in. This timely action to be taken by the Council will be commended by all who have come to know the historic old tree as part of the historical heritage of the district.

FEBRUARY 1998, page 2


At our final meeting for 1997 we were privileged to hear Rex Harcourt speak about the early history of the Heidelberg Road. For many years he has been interested to discover exactly where the road used to run by comparison with today's road from Clifton Hill to the Darebin Creek, and what would travellers of those days have seen while they were going to and fro. He made use of transparencies of old maps which help indicate the route of the road and the properties it passed. The road came across the Merri Creek further south than the present bridge and Rex made a point of why the road shifted. The original road ran across relatively open country from where Brunswick Street in Fitzroy is today, through northern Collingwood to a point on the creek where there were low, gently sloping banks. This was a ford or causeway and was opposite where Spensley Street, Clifton Hill, is today, and on the east side, a toll gate was erected in 1847. Later the road to the ford followed the line of Smith Street as Collingwood developed. When it was necessary to build a bridge in 1854 across the Merri, the builders had to seek a point across the creek where there were high banks close together, and the present roadline was the result. The present bridge was opened in 1868 and widened in 1936. Just past the bridge was a toll house which lasted from 1854 to 1878, with the tolls helping to pay for the upkeep of the road which was so important to many of the leading gentry of Melbourne who had their homesteads and farms in the Heidelberg area. The road was the basis for Melbourne's first municipal body, the Heidelberg Road Trust in 1840. The toll gate was on the eastern side of the junction of the present Heidelberg Road with the Yarra Bend Park Road.



(prepared by Mr. C. Cummins)

The year 1872 saw the end of the dispute between Heidelberg, Fitzroy and East Collingwood Councils regarding the sharing of the income from the Common Toll bridge over the Merri Creek. As a result of negotiations, during which time the State Government threatened to cut off all financial assistance for future works on the bridge, the income from the lease (£1,835 in 1872) was divided. Heidelberg retained 5/8ths of the income, whilst 3/8ths was divided between tho two councils. This Agreement necessitated the appointment of a Common Toll Manager, and Mr. E.G. Durham was appointed at a salary of £20/-/- per annum.

For some time the Heidelberg Council had not pressed its claim to a share of the Common

Toll Bridge over the Plenty River, but now moved to obtain its share of the income, and Heidelberg eventually obtained 3/- out of every £1/-/- taken at the bridge.

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