gun alley stories

47 John St Stories


Lot 8 Block 1 47 John Street was unusual in that 1888/1889 Charles Walker built two semi-detached homes on the block – both of which he rented out causing much confusion in the Shire of Lillydale Rate Books.

The property remain in Walker hands – Charles and his daughter Jane Hannah until her death in 1923 – more than 30 years which was the longest continuous ownership.

By the 1940s, when the Nation family moved in, the front verandah had been filled in and the two homes joined into one.
The home was probably demolished about 1964 when Elliott newspapers built their new premises and printing works.

Audio Introduction

Throughout the Gun Alley pages you will see references in old articles to £ (pounds). £1 = $2; 10/- (10 shillings) = $1; 5/- (5 shillings) = 50 cents. Please note: this does not reflect the value of the money but serves as an indication only.

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Lots 7 & 8

John Hutchinson

William Hutchinson & Louis Deschamps ( – 17/11/1880)

Thomas Macintyre (17/11/1880 – 8/2/1886)

Annie Addis (8/2/1886)

Frederick Walter Perrin (8/2/1886 – 17/6/1889)

Only Lot 7

Nathan Burrows (17/6/1889 – 17/7/1895)

William Louis Axford (17/7/1895 – 15/08/1905)

Tenants (as per SOL rate books):

1898 Hemming & Storey, Bakers

1901 Samuel Storey

1902 Samuel Pither to James Allan.

1903 Mrs A. Green, Baker

1905 Herry, Louis, Baker

Julia Briers (15/08/1905 – 7/01/1936)

Henry Wilfred Briers (07/01/1936 – 7/06/1950)

William Charles & Alfred Harold Castelow & Reginald Dunbar (7/06/1950 – 19/6/1952)

Ida May Currie & Clare Josephine Cascarret (19/6/1952 – 25/03/1960)

Reginald Victor Fitzgibbon Eldridge (23/03/1960 – 23/03/1960)

John Phillip George & Phyllis Mary Isabel Cummings (23/03/1960 – 21/07/1961)

Now lots 7 & 8

T.C. Garland Proprietary Limited (21/7/1961 – 5/08/1964)

Elliot Provincial Newspaper Group (5/8/1964 – 1/9/1964)

Express Newspapers Proprietary Limited (Mildura) (1/9/1964 – )

Thomas Macintyre

In keeping with so many of the early owners, Thomas Macintyre probably purchased the property to help the Hutchinson family out though he would have also been wise enough to see it could be a good investment.

Thomas Macintyre junior was born in Sydney in about 1833 and came to Victoria on April 1, 1837 with his parents who settled in a cedar-board tent near Prince’s Bridge before squatting at Westernport and then to Hawthorn.

In 1852, he decided to try his hand on the goldfields and headed to the Forest Creek gold field at Chewton, central Victoria. He was successful and found 800 ozs of gold which when sent to England realised £4/2/6 per ounce. Mr Macintyre settled at Yering with his family on a farm he named Cora Lynn at Yering. Macintyre Lane is named after him. He married Mary Ann Duck (daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Scott) Duck b 1843) in 1864 and they had five children: Jane Ellen b 1866; Elizabeth Ann b 1868; Thomas Henry b 1871; William Alfred b and d 1873; and Gilbert b and d 1874.

Thomas was involved in many community activities. He was a member of the Upper Yarra District Road Board from its inception in 1862 until the creation of the Shire of Lillydale in 1872 and was chairman from 1863 to 1871. He represented the residents of the North-west riding of the shire of Lillydale from 1872 to 1879. He was a Justice of the Peace; held office in the Presbyterian Church, Lilydale and was a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites. (obit published Lilydale Express October 22, 1897 on fold of page)
Thomas died suddenly on October 16, 1897 aged 63 years and 11 months and is buried at Lilydale Cemetery. His wife died February 13, 1914 aged 71 years.

Thomas paid £39 for both lots 7 and 8 on November 17, 1880.

Annie Addis

Thomas Macintyre sold the land to Annie Addis on February 8, 1886 for £65. Annie Addis was the wife of Thomas Addis who operated a butchering business in Castella Street opposite the entrance to Melba Park. Annie was the daughter of William John and Isabel (Stewart) Goodall and married Thomas at St James’ Cathedral Melbourne in 1873. The couple moved to Lilydale about that time and opened the butcher’s shop.

Annie didn’t hold the properties for long as on the same day she purchased them from Thomas Macintyre – February 8, 1886 – she sold them to Frederick Walter Perrin for £132 making a profit of £67.

Frederick Walter Perrin

Frederick Walter Perrin was born in England on 25 March 1854 to Henry and Cecilia Perrin nee Spence.

The family were one of the town’s first settlers. The family history notes in 1861 when aged seven, Fred’s family moved to their new house on the main road through Lilydale, This was the first house to be built in the town. On Thursday, 12 September 1861 Fred’s father Henry opened the Lilydale Post Office adjoining the dwelling. The family also operated a fancy goods store and bakery with the post office.

Frederick took over the post office from his father on June 7, 1877 at a wage of £57 per annum. Four months later, on 29 October 1877, Fred married Ellen Matilda Atkinson, daughter of William and Ellen Atkinson nee Radford.

Frederick and Ellen had 10 children, all born at their home in Main Street: William 1878, Osmund 1879, Winifred 1881, Harold 1883, Henry 1885, Norman 1888, Frederick Walter 1890, Charles Haddon Spurgeon 1892, Clive Gordon 1895, Eric John 1897. William died at one day, Winifred of whooping cough on 3 April 1882 at nine months and Clive of croup at three years on 18 April 1898, the 10th birthday of his brother Norman.

William Parr

William Parr was a draper was born in Fordham Cambridge, England in 1832. He arrived in Victoria about 1870 and settled in the district in 1877 when he took up land in Croydon. He was also involved with the church in the Montrose area.

He lived in Lilydale when aged 24, married Jane Axford at Brighton and they had 11 children. For many years William operated Parr’s Hall in Lilydale’s lower Main Street.

He died in January 1905 after collapsing while cutting wood in Mitchell’s paddock and was interred in Lilydale Cemetery on January 24, 1905. He was 73 years old. His wife Jane died in January 1912.

(Lilydale Cemetery records, Lilydale Express January 27, 1905 pg 2 and Evelyn Observer January 27, 1905 pg 2)

Charles Walker

Charles Walker, perhaps sensing Lilydale was going to develop, purchased three blocks of land in Gun Alley in Lot 8 Block 1 for £300 was purchased on May 16, 1887.

Charles Walker a farmer and store keeper from Healesville and had considerable holdings in and around Healesville.

Walker died January 17, 1903 aged 75 years, his wife had passed away two years earlier. In his obituary, the Healesville Guardian referred to him as one of the largest property owners in Healesville. He became interested in local affairs and served six years as a councillor of the Shire of Healesville.

Probate of his Will was granted to his son John Rookin Walker. His estate had real estate value at £7111 and personal property valued at £2634/8/2. When he made his final Will, Walker left his three properties in John Street, Lilydale on which there were tenements, to his daughter Jane Hannah Walker.

(Healesville and District Historical Society, Will and Probate, Healesville Guardian January 24, 1903 pg 2)

Jane Hannah Walker

Under the terms of his Will, Charles Walker left the majority of his vast real estate holding to his daughter Jane Walker, a spinster, who lived with her parents at Graceburn, Healesville. Jane arrived in Healesville in 1865 with her parents and brother.  Throughout the rest of her life she continued to acquire real estate and was the largest property owner in Healesville at the time of her death on July 28, 1923 aged 75 years.

She kept Lot 8 Block 1 (2 semi-detached wooden homes valued at £20) and Lot 4 block 6 (46 and 48 John Street – 2 houses four roomed brick home and on semi-detached wooden home valued at £15) as noted in her Probate. She also held several other allotments in Healesville and total property valued at £10,360.00.

Under the terms of her Will, all properties were to be sold and the money distributed to beneficiaries including £1000 to the Methodist Home for Children at Cheltenham. The remainder of the estate to go to the Women’s Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women Carlton and the Children’s Hospital Carlton to establish and maintain a cot or cots at each.

Her executors William Lewis Hannah and Hugh Percival St John Hall sold the Gun Alley properties to Thomas Mitchell for £340. The contract of Sale was signed on September 22, 1923.

All the properties – 47 of them were sold on February 9, 1924 and realised the sum of £33,000.

(Will and Probate of Jane Hannah Walker; Healesville News February 3, 1961; Healesville Guardian August 4, 1923 pg 2; Auction notice courtesy Healesville & District Historical Society)

Thomas Mitchell

The executors of Jane Hannah Walker entered into a Contract of Sale with Thomas Mitchell for the two Gun Alley lots in the estate Lot 8 Block 1 and Lot 4 Block 6 (46 John Street) for £340 on September 22, 1923 and registered February 9, 1924.

Thomas Mitchell, no relation to David Mitchell, sadly did not finalise the purchase of the property before his death on March 30, 1926. His executors – Charles Herbert Mitchell and Francis Leslie Mitchell with The Equity Trustees Executors & Agency Co Limited directed Walker’s executors to sell the property to Henry Briers on November 1, 1938 for £340.

Thomas Mitchell had other interests in the district namely in the Wandin area so would have been interested in securing residential land in the Lilydale township. He was probably attracted by the sale of so much property from Jane Walker’s estate.

Born at Beechworth in 1856, he left school and at 15 in 1871 and learned the brush trade working for Mr Zevenboom a Melbourne well-known brush manufacturer. In 1876 Thomas Mitchell started manufacturing his own brushware in a modest factory in Melbourne and by 1891 in new premises he expanded into woodware and general hardware of every kind.

He married in 1881 and has two sons and a daughter

In the early 1900s he employed 8 travellers to visit throughout Victoria and 80 staff handling the sales of goods.

The business Thomas Mitchell & Co. Pty Ltd established The Victor brand of brushes and in by its 50th anniversary in 1926, the factory had expanded to cover 3½ acres at 360 Lonsdale Street in Melbourne.

His short obituary notes he was a well-known brush manufacturer and hardware merchant who lived at St Kilda. He died after a short illness and was interred at St Kilda Cemetery.

(Cyclopedia of Victoria Volume 3 page 143-144.; The Argus April 1, 1926 pg 10, State Library of Victoria)

Henry Briers

Henry Briers acquired Lot 8 Block 1 for £340 on November 1, 1938.

Henry Wilfred Briers was born 1891, the son of David Briers and Julia Duvoisin. He worked as a wheelwright with his father and remained a bachelor and lived in the family home until he moved into Hazelmere at Montrose where he spent the last three years of his life. He died in 1978.

Henry who lived next door in his parent’s home – 49-51 John Street, owned the property until July 5, 1957.

Henry and Eileen Nation

The Nation family rented the home on Lot 8 from Henry Briers and it was here they raised their family from 1947 to about 1952.

Henry was the grandson of pioneers Jane and Robert Nation who operated mail routes and a general store in Monbulk (1902 to 1924). Henry’s father Robert Junior, moved to Lilydale in 1927 and started the carting business.

After leaving school, Henry went to work on farms at Yering and Coldstream until he was old enough to drive. At 17 his age was put forward to enable him to get his driving licence. He worked for his father carting milk to Melbourne dairies. Following the death of his father in 1946 Henry and his brother took over the business and he drove for his father. The business was split in 1950 with Henry buying the Wesburn run.

H.J. Nation Pty Ltd was formed when Henry’s son William joined the business in 1958.

Getting the milk from the farms to the Melbourne Dairies was the number one priority. So it was “always be on time and stop for nothing”. The only time the trucks did not go out was during the 1962 bushfires which devastated the Yarra Valley.

Henry’s truck of choice was International R to Ab models and all were painted cream.

The Nations saw many changes to the milk industry, and when milk cans were forced out in favour of tankers, the family reluctantly sold in October 1965. Henry took the sale extremely hard, knowing it was the end of Nation’s Transport history 1903 to 1965.

When 23 years old, Henry married Eileen and they had five children:

Henry and Eileen had 5 children William b 1941; Barry b. 1942; Patricia b. 1943; Beverly b. 1945 and Kenneth b. 1946.

Eric and Betty Joyce Davis

Eric and Betty Davis acquired Lot 8 Block 1 from Henry Briers on July 5, 1957, paying £875 for the block which still had the two homes on it but they had been combined into one home by the time the Nation family lived there in the late 1940s.

Eric, like so many other men in gun Alley worked for the Victorian Railways. They had two children:

Michael born 1948

Jeffrey born 1950.

The Davis ownership was only three years as in 1960, John and Phyliss Cummings made them an offer they couldn’t refuse – £2800 – £1925 – profit in just three years. The Cummings wanted the land so they could combine it with Lot 7 and sell it for commercial development.

After just 12 months they sold both blocks to T.C. Garland Pty Ltd for £11,500 in 1960.

T.C. Garland

John Phillip George and Phyllis Mary Isabel Cummings had sold both lots to T.C. Garland Pty Ltd November 1960 for £11,500. The company owned and operated the Land Rover dealership in Lilydale. According to Reg Davies the company planned to build a new home for the dealership. However it didn’t eventuate so the properties were sold to Elliott Newspapers on August 8, 1964 for £9000.

Lilydale Express – Elliott Newspapers Express Newspapers Pty Ltd

The local newspaper – the Lilydale Express – had interesting links with Gun Alley. Established in 1886 the newspaper office and printing works were in several locations – Main Street next to the Lilydale Hotel; the hall of the Methodist Church in Castella Street; again in Main Street next to the hotel and then in 1964 moved into a new, specifically built building in Hutchinson Street on Lot 7 and 8 of Block 1.

On July 24, 1964, the Gill family who had operated the newspaper and printing works for 36 years, announced it would be “linked with” the Elliott Newspaper Group based in Mildura. Lloyd Gill would stay on as an editorial executive; Harry and Roy Gill would continue to operate the commercial printing side of the business and Len Gill would remain in charge of the Mail office in Warburton.

A spokesman for the Elliott Group said:

“We welcome the opportunity of entering the progressive Lilydale district and playing a role in the development of this obviously expanding area.”

Two weeks later on the front page of the August 7, 1964 edition, the newspaper announced work had started on its new “modern streamlined office and factory building” on a newly acquired site. The site referred to was  Lots 7 and 8 of Block 1 running along the laneway with the frontage to Hutchinson Street which Elliot Provincial Newspaper Group Ltd (Mildura) had acquired from T.C. Garland Pty Ltd two days earlier on August 5.

The builders were R and L Collins Pty Ltd and the architects Hugh Peck and Partners, Melbourne. Plans were for the newspaper to move into the partially completed building at the end of September which was achieved as by early November the Hutchinson Street location was being promoted  and the newly formed company Express Newspapers Pty Ltd was up and running.

Even the Lilydale Shire President Cr W.M. Sarl got into the act by congratulating the proprietors on moving into their new building though a letter to the editor published on November 27, 1964.

“The value of a local newspaper is very great in a large shire such as ours, and my council is very conscious of the fact that your weekly publication is the medium by which it – the council – is able to reach the public.”

Cr Sarl also saw the newspaper as part of the development of the shire:

“The fast development of the shire – particularly from the Croydon Shire boundary – is so apparent that the possibilities of further enlargement of your establishment may not be too far distant.”

In 1965 employment opportunities abounded at the newspaper with advertisements of a part time woman reporter and apprentice printer.

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