gun alley stories

56 John St Stories


56 John street was the second home from the Olinda Creek and its owners included David Mitchell who purchased it to provide a home for one of his workers – William Hawkey whose family lived in the property for more than 50 years. His grandson Ken Hawkey worked for grocer Arthur Brown and later became a partner in Brown & Hawkey grocers at the corner of Main and Anderson streets, Lilydale.

Audio Introduction

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John Hutchinson

William Hutchinson & Louis Deschamps (      – 21/1/1881)

Patrick Hughes (21/1/1881 – 31/5/1884)

Mary Ann Denham (31/5/1884 – 11/10/1893)

David Mitchell (11/10/1893 – 1/12/1921)

Edward & Edward Leslie Newbigin (1/12/1921 – 20/4/1922

Alfred Clutterbuck (20/4/1922 – 21/08/1923)

Lucy May Hawkey (21/08/1923 – 2/5/1949)

Ethel Mary Carnell (2/6/1949 – 29/4/1953)

Verna Mosca (29/4/1953 – 9/3/1954)

Domenica De Vincentis & Verna Mosca (9/3/1954 -15/5/1956)

Verna & Concezio Mosca (15/5/1956 – 11/2/1972)

Vera Isabel Ruby Webber & Margaret Ellen Clarke (11/2/1972 – 25/9/1974 & 3/8/1979)

Land subdivided

Haydn Maxwell Mustey (25/9/1974 – 3/8/1979) – 2 pieces western side of lot

Francis Joseph, Anne Caroyln, Alan John & Fay Whelan (3/08/1979 – ) the eastern part.

Louis Deschamp and William Hutchinson

Louis Deschamp and William Hutchinson were executors of the Estate of John Hutchinson and sold Lots 4 to 8 Block 6 (now known as 46 – 56 John ) to Patrick Hughes for £145

Patrick Hughes

Patrick Hughes was an early Lilydale settler. He was born in Ireland in 1829 and at Country Atrim on November 1, 1852 he married Catherine McNally, daughter of James and Anne (Lavender) McNally. They had six children:

Anne J. b 1854; Sarah L. b 1856, Henry T. b 1858; Samuel b 1860, Elizabeth M b. 1863 and Edward M b 1868 at Mooroolbark. Patrick arrived in Melbourne in 1863 travelling from Liverpool on board the SS Great Britain. His wife Catherine and children did not arrive until 1867 at which time they settled in Lilydale.

Patrick died and was buried at Lilydale Cemetery on September 11, 1886. He was aged 57 years old.

Sadly, his life as an early settler of the district received little mention.

He died intestate so his eldest son Henry was appointed administrator of his estate which listed his properties as being 100 acres valued at £800 and Lot 7 Block 6 John Street valued at £15. Livestock, farm machinery and furniture were valued at £376.

Catherine died April 24, 1905 aged 81 years.

Note: Henry (Harry) Hughes represented the North-west Riding residents of the Shire of Lillydale from 1903 to 1936. He was elected Shire President in 1907, 1913, 1917, 1926, 1931 and 1932.

Patrick Hughes sold Lot 8 upon which was a home to Mary Ann Denham for £22/10/- on June 5, 1884.

Note: Henry (Harry) Hughes represented the North-west Riding residents of the Shire of Lillydale from 1903 to 1936. He was elected Shire President in 1907, 1913, 1917, 1926, 1931 and 1932.

Mary Ann Denham

Patrick Hughes sold Lot 8 to Mary Ann Denham for £22/10/- on June 5, 1884. Mary Ann Denham married William Denham, a labourer, and they lived in the home on the property. They did not have any children. Mary died on January 18, 1887 aged 45 years and was interred in the Lilydale Cemetery.

As she died intestate, her husband was entitled to file for Letters of Administration but did not do so.  He made a Will to which he put his mark on April 7, 1891 directing all his estate be sold including Lot 8. He appointed Robert Morton, Thomas Arthur Shanks and Ernest Beattie as his executors.  However, he had no right to the property so Mary Ann’s brother Robert Walker applied to the courts for Letters of Administration as her next of kin. This was granted.

The home was listed in the court documents as being a four roomed brick house valued at £150 upon which £76/7/1 was owed to the Permanent Building Society. In 1892 it was rented out for 7/- a week. Robert Walker said in documents that Mary Ann Denham purchased the property with her own separate money. Her estate was valued at £150 in real estate and £50 worth of personal property.

In 1890, the property was rented out to Samuel Abbot and then Charles Allen the following year. The Allens rented the property until 1904 by which time it was owned by David Mitchell.

(Will and Probate documents)

David Mitchell

This is the only property in John St that David Mitchell acquired.  He acquired it on October 11, 1893 for £200 from the executors for Mary Ann Denham.  The existing tenant labourer Charles Allen remained in the property until June 1905 when Charles McCormack, another labourer took over. He remained until William Hawkey became the occupying tenant in 1912.

David Mitchell was one of the wealthiest men in the district and established The Cave Hill Mable and Limestone Quarries in 1878. He was an early district landowner and a Lillydale Councillor from 1875 to 1883 and served as President in 1883. He became one of Melbourne’s major building contractors with such buildings as Menzies Hotel; Scots Church and the Exhibition Buildings as his projects.

As he developed Cave Hill he became the district’s largest employer. Cave Hill had its own tramway and drivers; its own railway siding and several factories processing his farm products – bacon, cheese, milk and butter factories to name just four.

To many he is better known as the father of Dame Nellie Melba, Australia’s first international opera singer who was later to make her home in Coldstream and took a great interest in Cave Hill and its operations.

David Mitchell was born at Forfar Scotland on February 16, 1829 and died on March 25, 1916 aged 87 years. Probate documents reveal David Mitchell had real estate valued at £123,600  and personal property of £176,00. The real estate included the John street property valued at £170 including improvements which rented by William Hawkey for 6 shillings and six pence a week.

After his death, the property was sold by his trustees Edward and Edward Leslie Newbigin to Alfred Clutterbuck.

For more information about David Mitchell and the Mitchell family go to: and follow the links from About Nellie to Family.

Edward and Edward Leslie Newbigin

With the death of David Mitchell, Edward Newbigin and David’s son Francis David Mitchell were appointed executors of his enormous estate. This was later changed to include Edward Leslie in place of Francis David Mitchell after his death in October 1921.

Edward and Edward Leslie Newbigin, the executors of David Mitchell’s estate, sold the property to Alfred Clutterbuck on April 20, 1922 for £300. This does seem to be a rather excessive price.

Alfred Clutterbuck

Clutterbuck had once been a wealthy man but apparently suffered during the Depression.

Edward and Edward Leslie Newbigin, the executors of David Mitchell’s estate, sold the property to Clutterbuck on April 20, 1922 for £300. This does seem to be a rather excessive price.

At the time the Hawkey family were renting the property and had been since 1913.

In an unusual move, Clutterbuck sold the property to Lucy May Hawkey subject to an unusual condition recorded on the conveyance:

“the said Lucy May Hawkey (inter alia) has undertaken and agreed to allow the said Alfred Clutterbuck to reside in and upon the said land described in the aforesaid Conveyance and to fee him for the remainder of his life provided that he shall lead a sober and orderly and respectable life.”

(See Conveyance No 699 Book 506)

Was this Clutterbuck’s way of  helping the family gain a home of their own while he also had a home for the rest of his life?

He lived with the Hawkey family until sadly, he was found in the Olinda Creek by some boys on July 5, 1935. Help was called but he had drowned. He was 69 years old and was interred at Lilydale Cemetery in the Church of England Section. An inquest was to be held but not reported in the Lilydale Express.

(Lilydale Express July 12, 1935).

Lucy May Hawkey

Clutterbuck sold the property to Lucy May Hawkey on August 21, 1923 for £105. Part of the agreement was that “I should be allowed to reside in and upon the said land and to be fed for the remainder of his life provided that he shall lead a sober orderly and respectable life.”

The property in the Shire of Lillydale rate books listed William Hawkey, farm overseer, as the rateable person and owner. – a trend in those times.

William Hawkey was born about 1859 at Cornwall, England and lived in the Koroit district before moving to the Lilydale district in the 1880s. He was the butcher at St Hubert’s in the early days. He married Eliza Snell on June 28, 1885 at South Yarra and they had four children:

William John b 1886 died World War I July 25, 1916.

Victoria May b at Lilydale in 1888. Married Howard Vernon and had one child a son Alan John b 908. Victoria died as the result of an accident, on March 6, 1931.

Ethel born 1890

Albert Edward b 1897 at St Huberts..

The family lived in various homes in Lilydale until 1912 when they moved into John Street and rented the property from David Mitchell.

It was from here that their two sons William John and Albert Edward enlisted in World War I. Sadly only one was to return as William John died in France in 1916.

William John Hawkey

William John Hawkey, No. 3796 was aged 30 and 10 months when he enlisted in the AIF on July 5, 1915. He was single and he gave his occupation as barman. He had previously been rejected from His Majesty’s Service due to his height – he was 5ft 3in and weighted 10st 7 lbs. He joined the 12/8th Rfts.  He joined the British Expeditionary Forces at Alexandria on March 29, 1916 was assigned to the 8th Battalion before travelling to Marseilles arriving April 4, 1916. He was killed in action in France on July 25, 1916 and is buried at the Pozieres British Cemetery, France.

(AIF Service record)

Albert Edward

Albert Edward Hawkey, No. 3288, enlisted on August 1, 1917 aged 21 and 3 months. His unit was the 7/3 Pioneers. He was single and gave his occupation as a labourer. Like his brother he was short – 5ft 1in and weighed 134lbs. He left Melbourne on board the “Themistocles” on August 4, 1917 and arrived in Glasgow.  He embarked on the “H.T. Corinthic” bound for Australia on January 1, 1918. He was discharged as medically unfit as he was suffering from a hernia. He was discharged on April 6, 1918.

Albert married Bertha Leach, b c 1895, daughter of Benjamin and Mary (Kennedy) Leach. Albert and Bertha had 5 children.

(AIF Service Record)

Eliza died in 1920 aged 57 years and was buried at Kew Cemetery.

William remarried in 1920 to Lucy May Holter born about 1885, daughter of Thomas and Ellen (Jackson) Holter. Lucy moved into the John Street home where the couple had three children:

Lionel born at Lilydale in 1909. Died in January 1949 and was buried at Lilydale Cemetery on January 23, 1949.

Kenneth born February 21, 1913 at Lilydale. He worked from Brown’s the grocer and later became a partner – Brown & Hawkey. He married Edna and they had no children. His reminiscences and the link to his first day of work are below.

Trevor born 1914.

Ken Hawkey recalls his father and his work at Cave Hill and growing up in John Street in the 1920 and 1930s:

The Barn

My father, William Henry Hawkey was the manager of the farming section of the David Mitchell Estate at that time when I was born in Lilydale in 1913.  Part of his job took him on Saturdays and Sundays for various reasons to Cave Hill, probably to feed horses or check on things generally with the live stock. My brother and I often went with him as young children.

The centre of his domain as I remember it was “The Barn”.  To me it was simply a marvellous place and as large as a cathedral.  The roof was very high and with stacks of hay inside the building it had a delightful aroma about it.  We had two little fox terriers, ferrets and a pony which were kept in the barn, all of which made it more interesting to me.  It was a place of pleasant smells, peace, quiet and security, the memories of which after all these years still lingers with me.

A mysterious sound, on which I fantacised was a strange clanging noise coming from under the floor which had a steel ladder leading down to the machinery that was making all the noise.  Later on I realized what the sound was all about.  It was all to do with “The Race”.

The Race

Upstream on Olinda Creek just above the top end of (now) Lilydale Lake and during the last century a water way was constructed to feed water from the creek to Cave Hill Estate.  A concrete weir was built to raise the level of the water in the creek to move enough water to flow into the channel to allow gravity to do the rest and transfer the water to its objective, part of which ended up under “The Barn” and from there to where it was needed with the aid of the ram-jet.

The water channel was called “The Race” and all the John Street kids and Cave Hill Road kids did not know it by any other name.  We spent many hours fishing in the race on warm summer evenings catching eels and getting tangled up in the water reeds.  We used a hurricane lamp for light and occasionally we caught small blackfish which if I remember correctly were called graylings.

Artis’s Paddock.

  The area bounded by Hardy Street, Anderson Street, “The Three Chain Road” now Melba Avenue and the Olinda Creek was then owned by Miss Artis who owned the then unlicensed hotel situated between the Express printing office and the Post Office.  Miss Artis also owned the Home Hotel at Launching Place.  As children we spent lots of time playing in Artis’ paddock and swimming in the “Wide Banks”, our name for a nice open hole in the creek.  It was a grazing paddock for animals but had plenty of lovely large eucalypts in which to climb and look for birds nests.

1919 School

Not many memories of State School.  One was learning sloyd (woodwork) and the teacher was rudely called “Hairy” Nicholls because of the black hair on the back of his hands.  The other was a vegetable garden plot we had on the south west corner of the Jones Street-Clarke Street intersection (opposite the Catholic Church).  The other and better memories come back to me of Sister Aloysius, Sr. Mary Leo and the singing teacher who had a beautiful voice.  Father Byrne was the visiting priest.  Sister (Alla) we called her, was very strict (of which I am now very pleased) and freely used a long cane when necessary.  One such instance was the use of the cane on Bill (Ginger) Johnston, who later became well known for his beautiful East Melbourne home which now belongs to the State.  Anyway “Alla” was giving Ginger a few well timed cuts (he towered over her) when suddenly he grabbed the cane from her and broke it then threw it on the floor.  The Catholic school was a single room brick building situated at the entrance gates to the Convent in Anderson Street, Lilydale and the teachers were from the Convent.  The first thing that I vividly remember was “Alla” coming up behind me as I was writing and gave me a crack across the knuckles and a short lecture on the correct way to hold a pen.

Among the pupils attending the school at the time were The Supples, Frank and Joe, the Godfreys, Frank and others, Whelans, Bill (Sickle) Frank, Marge, Olive, Hugh (Kewpie) Bren (one of my friends) Margaret and Lofty.  Galvins, Mary, Dick and Joe, and please remember that we were all in the same room and ranging from six year olds to fourteen year olds.  Although I left school at age thirteen I feel that I had a fairly good grounding in education for which I can thank Sister “Alla”.

1920s – 1930s


My first experience with a horse was in my very young days in John Street.  Dad was looking after the farming side of David Mitchell Estate at Cave Hill.  The rear of our house backed on to a paddock which was part of Cave Hill and we had access through a gate which Dad used to go to and from work.  He used a very nice chestnut pony in his work and on this pony my brother Dick and I learned to ride.  We got a lot of pleasure out of that pony.  We never had a bike or any sort of a toy of that nature, so we made the most of that pony going full gallop up and down the “Three Chain Road”, “Old Lilydale Road” and now called “Melba Avenue”.  Later on when I drove delivery carts in my job I got quite used to horses and how to handle them.

The Three Chain Road

As children in the 1920’s we spent most of our time in three places, at school, in bed, or out in the open air at play.  As we had no toys we had to be rather inventive in our playthings, such as a billy-cart made up of a velvet soap box and a pair of wheels from an old pram.  We made our own bows and arrows from split palings from a fence, with a nail stuck in the end of it, also a shanghai.  Marbles, which we called allies, was a favourite game including “Big Ring”.  We played for “keeps” and I was always short of them but “Spudda” Pearce had a big bag full.  At the rear of our house in John Street was a ten acre paddock called the back paddock which was bounded by the Olinda Creek in the east, “The Creek”, the Three Chain Road on the south and “The Drain” mentioned earlier on the west side.  The north side of course consisted of houses.  Part of the paddock is now developed and occupied by the Lilydale Market building.

“The Drain” I think was man-made and the purpose of it was to take the excess water which was an overflow from “the Race” and which eventually finally finished up in the Olinda Creek.  “The Race” was described earlier in this essay and came into my memories of “The Barn”.

The Three Chain Road that I referred to is that part of Old Gippsland Road, now Melba Avenue, that stretches from the railway crossing at Cave Hill Road eastwards down to the Olinda Creek, on which is the remains of an old blackberry covered bridge which was not usable in my time, the ’20’s.  The road was a misnomer then as it consisted of several dirt wheel tracks mainly used by Dad going backwards and forwards to work in the old spring-cart and running the paddocks it serviced.  He also rode that lovely little chestnut pony mentioned earlier.  The cart was drawn by “Nugget” which featured in some earlier escapes from the flooded creek.”

William Hawkey passed away in January 1940, aged 84 years and was interred at the Lilydale Cemetery on January 27, 1940.

His obituary in the Lilydale Express traced his career from his arrival from Koroit about 1880. He worked at the butcher for St Hubert’s vineyard at Yering but when the vineyards petered out he worked at the Cave Hill lime works. Later he was the caretaker of the Lilydale Baths.

Lucy May Hawkey sold the property to Ethel May Carnell for £665 on June 2, 1949.

She passed away on April 22, 1951 and was interred at Lilydale Cemetery with her late husband.

William and Lucy’s son Kenneth was an active member of the Lilydale & District Historical Society and took the time to write his reminiscences of his childhood and growing up in John Street in the 1920s – a valuable resource for future generations.

Ethel May Carnell

Ethel May Carnell held the property until she sold it to Verna Mosca for £610 on April 29, 1953.

Verna Mosca

Ethel May Carnell held the property until she sold it to Verna Mosca for £610 on April 29, 1953.

Verna Mosca sold the property to Verna Mosca and Domenica De Vincentis for £805 on March 12, 1954.

Verna Mosca and Domenica De Vincentis

Verna Mosca and Domenica De Vincentis sold the property to Verna and Concezio Mosca on April 15, 1957 for the same amount.

Verna and Concezio Mosca

The property gradually declined and by July 12, 1971, the Housing Commission Victoria had intervened and declared the home was unfit for human habitation.

This order was revoked on September 3, 1971 as the property had “now ceased to operate” meaning it had probably been demolished.

The Moscas held the property until March 14, 1972 when they sold it to Vera Isabel Ruby Webber & Margaret Ellen Clarke for $14,000. They were motor spare parts retailers.

Haydn Maxwell Mustey

Haydn Maxwell Mustey purchased two strips of land from Webber & Clarke as two parcels on September 30, 1974 for $570 and $635 respectively.

Francis  Joseph & Anne Carolyn Whelan and Alan John and Faye Lynette Whelan

The Moscas held the property until March 14, 1972 when they sold it to Vera Isabel Ruby Webber & Margaret Ellen Clarke for $14,000. They were motor spare parts retailers.

Just two years later, Haydn Maxwell Mustey purchased two strips of land from Webber & Clarke on the western side, on September 30, 1974 for $570 and $635 respectively.

The final owners of the remaining eastern part of the site, prior to the sale to Woolworths, were the Whelan family of Frank, Anne, Alan and Faye.

The Whelans purchased the remaining parcel of land from Webber and Clarke on August 24, 1979 for $60,000 and established their new printing premises. In 1998 they needed to expand so purchased the adjoining Lot 9 or 58 John Street from Edie Briers in November 27, 1986.

Both printers, Alan and Frank knew the value of operating in Gun Alley. Frank had moved to the new Lilydale Express premises when they opened in November 1964, but didn’t like it so worked for several printers in Box Hill for a couple of years before again working with N. W. Gill and Sons at Lilydale.

In 1975, Aland Frank moved their Commodore Press business into premises at the rear of the former Lilydale Express office in Hutchinson Street where they stayed until their own factory was built at 56 John Street.

The Whelan family is well-known in Lilydale. The first family settlers were John and Mary Whelan between 1885 and 1886.

Frank Whelan wrote about his family:

“Dad (William George, or Bill Whelan) was a railway man and we moved around the state with Dad’s job as a signalman and Station Master for a few years until we returned to Lilydale. 

Dad was born in Coldstream at the Park’s Hotel which belonged to my grandmother’s (Ethel May Park) family. 

The Whelan family has been in the Lilydale area for over 100 years. My grandfather (George Heathcote Whelan) was Dame Nellie Melba’s horse groom. My mother (Patricia Corbett) was born in Gordon, near Ballarat. The Corbett family goldmine was located in that area also.

My brother Alan and I have lived in Lilydale almost all of our lives. I was born in Hopetoun in the Mallee and Alan was born in Kyneton. We have been involved in the football club, the swimming club and lots of other organisations. I have had a very long and rewarding association with the Lilydale Fire brigade where I was captain for 30 years and still retain a very active interest and participation in the brigade.

I served my apprenticeship with N. W. Gill and Sons and Alan served his apprenticeship at Asher & Co in Blackburn.

Alan and I are both married to lovely wives. I have three children and 6 grandchildren and Alan has four children. Alan and I along with our wives Anne and Faye were partners in the business. Anne and I still run Commodore Press and Alan and Faye have retired.”

The company is located off Beresford Road, Lilydale and is a medium sized colour and corporate printer and publisher.

The company has been in business for over 30 years and is well known in the area and produces a wide variety of work for a large client base. Offset and digital equipment is used to produce magazines, packaging, corporate and educational stationery and advertising and tourism products.

Frank Whelan received an order of Australia for his services to the Lilydale community and the Lilydale Fire Brigade.

The Whelans continued operating their printing works on the site until about 2010 when they subsequently sold both parcels of land to Woolworths for the entrance into the expanded shopping centre which opened on July 31, 2013.

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