‘St Martins’ at 692 Whitehorse Rd, Mont Albert with its unique historic Federation style architecture and grand scale was a significant historic house in the Mont Albert / Whitehorse area. It should have been valued for this reason but also because it was a rare example of the life-style, culture and historical environment in which the people who developed our area lived. There were no other buildings dating from c.1908 of this heritage, size, architectural style and cultural significance in Mont Albert and Whitehorse.
The legacy of some its residents, particularly the Harston, Pilkington and Ritter families is the contribution they have made to the social culture, business growth and wider heritage of not only Mont Albert/ Whitehorse and Melbourne. Their built environment and cultural legacies should have been recognised and celebrated and then protected for all.
The house was not covered by an individual Council Heritage Overlay and was not on the Victorian Heritage Register or the National Trust; the house should have been listed with these organisations to protect it - given current building developments in Box Hill generally and Mont Albert in particular.
This house should been seen and valued by us into the future as our future is moulded by current and past actions. It should have been protected and preserved. But it was not!
The Harston family
Alfred W Harston was a Melbourne and Mont Albert resident in the late 19th century; a significant Mont Albert landowner (the land upon which St. Martins was built being only a small part of his holdings), a Justice of the Peace, the first President of the Surrey Hills Golf Club, a partner in the firms Fergie and Harston and later Harston, Partridge and Co - a law stationery suppliers, ‘Brighton’ Councillor and President, ‘Hawthorn’ Councillor and Mayor, President of the Board of ‘Johnsons Reef Gold Mine’ in Bendigo, Provisional Director of The Brighton Coffee Palace Company (a hotel development company), committee member of The Standard Mutual Building Society and a charity fundraiser.
Alfred W Harston was born in 1831 in Limehouse, St Anne in England - one of nine children born to John and Mary Harston. His elder brother Frederick and father John were both boat builders and his other brothers Christopher and Arthur were well known London architects. They formed the architectural firm known as A and C Harston and were responsible for designing many government and private buildings. Alfred Harston was a partner in the Law Stationery company A G Harston and Co based in Holborn, England.
In 1853 at the age of 24 Alfred Harston travelled by himself onboard the sailing ship Golcondafrom Liverpool to Melbourne.
An article about Alfred Harston published in The Age newspaper in 1904 (written after his death) mentions ‘Mr Harston was born in London, and came to Victoria in 1853. He at once accepted employment with Hines and Sandwell, a well known firm of solicitors in the early days, but subsequently entered into partnership with Mr. Fergie as law stationers’.
In 1856 Alfred Harston married Ann Elizabeth Fletcher and they had ten children – Alfred Jnr., Emma, Henry, Arthur, Edith, Eliza, Alice, Amy, Walter and Charlotte. His wife, Ann Fletcher was born in Middlesex in 1835 in England to George and Anne Fletcher (nee Walker). In 1855 the Fletcher family had travelled on board the sailing ship Samarang from Plymouth to Melbourne.
In 1857 Alfred Harston went into partnership with Henry Fergie and created the law stationery firm of Fergie and Harston. The firm operated from 84 Little Collins St, Melbourne; the company was dissolved by mutual agreement in 1860.
As well as operating his stationery business Alfred Harston Snr. became involved in local politics. He appears to have moved and lived in a number of areas to the south, east and south east of Melbourne.
He had been involved with the Shire of Moorabbin since at least 1866, when his name appeared on the Shire's seal.
But the Harston family lived in Emerald Hill (South Melbourne) before moving to Hawthorn where Alfred Harston became a Justice of the Peace as well as a Councillor then later becoming the Mayor of Hawthorn from 1871 to 1872. In 1872 Alfred Snr built a house for his family in Hampton St, Hampton, near the junction with Beach Road and named it ‘Esmeralda’ (This house was demolished in the 1970s).
From 1873 to 1884 he was a Councillor with the Shire of Moorabbin and then the Shire President in 1878. Harston Street in Sandringham was mentioned in the local directory for the first time in 1906 when it was named after him.
In 1880 Alfred Harston bought one very large parcel (bordered by Whitehorse Rd in the north, High St in the east, Trafalgar St in the south and Wellesley St in the west) and two smaller parcels of land in Mont Albert. The land Alfred bought was part of the Windsor Park subdivision, at that time Whitehorse Rd was known as Cotham Rd. On the two smaller parcels he built a house which he named ‘Bona Vista’. On the larger parcel of land owned by Alfred Harston a golf club was started in 1892 and he became the first President of this Surrey Hills Golf Club - the area of which was then known locally as ‘Harston’s Paddock’(this went on to become The Riversdale Golf Club). In his book ‘Box Hill’ by Andrew Lemon mentions that ‘Indeed the Surrey Hills Golf Club was one of the earliest clubs to be formed, predated only by the Melbourne (later Royal Melbourne) and Geelong clubs’. The Melbourne Golf Club was founded in 1891 and the Surrey Hills and Geelong Golf Club’s were founded in 1892.
Alfred Harston built a number of homes in Brighton,Hawthorn, Hampton and Mont Albert. These included in 1871 both 18 and 22 Wattle Road, Hawthorn which were designed and built by architect George R Johnson, a fellow Councillor for the Borough of Hawthorn. In 1872 he built ‘Esmeralda’ at 312-314 Hampton Rd, Hampton and then in 1887 he built ‘Marama’ at 161 Church St Brighton (listed with the National Trust).
He went into business with James Partridge forming the company of Harston, Partridge and Co which operated from 452 – 454 Chancery Lane, Melbourne from 1888 to 1900. The company supplied contract and other legal documents to law firms, printed the state government gazette, provided book binding and printing facilities which included sale flyers for land auctions in Surrey Hills/Mont Albert.
In 1888 Alfred built a house on land that what was to become the corner of Trafalgar Rd and Marlborough St in Mont Albert which he named ‘Bona Vista’. This house is still there at 1B Marlborough St in Mont Albert and is covered by a Council Heritage Overlay (HO55). Victoria Cres in Mont Albert was known as Harston St until c1915.
Ann Harston died in 1888.
In 1889 Alfred Harston and a widow Rose Gregory had a son, Alfred Gregory Harston.
In 1903 Alfred Snr remarried Rose Gregory.
Rose was born in 1861 in Melbourne, the daughter of Edmund and Emma Gregory (nee Brooks).
Alfred W Harston died in 1904 at ‘Bona Vista’ in Mont Albert but Rose lived for another 40 years before she died in 1944 in Castlecrag in New South Wales.
The Pilkington family
Henry Franklin Pilkington was born August 2, 1864 in the district of St. Martin, London. He was baptised on 11 October 1864 at St. Martins in the Fields, Westminster. His father was Henry George Pilkington; and his mother was Elizabeth (nee Brockman). Henry and his family were living at 33 St. Martins Lane, in the Parish of St. Martins.
Six years old Henry F. Pilkington travelled with his parents from England onboard the sailing ship Childwall Abbey and arrived in Melbourne in 1870.
In 1890 Henry F Pilkington married Elizabeth Morris. Elizabeth was born in Collingwood in 1867 the daughter of Edmund and Elizabeth Morris (nee Howlett). Henry and Elizabeth had eight children: twins Gertrude and Marjorie, Elizabeth Jnr, Alison, Frank, Henry Jnr - two children Alan and Doris did not survive infancy. They lived in Carlton and Camberwell before moving to St. Martins, Mont Albert.
Henry’s occupation was listed as ‘warehouseman’ and later as ‘partner’ in the firm of Hartnell and Co. The company started making umbrella’s and parasol’s in 1881 and was located in Russell St, Melbourne (where the Grand Hyatt Hotel is now located).
An article written about the company appeared in the 1906 edition of Australian Industry journal and mentioned: ‘This parasol manufactory of Australia, and its productions are well worthy of the reputation which the firm has secured throughout Australia for first class work and tasteful design’.
The Argus newspaper in writing about the ‘Australian Exhibition’ held in 1929 mentions ‘Hartnell and Co who are the largest umbrella manufacturer in Victoria, make 500 dozen umbrellas in the season’.
The land that the house ‘St. Martins’ was built on was originally part of Alfred Harston’s estate which was subdivided in 1906 and named Mont Albert.
On a copy of the 1906 land sale flyer for this subdivision the name of Henry Pilkington was hand written across lots 18, 19 and 20 - these lots would later become 694 Whitehorse Rd, Mont Albert.
Around 1908 Henry Pilkington built the house in the Edwardian style and named it ‘St Martins’ after the area where he was born and lived in England.
That same year the family appears to have moved in and it appears that Elizabeth Pilkington needed help around the house and placed an advertisement in The Age newspaper for a ‘General experienced. Mrs Pilkington, corner White Horse Rd, and High St, Mont Albert, near station’.
In the 1910 edition of the Sands and McDougal directory the house was listed for the first time under the name of ‘St Martins’.
In 1911 it was reported in the Reporter Box Hill newspaper – Nunawading Shire Council that Henry Pilkington ‘on behalf of ratepayers in the neighbourhood, asking that a lamp be placed at the corner of High and Nelson streets, which was a dangerous spot for pedestrian traffic, - Cr Scott moved that a reply be sent that the request will be considered with the next estimates. – Seconded by Cr. Garrett and carried’.
Also in 1911 the Reporter Box Hill mentions that Henry in another letter to the Nunawading Shire Council ‘ stating that he desired to fence an allotment on White Horse road, and asking that the bank of that road be cleared to the building line, and that the ground be cut back to correspond with the lower portion. He was prepared to bear the extra expense which would be incurred. – The engineer said that the proposed work would cost about £3 10/, and on the motion of Crs. Scott and Proudfoot he was authorised to carry it out on the terms of the letter.’
The Pilkington sons – a tradition of military service to Australia - WW1 and post WW1
World War 1
Henry Pilkington Jnr.
Henry Pilkington Jnr was born in 1891 in Carlton.
On January 16, 1915 Henry Jnr enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F). Although he was given the name of Henry at birth, on his enlistment papers he gave the name of Harry. Henry was listed as a ‘driver’ in the 4th Reinforcements Divisional Army Column (D.A.C) and he was posted to the A.I.F Headquarters in Melbourne.
His brother Frank enlisted 7 days later on January 23, 1915.
Both brothers listed their next of kin as their mother and ‘St Martins’ as her home. The telephone directories for 1914, 1919 and 1922 list ‘St. Martins’ as their residence.
In March of the same year both Henry and Frank sailed from Melbourne on the troopship HMAT Shropshire A9 to Alexandria, Egypt.
In Alexandria Henry was transferred to the 6th Battery Australian Field Artillery.
In September 1915 the 6th Battery was posted to Gallipoli and Henry was appointed ‘Acting Sargent’.
From 1915 to 1919 he was stationed at the A.I.F Headquarters, A.I.F Canteen and the Intermediate Base Depot in Cairo.
In 1918 he was promoted to ‘Warrant Officer’.
In April 1919 Henry returned to Australia on board the Somali. Returning to Mont Albert, Henry continued working as a ‘warehouseman’.
In June 1919 Henry was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal ‘in recognition of valuable service rendered with the forces in Egypt’. The notice of his award appeared in The London Gazette in June 1919 and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette in October 1919.
Frank Pilkington Jnr was born in 1893 in Carlton.
Before WW1 in 1913 Frank enlisted with the 5th Australian Imperial Regiment as ‘bugler’.
On January 23, 1915 Frank enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F) - his brother Henry had enlisted a week before on January 16, 1915. On Frank’s enlistment papers he was listed as a ‘driver’ in the 1st Brigade Divisional Army Column (D.A.C).
In March 1915 Frank and Henry sailed from Melbourne on the troopship HMAT Shropshire A9 to Alexandria, Egypt.
In February 1916 in Frank was transferred in the position of ‘gunner’ to the 13th Field Artillery Brigade which was created to support the newly raised 4th Division.
The 13thField Artillery Brigade went on to serve in Egypt, Fromelles, the retreat to the Hindenburg Line, Bullecourt, Messines, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Ancre, Villers Bretonneux, Hamel, Amiens, Albert, and the Hindenburg Line.
In 1917 Frank was promoted to Corporal and was awarded three blue chevrons for each year of service.
In 1918 Frank sailed from Weymouth in England to Melbourne on board the Durham Castle.
Returning to Mont Albert, he continued to work as a ‘salesman’.
Post WW1 - The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (A.N& M.E.F)
The A.N & M.E.F was raised shortly after the outbreak of World War I to seize and destroy German wireless stations in German New Guinea as they were used by the German Navy to threaten merchant shipping in the region. Following the capture of German New Guinea by Australia, the A.N. &M.E.F provided occupation forces for the duration of the war.
The A.N. &M.E.F was a small volunteer force of approximately 2,000 men. The naval reservists were drawn from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. Due to the urgency of organising the force, the military component consisted of military personnel from New South Wales only.
Following the end of World War 1 in November 1918 the role of the A.N. &M.E.F in the former German colony became one of civil administration, although it continued to provide a garrison for the next two and a half years. The military government continued until 1921 when Australia received a mandate from the League of Nations to govern the territory.
In 1920 Frank Pilkington enlisted as a ‘private’ in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (A.N & M.E.F) serving in the position of ‘clerk’ in Rabaul in New Guinea.
In 1921 Frank sailed from Rabaul in New Guinea to Melbourne on board the Melusia. Returning to Mont Albert, Frank continued working as a ‘salesman’.
Despite the occupation by the Japanese between 1942 -1945 the administration of the New Guinea by Australia lasted until 1975 when Papua New Guinea gained its independence.
In 1917 the Surrey Hills Bowling Club unveiled an Honor Roll of the names of member’s son’s who had served in World War 1 and these included Henry and Frank Pilkington.
The Surrey Hills Bowling Club was started at the home of James Albon who built a bowling green at his home on the corner of Mont Albert Rd and Wilson St in Surrey Hills. The green became so popular that James organised the creation of a bowling club in 1912 on the corner of Montrose and Wilson Streets in Surrey Hills.
In an interesting aside into local family connections James Albon’s daughter Rebecca was married to Antonio San Miguel. Antonio’s family lived at ‘St Abbs’ in York St. Mont Albert. Antonio and Rebecca San Miguel lived at ‘Glendale’ at 63 Woodhouse Gve in Box Hill North. The story of the San Miguel family can be found on this website on the page titled ‘Glendale’.
The original club rooms were rebuilt in 1922/23 using ‘interlocking blocks’ as a building material having been recommended to them by the renowned architect Walter Burley-Griffin who designed the city of Canberra.
The Surrey Hills Bowls Club closed in 1995.
In 1925 William Pilkington subdivided and sold Lot 18 that he originally bought in 1906 - this subdivision then became numbers 33, 35, 37, 39 High St, Mont Albert. The houses on Lot 18 were built between 1925 and 1935 and are still there. The family still owned Lots 19 and 20 - 694 Whitehorse Rd.
Henry Pilkington Snr. died in 1937 at ‘St Martin’s.
Around 1938 Elizabeth Pilkington Snr subdivided the western end of 694 Whitehorse Rd and created 692 Whitehorse Rd. This newly created lot was bought by local ‘builder’ Edward Garrett in 1939. Edward Garrett lived at 644 Whitehorse Rd in Mont Albert and was a member of a well known family of builders and pioneers of Box Hill. More will be presented on the newly created 692 Whitehorse Rd and its residents later.
Elizabeth Pilkington Snr. died in 1945 at ‘St Martin’s.
The Lane family
Reginald Lane was born in 1893 in Melbourne to Charles and Marianne Lane (nee Sadgrove) and lived in Melbourne for a number of years. But by 1921 he was living in Yeerongpilly in Queensland where his occupation was listed as ‘manager’ at B. J. Ball - an Australian paper merchant.
In 1924 Reginald Lane and Alice Brookes were married at the West End Methodists Church in Brisbane. Alice Lane was born in Brisbane in 1894 to Charles and Alice Brookes (nee Bull). They had two children Joan and Reginald Jnr.
In 1926 Reginald was a ‘Director’ of B.J. Ball.
Around 1940 the Lane family moved to 8 Carson St. in Surrey Hills (now Mont Albert). Carson St (now Avenue) runs from east to west between Inglisby Rd and Victoria Cres parallel to Whitehorse Rd. It is highly likely that the Lane family would have known of and seen the ‘St Martins’ house on a regular basis.
It appears the Reginald had received a promotion as his occupation at this time was listed as ‘Managing Director’ of B. J. Ball.
In 1946 the Title records show Alice Lane as the owner of 694 Whitehorse Rd – ‘St. Martins’.
A little about B. J. Ball - it was founded by Benjamin Joseph Ball. Benjamin was born in 1870 in Raglan, Victoria to William and Selena Ball (nee Owen). In 1906 Benjamin opened his first office in Sydney followed by an office in Brisbane in 1911, Melbourne in 1918, and in Auckland, New Zealand in 1921. A buying office was opened in London in 1922. In 1926 the New Zealand business was sold and in 1937 new branches were opened in Adelaide and Perth. The company merged with Edwards Dunlop and Company Limited in 1966.
In 2017 B J Ball merged with D W Doggett and became Ball and Doggett, the company is still in existence. In regards to local family connections: Benjamin Ball’s brother Archelaus Ball married a local resident Elizabeth Davis whose family lived on Mont Albert Rd in Surrey Hills. Benjamin’s sister Emma Ball lived in Surrey Hills until her death in 1955.
In 1951 the Lane family sold the house to the Ritter family.
The Ritter family
Richard Ernest Ritter was born in 1904 in Hawthorn; he was the son of Richard F. and Amy Ritter (nee Miche) who were married in 1901; they had eight other children – Amelia, Hilda, Leonard, Frederick, Hazel, Harold, John and Amie.
Richard E. lived with his family at 3 Leopold Cres in Surrey Hills and his occupation was listed as ‘clerk’. Later he worked for the insurance firm of ‘Medhurst Taylor’ as an ‘Insurance Broker’.
In an interesting aside into local family connections in 1914 Richard F. Ritter’s brother Ernest Ritter married Zoe Padgham, the grand niece of Box Hill pioneer Silas Padgham (i.e. daughter of Walter Padgham who was the son of Silas Padgham’s brother Alfred)
In 1931 Richard E Ritter married Grace Dorey and they had four children: Judith, Beverley, Maxwell and Reginald (who died in infancy). Grace Dorey was born in 1904 in Mt Dandenong, Victoria the daughter of Alfred and Lily Dorey (nee Jenkins).
Prior to moving to 694 Whitehorse Rd, Richard and Grace lived around the corner at 39 High St, Mont Albert - 39 High St is on the south eastern corner next to 694 Whitehorse Rd. In 1925 Henry Pilkington subdivided and sold Lot 18 with this subdivision becoming numbers 33, 35, 37, 39 High St, Mont Albert. The houses on these lots were built between 1925 and 1935 and are still there.
In an interesting aside: Grace Ritter’s uncle Edwin Dorey established the famous ‘Quamby Tearooms’ in Olinda in 1911. In the Emerald U3A Summer Newsletter, December 2020 Anne Taylor mentions ‘The Quamby had been famous for its strawberries and cream, which sold at sixpence a dish. It had a great reputation for the day-trippers who used to come up from the suburbs of Melbourne and call in for a reasonable meal or a snack’.
The ‘Quamby Tearooms’ later went on to become the renowned ‘Cuckoo Restaurant’ under the management of Australia’s first ‘celebrity chef’ Willi Koeppen, the restaurant closed in 2020. In 2018, The Age newspaper published an article in regards to the mysterious disappearance of Willi Koeppen: The Cuckoo affair: What happened to Willi Koeppen? (theage.com.au)
In 1958 the Ritter family sold 694 Whitehorse Rd (St. Martins) to the Methodist Church (Victoria) Property Trust.
A little about 692 Whitehorse Rd
As mentioned above, around 1938 Elizabeth Pilkington Snr subdivided the western end of 694 Whitehorse Rd and created 692 Whitehorse Rd.
The newly created lot was bought by local ‘builder’ Edward Garrett in 1939. It is highly likely he built the house at 692 Whitehorse Rd after he bought the land in 1939 as he had built a number of other houses in the Mont Albert area.
This house which Edward Garrett may have built on this site was demolished in the late 1970’s.
Edward lived down the road at 644 Whitehorse Rd, Mont Albert and was a member of a well known family of builders and pioneers of Box Hill. The story of the Garrett family can be found on this website on the page titled ‘Springfield’.
In the City of Whitehorse Heritage Properties Review 2006 Gem of Box Hill & Mates’ Housing Development Precinct: 2006 it is mentioned: ‘Edward Garrett left Box Hill about 1928 for a place in Mont Albert. By then he and other members of the Garrett family had left their mark on the character of this portion of Court Street having built houses at nos.2, 6, 8, 10 and 12 between 1902 and 1927’.
Residents of 692 Whitehorse Rd
The Jenkin family
In 1940 William V. Jenkin Jnr. bought 692 Whitehorse Rd from Edward Garrett. At the time William bought the house he was living and teaching in Beaufort, Victoria but in 1943 he and his wife Doris were recorded as living at 692Whitehorse Rd.
William V. Jenkin was born in Colac in 1902 to William and Charlotte Jenkin (nee Cope). In 1928 William Jnr. married Doris Wild who was born in Yea in 1901 to James and Amy Wild (nee Knights). They did not have any children.
William Jnr. followed his father’s profession as a ‘Teacher’. William Snr. had joined the Education Department in 1884 as a ‘pupil teacher’ at Cambrian Hill in Victoria and qualified as Teacher in 1888. He then worked at two schools in Oakville and Quambatook South on a ‘part time basis’ but later obtained ‘full time positions’ to be in charge of the schools at Cobrico, Warncoort, Betley and Wedderburn. He eventually became ‘Head Teacher’ at Glenhuntly in 1917 and retired in 1934.
William’s family had a long and distinguished history in the development of Victoria.
William Jnr’s mother Charlotte was the granddaughter of Thomas Cope. Thomas Cope arrived in Melbourne around 1857. In 1858 he went into partnership with his brother Edward and nephew Thomas Henry and formed the import business of Cope Brothers & Nephew, they operated in Bourke St, Melbourne. In 1865 Thomas became a member of the Boroondara Roads Board and in 1869 he was the Mayor of Collingwood. He was also a Member of the Legislative Assembly from 1868 to 1877. His brother Edward Cope was also a Member of the Legislative Assembly from 1864 to 1871.
In 1918 William V. Jenkin’s sister Muriel Jenkin married Meleager Gray the son of Achilles and Sarah Gray (nee Crisp). Achilles was a Veterinary Surgeon, farmer and politician. He served as Councillor and was President of the Korong Shire Council five times. In 1914 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly as the Liberal member for Korong.
Back to William V. Jenkin
In 1932 the Victorian Government Gazette mentions William V. Jenkins is ‘to receive remuneration therefore, subject to the condition that the work be performed by them only during hours outside the ordinary hours fixed for the discharge of their duties in the Public Service’
In 1969 William V. Jnr sold 692 Whitehorse Rd to a ‘consortium of businessman and ministers of religion’.
The Clarkson family
In the 1970 directory Eric Clarkson was listed as living at 692 Whitehorse Rd until 1974. His name does not appear on the Title records which may indicate that he either rented the house or lived there as part of his work as a ‘Minister of Religion’ on behalf of the Methodist Church.
Eric Clarkson was born on May 28, 1901 in Sunbury. He was the son of Henry and Ellen Clarkson. Henry Clarkson’s (Eric’s father) occupation was ‘Methodist Home Missionary’.
Eric Clarkson followed his father and became a Methodist local preacher. Eric completed an apprenticeship at Williamstown Docks as an ‘engineering pattern-maker’ and preached his trial sermon in 1921. He later took up full-time evangelistic work with the ‘Victorian Open Air Mission’ (VOAM).
In 1933 Eric Clarkson married Ellen Kempton. Ellen was born in Prahran in 1906 the daughter of William and Susan Kempton (nee Drayton). Eric and Ellen had eight children - Peter, David, John, Ruth, Mary, James, Elizabeth and Philip.
In 1935 Eric Clarkson had resigned from the ‘Evangelisation Society’ and went to the ‘Methodist Open-air and Factory Mission’ of the ‘Methodist Home Missions’. Eric became the first ‘missioner’ to present the Gospel to holiday and beach goers.
In 1942 Eric did very little beach work as new regulations changed the type of activities which could be done during holiday periods.
During World War II, Eric became involved in providing help for the soldiers before they left Australia. In a biography of Eric Clarkson from the Evangelisation Society of Australasia Book 2 it is mentioned that “Mr. Clarkson was probably the first to provide entertainment at Puckapunyal, the new camp site of the Second A.I.F. Hearing of his work in the other camps, the carpenters (of whom there are several hundred’s engaged on the work of building huts) asked him to come to the new camp site. By this time there were several hundred A.I.F. men in camp. Mr. Clarkson’s night was a great success, and already he has been invited to camps in other areas for such acceptable service.” Eric continued working with the Second A.I.F until the end of the World War II.
After the war Eric continued his pre war work, travelling throughout Victoria and Tasmania, for the ‘Methodist Home Missions’.
In 1963 he was ordained by the Methodist Conference, undertook circuit appointments and ceased his Methodist Home Missions work.
In 1964 he was stationed at the Methodist Church in Noradjuha until 1969. Noradjuha is a rural village 25 km south west of Horsham in Victoria.
The telephone directory had Eric Clarkson listed as living at 692 Whitehorse Rd from 1970 until 1974.
In 1974 the Methodist Church (Trust) Property Trust bought 692 Whitehorse Rd from a ‘consortium of businessmen and ministers of religion’.
The Title for 692 Whitehorse Rd was cancelled and 692 and 694 Whitehorse Rd were consolidated and given the address of 692 Whitehorse Rd.
Between 1974 and 1975 the house at 692 Whitehorse Rd was demolished and an accommodation wing was built for the ‘Moorfields Community for Adult Care’ (run by the Uniting Church) and named ‘Annersley Home’.
After retiring Eric undertook relief work for the Presbyterian Church in Ballan and Ballarat.
Eric Clarkson died in Heidelberg in 1982 and Ellen Clarkson died in 2002.
‘ST MARTINS' - THE HOUSE
The land that this house was built on was originally part of Alfred Harston’s estate which was subdivided in 1906 and named Mont Albert. On a copy of the 1906 land sales flyer for this subdivision the name of Henry Pilkington was hand written across lots 18, 19 and 20, these lots would later go on to become 694 Whitehorse Rd.
Around 1908 Henry Pilkington built a grand villa on a grand lot (4090sqm, 1 acre) in the Edwardian style at 694 Whitehorse Rd and he named it ‘St Martins’.
The house was built of red brick with detailing that included rendered string courses, carved timber verandah friezes, turned timber posts, half timbered gable ends, decorative window hoods, terracotta ridge capping and chimney pots.
The ‘City of Whitehorse Heritage Review: Building Citations 1999’ states that the architect of the house is ‘unknown’. The Melbourne architectural firm of A J Inches designed a number of houses in Mont Albert and Surrey Hills in the Federation/Queen style around the time ‘St Martins’ was built. Was ‘St Martins’ designed by A. J. Inches?
Whitehorse Planning Scheme
Amendment C3 Part 2 - Panel Report.
In November 2000 the then Minister for Planning John Thwaites ‘appointed under delegation’ Ray Rooke (Chairperson) and Maggie Baron (Member) to a Panel to consider and hear submissions in regards to Amendment C3 Part 2 to the Whitehorse Planning Scheme. The amendments were ‘to provide heritage protection to significant buildings and precincts within the municipality by their inclusion in the Planning Scheme under a Heritage Overlay (HO)’.
In the Panel report in regards to 692 Whitehorse Rd and 39 High St (both owned by Moorfields Community for Adult Care) in Mont Albert ‘The Panel agrees with the Council’s reasons for supporting inclusion within the heritage precinct’.
‘Moorfields Community for Adult Care’ commissioned Architectural Historian and Conservation Architect consultant Mr D Beck (the name may be misspelt as I could only find records for a David Bick - Architectural Historian and Conservation Architect). In their submission to the Panel ‘Moorfields Community for Adult Care, requested that they be excluded from the heritage area as none of the buildings on the two sites justify preservation on heritage grounds. It is submitted that neither site is significant nor contributes to the area’.
In their final response the Panel stated ‘Allom Lovell and Associates reviewed the area as part of the Whitehorse Heritage Review 1999. It was considered that the boundaries of the area be extended northwards, including the Moorfields properties, given that these buildings were consistent with the significance of the original historic area.
During the community consultation period held for the Whitehorse Review 1999, Moorfields met with Council officers to express their concern about the Heritage Overlay and their need to upgrade their facilities.
Council considered the request for demolition at its meeting on 5 June 2000 and resolved that it did not support the demolition of the building and resolved that the Independent Panel set up for Amendment C3 consider the matter.
In making this resolution, Council considered the contribution of both of the buildings to the proposed heritage precinct. The Heritage Overlay is concerned with impact of development on the streetscape, so the ‘exterior houses’ such as those referred to by Mr Beck can make a significant contribution to the precinct’s appearance and continuity through conversation.
In addition, while a planning permit is normally required for buildings and works for the aged care facility, a Heritage Overlay would require that these buildings and works, and demolition if appropriate, be proposed in a form that respects the bulk, scale and setback of other contributory buildings in the area.
The Heritage Overlay would be only one of many issues to be considered when assessing such an application. It is also noted that the heritage precinct extends to Whitehorse Road at Marlborough Street and High Street, as well as the Moorfields site. It is considered that there is little justification to argue that either of the buildings are not contributory to the heritage streetscape.
Council further advised additional properties will be assessed during the next phase of Council’s Heritage Study programme and Glencoe, at 766 Whitehorse Road, Mont Albert will then be assessed.
The Panel approves the inclusion of the precinct within the Heritage Overlay as amended’.
Whitehorse Planning Scheme: 2016
Below is an excerpt from the ‘Whitehorse Planning Scheme: 2016’ in regards to the Mont Albert Residential Precinct:
‘Mont Albert Residential Precinct is of historical significance. It is a long-standing residential area bounded by Whitehorse Rd, High St, Trafalgar St and Union Rd, which demonstrates aspects of the growth and consolidation of Mont Albert from the latter decades of the nineteenth century through to the later interwar period. Development generally commenced in the 1880s after the extension of the railway line to Lilydale and the construction of the Mont Albert railway station which opened in 1890. However, as with other areas of Mont Albert, the 1890s economic Depression stymied development, which then picked up again here after the extension of the Whitehorse Road tramway in 1916.
The Mont Albert Residential Precinct is of considerable aesthetic and historic significance. Aesthetically, this precinct contains a large number of substantially intact houses that represent the three major phases of development in Mont Albert-the Victorian, Edwardian and inter-War periods. The historically important remnant Victorian houses are complemented by a large number of Edwardian and Inter-War houses exhibiting a range of interesting stylistic characteristics. Most of the houses display a particularly high level of intactness. The precinct also has historical associations with the Matthew Davies’ Free hold and Investment Banking Company, an important nineteenth century property speculator.
22.01-1 04/08/2016 C157 (Part1)
Policy basis Clause21.05 Environment requires buildings, areas, structures and natural features of heritage significance to be protected, conserved and enhanced. This is because these places of cultural significance are important in providing a snap shot into the City of Whitehorse’s past. They are, therefore, an integral part of the City’s social and cultural identity.
There are over two hundred individual heritage properties scattered throughout the municipality. These buildings add interest, character and a sense of identity to the neighbourhoods in which they are located. The buildings and area subject to a Heritage Overlay are considered to be the best examples of their type within Whitehorse. These buildings may have historical, architectural, social, technological, cultural or scientific significance or any combination of these.
The conservation and enhancement of these buildings is critical if the heritage of this municipality is to be preserved. To achieve this MSS requires that the use and development of heritage places is sensitive to their importance, retaining their integrity, character and appearance. All use, buildings and works carried out on a heritage property should protect its historic and aesthetic value, whilst reinforcing its original character. This ensures that its cultural significance is retained. For some heritage places there retention and conservation of features such as trees, hedges, fences and outbuildings is essential as they add to the historical importance and setting of the building or structure. Heritage precincts and group listings are vital in portraying the story of how this City developed and what life was like at that time.
Each precinct has a different character and was built in a different period, so collectively they make a substantial contribution to preserving the history of the City. These precincts are to be treated with care to ensure that any redevelopment or change in land use reflects their special qualities. Within some precincts there are opportunities to improve their cohesiveness and aesthetic quality through refurbishment and limited redevelopment, provided that a consistent set of design and decision making principles are applied’.
In their submission to the Panel ‘Moorfields Community for Adult Care, stated ‘Until recently, Moorfields have operated a hostel, known as Annersley, at 692 Whitehorse Road. Residents have been relocated to a new facility at 75 Thames 25 Street. Both 692 Whitehorse Road and 33 High Street are currently leased to the Brotherhood of St Lawrence until November 2000 after which time it is envisaged these sites will be redeveloped’.
In 2001 the Methodist Church sold 692 Whitehorse Rd and 33 High Street in Mont Albert to Orion Holdings PTY LTD.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF 'ST MARTINS'
In 2001 Orion Holdings PTY LTD bought 692 Whitehorse Rd and 33 High Street from the Methodist Church.
In 2002 Orion Holdings submitted a planning application (WH/13413) ‘for the development of three 3 storey buildings comprising 54 dwellings with basement car parking, alterations and additions to a heritage listed building and relocation of the existing crossover’s’. The Whitehorse Council decided to refuse to grant the permit and was taken to VCAT by Orion Holdings. Whitehorse council should be commended for not granting approval of this application.
During the VCAT hearing, Whitehorse Council stated that Orion Holdings proposal mentioned ‘The centrally located heritage building will be retained. This building is proposed to be modified to contain a number of common services for the dwellings. The existing buildings adjoining the heritage building will be demolished. Three new buildings are proposed to be constructed around the heritage building in a horseshoe arrangement with a western, eastern and southern wing’.
In 2004 VCAT supported Whitehorse Council’s decision not to approve this application. To read about this VCAT hearing please click here:
The President of the West of Elgar Residents Association (WERA) Geoff White supported the council’s decision, attended the VCAT hearings and made a written submission. Geoff White and WERA are to be commended for trying to protect and preserve our built heritage. Sadly WERA ceased operating in 2016. To read WERA’s submission please click on the following link:
In 2003 Orion Holdings began operating the site as student accommodation under the name ‘Ruian Student Accommodation’.
In 2007 Jess Wang inspected the site before signing an agreement to take over the running of the student accommodation business. The following is an excerpt from Boston Group’s edition of the VCAT 2014 hearing in regards to Jess Wang’s site inspection - ‘The Applicant inspected Orion’s premises on a number of occasions. In her witness statement filed in this proceeding, the Applicant describes the condition of the premises: ‘I found that the building was poorly maintained and in need of many necessary repairs’.
In 2007 Orion Holdings and Jess Wang (NGC Student Services Australia trading as ‘Buttonwood’), entered an agreement under which she purchased an interest in Orion’s student accommodation business and was granted a lease of the premises.
In 2010 Jess Wang was looking to sell the lease and had found a buyer but Orion Holdings did not support the sale of the lease. As a result Jess Wang could not sell the business and continued operating it.
In 2014 Jess Wang took Orion Holdings to VCAT (ref no R243/2013) in regards to a dispute over her interest in the student accommodation business and reimbursement for her out of pocket expenses for building repair and maintenance. VCAT decided in favour of Jess Wang and ordered Orion Holdings to reimburse her. To read about the VCAT hearing please click on the following links:
To read Boston Group’s edition of the VCAT hearing please click on the following link:
To find out more about the Boston Group please click on the following link:
In 2014 Orion Holdings submitted a planning application (WH/2014/467) with the wording ‘Demolition of buildings and development of a part 2 storey and 3 storey building comprising dwellings with basement carpark and alteration to access to a road in a Road Zone Category 1’. There is no mention of the heritage building in this application as there was in their 2002 application. The Whitehorse Council decided to refuse to grant the permit and was taken to VCAT by Orion Holdings. Whitehorse council should be commended for not granting approval for this application.
In the April 2015 edition of WERA’s Newsletter mentions the VCAT hearing ‘Council and WERA made submissions supporting retention of the house and restricting the development to 2 –storeys. The VCAT decision is pending but WERA will not be surprised if the proposal is permitted; i.e. the demolition of the Edwardian villa will be allowed even though the applicant acknowledged that the building is in sound condition but argued main road; large allotment; close to activity centres; on public transport route etc’.
In 2015 VCAT approved Orion Holdings application. To read about the VCAT hearing please click on the following links:
In 2015 Orion Holdings PTY LTD sold 692 Whitehorse Rd to Orion International Group.
The heritage house was subsequently demolished and the site moonscaped in 2017 and fifty five apartments were built on the site.
The future for Whitehorse
The house was not covered by a Council Heritage Overlay but it was included in the Mont Albert Heritage Precinct. It was not on the Register of the National Estate or registered with the National Trust or on the Victorian Heritage Register; inclusion on these registers should have been looked into to protect it.
In their 2004 decision VCAT supported the retention of the heritage house but in their 2014 decision they approved the demolition of the heritage house? Their decision to support the demolition of the heritage house was disappointing and sets a very dangerous precedent for heritage precincts and homes not only in Mont Albert but Whitehorse.
All use, buildings and works carried out on a heritage property should protect its historic and aesthetic value, whilst reinforcing its original character. This ensures that its cultural significance is retained. For some heritage places there retention and conservation of features such as trees, hedges, fences and outbuildings is essential as they add to the historical importance and setting of the building or structure. Heritage precincts and group listings are vital in portraying the story of how this City developed and what life was like at that time’.
Whitehorse Planning Scheme: 2016
The house at 692 Whitehorse Rd, Mont Albert was seen as having heritage value for Whitehorse and sadly it was demolished and with it an important piece of our built heritage.
The demolition or irrevocable changes made to our built heritage raises a number of important questions about how we and our governments value, define and protect it. In Victoria the state government is responsible for developing and implementing heritage legislation/protections.
When will the Victorian government implement heritage legislation that better protects our built heritage?
You are welcome to use the information on this website, but please acknowledge its source and the author.
In September 2023 a developer lodged an application (WH/2023/768) to demolish and build three dwellings at 25 Thames St, Box Hill North.
This house was lived in and may have been built by William H Elsum, a well-known Melbourne poet, historian, editor, newspaper founder and printer.
Please email the Councillors of the Whitehorse Heritage Steerage Committee requesting that an assessment be undertaken of this house by a heritage consultant to ascertain its local &/or state heritage significance.