Allow approx: 1hour (2km on sealed footpath)

Seating facilities: Pioneer Park and Rose Victoria Park

Toilet facilities: Pioneer Park

Early Box Hill Walking Tour


Commence at Pioneer Park, cnr Station and Harrow Sts. Walking down Station St, stopping briefly at Ashted Road, then continuing to Albion Road and turning left. Going east along Albion to Victoria St and going along it to linear park; walking thru that to Rose Street, turning left to look at 2 sites on the eastern side, then crossing the road to No. 27, before turning back and resuming walking through the linear park. Cross William Street and continue on to Glenmore St , turn right to No. 24, then back and briefly down Ashted Rd. Go thru park on right to Henry St, then left into Harrow St, walk down that towards Station Street and finish back at Pioneer Park.

When Europeans began settling this part of Victoria, they were intruding on Aboriginal country. The area of Whitehorse is within the estate of a clan called Wurundjeri willam. This estate comprised an area on the southern side of the Yarra River, extending from the lowest stretch of Gardiners Creek to the Yarra’s source at Mt Baw Baw.

Wurundjeri willam spoke a language called Woi wurrung. Through a similarity between this language and others, as well as longstanding marriage connections, and shared spiritual beliefs, the Wurundjeri willam were part of the Kulin nation. It was customary for members of the clan to exchange marriage partners with clans within the Taung wurrung language group, from the area of the Goulburn and Ovens Rivers.

For tens of thousands of years, the Wurundjeri had cared for their country, subtly managing its natural landscapes through practices such as firestick farming and the measured use of seasonal resources. In the Aboriginal world, people believed this was the primary purpose of human life. You can find more details about the Kulin and Indigenous culture in First people: the Eastern Kulin of Melbourne, Port Phillip and central Victoria, by Gary Presland.

Please start the tour by walking down Station Street, south to Albion Road, while we provide some background on the natural history of the area as well as one of the major settlers in this particular area, George Sim and his family. Turn into Albion Road.

The landscape through which you are walking today was once covered by a grassy forest, rich in trees, shrubs and ground-covering plants. The vegetation encountered here by Europeans in the earliest days of European settlement has been classified by ecologists as a ‘Valley Grassy Forest’.

This was essentially a dry forest, as seen by the species of trees, growing on the deep clayey soils of the ancient Silurian bedrock of Melbourne. During rainy periods an ephemeral stream flowed from an area just north of Whitehorse Road, crossing the line of Harrow Street on its way to Gardiners Creek to the south.

Please start to walk down Albion Road to just before Catherine Street.

In 1904 Richard and Catherine Bull and some of their adult unmarried children moved into a wooden house on ¾ of an acre on the southern side of Albion Road, near Station Street. The property was owned by solicitor and property investor Joseph Woolf, whose mother Catherine had lived there from the 1890s until her death the previous year. The Bulls named the property Yalding, after Richard’s birthplace in Kent England. He had emigrated with his family in 1853, aged 18, when the family first settled in Bendigo. He subsequently established himself as a storekeeper there and later in Melbourne, before retiring. The decision of Richard and Catherine to move to Box Hill may have had something to do with the ill-health of their ninth son Martin, as Box Hill was promoted as a healthy area. As it was, Martin lived only a few months more, and his mother Catherine died 3 years later.

The eldest Bull son, also called Richard, was a brilliant student and had graduated in medicine in 1896. He subsequently served as lecturer and first director at Melbourne University’s newly formed bacteriological laboratory. As well as his medical interests, Richard jnr was an accomplished musician, an expert landscape gardener, keen horticulturist and expert photographer. He and his wife Catherine nee Perrier, bought a property in Warrigal Road Surrey Hills, which they named Medlow. It was left to the National Trust by the family, but without funding, and was later sold by them. It can still be seen today – refer to the photo below. Their daughter Norma became a well-known artist, and information about her, and a photograph of a local work, entitled Old Box Hill.

Please now walk down to the block of flats that is No. 27
Charles Powell Hodges

In 1885, the Hodges family moved into a house on this site. The 7 roomed house was weatherboard with a slate roof, well set back from the road, with a nice garden. It had a frontage of 327 ft by a depth of 212ft, or about 100 metres by 64 metres.

Charles Powell Hodges was born in Gloucester England in 1832, one of 6 children of John Powell Hodges, and his wife Sarah nee Prosser. He too arrived in Victoria in 1853, and like many others, went to the goldfields, but not to dig, rather to work in a store. He married Marion Dick in 1856, and the couple had 8 sons and one daughter, all born around the Castlemaine area. Although he set up as a storekeeper at Chewton, he was not a business success, being declared bankrupt in 1860. By some means, perhaps from a Chinese servant, he had learnt Chinese and became proficient both in written and spoken Chinese. He applied to the police force for a position as Chinese interpreter, one of a number that were used in the courts. He was accepted, and worked on many cases as a police interpreter in country Victoria, particularly in the goldfields areas, and in 1880 was asked by the government to report to the Legislative Council on the Chinese in Victoria.

Banff Exercise Book This impressive house has a Whitehorse Council heritage overlay, one of 3 houses in the street that have overlays, and was built by John Robert Daley. Born in Bendigo in 1862, he was the younger son of Charles Daley, a builder and contractor, and obviously learnt his trade from his father. How they met is unknown, but in 1885 he married Jessie Elizabeth Sim, daughter of George and Catherine, who have been mentioned already.

John Daley and his new wife settled in a weatherboard house in Albion Road, producing 3 children between 1886 and 1891. He was a successful and busy builder, locally building a number of properties, both residential and business. He also became involved in local affairs, becoming a member of the MUIOOF, joining the cricket club, and being elected to the Box Hill Council.

But in the early 1890s a depression occurred, and many people were thrown out of work. It seems that in an effort to help both provide work and stimulate the economy, George Sims’s widow, Catherine, commissioned Daley to build Banff, named after her late husband’s Scottish birthplace, and left it to her daughter Jessie after her death. John had already completed another home for the family, across the road, called Turriff.

Continue walking down Albion Road. Cross over Glenmore Street; originally called George Street, after George Sim, the name was changed in 1931, retaining the Scottish origins of George Sim. On the southern side is No. 40.

This home, built in 1890, was also built by John Robert Daley. It was built for George Sim’s widow Catherine, and named for the township from which George’s family came. It’s a combination of Georgian and Regency styles; note the sunburst pattern on the wrought iron. After Catherine’s death in 1908, the property was left to her son George. George Sim Junior lived here until his death in 1927; after his wife’s death in 1929 the property was sold. The most recent owner subdivided the land, and has been restoring the building for a number of years now. It has local heritage protection.

Walk to William Street.

William and the next street on the left, Rose Street, were part of the 1885 Burley Park subdivision of William Ellingworth; the streets were named after himself, and his family, while Rutland Road, at the northern end of this street, was the English County from which the family came. Ellingworth purchased 52 acres, or 21 hectares, from George Sim, and went on to become an extensive developer himself. He will feature in the Society’s Station Street tour. He built a house for himself and family in Rose Street, and subdivided the rest of the land into small allotments with 50 ft or 15 metre frontages and formed these streets. Some of these sites remained unsold when the 1890s depression hit, and remained in Ellingworth hands for over 50 years. Incidentally, the western side of William Street was not part of the Burley Park subdivision, but was included in a separate subdivision on George Street. The allotments were only subsequently split into two, giving a William Street frontage on smaller allotments.

On the right hand side of Albion Road, opposite William Street, is Albion House, built by George Sim from the proceeds of his land sales. The house faced Station Street, so what now appears as the front is actually the side of the house.

There is a detailed description of the house, then newly built, in 1883. It was described 'as a handsome villa, situated on a commanding eminence from which a fine view of the surrounding country is obtainable ... It is encircled with a verandah on three sides, 8ft (2½ metres) wide, supported by 32 iron pillars, resting on a bluestone coping, and ornamented with frieze work of a pretty pattern; the flooring of the verandah is filled in with red and white tiles... altogether there are seven rooms and kitchen, with cellar and outhouses. At the rear a commodious stable has been erected, with groom's room, hay shed, and implement room attached, the stable being floored with red-gum blocks. Mr. Sim has subdivided the land to suit his requirements, and is now engaged laying out the grounds, planting fruit trees etc. The ornamental fence around the property is of a tasteful and novel design. The building is of red brick, with white brick dressings, and tuck-pointed. The designs for the whole of the work, was prepared by Mr. Ellingworth, under whose supervision the work was carried out.

Continue along Albion Road.
Cross over Rose Street and turn left at Victoria St, then go to No. 5.

This house, which has seen better days, has no heritage protection, and is currently rented out. Here is a view of it in the 1970s.

It’s first owner, Robert Stuart Evans, was born in London in 1836 and joined the Indian civil service in 1852, at the age of 16. He became a river pilot in the Bengal government service, piloting ships navigating the Hoogly river between Calcutta and Bengal. Some of his siblings emigrated to Victoria, and in 1876 the youngest, Alfred, married Anne, a daughter of John Saunders. Presumably Robert visited his family in Melbourne and met some of the Saunders family, for 6 years later, in 1882, he married Anne’s sister Helen in Collingwood. The pair then departed for India, where their son Frederick was born at Calcutta in 1883. Robert reached the rank of Captain, then retired. The family returned to Melbourne, and settled in Box Hill, purchasing just over an acre of land from George Sim in 1885. The area stretched from Albion Road to beyond this site, with a frontage to Albion Road of 244 ft (74 metres) and on Victoria St of 310 ft (94 metres). Evans had this house built, later naming it Waiwera after a small New Zealand spa town. A daughter, Alice Dorothy, was born here in 1886.

The family became involved in the local community, Robert being among the residents petitioning Council in 1894 to secure a water supply for Box Hill; residents were still dependent on tank water at this stage. Helen joined both the charitable Dorcas Society and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and would have been involved in collecting signatures for the 1891 women’s suffrage petition. Their son Frederick was probably educated at New College, which we’ll hear about later, while the daughter Alice Dorothy attended the nearby Banff school.

As we move along Victoria St., the house styles are an indication of the time period in which they were built.

On 30 April 1884 Henry (Harry) Sweetland bought 1.2acres of land here from George Sim, whose wife Catherine was his cousin. He was shortly to marry Agnes Prentice from Rutherglen, and so built a large weatherboard home which he named Donington after his mother’s birthplace in Lincolnshire England. The property ran through to Rose Street and was in a cross shape. He established an extensive flower and vegetable garden, employing a gardener who lived onsite, and ran a few cows. The couple were to have 4 children born here. The eldest, Stephen James in 1886, educated at Wesley, has the unfortunate distinction of being the first Box Hill man to die at Gallipoli during WW1. The birth of two girls followed, Emily Alice and Agnes Dorothy, who became Banff pupils and they were followed by John Stuart who was educated at nearby New College. While John married and moved into his own home, the two daughters remained, caring for their parents initially, then staying on in the family home. It remained in the possession of the Sweetland family until the death of the last daughter in 1970. In 1971, when it was put up for auction, Box Hill Council purchased the property for $28,500 and determined, despite some public effort to save and restore the house, that it would be turned into a public park.

Let’s now walk thru the park and and go to Victoria Rose Sensory Playspace, on the left, opposite the playground. To the right the original outline of the Sweetland land in the form of a cross can be seen,

This sensory garden, the first in Whitehorse, was initiated by a staff member of the nearby Biala childhood support group, and officially opened in 2009. A sensory garden is one that provides a range of plants and objects that enable children with disabilities to interact, using their senses, such as taste, smell, touch and hearing. You can walk thru the garden, but please remember to shut the gate.

After inspecting the sensory garden, walk thru the park to Rose St., turn right and go to No. 24-26.

New College once stood on this site. Originally a brick home, built around 1880, and used as a convalescent home by a Melbourne doctor, the building became New College school for boys in 1890. The College was started by Arthur Stephenson and his brother Stuart. Box Hill was only a small place in 1890; true there had been a land boom and subdivisions galore, but there were only a hundred or so houses, a brickworks which employed about 200 men, and a relatively small population. The reason for the location however is clear from an early prospectus: ‘There is probably no place near Melbourne more highly recommended by the medical profession as a health resort than Box Hill... ‘

With periodic outbreaks of typhoid, diphtheria and other diseases, a healthy location was an important consideration for many parents. Mind you, as we’ve heard, Box Hill had no reticulated water supply, no sewerage and no electricity at this time, so presumably the fresh air and relative isolation were the main considerations.

Walk along to No. 28.
Auction Sales Flyer

This was the site of the original home of William and Rose Ellingworth. William, nicknamed ‘King Billy’ had a finger in many pies – Councillor, Mayor, real estate agent, developer, builder, entrepreneur. Despite the large adverts for the 1885 auction of the Burley Park estate, ten years later there were still only 6 weatherboard and 2 brick houses in Rose Street. Two of the weatherboards were owned by William Ellingworth and three by the next door neighbour, Isaiah Ainger, probably all erected to promote the area.

Isaiah and his wife Eliza arrived in Victoria in 1853, made money by carting goods to and from the goldfields areas, had 7 children all born in Hawthorn, leased land in Balwyn to farm, and in the 1880s moved here. Like the Ellingworths, they were Methodists, and members of the Victoria District of Rechabites, a temperance organisation. As well as these connections, Isaiah and William became partners in buying, selling and dealing in land, joined in the partnership in 1888 by William’s son John Richard, who had married Isaiah’s daughter Harriet.

Cross over road and go to No. 27.

Marvelo Ointment will cure you! This house, built in 1918, was the site of two cottage industries operated by the Brewer family. The first was for the manufacture of tins of Marvelo Ointment, which was promoted and delivered by the father Charles.

Marvelo Ointment flyer

The second industry in which they engaged was the purchase of one of the first knitting machines in Melbourne, with which mother Catherine and daughters Belle and Bertha, supplied garments to a Melbourne department store. The daughters were best known, however, for their work for local charities, in particular the Box Hill Hospital. They founded the Box Hill Friendly Circle in 1944, and held office as president and secretary until their deaths – Belle in 1965 and Bertha in 1974. The group met monthly at church halls, and raised funds, via various activities, for local charitable organisations. Bertha was awarded the Box Hill Council’s civic award in 1970, and the British Empire Medal in 1973. The Friendly Circle continued until the 1990s; its papers are held by the Society.

Walk back to the linear park and continue heading towards Station St.

Note the bluestone lane running between Rose and William Streets – this was used by the night man to empty the sanitary pans. Before Box Hill was fully sewered in the late 1920s, the Council employed a local contractor to collect the pans and dispose of the excreta. The material was taken to East Burwood and buried in trenches. There were many complaints to Council about the pan system – of pans not being collected, of dirty replacement pans being delivered, of accidents involving pan spillage etc. There were even more complaints when a new disposal site in East Burwood was announced, as it was next to an area recently subdivided and sold for housing.

Walk thru to William Street.

Nine houses to our right, on this eastern side of the street, Nos 28-44, have a heritage overlay, requested by the residents to prevent inappropriate development. All were built between 1905 and 1914 and retain their original simple timber building, verandah and high ceilings. What happened on blocks that once contained similar early 20th century houses can be seen to the left.

Cross road and continue on linear park to Glenmore Street.

This section of the park was created in the late 1980s, when Council bought the two houses on site.

At Glenmore St go up to No. 24 on the right.

A brick house was first built on this site in 1920. The owner was Herbert Ingamells, born 1871, a son of Joshua and Mary Ingamells, another pioneering family, who had lived next door. Like the rest of his family, he was very involved in the Methodist church, conducting various choirs, serving as church Trustee etc. He married in 1897 Nelly Beckett, a sister of Robert Beckett MLC, after whom Beckett Park in Balwyn is named. In 1924 their daughter Ethel married Charles Fitzroy Walker, headmaster of Box Hill Grammar School, which became Kingswood College. Their son was Evan Walker, who became an architect, entered State parliament and served as Minister of Planning.

Herbert died in 1930 and the property was sold in 1932 to James Wise; he is featured in Tour 3. It remained in the Wise family until 1965 when it was sold to the parents of the current owners. The house underwent an extensive renovation in the last few years. It has no heritage protection.

Turn back to the linear park, cross over the road and go to the Ashted Road intersection

Shakespeares Complete Works As mentioned earlier, George Sim sold the 15 acres on which his home Mona Vale was situated, to Box Hill’s first blacksmith Robert Sutton, in 1882. Sutton enlarged the house and changed its name to Ashted House, a name that was then used in the street that was formed when the land was subdivided the following year. A photo of the old house appears below. One of the early occupants of this street was Mary Elizabeth Newton, a widow. She was the youngest daughter of Rev William Hutchinson of Mansfield, and in 1885 married Alfred John Newton, a native of Cooma NSW. Their only son, Harold Edward Shields Newton, was born there the following year. The family returned to Melbourne shortly afterwards. Alfred died in the Melbourne Hospital in October 1887, aged 42, so Mary had become a bride, a mother and a widow within 3 years. She needed to earn an income to support herself and their child, so early in 1889 rented a home in William Street, and a property in this street that she used as a boarding and day High School for girls. One of the book prizes that she gave to a student is in the Society’s possession.

She soon gathered support from locals and the school flourished, so much so that in 1891 she was able to sell the goodwill to the five Taylor sisters, who we met before, and returned to NSW. She was subsequently burnt to death in a freak accident in Bathurst in 1902.

Walk down Ashted St., turn right at small park on right, walk thru to Henry St and continue on to Harrow St. Stop at corner.

On Wednesday 23rd February 1921, just on dusk, 32-year-old Florence Hilda McInnes rode her bike into Harrow Street. She was on the way to help out at her sister’s newly-opened sweet shop in Whitehorse Road. There was no nearby street light, the bike had no headlight, and Florence had no helmet; helmets only became compulsory in 1990. Unbeknown to Florence, earlier that day Council workers had emptied a load of wet sand in the centre of the road. It was meant to be spread out to dry, but that hadn’t been done. Florence rode straight into the sand, the bike skidded and she fell off, hitting her head. Eliza Raw and her sister, who both lived in George Street, (as Glenmore was then called) ran to tell Herbert Ingamells what had happened, and get help. Help was soon to arrive, but Florence remained unconscious. She was taken to Nurse Coe’s hospital, on the site of what is now the town hall, and two doctors were quickly in attendance. They confirmed that she had fractured her skull and she died a few hours later. While a Coroner later found that the cause of death was injuries due to a fall from a bicycle, and did not implicate Council’s negligence, her father Angus made a claim for compensation, and was awarded £75.

Two years later Herbert Ingamells wrote to the Council pointing out that there was only one light in Harrow St., near Station St,. and as for the area near the dip in the road : ‘the womenfolk are very nervous at this spot and particularly at street corners’. He requested more lighting in the street.

H. Lanyon resident at No. 37 went further, and organized a petition, signed by every resident in the street, requesting a street light for the corner of John and Harrow Sts. The Council added the request to others already on a list which increased every month.

As you walk towards Station Street, the low point thru which you are walking, opposite the car park, was once the course of an ephemeral stream, a tributary of Gardiners Creek. It has long been barrel drained. Please continue to the new car park and Pioneer Park, where the tour will conclude.

The Society hopes you’ve enjoyed this glimpse of some of the history of Box Hill. We have an extensive archive in our premises at the town hall, and you are welcome to visit our rooms any Tuesday between 11am and 4pm to find out more about some of the people and places you’ve visited today.