Gilbert Street

Gilbert Street has been the heart of our village for 120 years and I cant help but wonder if our founding fathers ever thought the village would grow as it has, or that the centre of our town would come under such pressure. Some of our good people are fighting to stop a five-story height limit in Gilbert Street.  The very thought of that would have people like Col Price, old Felix Rosser and James Follet turning in their graves.

image002

 

Gilbert street was first laid out in the late 1800’s with the first lot of land being sold in 1894 The first map shows the town centre then called Township of Puebla, and Gilbert St with 20 allotments that ran from Pearl Street at the western end, opening to the sea in the east. Gilbert Street was set as being one chain wide. Mrs Miller was a very early buyer but little is known about her.

Gilbert Street, Payne's Store on left

 

Gilbert Street is named for F E Gilbert who was an assistant surveyor and cartographer to Mr A J Skene in the Geelong District.  This team surveyed more than 120,000 acres of land around Geelong their jobs included marking roads and lines for the electric telegraph, setting aside reserves and areas for public purposes, mineral surveys, they did municipal and engineering surveys as early as 1858. F E Gilbert’s name appears on most of the maps of the parishes around the district including the Bellarine peninsula. Gilbert did much of the surveying work in early Torquay and created the first maps of the area so it seems a pretty fair thing that the little main street is named after him. F E Gilbert was also an early purchaser of land in town and clearly had an eye for a good bargain as he is shown as owning the blocks on the esplanade from Anderson Street to about where Moby’s is today. And he had a block on the corner of Esplanade and Bell Street for good measure. I wonder how he would feel knowing the blocks would bring in a million dollars today.

19667846_804535156395943_6323359836483027979_o

 

Alfred Payne built a General store, one of the first buildings in Gilbert Street and in 1897 he was appointed Torquay’s first Postmaster and the mail service was transferred from the Palace hotel to his store. The Post Office moved again into Mr Drayton’s General store at the top end of the street and then in the 1950’s a new Post Office was built at the top of the street and Mrs McHenry was in charge. Keith Davidson who ran the ‘new’ post office for 30 years followed her as Postmaster. Keith lived on the corner of the Esplanade and Anderson street and, as, right up to the seventies, everyone in Gilbert street closed for lunch, Keith didn’t have far to walk home where his wife Connie had his hot lunch waiting.

19679038_804535216395937_228494177552359616_o-1

 

The Infant Welfare centre was built at the top of Gilbert Street and was a wonderful meeting point for all the new mums. The nurse would visit on a Friday and prams would be lined up on the veranda while the mums and babies got to know each other waiting their turn inside. Sister Ruth Hilliard became a much-loved friend to many new mums in the 60’s and 70’s.

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 11.48.13 am
The Old Health centre in Gilbert Street

 

In the early 1900’s Mrs Henrietta Worland owned the beautiful house on the northern corner of Gilbert Street and The Esplanade (where Pond is now) It was called “Sea Breeze and was set in an acre of garden and was her holiday house. There were many sad faces when it was marked for demolition.

12249662_10153833891584225_1368630743622331951_n
Mrs Henrietta Worland had a beautiful holiday home on an acre on the corner of Gilbert street and the Esplanade

We have had some wonderful shopkeepers who have added to the fabric of Gilbert Street. Mrs Tumulty, followed by Sybil Stock ran the Drapery shop. Gwen and John Dukes had a busy greengrocer.  Mr Ian Jeffery had a fruit shop where the health food shop now is.  He grew almost all his fruit and veg’s on his farm at Bellbrae and had the best fresh eggs from his chooks.  Dave Berryman was the butcher during the 50’s and he was followed by John Boocock. His shop smelled of sawdust and he would reach over the counter with a piece of strass for the kids.

anderson House Gilbert street

Anderson House _ Now McCartney’s real estate Office

 

The Walkers and the McCartney’s had their spot at the bottom of the street.  Col Troy took over the General store in 1948, which for a time doubled as a bank, bus depot and a news agency. His son, and future surfing champ, Peter would sell newspapers in the campground in summer and as a teenager was said to have done a paper round and had a surf, before heading into Geelong College to School.

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 11.54.16 am

Joe Walker ran the butcher shop and supermarket for over 45 years and even when he retired he was familiar sight in the street. He lived behind the shop and loved nothing more than a chat with the locals as he took his daily stroll.  Joe always had his eye on any changes that were happening.

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 11.43.18 am

Our Current News agency has been run by the Coleman’s for 40 years   what changes they have seen! Gail and Harvey Price had a department store over the road where believe it or not some 40 years ago you could get school schools, gum boots, ladies bathers and a full range of knitting wool, don’t think you can get any of these items in town today.

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 11.48.35 am

At Christmas time in the 60’s and 70’s Gilbert Street would come alive Decorations would go up.  The Lions club would raffle a massive Christmas stocking, which would be on display for the kids to ogle over.  On Christmas Eve Santa would arrive on the fire truck to visit all the shopkeepers, throw lollies to the kids and draw the raffle   it was community spirit at its best.

Long live Gilbert Street, the heart of our community.

 

 

 

 

 

Early Torquay

Ray Wilson has lived in Torquay all his life. Listen to the first of our clips where Ray describes growing up in Torquay.  His story is featured in the latest edition of our magazine HISTORY MATTERS available at the Torquay Newsagency.

Coffee Anyone?

We came across this photo recently which the owner tells us was a house called “Loch Lomond “circa 1930’s in Torquay . It was built by Geelong Architect Iliffe Gordon Anderson. The owner of the picture knew nothing more other than it was just “off the  Esplanade”

We did some digging around, looking at some old maps and title documents, and rate books  and found that it was actually built in Gilbert Street and sat just where Tapas Cafe is now.

It is great to be able to piece together the  story of our main street, photos like this are real gems.

You will notice among the trees and behind the fence Mr Anderson seems to be looking as us wondering what we are up to!

Now to ascertain if Anderson Street is named after him.

I wonder if he was a member of the T.I.A?Gilbert Street, Torquay, House, Anderson .

Scammell House

Margaret Ganly shares her memories of growing up and living in the house built from the 1891 wreck of the Joseph H Scammell.

 

 

The Links – Happy Days House

Once located on Zeally Bay Road, where Woolworths delivery bay is currently located was a little house which held wonderful memories for the Evans Family who have kindly shared their photo album with us.

web Happy Days-2 web Happy Days-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The house was built opposite the original 9 hole Golf Course in Torquay. It is not surprising that it was originally called “The Links” when it was first built. Because of the number allotments associated with the house it is hard to determine on which allotment the first house was built. We do know it was built between 1899 and 1903.

Read about the house and its name change to “Happy Days” here.

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑