History of Ercildoune and Footscray Historical Society
National Bank of Australasia opens
The building was erected by the National Bank of Australasia on the corner of Napier and Hyde Streets, the first substantial bank building in the growing and prosperous township of Footscray. It was designed by Terry Oakden to incorporate a banking chamber, manager’s office, vault and spacious manager’s home. Contractors Goss Hopkins completed the building in 1876. Mr Alexander John Learmonth (1841-1894) was the first manager. He was born in Tasmania, and the son of Alex Learmonth, mayor of Hamilton Victoria.
Image: Ercildoune 1909 with staff of the National Bank of Australasia
George Lake Onyons, a National Bank clerk was convicted of larceny of 17 Footscray borough council debentures of £100 each. Despite admitting guilt and making reparations, the young man was sentenced to 5 years hard labour.
The National Bank decommissioned the building at 66 Napier St, having established a branch in the Footscray shopping centre. It remained a residence for bank managers until 1940.
C B Smith’s Footscray Historical Society
Claude Belcher Smith was Footscray’s official historian for Victoria’s Centenary Celebrations. A son of pioneers George and Esther Smith, Claude ran a real estate agency with offices at 48 Pentland Parade Seddon and 23 Buckley Street Footscray. News articles refer to him as the president of the short-lived Footscray Historical Society.
Image: This photograph was taken in June 1935, to mark the centenary of John Batman’s landing on the Maribyrnong River. Claude Belcher Smith at the bow of the sailing ship holds a facsimile of the infamous treaty intended to deny Wurunderi-willam people of their land. Also on board the vessel are children from Hyde Street State School.
Footscray Town Hall meeting resolved to form the historical society
In 1968 the Town Clerk of Footscray, E. J. Smith and the City Solicitor, Ian Secomb had been the first to recognize the need for the society, and they gathered like-minded people from the business community of Footscray to discuss the matter. The public meeting held on 17 October 1968 resolved to form the historical society which was incorporated the following year.
Image: E J Smith, Footscray Town Clerk
On the death of W G Casserley, Ercildoune, in a dilapidated state, was valued at $17,770. Founding members of the City of Footscray Historical Society secured a loan of $20,000 from the National Bank to purchase the building.
In 2016, Footscray Historical Society adopted the Model Rules with purposes “to advance culture” and successfully applied for ACNC registration as a charity.
Footscray Historical Society celebrated its 50 year anniversary on 21 October 2018 with a gathering at Metro West. Mayor Cuc Lam officiated and Royce Pepin AM MBE KCJS, an original executive member, was in attendance. The Society appreciates the generous support of Community Pitch Partners and Hop Nation brewery for making this event so successful.