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Unique 19th Century signature quilt

now on display

This large, rare quilt with distinctive lace insertions was made by a local group to help raise funds in the mid-1890s for a new Scots Presbyterian Church in Heidelberg.

213 hand-embroidered squares record almost 140 legible names, as well as dozens of initials, decorations and place-names.

The quilt was created by a Busy Bee society formed in 1895 by an industrious group of Heidelberg women. Their initiative raised funds for the local Scots Church. The signatures reveal social networks extending from Heidelberg to Prahran and Williamstown and elsewhere in Victoria.

VISIT our museum to see this impressive work and to find out about the people and the stories revealed by the embroidered squares.

EXPLORE detailed images of the quilt and contribute your own comments via our interactive webpages: http://www.heidelberghistoricalsociety.com.au/hhs/quilt.php

The exhibition aims to raise awareness of a popular fund-raising strategy from the late 19th Century, somewhat similar to the crowd-funding projects favoured by today’s social networks.

Demonstrations by local specialists will help visitors appreciate techniques of lace-making, embroidery and quilt-making. The Banksia Lace Group will be at the Museum on the fourth Sunday of each month, except in July. (Forthcoming dates are: 27 October and 24 November.) We aim to inspire new networking amongst people who practice traditional crafts and those who explore family, church and local history.

OPEN SUNDAYS from 19 May 2019

2pm - 5pm

Admission: $5

Members & Children under 16: FREE admission

To Celebrate History Week

Admission is Free for All on Sunday 13 October

For group visits or viewings (12 or more people)

on other days,

please contact the Society.

Telephone: 9455 2130

Email: heidelberg.historical.society@gmail.com

The Central Panel of the Quilt.
Our Next Meeting is the Annual General Meeting.
8PM, Tues 8 October 2019
This includes election of office bearers and annual reports,
followed by short presentations on relevant historical topics.
Members of the public are also welcome to attend.

The Next Speaker Meeting
8PM, Tues 10 December 2019
Speakers: Nicholas Abbey and other project members
“The Springthorpe Heritage Project”
Venue for All Meetings.
Uniting Church Community Centre, Seddon Street, Ivanhoe.
Enter from the car park at the rear from Norman Street.
Please note that the Waterdale Road entrance is blocked due to building works.
A Heidelberg Tradition

Heidelberg Historical Society was formed in 1967.

Since then, we have developed a substantial collection of photographs, objects, maps, documents, works of art and other items that help to tell the story of Heidelberg and its surrounding localities.

Visit our Museum or contact us by email etc to find out what we can offer you.

We always welcome those interested in joining our Society as well as members of the public who wish to research the materials we hold in our museum.

Old Courthouse Museum

Our museum is located in the old Heidelberg Court House, Jika Street, Heidelberg, next door to the Heidelberg Police Station. Opening hours are 2PM to 5PM on Sundays.

Entry charge is $5 per person.

(Free for Members and children under 16.)


Research our Collections

We have a large collection of photographs, maps, newspapers and other documents, books, art works, costumes and other items relevant to the history of this area. Visitors are welcome to research our collections.

Membership and Involvement

Anyone interested in local history can become a member. We welcome people who can assist us to staff the museum on open days and help us to keep our collections up to date and in good condition.


Donations are always welcome to assist us in maintaining the museum.
Why the name "Heidelberg"?

Following the 1838 government land sales, which were held in Sydney, "Heidelberg" was the name used by some people for the district rather than the current Heidelberg suburb. It appears that land owner R.H. Browne called his farm "Heidelberg". It was Portion 6 in the 1838 land sale. It's southern border was the Yarra River, including the later named Sill's Bend and Fanning's Bend. The vast majority of his land was way to the north of the township. Its northern boundary line intersected the current Lower Plenty Road. To the east it did not reach the Plenty River, and to the west it was some way back from the current line of Rosanna Road. By the 2000s, the land was to be partly Viewbank, partly Rosanna and partly Heidelberg.

Like most of the 1838 purchasers, including Thomas Walker, R. H. Browne was looking for a quick profit. He did not keep his "Heidelberg" for long. "HEIDELBERG, July 26 (1839). Portions of land on the Darrebin River (sic) with right of road to the Yarra Yarra..." was part of an advertisement he placed in the "Port Phillip Patriot" on 29 July 1839. He was still around later in the year as an advertisement in the Port Phillip Gazette, 14 December, 1839, still refers to him as "R. H. Browne Esq. of Heidelberg." The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser, Monday 9 March 1840, page 3, refers to "Heidelberg, the estate of R. H. Browne". For whatever reason occurred to him, he called his farm "Heidelberg" and the district came to be called "Heidelberg." We do not know whether or not he spent time at the German University town of that name. By mid 1843, he had sold the last sub-division of it.

In our museum, which is the former Heidelberg Courthouse, we have a collection of bound Victorian Government Gazettes in a number of volumes. The first few volumes have "Warringal" on the spine. From the 1860s onwards, it changes to "Heidelberg". The township was called Warringal until the 1860s.

At different times, the Shire/City of Heidelberg included Fairfield and Alphington to the south and went as far north as Hurstbridge. Our area of interest therefore covers areas included in municipalities under the name of Heidelberg at that time in our history. Since the demise of the City of Heidelberg in the 1990s, our subsequent interest is in the areas covered by the City of Banyule.

Places of interest to Heidelberg Historical Society.


Around 1900, a hot air balloon landed on Mt Eagle, attracting the interest of local residents.


Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe,1920s. This continues to be a major shopping precinct.


Yallambie is an historically important house, built in the 1870s, in Italianate style. It is also the name of the suburb.

West Heidelberg

The Treyvaud family lived in "Moora", 198 Upper Heidelberg Road, West Heidelberg, during the 1920s.


Aldermaston, located in Watsonia Barracks, was built for Dr Ainslie Meares in the 1930s and requisitioned by the Austrtalian Army during World War II.


Mount Street and Yarra Street interesection, Heidelberg, near the railway station. Area of car and bus park near station.


View of Viewbank in the 1950s, before the development of suburban housing. Looking south from Lyon Street.


An overhead view of the Australian Paper Manufacturers at Alphington in 1936. The larger view shows the railway, the road bridge, later called the Chandler Highway Bridge, and some of the older houses that were swallowed up by the large factory.


Fairfield Railway Station was called Fairfield Park in earlier years. It was from there that the railway junction to the APM was managed.


"Moorawatha", 3 Wilmot Street, Macleod was buit in 1908.
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By 1981 Rosanna had become a busy and fast growing residential suburb. The site of the famous Golf Course was now a park and a housing estate.
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This older Greensborough house, photographed in 1958, was formerly the home of the Partington family.
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