Topic: Preston Street (TDN 13/08/2018)

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Preston Street 

In 1882 it was decided to clear the bush on the site of the proposed new village of Eltham. Most of the contract work was awarded to James Preston, who had already settled in an area near where Preston Street is today.

It seems he had an advantage doing the bush clearing work, his wife being regarded as a woman of “enormous physical strength.” She helped him fell trees. Perhaps she was still helping him when he later won roading contracts in the district.

Preston Street leads to Taumata Park’s southern gates. There have been several sports fields in Eltham’s history. Most of the earlier ones were subsequently developed for roads and housing. Some proved unsatisfactory, such as one ground near Hill Street, which had steep slopes on each side. Football teams with a narrow lead quickly realized they could waste a bit of time by kicking the ball down the hill.

By the early 1900s sportsmen wanted more permanent playing fields. After a government grant of £170, and similar donations from local residents, a suitable site by the river was developed. Taumata Park was the name chosen, meaning a resting place.

Initially a draughty shed provided changing-room facilities. More fund-raising enabled a wooden grandstand to be built in 1905. The present stand was built in 1957.

It seems James Preston didn’t stay in Eltham long, nor contribute much else to Eltham’s development. He was probably lucky to have a street named after him and have a wife so strong to help him in his work.

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Preston Street (TDN 13/08/2018)