Vale Harry Charles Gilham

Words From Eltham District Historical Society Newsletter

It was sad that Harry Gilham, our valued former president, died on Saturday 25th February 2023.

There were over 150 people at a Farewell commemoration service for him at St Margaret’s Church Hall, in Pitt Street, Eltham on Saturday 25th March 2023

Harry Gilham was born and raised in Heidelberg, the second of four boys. He walked 100 metres to Heidelberg Primary School, then later rode his bike to Preston Technical School.

He joined the Scouting movement in 1946 as a cub, moving through the system eventually becoming Assistant District Commissioner. He developed a long-held passion for the High Country in Victoria walking, camping and skiing (even making his own skis).

After a few jobs, he enrolled at night school with the aim of becoming a Technical Teacher. Then, while teaching he become active in many union campaigns to improve the education system, especially the Technical system to serve the needs of all students.

He became involved in the formation of the Technical Teachers Union of Victoria (TTAV) and was Secretary and later elected Vice President. He was an inaugural member of the State Government Teacher Registration Board and in 1977 became the Deputy Chair (Technical Schools section) until his retirement.

He moved with Sue Dyet, his wife, to Eltham in 1976 and actively contributed to community groups over many years.

Harry was President of the Eltham District Historical Society from 1993 until 2009 and was a driving force behind its success. 

He was engaged in many personal historical projects including the history of local schools, the local railway and the Eltham Justice Precinct. He was instrumental in establishing the Local History Centre in Main Road, Eltham. His ongoing commitment to the operation of this centre was a significant contribution to the provision of a permanent home for the Society. 

Harry helped establish the Society’s records base and Chronology project and was a ‘letter to the editor’ writer and a keen follower of local events.

He was Convener of Council’s Kangaroo Ground War Memorial Tower Committee, president of the Eltham and District Winemakers Guild, a wine judge in Victoria and Tasmania and personally won many awards, including the Gold Award for Mead at the Royal Melbourne Show in 1992 and 1997. He was also an active member of the Eltham Library Re-development Special Committee and chair of the Eltham Living and Learning Centre Advisory Committee. 

Harry and Sue were named joint 2008 Nillumbik Citizens of the Year, in acknowledgement of their decades of community service given to their local communities. 

In 2009 Harry received a Royal Historical Society of Victoria Award of Merit, for exceptional, meritorious service. The legacy he has left is significant and will continue to be built on.

We send our sincere condolences to Sue and family; Harry will be missed by so many people.Eltham District Historical Society: