Ryders Flat Reserve

Chapter 17

Published Nov, 2009

John Ryder's original dwelling was typical of many in the district and was constructed using slabs and palings from local river gum or stringy bark, and then lined with paper. It was originally adjacent to Charles Draper's 'Charnwood' selection on the Running Creek before it was relocated to the Draper property 'Barton Hill', Arthurs Creek, and used as a kitchen and pantry. Maria Pickard (nee Draper, 1849 - 1925), eldest daughter of Charles and Catherine Draper, is in the foreground. Photo credit James Chester Draper

…the Arthurs Creek football team played ‘on the flat opposite Mrs. Stewart’s’ before and after World War I. The old blacksmith’s shop was used as a change room. A dance was held ‘on the night after a home game.’…

Ryders Flat Reserve is on a portion of the original 20 acre selection of crown allotment 36D parish of Greensborough, purchased by Christina MacDonald (sic) of Glen Donald for twenty pounds on 18 October 1870. John and Christina McDonald settled at Arthurs Creek in 1864. John senior died in 1869. On 12 October 1874, Christina married her neighbour Cornelius (Scotty) Stewart, ‘a carpenter from Glasgow’. The couple lived together in a house built by Stewart on the site of the new fire station. John McDonald junior took over the running of the Glen Donald farm. Christina ‘was ever of an hospitable nature’. She passed away on 18 August 1920, ‘at the ripe age of 94 years.’

Bartholomew (Bart) Ryder purchased the 20 acre lot from Ewen McDonald on 22 March 1922. Bart and his family moved into the former Stewart house. On 24 October 1928 a block on the northern side of the Green’s Road corner was donated to the Roman Catholic Trusts Corporation as a site for a new church. The Church of the Irish Martyrs was opened in November 1928. In earlier years this was the site of a blacksmith’s shop and hut.

After the death of Bart Ryder on 27 March 1941, the balance of the property was transferred to his daughter Carmella (Carmel) on 3 March 1955. The property was held in Carmel’s name until February 1974. Neither Carmel nor her brother Leo ever married. Carmel continued to live in the ‘Ivy Bank’ home. Leo was well known for his musical talent. Carmel showed strong community spirit and ‘was pleased to see the adjacent flat area being used as a sports field’.

On 23 August 1983 an easement was created for the construction of a high pressure gas line across the south-western corner of the flat. The pipe line was laid during 1984. Carmel died in 1986 at the age of 90. A staunch catholic, she celebrated her 90th birthday at the Arthurs Creek Church of the Irish Martyrs. Carmel is said to have wanted a wake to be held before she died. The church building was moved to Loyola College, Watsonia, in August 1990.

The Arthurs Creek Football Club played ‘on the flat opposite Mrs. Stewart’s’ before and after World War I. The old blacksmith’s shop was used as a change room. A dance was held ‘on the night after a home game.’ Prior to this there was an orchard on the flat. The  flat was cleared of fruit trees in 1911. In later years the flat was used by the Strathewen Cricket Club before their move to a shire owned recreation reserve at Strathewen. The flat was also used for a number of years by the Panton Hill Cricket Club and the Arthurs Creek Primary School.

On 4 May 1990, the flat area of 3.524 hectares along the Arthurs Creek was purchased by the Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works, to provide an easement for access to the Gas and Fuel Corporation’s high pressure gas line. On 28 November 1994 the flat area was acquired by the President, Councillors and Ratepayers of the Shire of Eltham for use as a recreation reserve.

In early days, the flat area to the north, between the school and Ryders Bridge, was known as Ryder’s Flat. This was where John Ryder had his slab dwelling. John Ryder and Charles Draper were the first selectors at Arthurs Creek in 1862. The Arthurs Creek Primitive Methodist Church, officially opened on Sunday 3 November 1873, was built on land donated by John Ryder. In 1875, a school was erected on a two-acre site purchased by the Board of Education from John Ryder for ten pounds.

Bart and John Ryder were not related. John Ryder was twice married. He died on 6 February 1902 without issue.

John Ryder on the occasion of his second marriage to Rachel Smith in 1895. John and Jane Ryder and Charles and Catherine Draper were the first settlers at Arthurs Creek. Photo credit Ryder family
Arthurs Creek Football Club, 1924. Left to right, rear: Keith Bassett, Frank Bourke, Bert Apted, Les Apted, Pierce Brennan, Greg Brennan, Jack Herbert. Centre: Gordon Murphy, Tom Draper, Cec. Verso, George Brain, Jack Brennan, James Chester Draper. Front: Arthur Verso, A. Steer, Dave Hepburn, Harry Christian, Joe Lodge, Herb Verso. Photo credit Draper family
Arthurs Creek Football Club. Captains tossing the coin at Kardinia Park, Geelong, V.F.A. 1924. Cyril Cations on left. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Bruce G. Draper's father, James Chester Draper (1905 - 1998), pictured left, Arthurs Creek Football Club. ‘Chester’ and his brother ‘Tom’ Thomas Barton Draper (1903 – 1959) are in pre and post WW1 colours, 1924. Photo credit Draper family
Arthurs Creek Football Club, Premiers, 1905
Gas pipeline, Ryders Flat, Arthurs Creek, 1984. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Gas pipeline, Ryders Flat, Arthurs Creek, 1984. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Ryders Flat Reserve in Arthurs Creek, 2014
On 24 October 1928 a block on the northern side of the Green’s Road corner in Arthurs Creek was donated to the Roman Catholic Trusts Corporation as a site for the Church of the Irish Martyrs. The Church of the Irish Martyrs was opened in Arthurs Creek in November 1928. The church building was moved to Loyola College, Watsonia, in August 1990. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Just across the road from the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Hall, this Fire Brigade station was a key part of the township in the 1960's, along with the Arthurs Creek Primary School, the General Store, the Post Office and two churches. The CFA station has relocated to opposite Ryders Flat. Photo credit Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute Collection
The current (2020) CFA station opposite Ryders Flat
Events at Ryders Flat, celebrating 150 years of continuous settlement and 125 years of the Arthurs Creek Mechanics Institute and 70 years of the Arthurs Creek / Strathewen Fire Brigades, October 2012. Photo credit Wade Ashley
The Village Smithy or Blacksmiths shop and hut at the corner of Greens Road in the 1890s. Once part of 'Ivy Bank' farm, the Ryder family gifted the site to the Catholic Church for the erection of the 'Church of the Irish Martyrs'. This opened 4th November, 1928. Photo credit Ryder family
Well-known thoroughbred horses owned or leased by John Ryder, included Peter Wilkins, Whalebone, Zanga, Glen Arthur and Duchess. Coursing with greyhounds and hares grew in popularity during the 19th century. Coursing Clubs were formed throughout the Colony including such places as Arthurs Creek. Artist: Dean Wolstenholme. Engraver: Richard Reeve

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