President’s Introduction

Dear Members,

After a month into my new role as President of the Coburg Historical Society I would like to take the opportunity to introduce myself to you and let you know what we have been working on. 

My name is Katrin Strohl and I am incredibly excited and humbled to be the new President of the Coburg Historical Society. The safeguarding and preservation of the Bluestone Cottage, the home of the society, and its extraordinary collection is a matter close to my heart. As President I aim to grow our membership and increase awareness and an interest in the history and heritage of Coburg through the museum, events and community projects. Together we can undertake more research and support the preservation of historic buildings and places in our suburb. I look forward to collaborating with members, the community and like minded organisations that promote our history and heritage.

In 2017 I visited the Bluestone Cottage for the first time with my parents, during their visit from Austria. Malcolm McIlvena (President from 2006-2017), Ivan Cindric and Cheryl Griffin showed us around and we all were deeply impressed by the welcoming atmosphere, the stories we were told and last but not least, by the fascinating collection of objects and memorabilia. Shortly after this visit I became an active member of the society and have been ever since. 

A little about me. I hold a Masters Degree in Art History (focused on cultural management, archeology and museology) and my strengths are in curating exhibitions and managing museum archives.

History, art, heritage and photography are my passions.

In addition to the Coburg Historical Society, I am a member of the RHSV (Royal Historical Society Victoria), AMaGA (The Australian Museums and Galleries Association) and OHV (Oral History Victoria) where I actively cultivate these passions.

You can find me every Friday at  the cottage where, together with a passionate team of volunteers, we catalogue documents, clean and maintain the building and collection, work on future projects – and make sure to have time for a cuppa and chat 😉

Speaking of volunteers: As we all know volunteers are the heart of every project and organisation. All of you can contribute to our work through your knowledge, skill and valuable memories and stories. Please let us know if you have a bit of time to spare and want to help with cataloguing, scanning or researching? Do you have a memory you want to share with us? Are you interested in helping out maintaining the front garden? There are lots of big and little jobs that can be done from home as well. Please send us an email if you want to know more about volunteering.

News and Updates

Due to the coronavirus restrictions we couldn’t hold our monthly committee meetings in person, but have used the video conferencing service ZOOM instead. It worked well but we all can’t wait to have our future meetings at the Coburg RSL. 

A big thank you to Geoff Mannix (RSL committee member) for organising and Michael Pianta (RSL President) for supporting us.

I am extremely pleased to report that we were successful with a grant application to the Inner North Community Foundation. We received $1500 to fund our “Covid-19 Community Collecting”-Exhibition. Thanks to all those who have already contributed to this future exhibition by sending photos. You can find more details about the project here and we are establishing an Exhibition Sub-Committee in the next few weeks. Would you like to get involved? If so, please let us know. 

The committee is currently working on a revision of our Rules of Incorporation as well as a new Collection Policy with guidelines on why, what and how we add to our museum collection. In support of this new policy, we will establish an Acquisition Committee to make decisions about the acceptance of new donations. Please let us know if you are interested in joining the Acquisition Committee! 

Museum News

Our Bluestone Cottage has been thoroughly cleaned and we will likely be ready to open again very soon, adhering to social distancing and hygiene rules. We are going to ask every visitor to leave his/her contact details in our guest book and will have hand sanitiser available.

I’m going to keep you all in the loop on what we are working on and I’m looking forward to meeting you, hopefully in the very near future. 

Your questions, comments, expertise and input are always welcome and appreciated. 

Take care and stay safe,

Best regards

Katrin Strohl

President, Coburg Historical Society

Photo by Adrian Didlick

New President 

and further changes in the management of the committee

Our distinguished, well known President, the Honourable Kelvin Thomson has stood down from his post as of the end of the May committee meeting. His experience, skills, knowledge from lifetime residence in Pascoe Vale, professionalism and distinguished presence will be missed by all at the Coburg Historical Society. He has decided to devote more time to his family after having unselfishly spent the greater part of his lifetime serving and advocating for the Coburg, Victorian and Australian public. Kelvin will remain a member and should we require some assistance regarding the continuation of the Society, he has obligingly offered his help. On behalf of the Coburg Historical Society we wish him good health and a very long, happy and enjoyable retirement.

Katrin Strohl has been elected our new President. Katrin is very excited about the opportunity to make the Society a very popular one for all the residents of Coburg past and present. We all welcome and wish her every success in her new role. If you want to meet her you can find her every Friday (when we are open again) at the Bluestone Cottage, the home of the Coburg Historical Society. 

Two new members have also been co-opted to the committee – Dr Annely Aeuckens and Lisa O’Halloran.

Chronology of events relating to the  destruction of the Coburg Munro Street signal box

in memory- much missed!

The Coburg Historical Society began collecting signatures in opposition to the destruction of the Coburg Munro Street signal box in mid January 2020.

 The two petitions to the two state houses   were worded in the required form

This petition of those opposing the demolition of the landmark Munro Street Coburg railway signal box draws to the attention of the House that the 1928 locally heritage significant signal box  can be retained and reused . The petitioners therefore request the Legislative Assembly/ Legislative Council  of Victoria take action to ensure the retention of the signal box either  by its  relocation to  a nearby site, but still  within the Upfield  Railway Line  Precinct  or by changes to the  rail bridge plans to raise its height  or change the location of its supporting pylons.”

The signatures were collected at the  Gandolfo Garden Community Festival and Camp In on 18 January , Coburg Historical Society February 19th monthly meeting  The Coburg Farmer’s Market and in the Victoria Street Mall Coburg.        

Tuesday March  3rd A petition of 237 signatures opposing the destruction of the Coburg Munro Street signal box taken to the office of Tim Read (MLA for Brunswick)

Wednesday March 11th A petition of 360 signatures was taken to the office of member of the Legislative Council Fiona Patten to be presented to the  Upper House.

Wednesday March 11th A petition of 380 signatures opposing the destruction of the Coburg Munro Street box was presented to the Moreland City Council at their meeting and it was accepted unanimously. It read:

“We, the undersigned, petition Council to advocate for and to take action to ensure the retention of the landmark, locally heritage significant Munro Street Coburg signal box by  negotiating with the State Government and the LXRP for its relocation to  a nearby site, but still  within the Upfield  Railway Line  Precinct  or by changes to the rail bridge plans to raise its height or change the location of its supporting pylons.”\

Wednesday 11th March before the Stakeholder Liaison meeting  (SLM) of the Level Crossing removal Project (Authority).  the Coburg Historical Society representative Marilyn Moore sent the following question to them as there were insufficient  details of their proposed work  on their website:

Can you give me any more details about the works planned  to be done when the Munro Level Crossing is closed on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 March and  27-30 March?

At the meeting on Thursday March 12th  there was insufficient time  given to answering the many questions of the community members (including ours)  as the three information lectures  ran over time.   I then  was told by the Moreland Council representative on March 13th that according to his notes,

“This weekend the main works they are doing apparently relate to power pole relocations and installation of the permanent and temporary CSR (combined services route – this is what powers the trains and signalling equipment)”

Saturday March 14th  Marilyn Moore was notified by a resident  at 1.20 pm that that the signal box had been demolished in the morning. The 2 huge poplar trees (one on the corner of Munro Street and Railway Place )  and 3 others in Railway Place were also being chopped down..

Photograph (c) Felia Erlang 2020

On  Tuesday 17th March  the petition opposing the demolition of the Coburg Munro Street signal box  was laid on the house of the Legislative Assembly by Tim Read (MLA for Brunswick)

On Wednesday   18th  March,  4 days after the demolition of the Coburg Munro Street signal box, the following  (none) reply to our question  was received from the LXRP:

“Our most recent works notification, along with direct contact made with residents in these areas, provides more information about specific construction impacts being managed in these locations. The project team used this approach for activities undertaken last weekend and we will use a similar approach before the weekend rail disruption between Friday 27 and Sunday 29 March. We have also committed to providing weekly e-news updates which provides the latest project information including disruptions and we encourage people to sign up to the project’s distribution list at

These two letters are updates on what  happened to the Coburg Munro Street signal box:

  1. Kelvin Thomson’s (President, Coburg Historical Society) letter to Stephen Avery (Executive Director, Heritage Victoria) CHS letter to Heritage Victoria
  2. Reply from Stephen Avery, Heritage Victoria Reply from Heritage Victoria to CHS

This is the reply from Tim Read’s office regrading the presentation of our 237 signature petition to the Victorian Lower House (the Legislative Assembly) on the Tuesday after  (17 March) the demolition of the Coburg signal box on  Saturday 14th March.


Due to concerns about coronavirus, the Bluestone Cottage Museum is  closed to visitors until further notice. Our monthly talks are rescheduled to a later date. We will keep you posted.

Thanks for your understanding!

Please get in touch with us via email

Limited Edition!

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