Tag Archives: Melbourne

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: James Burston

James Burston who was promoted to Honorary Brigadier General after returning to Australia and Honorary Major General prior to retirement in 1920
Colonel James Burston was promoted to Honorary Brigadier General after returning to Australia and Honorary Major General prior to his retirement in 1920


James Burston was the first born son (1856) of Samuel Burston and Sophy Keath, who married in Kilmore in 1855. There were 2 other children; George and Agnes. They lived on 5 blocks on the corner of Parade and Lamb Streets. They also had a business in Somerset House on the north east corner of Bourke and Sydney Streets which they sold after a short time and purchased “Oak Park” at Prospect Hill between Kilmore and Broadford.

The family were by this time in the malting business and moved to Flinders Street Melbourne where they bought up several other malting businesses including Victoria Breweries. James and George managed this business after the death of their father in 1886. James married Marianne McBean in Kilmore in 1883, and had 3 sons and 3 daughters.

James had joined the Victorian Volunteers and by 1885 was promoted to Captain of the 2nd Infantry Battalion. In 1897 as a Lieutenant Colonel he represented Victoria for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in London. He served in the Boer War.

In 1900 James was elected to the Melbourne City Council and was Mayor in 1908 and retired by 1912 but continued in public office as Chairman of the Officers Selection Board and on the board of the Bank of Victoria and others.

In 1915 James at the age of 58 was the Commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade AIF, which saw service in Gallipoli. Deteriorating health saw him repatriated to Mudros on the Greek Island of Lemnos where he became Officer Commanding of Reinforcements. He was repatriated to Melbourne in 1916 and retired in 1920.

James died at his residence at Hawthorn on the 4 March 1920 and is buried in St. Kilda Cemetery. There is an ornate brass plaque in St. Paul’s Cathedral to his memory mentioning his Boer War service.

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 19 May 2015, p10

See also James Burston, Australian Dictionary of Biography

Block Arcade Tour – 18 June 2015

KHS Block Arcade Tour 2015

Kilmore Historical Society invites you to a a tour of the historic Block Arcade at 282 Collins Street, Melbourne for Thursday, 18 June at 1pm.

Cost is $15 per head and includes afternoon tea at the end of the tour at approximately 3:30 p.m..

There is a maximum tour limit of 20 people so bookings are essential.

For more details, please email Barbara at kilmorehistoricalsociety@gmail.com

KHS Block Arcade Tour Flyer

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Ilma Georgianna May Toomath

AANS 3-2


Ilma Georgianna May Toomath was born on 5 January 1876 in Kilmore, the daughter of the Rev Andrew Toomath and Emily Dobson. Her father was the Church of England minister at Kilmore 1873 to 1891; he died at Armadale in January 1914 aged 82 years.

In 1890 Ilma attended Tintern Ladies College and in 1892 she gained prizes for Music, Geography and History at Parkville Ladies College. After schooling Ilma trained as a nurse at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital for three years. She then nursed in Melbourne, including as Matron of the Foundling Hospital and Infants’ Home.

After joining the Australian Army Nursing Service, Ilma volunteered to serve overseas on 5 November 1917 at age 41 years. She departed Melbourne on the SS Indarra on 26 November 1917 and arrived in Bombay on 18 December 1917 where Ilma nursed at the Colaba War Hospital until July 1919. She then transferred to the 19th British General Hospital at Rawalpindi until 1 October 1919. In August Ilma spent 9 days on temporary duty with the British Ambulance Train “A”.

After spending 15 days in the Sisters Hospital in Bombay in October with paratyphoid, Ilma remained in Bombay until she embarked on 26 November 1919 on the SS Medic for Melbourne. Ilma was promoted to Sister on 26 November 1919 and was discharged from the Nursing Service on 3 May 1920. She was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and the 1914/15 Star.

Ilma continued nursing after the War and lived with her sister at Berwick, then at Norman Avenue, South Yarra. She retired in the late 1930s and lived with her sister Henrietta at Ferntree Gully. Ilma died on 4 April 1944.

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 7 April 2015, p13