‘Belgrave’, 68 Bell Street, Fitzroy

  • Architect: Unknown / Builder: Unknown
  • Built: 1885-1887
  • First owner: Unknown
  • Other owners: Maurice Gross, Enrico Martin
Photo of 68 Bell Street, taken for its sale in July 2014

This large house must have been built somewhere between 1885 and 1887. It is unusual because it is wider than its neighbours and features a door in the middle of the house, similar to other double fronted houses. The house during the 50s was a boarding house.

Maurice Gross, 1888 – 1911

Celene and Maurice Gross, photo sourced from Jo Sloan, from Ancestry.com.

Moses Maurice Gross, born in 1860 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. His mother Rachel had many children Eleazer, Hannah, Nathan, Rebecca, Phineas, Eve, Leah, Isabel, another female who died in childbirth, Miriam, and then in 1875 Rachel gave birth and her life to a baby boy. Unfortunately he only survived three weeks. Two years later on 8 August 1887 at the age of 17, Maurice at this stage a Clerk arrives in Australia.

In 1885, Maurice married Celine Isaacson (born 1865) in Stawell. It is unclear when they travel to Melbourne, but it is before the birth of their only child, Rachel Henrietta Gross (1887-1975).

Maurice Gross, photo sourced from Jo Sloan on Ancestry.com

Maurice was a Merchant, a Lawyer (1887), a Justice of the Peace (1901), a councillor, and Mayor (1899-1900). Hoth he and his wife Celene, were very active in Fitzroy around the 1890s-1900s, with Celene, being president of the Fitzroy Work Association (1900) and later both perform significant roles in the Jewish and Hebrew communities after their move to Montague House, Esplanade St, St Kilda with their daughter in 1911.

Enrico Martin, 1950-1952

In 1950, Enrico Martin of Italian descent (a chef by trade), purchased 68 Bell Street, the house at this time was a Boarding House and Enrico Martin lived upstairs. On the ground floor, invalid pensioner Ronald Edward Clifford Tuttleby, lived with his wife and child.

According to the papers, the two quarrelled excessively and on 1 November 1952, Tuttleby came out of his room and started arguing with Martin. Shortly afterwoods, Tuttleby went to his room and came out with a sawn off shotgun. According to the Crown, Tuttleby fired when Martin moved towards him with his arms raised. The shots from a pellet gun apparently blew off his jaw and chest. Tuttleby then ordered the Italians out of the house, including Mrs Adelaide Martin and her two daughters (Nadia aged 2 and Alida, aged 12), who ran screaming from the back of the house to the Standard Hotel.

Of the incident the papers reported that the shooting had followed a violent argument in which twelve bannister rails were broken and splintered. Witnesses had reported that the gunman, a cripple, had hobbled from the house opened a galvanised iron garage and backed a blue sedan into the side street (Fitzroy St). Tuttleby then fired a shot over their heads which pounded into the brick wall and sent several kids who were playing fleeing in a panic. He then drove off.

Ronald Edward Clifford Tuttleby, 1949-1952

Tuttleby (born 1906) pleaded not guilty of murder and was sentenced to eight years in gaol by Justice Barry for Manslaughter.

Tuttleby is an interesting character. He admitted a prior conviction for cattle stealing in 1934 in which he was gaoled for 3 years, which was published in the press, but he actually has quite the wrap list. His prison records show in April 1925 he spent 24 hours in gaol for talking and laughing in a concert hall, in August 1925, he spent 24 hours in Pentridge for making sue of improper language to an officer, then in November 1925 he spent 2 days in prison after ‘Pulling up onions without authority’ and then 7 days in Pentridge for not being respectful to an officer. On 25 August 1927 he was gaoled for 4-5 counts of larceny and illegally using a horse. He started this sentence in Bendigo Gaol and was transferred to Pentridge on 12 September 1927. He was released on 20 Sep 1928. But was soon back in prison in February 1930 as a result of two counts of larceny. He was released on 9 September 1931. And was back again in 1934 (the gaol sentence he admitted in court), which was not only for stealing cattle but for “wilfully killing a heifer with intent to steal carcass” and he was released on 24 August 1936.

Tuttleby’s first police photos, aged 19 year, from his police records
Second set of shots, he is recorded as having brown hair and blue eyes, these were in April 1930, from his police records
Photos from 1936, he is now 30 years old, from police records.

Following his imprisonment, he married and started a shoe manufacturing business. The factory however burnt down and he lost everything. Four days later he became paralysed for some unknown reason. During the court case for Martin’s murder Counsel said there was no suggestion he was insane.

Reginald had been married in 1937 to Violet Ethel Neander, and they are recorded as living in the house in 1949, prior to that in 108 Sydney Road, Carlton. His profession was not surprisingly recorded as that of a bootmaker. For some reason the details of his manslaughter charge were not included on his criminal record and I can find no record of it. I also can find no record of his death. I wonder if he changed his name following his time in prison? Violet died on 31 July 1964 still carrying his name.

2 thoughts on “‘Belgrave’, 68 Bell Street, Fitzroy

  1. e would have been my Uncle, BUT I NEVER MET OR KNEW OF HIM, until Marilyne did the Family Tree for Tuttleby!!
    I don,t have any photos .I only met his mother (my Grandmother ) twice in her life! My family didn,t have anything to do with my Father,s side. I,m sorry I cann,t help you further. Valerie Doering

    1. Many thanks Valerie for your comments – hopefully over time someone will be able to contribute more and we’ll grow the history we hold !

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