Notable People of Collingwood

Collingwood Notables Database

Thomas Archibald Eunson

1872 -1958


Personal Photo 1
Rev T A Eunson
Personal Photo 2
Grace Eunson in 1978

Reverend Eunson was the pastor of the Sackville Street Baptist Tabernacle from around 1908 to 1950, an extraordinary ministry of 42 years. He became well-known for his social work, helping the many poor of the Collingwood district. On the occasion of the commencement of the 35th year of his ministry the secretary of the Baptist Union of Victoria (Rev. G. P. Rees) paid tribute to Eunson, stating that his social service work had made him so widely known and beloved of the people of the district that he might well be known as ‘the Bishop of Collingwood.’

Prior to Sackville Street Eunson had a parish in the more salubrious suburb of Brighton and lived in South Yarra. Coming to the Sackville Street Tabernacle, he moved into a house conveniently located on the corner of Sackville Street, in Gold Street. Here he brought his bride, Caroline Jeffs, in 1911. The couple are shown on the front verandah of the house when floodwaters were sweeping along Gold Street, probably in 1913. Caroline’s brother, Horace Jeffs, who married the couple, was the minister at the Clifton Hill Baptist Church. After a few years the Eunsons moved into a house in Sackville Street, before purchasing property on the other corner of Gold Street. This had been the site of a corner shop and neighbouring house; these two buildings were extensively altered to create today’s early twentieth century house. 

Thomas’s only child, Grace attended Victoria Park State School.  According to Grace’s reminiscences, Caroline Eunson detested living in Collingwood. However she was a devout Baptist and obviously participated fully in the life of the parish. In 1915 Eunson was appointed a probation officer in the Collingwood district. Known as the ‘poor man’s pastor’, he described the grim days in the early part of the century when conditions were difficult for so many, hit by crime, war and economic depression, and his years of work in the slums, courts, and lockups.

As pastor, Eunson was honorary superintendent of the Home of Hope, established by the Reverend Charles Cherbury in 1880. During Eunson’s times this orphanage and school suffered various criticisms ranging from the poor condition of the building to the inadequacy of the staff. It was finally closed around 1925.

Eunson was a member of the Committee of Management of the Dr Singleton Dispensary and Welfare Centre from 1920 until 1953. He served as President, was a Life Governor, and Chairman of the House Sub-Committee for 13 years.

In 1950, too frail and elderly to keep up his workload, Eunson regretfully decided he had no choice but to retire. A special service was held at the Tabernacle, attended by the Mayor of Collingwood, representatives of other churches, and the President of the Baptist Union.

Caroline had died some years earlier, and father and daughter remained at 12 Gold Street together. Grace had trained as a nurse, starting at the Foundling Hospital at the age of 15, and living in at the Kew Children’s Cottages in the 1930s. Eunson spent the final part of his life in hospital and died in Cheltenham. After her father’s death Grace remained a local identity and in 1982 participated in an oral history project. She reminisced about her life as a parson’s daughter, the children’s games, trips to the cinema, and what could be bought at the nearby shops. She described how much in demand her parents were, with a constant procession of people coming to the door of the manse in the evening seeking help. Grace was also kept busy, doing messages, helping with housework, and pumping the organ for Saturday weddings. By the time of the oral history interview, the Tabernacle had closed, and she was attending the Children’s Church in Harmsworth Street. 

Grace’s death at the beginning of 1992 brought to a close the Eunson family’s long association with Collingwood. The site of the Tabernacle is now occupied by cream brick flats, built in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

House Photo 1

10 Gold Street

Life Summary

Birth Date Birth Place
1872 Fitzroy, Victoria
Spouse Name Date of Marriage Children
Caroline Mary Jeffs, c. 1873 - 8 August 1944 1 March 1911, Ballarat Grace Rosalie 1905 - 20 January 1992
Home Addresses
Home Street Home City Status of Building
10 Gold Street Collingwood Demolished
106 Sackville Street Collingwood Demolished
12-14, later 12 Gold Street Collingwood Extant
Work Addresses
Work Street Work City Status of Building
Sackville Street Collingwood Demolished
Church Lodge
Sackville Street Baptist Tabernacle
Death Date Death Place Cemetery
13 January 1958 Cheltenham

The Age; The ArgusBaptists in Victoria: our first century, 1838-1938

Victoria Police Gazette September 22 1915; Dr Singleton Dispensary and Welfare Centre Annual Report 1958; Collingwood oral history project – Miss Eunson AUD.CASS LH COLL; Eunson, C.M. Echoes from the manse; [Collingwood Baptist Tabernacle] CFC 85. 

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