Our Stories

A Leather Gladstone Bag

by Toni Grinberg, member of City of Moorabbin Historical Society.

A Leather Gladstone Bag and it’s contents …..

On the top shelf of a bookcase, gathering dust and providing an excellent spot for a spider to weave their web, sat a leather bag.

Curiosity could not leave it sitting there, she had to find out more about the bag. Gently lifting the bag from the top shelf, blowing off the accumulated dust and spider webs she set it on the table.

Curiosity wondered if she should risk opening the bag more forcefully – was there anything inside? She gave it a shake and heard a rattle and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness there is something inside, I have to get it open now!”

As Curiosity tried in vain to open the bag, her friend Astute watched on with a sly grin on her face. Astute lent over the bag and pressed two levers and the bag slowly creaked open.

Together they peered inside the bag.  Curiosity started to pull out the contents ……

A bicycle horn??
A glass bicycle horn?      most unusual!

On further investigation, using the ‘trusty internet’, the object was identified as the Omega breast reliever – A breast pump with red rubber hand pump, glass receiver, made by J.G. Ingram & Sons Ltd, and sold in the early 1900’s. The pump was used by women who needed that extra help to relieve the pressure build-up in their breasts when lactating.

Sheets of folded paper

Sheets of folded paper – some in better condition than others, some had holes that looked like pesky little insects had had a feast. 

When unfolded we found five hand written letters the earliest letter was dated 21 September 1905 and the latest the 12 December 1925.The letters were addressed to ‘whom it may concern’ or to Nurse Warburton. They were letters of recommendation written by grateful husbands or women who were very grateful for the assistance Nurse Warburton provided at the birth of their child, not only looking after the new mother but also the family and the house hold chores.

A recipe for medication
Rheumatoid Arthritis or Rheumatism Cure?

 packets Epsom Salts dissolved in 1 pint of water and add 1/2oz powdered magnesium
Take small wine glassful each morning fasting.
Note: First morning 1/2 tea cupful thereafter as above, even less to suit the treatment and one movement at least each day of the bowels.

Interesting, not sure that it should be tried, especially as the instructions are not that clear.

A handful of Keys!
What mysteries could they unlock?

Keys of different shapes and sizes. The keys have survived – have the doors or items they were used to open? 

Who was Nurse Warbuton?

Curiosity sat and pondered on the collection of items, and decided that the bag must have belonged to Nurse Warburton, but who was she?, where did she live?

The letters provided the clue that Nurse Warburton may have lived in the City of Moorabbin, as early as 1917, if not before, the stamp on one of the medication papers was from the “Moorabbin Pharmacy, John Wilson, Cheltenham”.

Nurse Warburton was most likely a midwife.

Curiosity turned to the bag and began to look for further clues – there was nothing printed on the outside, but inside – written quite clearly was:

Nurse Warburton was Emma Warburton who lived with her husband, Joseph, and children at 44 Bourke Street, Cheltenham, nowadays Bourke Street is in Mentone.

Emma was born in 1863, in Hawksburn, Victoria. When she married in Joseph in 1884, the couple lived in Cheltenham, Victoria.