EARLY HISTORY OF BRUNSWICK
Reference taken from "It Happened in Brunswick, 1837-1987" by Les Barnes, available
from BCHG publication unit. For details please click the "Publications" link
For viewing photographs please click the "Album" link.
1838 and Before
Brunswick was a small plateau tilting from a hill facing the Moonee Ponds
Creek to the Merri Creek, timbered by stunted eucalypt trees, badly drained
naturally and thus marshy. Aboriginals did not spend long in it and used
it as hunting grounds for it had plenty of kangaroo and wallaby roaming
It was very windy which no doubt caused the aborigines to name it Boort Moornmount Bullarto -
''very windy country". There are claims that there were Aboriginal camps oil the site of
the present Town Hall and just behind the Brunswick Railway Station. These claims are on hearsay
and even if correct, the camps were not permanent residences and the Aborigines seemingly regarding
the area only as a happy hunting ground.
Acting on the instructions of Robert Hoddle, chief surveyor, an assistant Darke surveyed the future
Brunswick area. He marked it out in big blocks 1-1/2 miles long by 1/4 mile wide. A road was marked
down the centre of the survey, much too narrow. The size of the blocks ensured that they would
go to the rich and the shape of the blocks spreading horizontally across the area would ensure
traffic chaos of the future.
Land was sold at three separate auction sales. Most of it went to speculators. One man only, settled
on his, another established a workable estate but did not work it himself.
James Simpson the only original purchaser to settle on his land, did so mainly to supervise its
division into allotments and the sale of such lots. He began by marking out two streets Carmarthen
(later Albert) and Llandillo (later Victoria) Streets and proceeded to sell. The marshiness of
the land on his block hindered sales. He left Brunswick in 1852 with the greater part of his block
Thomas Wilkinson and a friend, E.P. Stone bought the central block on the eastern side of the
marked block from the original purchaser. Stone left for elsewhere and surrendered the block to
Wilkinson who proceeded to divide it into allotments for sale or rental. He marked the two streets
- Albert Street and Victoria Street - which served as a right of way to the allotments.
1841 - December 27
First church in Brunswick opened. It was a Wesleyan Chapel, a small brick building on land donated
by Thomas Wilkinson.
1842 - October
First hotel in Brunswick, the Retreat Inn in Sydney Road. It had a weighbridge alongside. It served
the stone-carrying bullock wagons which weighed in there while the drivers refreshed themselves
at the inn. Miss Amelia Shaw was the first licensee. The inn was rebuilt in 1892 and became the
Retreat Hotel. The weighbridge disappeared.
Beginning of the main road to Brunswick. The New Sydney Road had been projected in 1841 and work
on it began. The route was marked out and the removal of the trees followed with the smoothing
of the surface. This work reached as far as Albert Street, Brunswick.
William Lobb established a cattle farm on the hill on the north part of the projected main road
from Melbourne. The hill became known as Lobb's Hill and the lane that ran along the farm as Lobb's
Lane. In later days it would become Stewart Street.
Post office established on Wilkinson's Estate. It was named after the name of Wilkinson's Estate,
Brunswick which had been named from Princess Caroline of Brunswick, wife of King George IV of
England. A plaque celebrating the event was installed on the front of the Sortino shop on the
site in 1986.
The road from Melbourne had by now hardened enough to be usable in Brunswick, except in wet weather.
It became known as Brunswick Street in Brunswick.
The main road reached Pentridge. It was then named Pentridge Road. There were drainage problems
caused by the construction of the road and the parts on the west side were turned into marshes
as the water was dammed up. The problem was met by constructing an open drain down Albert Street
which gave some relief.
1849 - January
Thomas Manallack, a Cornishman arrived in Melbourne. He owned land in Little Collins Street, Melbourne
and also in Brunswick. He opened a brickyard and pottery in Philipstown. He taught John Glew how
to make bricks. He operated until 1851 when he went to the goldfields with his son, Thomas.
Michael Dawson, who had acquired the whole of one of the original blocks 1843, now completed the
construction of his English style ivy covered mansion. The estate was named Phoenix Park, after
the famous park in Dublin and Dawson gave his postal address as Philipstown which was a place
in Ireland where a Repeal riot had taken place three years before.
1849 - June
John Glew opened his brickyard in Hodgson Street, Philipstown. Within six months he was employing
two men, he is the first known employer of labour in the brick industry in Brunswick. He ran the
yard until the pit was worked out in 1857 when he closed it and opened a new yard elsewhere.
Henry Search opened a retail butchers shop on the south-west corner of Albert Street and Sydney
Road. It was the first retail shop in Brunswick. Search retired from the business in 1858 and
it was taken over by Charles and Ebeneser Rosser and it remained in that family until the 1890s.
James Whitby a Flinders Lane merchant erected a property which he named Whitby House. He named
the estate Whitbyfield and the street that led to it became Whitby Street. Whitby had first come
to Brunswick when he settled on a property at the corner of Pentridge Road and later Merri Street.
This was in 1848.
Gold Rush. Brunswick lay on the track to the goldfields. Would be diggers on their way to the
fields coming from the populated suburb of Collingwood and other eastern villages, working their
way to pick up the main roads to the fields at Essendon, found a lunch time stopping place at
Pentridge Road. A set of shops sprung up to cater for their needs, a camp formed on the later
site of the Cumberland Arms Hotel. It was accompanied by a bazaar like tent market where diggers
were sold things required by them on the goldfields and supplies to take with them.
Brunswick Hotel opened. Situated at the corner of Weston Street it caught the traffic coming from
Collingwood en route to Essendon as well as that coming up from Melbourne. Licensed in 1854.
John Heller opened his slaughteryards in Union Street, Phillipstown. That village had grown rapidly
as the demand for bricks was facilitated by the rapid growth of Melbourne. The stone quarries
of East Brunswick were worked to a point of exhaustion.
Further details can be obtained from the publication
"IT HAPPENED IN BRUNSWICK, 1837-1987" by Les Barnes