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 over it.

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.

1839
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.

1840
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.

1841
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 unsold.

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.

1842
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.

1843
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.

1846
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.

1847
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.

1849
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.

1850
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.

1851
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.

1852
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