Time Line compiled by P. Michell and typed by Charles Michell
Bold Indicates key dates
1835 June 6th – John batman signs treaty with Aboriginal brothers Jaka Jaka and others. He represents the Port Phillip Association from Hobart. Some say the treaty was singed on the banks of the Merri Creek near Rushall railway station. More than likely the Treaty was signed elsewhere. For more discussion on this see “Southern Invasion, Northern Conquest” by Rex Harcourt (2001).
1837/8 – Robert Hoddle surveys land. High Street is part of the important North/South (Hoddle) survey line. This was used for establishing the grid in planning Melbourne and its suburbs. Aboriginal names were used for creeks and rivers.
1839/40 – Government land sales in Northcote area. Early purchasers included William Rucker, Thomas Wills, Job Smith, Michael Pender and other speculators.
1841 – William Rucker perhaps develops the land atop Northcote hill. He buys another section of land as well. Plans for a grand house - "the most expensive country house in the colony". More than likely a decade later the building is built and known as ‘Sunnyside’ and later ‘The Alpines’. The hill was initially called 'Muckers Hill' then later affectionately known as "Ruckers Folly", later Ruckers Hill.
1842 – Dr Peter Macarthur builds a hut in Yarra Bend beside Merri Creek to the north of Arthurton Rd (which is a corruption of his name). His land holdings reaching down to Rathmines St. Thomas Wills finishes ‘Lucerne’ in Alphington after two years of construction. Rucker sells part of his land to George James. This became known as James’ Paddock.
1842/3 – Depression. William Rucker becomes insolvent. His land sold off.
1848 – Melbourne Lunatic Asylum opened in Fairfield beside the Yarra River. Called Yarra Bend in 1851.
1850 – Colony of Victoria separates from New South Wales. To celebrate, Macarthur names ‘Separation St.’. The Pilgrim Inn (aka Red House) later called Croxton Park Hotel opens in Thornbury. Later the fields behind would become one of the largest private race courses in Melbourne.
1851 – Victorian gold rush begins.
1852 – Shade’s ironmongery store opens in a tent in High St. One of the first traders in the district.
1853/55 – Township of Northcote established in today’s Westgarth. Land subdivided and sold for housing.
1853 – Possibly first permanent domestic house built in Northcote. John Grinrod at 5 McLachlan St., Westgarth. Works begin on the Yan Yean pipe line brining fresh drinking water to Melbourne. Pipes laid down centre of St Georges Rd, then known as the ‘Pipe Track’.
1854 – Wesleyan church and school opened at 248-250 High St. The bluestone hall still stands and is now part of a cafe. Robert S Bunn first teacher. Original Peacock Inn built (current one dates from 1897). First Post Office established at the newly completed Bastings Hay & Corn Store. This was a two storey solid bluestone construction, located on the west side of High St opposite Bastings St. Demolished in 1962. Shannon’s Hotel, now known as Commercial Hotel opened. July
1857 – First timber bridge crossing the Merri Creek on High St. Current bridge dates from 1875.
1860 – All Saints Church in High St., Westgarth opened.
1861 – ‘German’ cemetery in Separation St established.
1864 – Northcote becomes part of the Epping Road District. Bridge Inn hotel on banks of Merri Creek, west side of High St commences business. Now demolished.
1866 - Carters Arms Hotel opened on north-east corner of High & Separation Sts. Demolished 1990s.
1869 – July - First bicycle race in Australia on the same day at two locations! First at MCG, then repeatedlater at the Croxton Park Hotel fields at the rear.
1870 – Epping Road District expands to become Shire of Darebin.
1871 – Northcote and Preston separate from the Shire to form the new Shire of Jika Jika.
1873 – Northcote Patent Brick established in Separation St behind Carters Arms hotel. Northcote Inebriates Retreat opens on current site of Northcote Secondary School on western side of St Georges Rd past Merri Creek crossing. Operates until 1893.
1874 – Northcote State School (No. 1401) in Helen Street opened. Richard Tobin was head teacher from the now closed Wesleyan school.
1875 – Gas Lines connected to businesses and some street lighting! This could only be done with a permanent bridge across Merri Creek at High Street.
1876 – First bank – Commercial Bank in High Street (now demolished).
1880’s – Building boom – many farms broken up for residential building blocks. Completion of Rucker’s Hill embankment to allow cable trams to travel.
1882 – Northcote Brick Company established in Separation Street. Bricks were being produced from Roberts Hotel days. At its peak around 1.5 million bricks were produced every ten days from this huge pit for almost 100 years. One of the most significant employers. This was a modern company using steam engines for mechanisation copying the techniques from Hoffman Bricks in Brunswick.
1883 – Northcote separates from Shire of Jika Jika to form Borough of Northcote. Railway built between Clifton Hill and Fairfield – The ‘nowhere to nowhere’ railway line.
1884 – Council establishes a free reading room for the public. Uses money from the demise of the Northcote Health League in 1883. One of the first tramways (horse drawn) established in Station Street, Fairfield. Used mainly on sale days to convey buyers to C H James’ land sales.
1885 - Little Sisters of the Poor convent opened in St Georges Road on Brown’s Farm.
1886 – 1888 – Beginning of land sales via large subdivisions. Whilst many houses were built they were still mostly timber. This was at odds with an area that produced so many bricks. A number of solid brick buildings were constructed during this period some of which still exist in the district. Notable locations including James St., Westbourne Grove, Clarke St., Dundas St. and Alphington amongst many others.
1886 - First Austral Wheel Race (Bicycle Race).
1888 –Town Hall foundation stone laid – first stage opened in 1889 with Post Office and Law Court completed in 1890. Design by G R Johnson – local resident and designer of Melbourne Exhibition Buildings. Heidelberg/Hurstbridge Railway line opened. This allowed increased real estate development around Fairfield and Alphington. Grandview Hotel in Fairfield erected. Leader Newspaper (under various titles) begins publication. Formation of Clifton Hill to Northcote & Preston Tramway Co. formed. Widening of Ruckers Hill viaduct. Cable winding house at 626 High St built in 1889. First cable tram ran two years later.
1889 – Whittlesea Railway line opened in 8 October. Railway stations – Northcote, Middle Northcote, Croxton, and Thornbury opened. Link to Melbourne via Fitzroy. Approx. 30 min journey to city by train! It would be five years before a direct link to the city via Clifton Hill. This late introduction of railways severely stunted the development of Northcote.
1890 – Northcote proclaimed a town by Earl of Hopetoun, Governor General of Australia Beginning of Depression. 18th February cable tram begins operation. Runs 1890-3, 1894-7, 1901-1940.
1891 – Wales Street Primary School opens. Arthurton Rd bridge opens allowing easy road access Brunswick and beyond.
1891/3 – Opening and closing of the outer Circle railway line section between Fairfield and Camberwell – loss of Fulham Grange railway station.
1892 – Northcote Library opened in new Municipal Buildings. First telephone used in district at Town Hall. Relief work given to workers during this depression. Mostly road and drainage construction.
1893 – Banks closed due to Depression. Cable Tram Company in liquidation. Over ¼ of all shops closed in Northcote.
1895 - Northcote Tile & Pottery founded in Clyde Street, Thornbury.
1897 – First screening of a motion picture in Northcote arranged by the Primitive Methodists. Original part of Peacock Inn pulled down and re-built.
1901 – Railway from Collingwood to Melbourne opened. Cable Tram reopens under council control.
1902 – Rockeries and trees established at the entrance to Northcote through instigation of Northcote South Ratepayers Association.
1904 – Northcote linked by railway to Clifton Hill and thus shorter route to Melbourne.
1905 - Planting begins with rockery construction on the bottom of High St as a suitable entrance to Northcote. Instigated by Northcote South Ratepayers Assoc.
1907 – Batman and Penders Park land purchased. Prior to this only park was Northcote Park in Westgarth St.
1910 – Local telephone exchange constructed.
1911 – ‘Northcote Free Library’ building built. Mostly from funds donated by American millionaire Andrew Carnegie on the condition that use was free. One of only four ‘Carnegie Libraries’ in Australia.
1912 – Northcote Picture Theatre opened – first Mayoral ball held there. Westgarth railway station opened, Northcote South station closed.
1913 – Town Hall part of Municipal Buildings opened.
1914 – Northcote proclaimed a City coinciding with introduction of electrification of City.
1917 – Sutton Tool & Gauge moves to newly constructed warehouse in High St near All Saints Church. Site later became Baker & Taylor electrical contractors. Apartments constructed in 2004.
1919 – Establishment of paper manufacturers in Fairfield on the Yarra river.
1920 – Australian Broom Company (ABC) established. W S Needlands takes over Tharrats Joinery & Timber business on north-west corner of High & Separation Sts. Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board takes over management of cable tram. St Georges Rd opens for traffic.
1921 – Westgarth Picture Theatre opened (for about 15 years renamed Valhalla) in Westgarth. First Northcote Baby Health centre opens, others follow within a decade.
1923 – Northcote Baths in Frederick Street opened.
1925 – Northcote cable tram linked directly to Clifton Hill without the necessity of change before the Merri Creek. Regent Theatre opened in Thornbury. Overhead bridge at Clifton Hill constructed for railway to cross High St. Last patient transferred from Yarra Bend Asylum.
1926 –Yarra Bend becomes a park.
1928 – History of Northcote published by Northcote Council. The author is William George Swift the former Town Clerk. First published history. Northcote District High School opened in St Georges Rd. First students taken two years earlier.
1930 – Outer Circle Railway bridge opens for road traffic – Chandler Highway.
1933 – Northcote’s Jubilee. Special publication issued ‘Northcote Jubilee Celebrations’.
1940 - 26th October cable tram ceases operations due to cable supply shortage during war. Double decker buses take over the route. High St. beneath railway overpass is lowered to allow buses to travel beneath!
1954 – Newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II’s motorcade passes Town Hall. Station St and Albert St joined to allow access to Plenty Rd.
1955 - Electric trams begin running replaceing the double decker buses. Old cable tram cables and rails removed.
1956 – Olympics held in Melbourne coinciding with introduction of television and subsequent closures of local picture theatres. Westgarth alone survives by showing Greek films through the 1960s and 1970s.
1962 – Alphington and Fairfield become part of Northcote from Heidelberg Council.
c1966 - Council infill building built between Library and Town Hall on Rucker's Hill.
1977 – Northcote Brickworks ceases operations. In 1979 chimneys and kilns levelled. Council takes over pit and begins 25 years of filling.
1981 - Opening of Northcote Plaza on the site of old brickworks. Formation of Northcote Historical & Conservation Society.
1982 - Aboriginal Advancement League given first Victorian freehold land for old Glen Iris Brickowrks site in Watt St. Thornbury. 1983 – Two major historical publications. Northcote Side of the River published to commemorate 100 years. Written by historian Andrew Lemon. Urban Conservation Study in 3 vols listing history of significant buildings and sites produced by Graeme Butler, Architect. This was updated in 2001.
1985 –Northcote Library relocates to larger purpose built premises opened on the old council nursery in Separation Street.
1988 – Glimpses of Our Past published by Northcote Historical & Conservation Society. Northcote as seen through historical articles written for the Leader Newspaper.
1994 – 22 June. City of Northcote merged with City of Preston to form City of Darebin. Area to the south of Heidelberg Road is now part of the newly formed City of Yarra.
1997 - Northcote Town Hall ceases to be used for administration.
1998 - Northcote Town Hall interior repainted in 1930s colour scheme.
2000 - Infill building between library and townhall demolished.
2001 – Three volume Darebin Heritage Review 2000 produced by Andrew Ward, Architectural Historian. Now includes some Preston buildings.
2002 – Discovery of unusual tunnels beside Merri Creek. More than likely connected to the storing of munitions during World War II. Between 1942-1945 Preston Town Hall was used by Allied military command. Unknown to residents at the time.
2004 – Northcote Town Hall reopens following extensive renovations. Now an arts complex.