HISTORY OF KENSINGTON, MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA.
This journal cannot possibly include all the maps and photos related to the history of Kensington but it can serve as the one place where descendants of the early residents, those who grew up in the suburb, and recent residents can find information about the area's past such as the origins of street names. There are three organisations which have provided historical information about Flemington and Kensington: the KENSINGTON ASSOCIATION (whose Sheila Byard provided many of the photos and maps that I included in my EARLY LANDOWNERS: PARISH OF DOUTTA GALLA circa 2000), the KENSINGTON NEIGHBOURHOOD HOUSE (whose website contains a history walk with a map and photos of places such as author Hal Porter's house) and the FLEMINGTON ASSOCIATION (whose website has a history section with biographies of prominent citizens such as Russell Horsburgh, who fought as Billy Russell, and J.J.Holland and his son Kevin.)
The links for the above groups and articles will be found on a new Facebook group page:
The reason for the name of the group is that it is intended to allow people who grew up in Kensington to share their stories and photos about the area which will not be found anywhere else thus extending the store of information past 1956 where trove cuts out.
For those Family Tree Circles members who do not like using Facebook, I will be copying my posts and any other contributions likely to interest family historians into this journal. To save time I will not format links as I have for the KENSINGTON KIDS one above; I will put the links into bold type, which will take you to the article if you paste them into your search bar.
HERE'S MY POST WRITTEN THIS MORNING.
WAS THIS SCHOOL IN OUR KENSINGTON?
SCHOOL COMMITTEES.-The following gentlemen have been appointed by the Board of Education members of the local committees of the undermentioned common schools, without prejudice to the power of the board to withdraw aid from the school at any time, subject to the provisions of the act:- ......; Kensington School, No.349-Rev. F. Smith, Duncan Longden. Louis Richardson, and William Thomas Baker: (P.6, Argus, 1864.)
Why would I doubt that it was? Firstly, having done fairly extensive research into Kensington's early history, I had seen none of these four names mentioned and secondly, while researching the school at Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula, I'd found that over 90% of the results concerned a school near Geelong.
A trove search for KENSINGTON COMMON SCHOOL, even before I refined the search to an early decade, revealed that Kensington must have been an early name for Leopold* near Geelong, just as Torquay had originally been called Spring Creek and Port Fairy had originally been called Belfast.
From 1876, residents of our Kensington had to qualify their address, otherwise their mail would be delivered to Kensington near Geelong.
Henceforward letters, &c., addressed "Kensington " (only) will be sent to the Post Office of that name near Geelong. Letters, &c., Intended for Kensington near Flemington should be so directed. (P.2, The Age, 5-4-1876.)
From the Wikipedia page for Leopold.
The area was formerly known as Kensington. The post office opened as Kensington on 19 May 1858, and was renamed Kensington Hill* in 1882, Leopold Hill in 1884 and Leopold in 1885.
*This wouldn't have done much to prevent confusion because it was recorded as the birth place of the Kelly girl (born in our Kensington) who married Squizzy Taylor.
The Wikipedia page for our Kensington needs a bit of amendment but is well-worth a read. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kensington,_Victoria
Kensington was NEVER a part of the CITY of Essendon. It was a part of the Borough of Essendon and Flemington and then the Borough of Flemington and Kensington.
About the only information in many Wikipedia pages about Victorian places is the post office history, but there is absolutely no mention of the post office at our Kensington. This may be because mail was distributed from a post office at Flemington but I can vouch that there was a sub post office on the site of John Rankin's old house opposite the station. It was in that post office that I (who had no interest in horse racing) settled a dispute between two women about which horse had won a certain Melbourne Cup by blurting out TOBIN BRONZE. I wonder if they ever discovered that I was talking rubbish.
EARLY RESULTS FOR KENSINGTON NEAR FLEMINGTON.
NOTICE To BUTCHERS AND OTHERS-The undersigned are purchasers of Mutton and Beef Fat, and Tallow, at the market price, delivered at their Stores,No 9, Lonsdale-street, west and at their Works Kensington, near Flemington. BENN and CO. (P.4, Argus, 30-6-1853.)
THISTLES.-Contract to Destroy on about Three Acres at Kensington, near Flemington. Apply Henry Jennings, solicitor, 83 Queen-street. 052 (P.7, Argus, 2-10-1856.)
(If I remember correctly, Jennings bought the Crown allotment over Footscray (now Kensington) Road from Edward Byam Wight's THE RIDGE from the grantee, William Highett (manager of the Union Bank), and sold the lower portion, which included part of Cox's Kensington Park Racecourse, to Wight in 1859. Such title detail will be posted in small portions later.)
Mr. James Graham, late of Queen street, but now of Kensington House, Kensington, near Flemington. His friends are most respectfully invited to follow the remains of his late daughter Mary to the place of interment, at the General Cemetery. The funeral procession will move from his residence Kensington House at two o'clock this day, Saturday,27th inst. (P.1, The Age, 27-10-1860.)
HERE'S A BIT ABOUT A PIONEER ABOUT WHOM I WILL WRITE A POST SHORTLY.
WE, the undersigned, nominators of FREDERICK JOHN COOTE as a Candidate at the election of Councillor to be held on the 28th day of February, 1867, in and for the Flemington and Kensington Ward of the borough of Essondon and Flemington, do hereby WITHDRAW the said Frederick John Coote as such Candidate.
JAS. QUINTON. T. W. HATTON. ROBT. TERRY. GEORGE WILSON.HUGH GLASS.
And I, the said Frederick John Coote, do hereby retire from being such Candidate. FREDK. JOHN COOTE.(P.8, Argus, 27-2-1867.)
TWO MEN ON EITHER SIDE OF FOOTSCRAY (NOW KENSINGTON) ROAD WOULD HAVE PROBABLY REACTED DIFFERENTLY TO THE REPORT OF THE LAYING OF THE FIRST STONE OF ST MARY'S C.OF E. AT NORTH MELBOURNE.
Edward Byam Wight of THE RIDGE (whose driveway was The Ridgeway) wouldn't have been happy about the spelling of his surname.https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/154875901
COOTE Fred Jno, Death, mother Sarah UNKNOWN, father: Coote Wm, place of death:Byong
79, 1902, 865/1902
THE FOLLOWING ILLUSTRATES WHY THE FACEBOOK PAGE IS NEEDED SO THAT ALL THE PHOTOS AND MAPS RELATIVE TO KENSINGTON'S HISTORY (mentioned in bold type) CAN BE POSTED. ONLY ONE IMAGE CAN BE ATTACHED TO A FAMILY TREE CIRCLES JOURNAL. The photos and maps will only be published on the Facebook page.
FROM MY "EARLY LANDOWNERS: PARISH OF DOUTTA GALLA" WRITTEN IN ABOUT 2000.
EARLY LANDOWNERS: DOUTTA GALLA.
This parish is bounded by the Moonee Ponds Creek, the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers, and the line of Sharps Rd in the north. Section 1, south of Dynon Rd has not been researched.
SECTION 2 (KENSINGTON.)
Section 2 consisted of allotments 16 to 24, the last of which was reserved as part of a racecourse. Allotments 1-15 (Sections 5 and 4) went from McPherson’s “Essendon Park” to Hugh Glass’s southern boundary near Main’s Bridge and allotments 25 to 37 (Section 3) continue the anti-clockwise numbering pattern on the river side of Epsom Rd. Documents relating to these allotments rarely mention the crown section number.
This map shows crown allotments 16 to 23. NOTE EARLY NAMES FOR RACECOURSE AND EPSOM RDS.
The land bounded by Racecourse, Boundary, Macaulay and Rankins Rds was sold by the Crown in 1849 in allotments of about 2 acres. “Every Square Inch” gives details about most of the buyers but here I will only mention a few.
John Rankin bought two blocks fronting Macaulay Rd and was living there as a (market) gardener by 1851. He spent a short, successful time at the diggings and lived on Princes St (as Rankins Rd was originally known) for many years. His house, located at the Macaulay Rd corner, was demolished by the early 1890’s and he was living in Moonee Ponds when he died on 20-7-1892.
This portion of Land Plan 520 (sheet 2) shows the location of Rankin’s house, just near the station.
George Kirk bought four blocks on the west side of Boundary Rd (from Racecourse Rd to Sutton St). He was probably related to the Kirk’s Bazaar founder and John Kirk of Kensington and later Ascot Vale West.
George Scarborough bought an allotment that is today bisected by the street bearing his name. Like Rankin, he lived in Kensington for many years.
Rankin’s land went a third of the way to Stubbs St, the next block contained a Maizena works by the time the Kensington Park Racecourse closed.
The last block, east of Rankins Rd, to be sold was bought by D.Boyd on 28-10-1873, twenty two years after the last of the other blocks was sold. The Palace hotel was built on this 2 acre block.
Before subdivision of this area in the 1880’s many of the blocks were used for market gardening and racehorse training. One trainer, Davis, also ran the Palace hotel.
As mentioned previously, Rankins Rd was called Princes St. It was probably the main route north for West Melbourne residents. Racecourse and Boundary Rds did not meet, most likely because of the swampland later owned by Colclough and then Debney. Therefore Rankins Rd and Princes St would have formed the closest “high and dry” route to Flemington Hill.
When Hugh Glass, Peter McCracken and others built the railway to Essendon in 1860, the government sold the allotment 16 land west of Rankins Rd, using the railway as a major inducement. The triangle of land south of Smith St was bought by James McConnell and Edward Byam Wight.
West of the line, major purchasers were McConnell (town Hall site and half the blocks straddling McConnell St), Wight (including, and east of, Hopetoun St and south of the top half of Wight St), John Filson (Gordon St area), J. Holland (Percy St area) and John Thomas Smith (Epsom/McCracken corner, and school site in 1866.)
McConnell was also a grantee of the allotment bisected by Puckle St.
McConnell St was a private road resulting from subdivision, as were Coote, Bayswater (Hopetoun), McMeikan, New and Wight Sts. The involvement in the area of Wight, Filson and J.T.Smith will be discussed in detail later.
The Kensington State School was opened in 1881 on a portion of the present site bought from Smith’s estate. Kensington’s population exploded in 1882-3, possibly because the newly formed Flemington-Kensington council resolved to construct streets at no expense to landowners.
ALLOTMENTS 17, 18, 19. (McCRACKEN’S DAIRY, THE RACECOURSE.)
This land, bounded by Macaulay Rd, Dynon Rd, and the lines of Lloyd St and Hampden Rd, was granted to John Robert Murphy at about the time he was granted a 2 acre block at the south east corner of Stubbs and Parsons St in 1949.
Allotment 17 was leased by Anah Lewis for 14 years. Allotments 18 and 19 were leased to A.E.Brodribb for 14 years but it is known that by 1855 the 132 acres comprised all or part of McCracken’s dairy.
In 1855, Peter McCracken quit his lease on “Stewarton” (Gladstone Park) and lived on the dairy while his mansion was built on “Ardmillan” in Moonee Ponds. In 1861 a fire burnt all the haystacks and by the end of 1862, Peter was thinking of giving up the dairy because the grass was poor and it was costing more for hay than the milk was worth. Soon after, James Hyslop, who had worked for Peter since 1858, was out of a job (P.233 Victoria and Its Metropolis).
When Anah’s lease finished, and McCracken quit his dairy, the whole 198 acres was leased by cattle salesman Samuel Cox. He probably fattened cattle and sheep on it. Pigs might have been kept there too by pork butcher, William Samuel Cox. Three years later, in 1867, W.S.Cox took over the lease, and in 1872, he extended it for five years with an option of another five years. In 1871, he’d moved from Abbotsford St to “Kensington Park”. The KENSINGTON PARK RACECOURSE commenced operation in 1874. The racecourse was situated partly on E.B.Wight’s portion of allotment 20 as shown by the map on the next page. When it closed at the end of 1882, Cox took out a lease on, and then bought, Feehan’s farm (now called Moonee Valley Racecourse).
On 7-11-1882, exactly 10 years after W.S.Cox started his 10 year lease extension, Murphy sold Kensington Park to John Straker after whom a street in allotment 17 was named. The land was soon subdivided in stages by Nathaniel Munro. New residents might have had trouble establishing gardens because Straker had contracted to sell the topsoil to the Board of Land and Works! Munro also subdivided that portion of allotment 20, which had been part of the racecourse.
The Swamp (Dynon) Rd frontage of section 17 (and 17B between Lloyd St and the northern tip of the swamp) featured a hill that was called Brown’s Hill after an early owner of subdivided land there.
KENSINGTON PARK RACECOURSE.
This map, relating to the subdivision of the shaded land, is from page 116 of volume 4A of the Vale Collection. My thanks to Ken Fraser of Flemington, who supplied it to me.
The map does have an error, showing Hardiman’s Hotel on the Holy Trinity corner instead of the Henry St corner as indicated by my dot.
There is no reason to suppose that a similar error was made with the location of the Kensington Racecourse. The oldtimers who recalled a race track on Holland Park might have been referring to their parents’ recollections from the early 1880’s.
This was granted to William Highett who came to the Port Phillip District to manage the Union Bank. Highett also received a grant in the parish of Yuroke near Craigieburn Rd.
His land dealings fill many pages of the lands title index; no doubt many were in Highett. The entrance in Dynon Rd between Kensington Rd and the railway bridge is actually Highett St.
Not long afterwards, Highett sold allotment 20 to lawyer, Henry Jennings, after whom Henry St was probably named. In 1854, Jennings subdivided the land, selling the land north east of Derby St in 78 lots. The main buyers were F.J.Coote, William and David Winder, and John Cosgrave. Coote was a partner in Jennings’ legal firm and Cosgrave was treasurer of the Corporation of Melbourne. William Winder was a brickmaker and David Winder had purchased the land between Stubbs St and the Macaulay Station site in 1849.
Coote bought most of the land between 18 Henry St and Derby St, which also fronted Kensington Rd, and lots 3-7 (the shop area between Gower St and Hampden Rd). The Winders bought nearly all the Macaulay Rd frontage between Gower St and Kensington Rd. Cosgrave bought land on both sides of Gower St from Derby St up to the church and school sites as well as north east of the latter. Land near the Holy Rosary church site was bought by Thomas Lilley (who owned it for 18 years), and Joseph Hore (who sold to John Brooks in 1857.) Across Gower St, Josh Hore, T.Gregory and T.Stubbs bought blocks that they sold to the McMeikans in 1859.
The McMeikans bought land from Cosgrave in 1864 and Coote in 1868 to extend their property to Bellair St. In 1863, J.T.Smith bought all of Cosgrave’s land east of Gower St (sold to Durham in 1879). Smith also bought six of Cosgrave’s blocks south west of the church site, Robert Wallace buying the other 9 blocks (to Derby St) in 1869.
Durham subdivided his land fairly quickly; Munro’s 1884-5 plan of allotment 19 subdivision shows the nearby houses of Durham and Clarke (manager of the Apollo Candle Works in Swamp i.e. Dynon Rd) with Mr Dixon in the old McMeikan house. In 1888, the two rows of terrace houses were added.
In 1871, Frederick John Coote bought lot 68, between 18 Henry St and Kensington Rd.
It had been owned by Henney (1854-65) and Warnock.
The heritage status of 18 Henry St has been significantly upgraded recently. The house had been built by 1867, when a picture was produced showing this house and those of Peter Wilson (church site), McMeikan and Cosgrave (school site). This picture clearly shows lot 68 is fenced off from Coote’s property.
F.J.Coote’s house is in the foreground of this picture (C.1866.)
Serving as a dairy and the residence of Richard Nelson for the first four decades of the 1900’s, the house was called 11 Footscay Rd, from 1893 until 1915.
This map shows original and later owners of lots in Jennings’ subdivision.
South West of Derby St.
In 1858, when the railway to Mt Alexander was started, Henry Jennings sold land south of the railway to Lowry, Allbeury, Stuart and Merrick, and the land between the railway and Derby St to E.B.Wight. Land now occupied by the flats was subdivided by Wight in the 1880’s. The Apollo Hotel seems to have been on the north side of Swamp (Dynon) Rd, between Kensington Rd and the bridge over Dynon Rd, with the Half way Hotel near the bridge or perhaps further east.
The first of these maps (from 1875) shows the house of John Rankin as well as those of Coote and Wight. The second (from 1890) shows the last two houses. Rankin’s house had been demolished by then.
This was granted jointly to John Watson and Edward Byam Wight. They operated noxious trades in the area between Hobson Rd and the river, a tradition carried on by the Dundas family for many decades from the mid 1880’s.
Wight was the first Mayor of the Borough of Essendon and Flemington in 1862. When he and Watson partitioned their joint landholdings, Wight became sole owner of allotment 21. In 1866, he built on it a double storey house called “The Ridge”. The picture showing the houses of Coote etc at this time has the Kensington Rd gateway of “The Ridge” in the foreground.
When Wight conveyed the property to trustees including himself, relatives and F.J.Coote (by then living in Buningyong) in 1888, it was shown as being subdivided but the 1890’s depression resulted in John Grainger being the only resident between Wight’s house and the railway for many years. By 1911, The Ridge was vacant, Wight’s widow having died or moved in with relatives, and by 1913 the Ridgeway and Bangalore St had many residents as a result of subdivision.
Consisting of only 49 acres (those to the east being about 66 acres) this allotment was granted to Edmund Charles Hobson in 1847. By 1-11-1848, he had died and the property was leased to Richard Philpott for 14 years by his executors, James Horatio Nelson Cassell and John Robert Murphy (owner of allotments 17-19). Ownership of the allotment probably reverted to the widow, Margaret, and her sons, John and Charles in the early 1870’s. In 1874, Margaret bought, from Wight, a one chain-wide strip of land through allotment 21 that is now the eastern end of Hobsons Rd.
It is likely that subdivision took place in or before 1882 because the 1883 directory (the first to list Kensington residents in streets) named Bayswater Rd, which apparently had 14 residents.
This land has Smithfield Rd as its north western boundary and became the site of the abbatoirs. Along with the saleyards site, it was granted to the Mayor and Councillors of Melbourne on 30-8-1858. The 1911 and 1913 directories seem to indicate that on the south west side of Epsom Rd, between the Market St and Smithfield Rd corners, there was a property called “Ythan”, occupied by John Robertson.
Smithfield Rd was not the original route to the punt to Footscray. The track was a furlong (200 metres) further north west along the boundary between allotments 24 and 25. (See map on next page.) In 1836, those travelling to Geelong, and presumably Footscray, had to travel along Macedon (Mt Alexander) Rd to Braybrook Rd (Buckley St) and then from North Pole (Milleara) Road south-west to Solomon’s Ford (POSTSCRIPT 22-5-2020-south of Rhonda St,Avondale Heights, not Clancy's later ford at the west end of Canning St as wrongly claimed by the Victorian Heritage Council and now shown on Google maps, where the river was crossed southward into the parish of Cut Cut Paw. When land was reserved for a racecourse at this time, allotment 24 was included despite the fact that the road to the punt separated it from allotment 25. It may have been at that time that the punt was transferred to the Lynch’s Bridge site so the road could travel along the route of Smithfield Rd. Between the old and new punt sites was the Punt Hotel which ended its life in about 1990 as the Pioneer Hotel.
Smithfield Rd gets its name from Smithfield Market, London, where Britain’s first recorded race meeting took place in the 12th century.
In 1848, J.C.Riddell, J.F.L.Foster and William Stawell took out a lease on the land to ensure the club’s occupancy.
This portion of the 1860 Survey Map shows Smithfield Rd and the second punt located at the site of Lynch’s Bridge but it also shows the original punt and the road on the Footscray side still leading to it.
These allotments are part of the racecourse but section 28 may have been originally granted to Andrew Russell along with allotment 29.(Memorial on folio 702 of volume 39 recording sale of 2 acres of allotment 28 land by Russell on 5-8-1856). Allotment 28 may have been added to the racecourse lease in 1858. Allotments 24-28 are probably in section 3.
A 99 year lease of the racecourse land was granted to V.R.C. Chairman, T.Manifold, on 19-8- 1958. The previous lease was probably granted to the club in 1858, when the first lease (to J.C.Riddell, J.F.L.Foster and the latter’s cousin, William Stawell, for 10 years in 1848) had expired.
JOHN COSGRAVE WAS A PIONEER OF KENSINGTON AND THE SHIRE OF BULLA.
FROM:Oaklands Hunt Club, Oaklands Junction - City of Hume
www.hume.vic.gov.au/.../Oaklands_Hunt_Club_Oaklands_Junction.pdf · PDF file
The Hunt Club acquired Sherwood in 1925 for some £1,261. In the same year it also purchased the 64 acre Daniel property, Narbonne, which once encompassed portion 5. In 1853 Mary Daniel had sold a 53 acre allotment to John Cosgrave, alderman and first treasurer to the City of Melbourne, who cycled out to what appears to have been his country residence on his 'bone-shaker'. He pitched a tent on the property, and then had a carpenter build him a house. The Cosgraves later sold the property to Hunt and Standen who passed it on to Standen's daughter Mrs T.J.Dean. Mrs Dean's son, of Melbourne, then owned this land before it was bought by the Oaklands Hunt Club.
THE Friends of JOHN COSGRAVE, Esq., City Treasurer, are respectfully invited to follow the remains of his late wife to the place of interment, Melbourne General Cemetery.The funeral to move from his residence, Kensington, on Tuesday, 13th inst., at half past 2 o'clock p m.(P.8, Argus, 12-10-1868.)
COSGRAVE Ellen, Death, mother: Catherine nee SHEHAN, father: Atcheson Matth
place of birth:IREL, age:39, 1868, 8662/1868.
COSGRAVE , John, Marriage, ATCHESON, Ellen, 1849, 665/1849 (There was no marriage notice.)
Their children were John Thomas(45581 / 1853) and Catherine (807 / 1858), both registered in Melbourne.
John Thomas married in 1877.For a time North Melbourne was renamed as Hotham.
COSGRAVE—HALLOWS.— On the 18th April, at St. Mary's, Hotham, by the Rev. H. P. Handfield, John T., son of Mr. John Cosgrave, City Treasurer, to Agnes, eldest daughter of Mr. Joseph Hallows, Hotham.(P.2, The Age, 27-4-1877.)
Catherine married in 1887.
McDONALD—COSGRAVE.—On the 22nd February, at St. Finbar's Church, Brighton, by the Rev.M. Carey, assisted by the Rev. W. Lawler,Sandhurst, Michael M'Donald, of Brighton, to Katie, daughter of the late John Cosgrave, City Treasurer, Melbourne.(P.
One of the obitaries following John's death in 1885.
John was a Roman Catholic as was Mary Daniel of "Narbonne"(Melway 177 K4) where Masses were conducted before the construction of churches. The Advocate obituary mentions his musical ability so he may have led the singing during those early services at Narbonne. John might have been one of the new chums whom Mary allowed to develop the muscles to prepare them for the goldfields, and by sheer coincidence loosen the soil for the planting of Narbonne's famed orchard! ("Bulla Bulla" i.W.Symonds.)
on 2020-05-22 06:41:12
Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.