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History of Cheltenham

Image Courtesy: State Library of Victoria

The Melbourne suburb of Cheltenham is located 18km southeast of Melbourne CBD. It is in the local Government area of Kingston. The recorded history of Cheltenham began after the European settlement of Melbourne in 1835. The Boon Wurrung people were the inhabitants of this area, and their nomadic lifestyle brought their presence in the area, on seasons when food was in plenty.

The European settlement of Cheltenham is more or less associated with a land developer named Josiah Morris Holloway. Josiah Morris Holloway sailed to Hobart in 1834 aboard the ‘Chili’, as a free migrant and then moved to Port Phillip in 1847 and worked as a boot maker in a shop in Elizabeth Street in Melbourne.

On 11th May 1852, Josiah Morris Holloway bought 625 acres 2 roods 36 perches of land at a government auction and subdivided into 370 lots, most of it, 2 acre lots and made them available for sale. The land sale advertisement appeared in The Argus on 6th Oct 1852 was as follows. Though the advertisement is too long for an article we decided to publish it in full here, as it gives a clear picture of the area, which came to be known as Cheltenham.

Cheltenham Post Office. Image Courtesy: State Library of Victoria

Cheap Building Lots and No Restriction

Two Acre Village

One Mile from the Dendy Estate Brighton

The above Village, comprising an area of a square mile, is bounded on the south-west by the Great Western Port Road, three chains wide, which separates it from the Government Reserve, on which there are two springs, yielding a never-failing and unlimited’ supply of the very best water.

It is exactly one mile and a-half from the sea beach, to which there are two Government roads leading direct from the property. To those who wish to luxuriate under the genial influence of the sea air, without enduring the bleakness of the beach, the present is unquestionably a golden opportunity. Most of the allotments contain two acres each; and it is the determination of the proprietor, for the sake of underselling the Government, to dispose of the whole Village at the low rate of £20 a lot.

The advertiser will not descant on the superior advantages of the section now offered for sale; but for the guidance of those who have not time to visit this delightful spot, he would here remark, that the land is well wooded, and of the very best quality-that the property is sufficiently elevated to afford, a good view of Hobson’s Bay and the Shipping at anchor-and that the locality possesses good natural drainage. To render these advantages more available, the Village has a frontage to the main road, leading from Melbourne to Western Port, Arthur’s Seat, and Bluff Point ; and it has also two miles of frontage to two other Government Roads.

It is hardly necessary to point out to the purchasers the increasing value of property situated as the above, yet the advertiser cannot help directing the mind’s eye of the reader to the anticipated


And also to the hundreds of English and American STEAMERS,

Destine to convey immediately their thousands of wealthy merchants and speculators to our unrivalled shores. The nearness of the above land to the sea, and its proximity to the great road already referred to, added to the rare advantage, in this parish, of an abundant supply of pure water, is sufficient alone to stamp the value of the property. It may here also be remarked that the land is suitable for bricks; and there is no scarcity of wood to burn them. In fact, the wood on the ground would pay for most of the allotments. It is the opinion of good judges, that every acre of land in this locality will be worth at least £50 before the close of the summer.

Purchasers in the above Village will have the advantage of being guided to their respective lots by well-defined streets, trenched on both sides, and not, as is usual in such cases, by mere pegs. The road to the property is known to be the best leading the same distance from Melbourne, being good both summer and winter. The Village has been tastefully laid out. There is a square in the centre, and a National School reserve. All the streets are one chain wide.

The title is a Grant from the Crown to the seller, who covenants in the ‘ conditions of sale’ that he hath not done any act, matter, or titling whatsoever to encumber the property in title or estate.

A plan of the Village will be given gratis to each purchaser, and also a copy of the Crown Grant.

Apply to


Land Office,

57, Great Bourke-street, East,

Josiah’s initial investment for two-acre village was £938.11.9 and his sales revenue was £6497. Many market gardens were established at Cheltenham during this period, and Moorabbin District was considered as a place for Market Gardens. It was from here vegetables reached the markets of Melbourne.

Image Courtesy: State Library of Victoria

Charles Whorrall was convicted for stealing sheep at Warwickshire in England and was transported to Hobart on 3rd August 1833. As per the convict records, he was a Butcher.  Whorral purchased Lot 13 from Josiah Morris Holloway on 26th March 1853 and built a 2-room inn which he named ‘’The Cheltenham Inn’’, after his birthplace in England. Inns were an important place of social gathering in Melbourne on those years. The inn became popular enough to an extent that within a few years, Two Acre Village had fallen from use and Cheltenham became the name of the village. On 8th March 1855, Whorral sold the land and the license to Henry Jenkins for a whopping £1000. The old building was replaced by a bigger one later. In 1886, Charles Keighran bought the property and in early 1830’s the building was demolished.

By the 1860’s around 150 people lived in Cheltenham and businesses were located at the northern side of the main road where the Inn was also located. There was a spring, where the Cheltenham Park now stands, and the locality was known as Spring Grove. Stephen Charman, One of Henry Dendy’s immigrants, owned 160 acres bound by today’s Charman and Balcombe Roads, which he turned in to a market garden.

Anglican School was opened in 1854, which today known as Cheltenham East primary school. A Wesleyan School, Beaumaris Wesleyan School, under the control of Denominational Board was established in 1855. The Board of Education allotted No 84 to the school in 1863. In 1872, with the passing of the education act, Wesleyan School became State School No 84, Beaumaris.  In 1884, name of the school was changed to Cheltenham from Beaumaris.

Image Courtesy: State Library of Victoria

Early maps show Cheltenham as part of Parish of Moorabbin in the county of Burke. Local Governance came into existence when Moorabbin Roads Bord was formed in 1862. This became Moorabbin Shire Council in 1871 and was decaled a city in October 1934. Following the amalgamation of Councils, initiated by Kennett Government, Cheltenham became part of Local Government are of City of Kingston in 1994.

The growth of Cheltenham as an European settlement was slow and gradual.  A post office was established in August 1857, under the management of John Hitchen, who carried on the business in his Boot and shoe shop. It changed many hands until 1891. It was only in 1891, Post office changed from private hands to one owned and operated by the Postal department at a new building in Point Nepean Road.

Transport was another issue residents of Cheltenham faced in its early years. The train service reached only till Brighton and coach service was available from Brighton station to Cheltenham. This continued until 1881, when railway line from Caulfield to Mordialloc was opened.

The Cheltenham Pioneer Cemetery was the first general cemetery established in Melbourne’s bayside area, known before 1917 as the Mordialloc and South Moorabbin General Cemetery.  On 5 August 1862, 2.5 acres of land was reserved, for a cemetery in Cheltenham. The cemetery opened for interments on 3 October 1864. The first burial was that of John Fullerton Hunter, on 27 March 1865.  In 1874, the cemetery was extended to 8 acres of land. Today this cemetery is known as Cheltenham Pioneer Cemetery. By the 1920’s Pioneer Cemetery reached its capacity and new burial ground, Cheltenham Memorial Park was established nearby.

Cheltenham Hotel. Image Courtesy: State Library of Victoria

By 1865, the population of Cheltenham has reached around 250, and around this time a Mechanics Institute came into existence.

A Government survey in 1852 set aside an area of land as a reserve. Government used this land for many purposes, and part of it was even sold during land boom. On July 26, 1872, the Cheltenham Park was listed and described in the Government Gazette.

In 1904, a decision was taken to move The Melbourne Benevolent Asylum from North Melbourne and a new building was built at Cheltenham from 1909 to 1911 and in March 1911 it was moved to Cheltenham.

The development of Cheltenham as a popular residential suburb began after the World War II.  Southland Shopping Centre was opened in September 1968, on a land which formerly a farm and English Garden designed by artist Henrietta Maria Gulliver. In 1992 a proposal put to extend Southland across Nepean Highway on to the site of the failed Cheltenham Market. After much debate and deliberation, the plan was approved in 1993 and the project was completed and opened for business in 5th May 2000.


The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), Wed 6 Oct 1852, Page 7. Advertising


Moorabbin A Pictorial History 1862 – 1994 by John Cribbin

Two Acre Village, A Cheltenham History by Graham J Whitehead

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      The Melbourne suburb of Cheltenham is located 18km southeast of Melbourne CBD. It is in the local Government area of Kingston. The recorded history of
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