Mendip Hills Estate, North Preston (Reservoir)

During the late 1880s Melbourne experienced a land boom with numerous developers and speculators offering land for sale.

The promise of a railway line north of the city encouraged subdivisions of land and plenty of optimism.

In 1888 there were at least 25 different estates on the market in the Preston area including Mendip Hills Estate which offered land for sale in October and November 1888. At that time the area was described as North Preston rather than the current suburb of Reservoir.

The land known as Mendip Hills was owned by Richard Shann, and had been a popular spot for Sunday School Picnics. He was involved with local schools and education.

In 1889 Richard and Emily Shann wrote a letter to the Mercury & Weekly Courier:   ‘Sirs, We are desirous of asking the kind cooperation of the councillors in obtaining the favour from the Railway Department of naming the station north of the reservoir, “Mendip Hills”. No doubt some of the members of the council are familiar with the beautiful grassy hills of Somerset-shire and Devon-shire in England from which the name is taken and the undulations of this district are somewhat like them in character’.

Their wish was not granted as the station became Reservoir Station.

At this time many people joined the land boom hoping to make money from subdividing land. Some sold via a company but others were individuals or small syndicates who didn’t call on public investment to support their enterprise.

It seems that Mr Shann’s venture wasn’t successful as in 1890 most of the land was intact and the following year he was declare bankrupt.   In 1893 the Mendip Hills Estate was advertised in a Mortgagees Sale.

As the railway extended northwards from Preston on the Whittlesea line, stations were built and the one featured on the land sales poster is Reservoir Station and Broad Street appears to be what we now know as Broadway.

In general the optimism of the land developers at this time wasn’t founded for some years to come and much of the land on these estates lay vacant for many years until after the First World War when interest picked up.

By this time some of the streets drawn out on earlier land sale posters had been re-planned or renamed.

Forster, Harley W. (1968). Preston Lands and People. Melbourne: Cheshire.
Preston North. The Age (Melbourne, Vic: 1854 – 1954) Thursday 11 October 1888, p9
Prestonshire. Mercury & Weekly Courier (Vic: 1878-1903) Thursday 1 November 1888, p 2
Prestonshire: Council. Mercury & Weekly Courier (Vic: 1878-1903) Thursday 7 March 1889, p 3 Advertisment.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848 – 1957) Weds 11 October 1893, p 2
Plan of Mendip Hills Estate 1st Sale, Preston [cartographic material]. 1888. State Library of Victoria. Available online.
Plan of Mendip Hills Estate 2nd Sale, Preston [cartographic material]. 1888. State Library of Victoria. Available online.