Thornbury Park Estate

Smith, Ballantyne, Hutton, Harold Streets & Normanby Avenue

Plans of the Thornbury Park Estate, Northcote [cartographic material]. 1882, 1884 & c.1890. State Library of Victoria. Available online. In the mid 1850’s Job Smith bought land north of what is now Normanby Avenue and running from High Street to the Merri Creek.

He named the area ‘Thornbury’ after a farm near his birthplace in England. He successfully farmed in the area until the 1880s when he sold land off to developers for subdivision, apparently at a great profit of more than 1500 percent.

The first sales of 224 building allotments on the Thornbury Park Estate took place in 1882.

The advertisers were keen to attract buyers and described the estate as follows: ‘the situation of this property cannot be surpassed: high land commanding a magnificent view of the surrounding country’.

 ‘Railway communications will soon be established rendering this locality a desirable place for suburban residence being within 5 miles of the city.’

 An unfailing supply of water secured by the Yan Yean (pipeline) skirting the property.’

Sales continued in 1884 with 49 allotments offered on this ‘magnificent and view commanding estate’ with land offered at £5 deposit and with low or no interest payments. These terms were ‘specially designed for the benefit of the saving working class who are thus enabled to make a profitable speculation out of their weekly savings’.

They encouraged the ‘working classes to seize upon the present opportunity to become freeholders on these unparalleled and easy terms: LUNCHEON PROVIDED.

If someone was building immediately the vendors offered to ‘advance three fourths of the purchased money and cost of building repayable in easy instalments of only 3% interest.’

These early sales of land at the estate were slow to entice people away from the city, despite the reasonable rates as there was no railway at this point, St George’s Road was a primitive track and the nearest school was a mile away.

By the end of 1885 the St Georges Rd Bridge out of the city had been built and the railway was to follow soon.

Sales continued slowly due to a boom and then bust of property sales then followed by the 1st World War.

An advertisement in 1922 selling further lots of land on the estate claimed to be the ‘most important sale of the season’ with ‘the largest marquee ever erected in Melbourne for a sub-divisional sale… with seating accommodation for 700’.

With electric trams on St Georges Road, water, gas and electricity supplied, and no preliminary deposits, the vendors were confident of sales.   ‘This sale should be the opportunity for many to lay the foundation stone to a home of their own.’ 

Lemon, Andrew. (1983).The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.
Age (Melbourne, Vic: 1854 - 1954), Saturday 2 September 1882, page 2
Melbourne Punch (Vic: 1855 - 1900), Thursday 6 March 1884, page 6
Most Important Sale of the Season. Herald (Melbourne, Vic: 1861 - 1954), Wednesday 1 February 1922, page 5