Town Hall Estate, Preston

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Murray Road, High Street & Roseberry Avenue

The late 1880s saw a land boom throughout Melbourne with numerous developers and speculators offering land for sale. The promise of a railway line in the Preston area encouraged subdivision of land and much optimism. In 1888 there were 25 different estates on the market in Preston including the Town Hall Estate.

A real estate poster proudly shows a drawing of the proposed Town Hall which included a tower that was never built. The structure we know now was built in 1895. Other attractions and features in the area shown on the poster was a roller skating rink, St Mary’s Church, post office and the shops and hotels in High Street as it was being developed.

An advert in August 1888 mentions the proximity to the tram route and the railway station which was completes in the following year.

The Town Hall estate was described as being in the heart of Preston with ‘water laid on in every street’, ‘gas available’ and ‘each street is planted with oak and elm trees and all are protected by substantial tree guards’ To secure a plot of land you would need £5 deposit and the balance was payable up to 2 years at 6%. Several sales took place in 1888 with cabs and conveyances available to meet the tram at the Clifton Hill terminus to encourage vendors to attend the sales. However, the optimism of the many developers wasn’t founded for some years to come and much of the land lay vacant in these estates until interest picked up just before and certainly after the First World War.

In 1911 an advert for the Town Hall Estate mentioned the many trains that ran through Preston on a daily basis. The deposit for land was now 10 shillings and advertised as ‘the cheapest in the district’ but of course the allotments could have been further subdivided by then. Further sales of an extended Town Hall Estate took place in 1924 with 22 shop sites sold in High Street with prices ranging from £7 10 shillings to £13 per foot.

Carroll, Brian & Rule, Ian (1985). Preston: an Illustrated History. Preston: City of Preston.
Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works detailed plan 2389, Shire of Preston [cartographic material] 1910. Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works.
Plan of the Town Hall Estate, Preston [cartographic material]. 1888. State Library of Victoria. Available online.
Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954), Saturday 25 August 1888, page 4
Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903), Friday 21 September 1888, page 2
Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954), Friday 1 December 1911, page 8
Suburban Property Sales. Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), Monday 3 March 1924, page 13