History of Glenroy

Late in the 1830s the senior surveyor of Port Phillip, Robert Hoddle, was given the job of charting the land around Melbourne on maps. His task was to divide the area into 'parishes' (this was the English name given to Local Government districts but in Australia was generally only used to describe the location of land) and mark out towns and boundaries.

Glenroy Run Farm

Glenroy was in the Will Will Rook parish. Eleven out of fifteen portions of Will Will Rook land were sold at auction in September 1838. The biggest buyers of land were John Hughes and John Hosking who bought 5000 acres. Scottish settlers, Angus, Donald, Duncan and George Gordon Cameron rented land from Hughes and Hosking. The Camerons called their farm the 'Glenroy Run'. Glenroy was named after a narrow glen (valley) in Invernesshire in Scotland. The Camerons leased the land until the 1850s.

Glenroy Land Company

Brothers Donald and Duncan Kennedy bought nearly all the Hughes and Hosking land in the 1840s then in 1886, after Donald Kennedy died, a syndicate called the Glenroy Land Company bought the land on the east side of Pascoe Vale Road. The main partners in the syndicate were Frank Stuart, John McCutcheon, and Arthur and Albert Wiseman. They all built their own houses, plus three double storey shops in Wheatsheaf Road for a butcher, a baker and a general store. They converted a stable in Widford Road into a public hall, formed the first roads and paid the government to provide a railway station. They negotiated a better train service, and from November 1887 there were nine trains per day.

James Chapman negotiated with Duncan Kennedy to buy the land on the western side of Pascoe Vale Road. In 1887 he bought 1500 acres for £76,000. In 1891 there were forty houses in Glenroy ranging from two storey brick mansions to small wooden cottages. Everyone knew each other with many families connected by birth or marriage. By 1901 there were 230 people living in Glenroy. A Glenroy 'Board of Works' maintained three kerosene street lights, footpaths and some social activities.

Glenroy State School

Glenroy State School No. 3118 opened in a brick hall at the back of Glenroy Hall in 1891 and it lasted there until 1908 when the permanent school was built. In the hall, apart from the school, there were lectures, concerts, dances and cricket club meetings. The Church of England opened St Matthews in Plumpton Avenue in 1908.Many men in Glenroy were wealthy. They travelled by train to their businesses in the city, and their wives joined local ladies' church clubs.

The early settlement of Glenroy

The State Electricity Commission started supplying electricity to Glenroy in June 1925, but only eight premises and street lights were connected – it took a few more years for all the population to be supplied.

Glenroy grows in the 1950s

In 1939 Glenroy and Hadfield had only 210 buildings. The population began to swell in the 1950s. Between 1953 and 1958 the Housing Commission built 1719 houses in Glenroy North; many others built their own homes in Glenroy. The shopping centre also developed quickly in the 1950s. In 1945 there were less than a dozen shops, but by 1956, there were more than 50 shops on Pascoe Vale Road and Wheatsheaf Road. The booming population was obvious at Glenroy State School - numbers increased from 301 pupils in 1951 to 795 in 1955. The school had to use church halls and other buildings for classrooms. In 1956 a councillor visiting the school counted 55 children in one class. Glenroy High School opened in 1954 and Glenroy North Primary School in 1956. The library opened in 1971.

In 1994 Glenroy became part of the new City of Merri-bek when local government boundaries were redrawn by the State Government.

Further reading and links

  • Andrew Lemon, Broadmeadows: A forgotten history, Melbourne, 1982, pp. 79­82, 91­6, 116­8, 142­3, 153­9, 185­7, 215
  • Toorak of the North: An oral history of Glenroy, Hadfield and Coburg
  • Local history groups in Merri-bek Online Community Directory