Reservoir

21 December 2016
By NG & KM

Reservoir is an established suburb just 12kms north of the city. It runs East West between the Merri and Darebin Creeks with the northern boundary being Mahoney’s Road and the Southern Boundary near Tyler and Regent Street.

The Witham brothers had established route 122A (now route 555) from Reservoir to Epping via Lalor in 1948. In the next few years, a number of other operators joined them and formed Reservoir Motors. Here is one of their early buses, a 1951 Commer Avenger with Symons & Fowler body

Reservoir is an established suburb just 12kms north of the city. It runs East West between the Merri and Darebin Creeks with the northern boundary being Mahoney’s Road and the Southern Boundary near Tyler and Regent Street. It is surrounded by Thomastown, Macleod, Preston and Fawkner. It’s a suburb that has an old world charm with its period homes, classic shopping strips and a smattering of contemporary and modern homes

It is home to a multicultural community with a strong family vibe. The most common ancestries in Reservoir were Italians, Australians, English and Greeks with over 55% of people being born in Australia. This northern suburb is close enough to the Melbourne CBD but its location means homes are a little bigger. The area is small but community driven.

It’s just an observation but many of the older people that I have met who live in Reservoir originally lived closer into the city in suburbs like Carlton, Fitzroy, Clifton Hill or Northcote. These families “followed the railway and tramlines” and moved out to Reservoir with its more substantial lot sizes and more modern homes than the terraces they originally lived in.

In the areas adjacent to the railway station, being the earlier subdivisions in Reservoir, are beautiful period houses from Californian Bungalow, Art Deco, classic Australian weatherboards to mid-century family homes boasting large allotments. They are ideal for the extending and renovating. Over the past decade Supa Group have built many ground floor and second storey extensions in the area. It is a suburb where period and contemporary blend harmoniously invariably imbuing a sense of feel good and friendly community. There are also a number of units built in the 1960’s and new developments, a testament to its increasing popularity. This inner city suburb with its shopping strips, cafes and iconic Preston Market and abundant Parkland appeals to young families and the ageing community.

Federation Style home in Reservoir.

The land which became the suburb of Reservoir was first surveyed by Robert Hoddle in 1837 and was formed from parts of both the Jika Jika Parish and Keelbundoora Parish. The suburb gathered momentum with the construction of the railway line between Collingwood and Whittlesea. One of the stops on that line was Preston Reservoir. The area subsequently took on the name Reservoir.

Alongside the railway station an Anglican Church was constructed followed by a Presbyterian Church, and so the community began to develop around these facilities.

One of the early land speculators in the area was Thomas Dyer Edwardes. He was born in 1847 in England and was educated at Rugby and Clare College Cambridge.

In 1868, at the age of 21 Edwardes moved to and lived in Australia for ten years, returning in 1878. During the time he was in Australia he purchased a landholding at Reservoir and named that property the Leamington Estate. He continued to hold that land for many years after returning to England. In Reservoir today Leamington Street runs east-west between High Street and Banbury Road and cuts across Edwardes Lake Park.

In 1914 Edwardes donated an area of 34 acres of land to the people of the former City of Preston, thus immortalising his name in the local landscape. This land was developed into Edwardes Lake Park, and provides the setting for the 6.3 hectare Edwardes Lake. The lake is a part of the Edgar’s Creek catchment, which joins the Merri Creek at Coburg. It is the second largest urban lake in the greater Melbourne metropolitan region after Albert Park Lake.

Edwardes Lake Park with Serpentine bike track

Another estate in Reservoir was the Merrilands Estate which was situated on the northern edge of Reservoir between the Merri Creek and High Street, abutting Leamington Estate.

This was originally a dairy farm of 1,066 acres, 1 rood and 24 perches situated about half a mile from the Reservoir Railway Station. An auction of this property on 14th June 1892 was held at Garraway’s Auction Rooms, opposite the town hall in Collins Street, Melbourne. The property was described as “having a frontage of about 1 mile to the Epping Road (High Street) and running back to the Merri Creek, to which it has extensive frontage. The close proximity of this splendid estate to Melbourne should command the attention of stock owners and others”.

Merrilands Estate appeared to change hands several times over the years. In 1893 the Merrilands Estate Co of Preston Reservoir advertised grazing rights available for horses or cattle, 8 miles from Melbourne with magnificent grass and unlimited water.

In October 1900 it was owned by Thomas Stott. Stott advertised the services of the pure bred Clydesdale stallion “First Fashion”, a bright bay colt with white points who had a dream job.

In June 1918 Mr W.S. Keast, stock and station agent of Queen Street, Melbourne sold Merrilands Estate on behalf of the late Mr M.L. Cantlon, of England. The property contained 1,066 acres of land, almost adjoining the Preston Reservoir Railway Station, which has been leased for a number of years by Mr. F.J Vincent, dairyman, who has now purchased the property at a “satisfactory price”.

On 23rd of March 1949 there was an auction at the Preston Town Hall of 201 individual lots which realised £5,755. All were in unmade streets, and most were without water and electricity. A majority of the lots were in Merrilands Estate, Reservoir.

The Merrilands subdivision was designed by Saxil Tuxen. Tuxen was a noted planner and was renowned for his irregular streetscapes and rejection of grid patterns that he believed delivered superior planning outcomes.

Picture of Saxil Tuxen with grid defying paisley patterned cardigan

Map showing what the Merrilands Estate – showing irregular grid pattern was.

Tuxen was also involved in subdivisions in Mont Albert and Park Orchards, and presumably Tuxen Street in North Balwyn which also has an off-beat street pattern. Along with his son, Saxil Tuxen III he also designed the concourse at Beaumaris in 1954.

Reservoir became a suburb in its own right in 1921 with the name coming from the three water reservoirs built in 1864, 1909 and 1913 to the north of Preston and collectively known as Preston Reservoir. This reservoir continues to form part of the fresh water to Melbourne’s inner and western suburbs with water coming from the Yan Yean water storage.

Preston Reservoir No.1, on the west of High Street, was excavated in 1863-64 and the clay was used to form the surrounding embankments, with the base and sides lined with bluestone pitchers.

2011 Preston Reservoir Bluestone pump house

1908 –Construction of Number 2 Preston Reservoir

Preston Reservoir shown bereft of water

Renowned for its recreational areas and facilities such as Edward Lake and the Reservoir Leisure Centre, Reservoir is also home to a historical landmark; The Rose Shamrock and Thistle Hotel.

Rose, Shamrock and Thistle Hotel circa 1900. Note water trough and fancy lamp in the foreground – even the horses could go there for a drink.

On the 14th August 1836 convict Charles Burrell left London on the convict ship Henry Proctor. Little did he know that 18 years later he would become the Rose, Shamrock and Thistle Hotel’s first publican. The Hotel open in 1854 on Plenty Road. By 1867 this weatherboard hotel had developed into an eleven roomed building with veranda and considered a respectable sized bush inn.

The weatherboard hotel was demolished in 1912 and replaced with the current brick building. It retains the twin gables of the original building. Further work in 1955 saw a new bar and bottle shop and in 1969 the building was expanded again.

Rose, Shamrock and Thistle Hotel present day with ubiquitous pokies.