We are all connected in some way to an address, be it a street, road, court, crescent, lane or perhaps it is known by another name. Have you ever thought about how that name came about?
The origin of road or street names is not always clear-cut. Generally in Victoria the first roads were established through the survey and sale of Crown land. Many of these were simply identified as Government roads, which is not an actual name.
In the 1850s the need for practical and legal access became apparent in the Eltham area and the Government acquired roads through privately owned land. By doing this they created new roads that were often more direct or had more practical alignments. Later, local councils were also able to acquire roads.
Names for these roads often came about by popular usage, like Main Road for instance. Sometimes the name was formalised by Council declaration, or in other cases the common name just came to be accepted as the official name.
As privately owned land was subdivided the streets that were created eventually became public roads. Now, new plans of subdivision show the names of streets, although on many of the older subdivision plans you will see them simply identified as “road”. Often the names of streets are selected by the subdivider, perhaps named after families, local plants and local identities or are descriptive, such as Hillcrest Road or Skyline Road. A council could also decide new names, possibly in consultation with the local community or historical group.
In later articles we will look at the origin of the names of some particular roads and local streets, perhaps even the one where you live or that you regularly use.
Prepared by Russell Yeoman and Jim Connor from the Eltham District Historical Society