Berwick 3806Berwick, once a small agricultural town, now an outer suburb, is located 43 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. The area was part of Cardinia Creek run and was named by an early leaseholder, Robert Gardiner, after his birthplace, Berwick-on-Tweed. Land was subdivided in 1854 and soon a store, post office, hotel and other businesses were established.
Wheat, barley and potatoes were grown on the fertile soil, with a flour mill operating for a while. Later dairy farming and cheese making became the main activities. The Berwick Agricultural Society started in 1848 as the Mornington Farmers' Society and is one of the oldest farmers' society in Victoria.
The construction of a coach road from Melbourne to Gippsland, and then the railway from Melbourne in 1877, spurred continued development. Wilson's quarry, opened in 1859, supplied ballast for the railway line. A spur line connected with Berwick railway station to transport the metal. The quarry was an important industry, working fairly continuously over the years. The original quarry was given to the City of Berwick and has been developed as a botanic park.
A district road board was created in 1862 and was proclaimed a Shire in 1868. In 1902 the Shire headquarters were moved to Pakenham.
As well as a State School, a Boys' Grammar School operated from 1882 to 1922. St Margaret's Girls' School opened in 1920 and has been growing steadily. In 1980, no longer a boarding school, it had about 480 pupils.
An airfield was established in 1938, firstly for private use. It was also used for gliding from 1948 to the early 1960s. In 1968 Casey airfield was taken over as a commercial operation. Now, mainly due to the encroaching residential area, the land is the site of a TAFE college and a campus of Monash University.
Many of the large properties had their own cheese factories. The cheese factory at Springfield estate south of Berwick was built in 1865. It is of unusual construction and together with the nearby homestead is still in good condition. It has been restored and converted into a gallery and craft centre.
There are a number of historic houses in the area. One of the best known is Edrington, the home of parliamentarian and governor-general, Lord Casey. It is on the Victorian Heritage Register. Another historic building is the Border Hotel, licensed in 1857. Renamed Ye Berwick Inn, it contributes to the village atmosphere. This feeling is heightened by the numerous large exotic trees. An avenue of poplars at the eastern entrance to Berwick was planted as a First World War memorial.
In 1973 the Shire was subdivided, forming the City of Berwick and the Shire of Pakenham. In 1994 most of the City was amalgamated with most of Cranbourne Shire to form the City of Casey.
By the mid 1990s the Berwick growth corridor was well in evidence. Substantial new housing areas had developed either side of the old Princes Highway and the Princes Freeway bypassed the old town centre. There were two denominational schools, two State primary schools, a secondary college, and sites marked out for future State schools. Monash University's Berwick campus was opened on the former Casey Airfield, opposite the TAFE.
There are several neighborhood reserves and larger parks, but shopping is confined to the old town centre and the Fountain Gate regional shopping centre in Narre Warren.
Despite urbanisation, Berwick has retained the picturesque character of an English village, with quaint old buildings and leafy ornamental trees.
Berwick's census populations have been 60 (1861), 636 1891) and 887 (1954).
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