Elwood 3184

Elwood, a bayside suburb, is south of St. Kilda and 8 km. south of Melbourne. Its name is surmised to have come from the Quaker historian and poet, Thomas Elwood, a friend of the poet Milton. Lieut. Governor La Trobe, who had influence in the naming of places, had a high regard for Quakers.

Elwood has two geographic features: the Elster Creek, with headwaters in Bentleigh, flows north-easterly to the flat landscape of Elwood, and now enters Port Phillip Bay by a straightened stream, named the Elwood Canal (1887); and Point Ormond, a little south of the canal, was the receiving place for passengers form the typhoid ship, Glen Huntly, in 1841. (It was also known as Red Bluff, but renamed after the father of the philanthropist, Francis Ormond.)

Land surveys and sales of land in Elwood, south of Point Ormond, occurred in 1850-1. In the mid 1860s Elwood was a small hamlet on swampy ground, with a few properties on the higher ground south of the Point. In 1870 the area was incorporated with St. Kilda borough. It became the unfortunate location for the St. Kilda abattoirs and a dumping ground for manure and nightsoil from Brighton.

In 1885 work began on the reclamation on 65 hectares of the Elwood Swamp, and four years later work began for construction of a channel, roughly following the Elster Creek bed, to drain further marsh land.

The proposed railway line did not immediately eventuate, but it helped to hold land values for a while.

The drain's efficiency was lessened by tides holding back the outflow, and odour from the Elwood Canal was a recurrent problem.

The State Government began sales of reclaimed land in 1913.

In 1917 the Elwood primary school was opened, later becoming a central school and being enlarged in 1926. Elwood Beach became one of the most popular for Melbourne residents, and the Elwood Surf Life Saving Club (1911) one of Victoria's first clubs. Its popularity was maintained into the postwar years when scorching Summers made it a more pleasant spot to sleep overnight instead of in uncooled, uninsulated suburban cottages. Beach attendances of 100,000 persons were estimated.

In 1957 the Elwood High School was opened, the same year as the St. Kilda to Brighton tram was closed.

Until 1994 most of Elwood was in the St. Kilda municipality, whose council took a relaxed attitude to the construction of flats. Consequently about 65% of Elwood's dwellings are flats, with a few larger houses subdivided, and with a mixture of large and small dwellings mostly built 1910-1930. In 1987 and 1996 the median price for and Elwood flat or unit was a little under the median for metropolitan Melbourne, but the median house prices rose from 165% to 205% of the metropolitan median over the same period.

There are foreshore reserves from north of Point Ormond, and southwards where there are the life-saving club, angling and sailing clubs, sea scouts and a croquet club. Ormond Road has two shopping areas. Two blocks of flats are on the Victorian Heritage Register: Windermere flats (1936), Broadway; and Hartpury Court (1923) in Milton Street.

In 1911 Elwood has a census population of 532 persons.


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