The real birth of what is now the urban settlement of Croydon commenced when the railway passed through the district in 1882. The station was initially named Warrandyte, even though Warrandyte was a separate and well-established goldmining area 10 km further north. This created confusion and, in 1884, a local landowner suggested the name Croydon after the English town which was his wife’s birthplace.
At this time the land which is now the centre of Croydon was still essentially bushland with some outlying farms and sawpits exploiting the area’s timber resources. However, with the arrival of the railway, interest in the area began to accelerate and James Hewish bought up land along Main Street, establishing a home, a general store, a newsagency, a butcher’s, a wine saloon and an orchard. His son opened a timber business on one of the allotments and others began opening stores and services. At this time an Aboriginal family lived in a cottage in Main Street. In subsequent years David Mitchell, the father of Dame Nellie Melba, purchased the original butcher’s shop.
In 1888 the ‘Guide to the Upper Yarra’ described Croydon as a ‘new and fast-rising township’. That year a school opened for the first time in Croydon. Hewish created a bowling green c.1900. In 1907 the Prince of Wales Hotel (1886) was disassembled from its original site elsewhere in the district and reconstructed in Croydon. It burned down in 1915 and was replaced by a brick hotel that same year. The Croydon Hall was erected in 1908, the first banking agency opened in 1909.
Croydon was proclaimed a town and gazetted in 1912. After World War I many subdivisions were made and the area began to grow. Many orchards were established on the new plot, along with dairy and poultry farms. However, it was after World War II that the district really boomed. Several factories and other industries opened providing work for returning servicemen. The population rapidly increased and Croydon became a municipality in 1961.
SOURCE: Age Newspaper