Preston is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 9 km north from Melbourne's Central Business District. Its local government area is the City of Darebin. At the 2011 Census, Preston had a population of 29,925.
The area where Preston now resides was first surveyed by Robert Hoddle in 1837 for sub-division. Parcels of land between 300 acres (in the southern area) and over 1000 acres (in the north) were all sold during the Melbourne 'land boom' sales of the late 1830s.
The first permanent white resident was Samuel Jeffrey in 1841 and from him the area's early name was Irishtown.
In 1850, Edward Wood, a settler from Sussex, England, opened a store at the corner of High Street and Wood Street which was also the district's first post office. Meeting at the Wood store, members of the Ebenezer Church, Particular Baptist from Brighton, England met to change the name. They wanted to name the town after their former home in Sussex, but Brighton was already taken. Instead they named it after Preston, a small village also in Sussex, where the church members had happy annual outings.
The first church was accompanied by a growing number of hotels and other stores, which had emerged some 2 kilometres south of Wood's store at the junction of Plenty Road and High Street, the latter of which served as a route to Sydney. Throughout the 1880s the area between Wood's Store and the junction would be known as "Gowerville".
In April 1939, Mr. Vara Tidd, aged 91 years, who had lived in Preston since arriving with his family as a seven year old, recalled the early settlement:
"He retains a wonderfully clear memory of the early days of Preston when the settlement was known as Irishtown. He can recall the camp of aborigines on the banks of the Darebin Creek and the old toll gate at Wood street Preston as well as the flour mill in the same street with Emery's pottery behind the mill. Transport in those days was primitive and limited. The waggonette left the old Royal Mall Hotel In Bourke street."
1854 saw the establishment of the area's first primary schools, an Anglican and a Wesleyan school. The first state school opened in 1866 to the east of the junction settlement, but was later joined by another, the Tyler Street School which had opened in 1875, north-east of Wood's store. The two denominational schools closed shortly before the Tyler Street School had opened.
During its formative years, Preston was heavily reliant on an abundance of fertile land for farming, dairying and market gardens. Areas that were not productive however, yielded clay for pottery and bricks. The 1860s saw the development of Preston's industrial capacity, with a bacon-curing factory opening in 1862, followed by a tannery in 1865. These original establishments would be followed by several larger factories, including Huttons Hams and Bacons and Zwar's Parkside Tannery.
By the 1860s, the area had a population of around 200, and five hotels, three of which survive: The Preston Hotel (1856), The Junction (1861), and nearby Reservoir's Rose Shamrock (1854).
1889 saw the opening of the first rail line between Collingwood and Whittlesea, passing through Preston. The new line provided stations at Bell Street, Regent Street, Reservoir and centrally in Preston.
Throughout the 1880s, Preston with its abundance of land and newly built rail stations was marketed as a residential area, capable of supporting 20,000 inhabitants. Between 1887 and 1891 Preston's population nearly doubled from 2,000 to 3,600. The majority of residential development took place within the corridor contained by Plenty Road and High Street, however there was also limited development in the west of the town, along Gilbert Road. These areas would remain areas of growth well into the 20th Century.
Urban growth accelerated in Preston during the 1920s, thanks largely to the establishment of a direct rail link between Collingwood and Flinders Street in 1904 (later electrified in 1926), and a building of a tram line linking Melbourne and the city in 1920. The now famous Preston Tram Sheds would later be built in 1925. The reticulation of electricity took place in 1914, with the building of Preston's sewers taking place between 1909 and 1915. 1915 also saw the establishment of the West Preston Primary School, which by 1927 had grown to accommodate more than 1,000 students. West Preston Primary School would later be joined by a primary school in Preston East in 1927, and later by a girl's high school in 1929. By 1922, Preston had been formally recognised as a Borough, two months later it had become a Town, and finally by 1915, Preston had been proclaimed a City.
With the 1930s and the Great Depression came economic hardship for Preston. However, capital works projects, which included the designation of new parks and reserves and the paving of roads, helped attract new residents to the area. Preston bucked the economic status quo by recording rapid growth between the period 1933 and 1947, with the population growing by some 40%. This growth also resulted in the establishment of a technical school in 1937, which would later become a campus of the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE. A notable highlight for Preston residents during the era of depression was VFL legend Roy ("Up There") Cazaly's coaching of the local football team.
Two World Wars provided Preston with two awardees of the Victoria Cross - the Empire's highest military award for valour; Bruce Kingsbury and William Ruthven, both of whom lent their name to future localities.
The post war period would also see Preston experience rapid growth. Between 1947 and 1954 the population grew by 37% topping 64,000. A 15 year joint vision between the Preston and Northcote Councils would later culminate in 1958 with the construction of the Preston & Northcote Community Hospital (PANCH). This period also saw the construction of some 2,600 Housing Commission of Victoria dwellings which continued up to 1966, by which time said dwellings accommodated approximately 11% of Preston population.
The acquisition of former Housing Commission land by the Myer Emporium led to the opening of the Northland Shopping Centre in 1966.
Currently, the suburb of Preston exists to the south of the original Preston municipal area. Suburbs which were once part of this include: Reservoir, Ruthven, Keon Park and Kingsbury.
Preston is bordered to the east by the Darebin Creek, a small tributary to the Yarra River and consists largely of flat terrain, ideal initially for farming, but later for industrial and residential development.
The original abundance of land resulted in low density urban development of Preston's former farmland, however population pressures and Preston's locality with respect to the Melbourne CBD has led to a growing tendency to medium to high-density urban redevelopment.
Although Preston is a large suburb, there are sections of it where class varies: East Preston is the cheapest area in Preston, consisting of smaller houses and less picturesque streets. South Preston is nearing Thornbury and has more of an alternative appeal. West Preston is the most expensive part of Preston, consisting of larger homes, well kept sidewalks, nature strips and large established trees in its streets. Halwyn Crescent was rated by The Age newspaper as the best street in West Preston.
Preston's Census populations have been 623 (1861), 3,563 (1891) and 6,555 (1921). The Preston Municipality's Census populations were 5,049 (1911), 33,442 (1933), 46,775 (1947), 84,146 (1961) and 76,996 (1991).
The three postwar decades saw an influx of Macedonian immigrants into the Preston area, later followed by Asian refugees in the 1980s. By 1986 some 30% of the population was foreign born.
Preston is part of the Darebin City Municipality, whose offices are located at the former Preston Town Hall. Preston lies within the Federal electorate of Batman, which is the current seat of The Hon. Martin Ferguson, M.P., a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). In the Legislative Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament of Victoria, the State Electoral district of Preston incorporates all of Preston (and some parts of Reservoir), and is currently represented by Robin Scott, of the ALP.
Arts and entertainment
As part of the City of Darebin, Preston has an active and eclectic artists and DIY community which is contemporary, experimental and culturally diverse. Writers, musicians and visual artists flock to the locality for performance, collaboration and acceptance. Notable contributors to the Darebin arts community are locals, Saint Jude, Downhills Home, The Contrast, The Melbourne Ukulele Kollective, Performing Older Women's Circus (POW Circus), and members of Little John, but this is only a drop in the ocean. Darebin celebrates the artistry and diversity of the community with regular festivals and events such as the Darebin Music Feast and the now defunct High Vibes Festival. The major community Indigenous Radio Station 3KND is located in Mary Street in Preston. 3KND is 100% Aboriginal managed.
Preston has been home to the Preston Bullants Australian rules football (later known as the Northern Bullants and currently as the Northern Blues) club since its inception in 1882. West Preston Football Club is also located in Preston. The suburb also has many junior football teams, including the Northern Knights, who play in the TAC Cup and the Preston Bullants Junior Football club whose home ground is Preston City Oval. The Darebin Falcons Women's Australian rules football team play in the VWFL. The Falcons were first division premiers in 2006 and 2007.
The Preston City Oval is also home to the Preston Cricket Club, which has played their home games there since c1860. Preston has played in the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association since joining the VSDCA in 1922. Preston's First XI last won a Premiership in Season 2002/2003.
Preston has also been home to the Preston Lions Football Club since its inception in 1947 and currently competes in the highest soccer league in Victoria, the Victorian Premier League. The Preston Lions Football Club play their home games at B. T. Connor Reserve. The club has a large successful junior base with teams from under 8's to under 18's and also have a women's team who also compete in the highest league in the state, the Women's Premier League. In 2007 the Lions finished the season as Minor Premiers and then went on to claim the Championship in front of more than 5,500 people as the Lions won 3-1 against the Whittlesea Zebras.
There are few large grounds around the Northland Shopping Centre, adjacent to Wood Street. Grounds are maintained very well, and people play cricket in summer and footy during other times. Joggers are visible in all grounds.
Preston is home to many schools. The primary schools include Preston West Primary, Preston Primary, Preston South Primary, Preston North East Primary, Sacred Heart Primary, Bell Primary and St. Raphael's Primary. The high schools are Preston Girls Secondary College and Parade College Preston Campus. As well as there being a St. John's Greek Orthodox College and East Preston Islamic College which both offer primary and secondary education, and the NMIT Preston Campus offering TAFE courses and training. There is also The Northern College of the Arts and Technology which caters for Year 10, VCE, VCAL and post-secondary students seeking a specialised education.
Preston is serviced by tram, train and an extensive bus system. The suburb is serviced by two train stations, Bell and Preston, both located on the South Morang railway line. A number of trams services operate though the suburb, including tram route 11 to Collins Street, tram route 86 to Docklands, and tram route 112 to Fitzroy Street.
Various bus routes travel to areas including: Northland Shopping Centre, the Preston Market (37.739°S 145.002°E) and High Street.
This information has been sourced from Wikipedia