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(3186, 11 km S, Bayside City)

Brighton is a wealthy residential bayside suburb bounded by Port Phillip Bay and North, South and East Boundary roads. Brighton was developed privately in 1842 on Henry Dendy's Special Survey of 5120 acres (2048 ha). J.B. Were, Dendy's partner, attracted wealthy men, and enough cricketers to eclipse the Melbourne Cricket Club. The 1843 depression claimed Dendy, but Brighton soon temporarily became the third largest town of the Port Phillip District. A hotel attracted visitors to (village) Green Point for water and other sports. Beautiful flora covered the foreshore beside an Aboriginal midden.

Wheat was replaced in the 1850s by vegetables; market gardens, predominant to the east until the 1920s, were included uneasily in 1859 in the Brighton municipality of 2812 acres (1125 ha). Parts of Elsternwick and Elwood were added in 1870, and a block at Brighton Beach in 1914.

Social patterns were reinforced when the railway arrived inland in 1859 and swung to a terminus and pier at Brighton Beach in 1862, attracting houses and shops to stations at Bay Street, North Brighton, and Church Street, Middle Brighton. Distance from rail protected seaside properties until 1906, when an electric tram from St Kilda triggered development. Single-storey houses were typical until a few mansions like Kamesburgh (1874) appeared. The 1880s brought greater density and paddock subdivisions. Population, static at about 3000 between 1854 and 1871, grew to 4757 in 1881 and 9858 in 1891. Borrowing for expansion was engineered by land-boomer Thomas Bent, local MLA and five times mayor in the 1880s.

In religion, Anglicans, then Presbyterians, stood out socially. Methodists and Congregationalists were shopkeepers and artisans. Catholics were a mixture, except in the east where gardeners dominated all congregations. Important secular institutions were the volunteers (Rifles, 1860; Artillery 1865, disbanded 1877) whose Drill Room (1869) became the venue for fashionable Horticultural Society shows and a Charity Carnival.

Music, literary and debating societies were strong and writers with local connections included Martin Boyd, Marcus Clarke, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Henry Handel Richardson and G.W. Rusden. Other celebrities were Professor McCoy, Judge Higinbotham and architect Charles Webb.

Dozens of independent schools came and went, of which only Brighton Grammar School (1882) and Haileybury College survive. State education began at Wilson Street in 1874. The Orphanage School and Brickwood Street, Elsternwick, followed. There was no high school until 1955.

Along the sea front an early bathing machine (1844) was replaced at Brighton Beach by Kenney's Baths (1863). Municipal baths were constructed at Middle Brighton (1882) and rebuilt in 1936 after storm damage. A reconstructed sea enclosure was opened in 1986 as one of Australia's few surviving beach baths. Bathing boxes, often contentious, appeared in the 1850s, the Yacht Club in 1875, and Middle Brighton Pier in 1877. After the Esplanade was formed in 1873, the Weres tried but failed to sell the original public terrace, which included Green Point and its summer carnival. Green Point, the shore, baths and bathing boxes were battered by a storm in 1904 and the Brighton tornado of 1918 cut a swathe far inland.

Its 19th-century experience established Brighton's low-rise ambience and genteel conservatism. Community spirit supported exceptional fundraising and Red Cross activity during the wars. Kamesburgh became Anzac Hostel for the incapacitated and was visited by the Prince of Wales in 1920. Rehabilitation workshops were a Brighton innovation in 1916 and the Drill Room served as an influenza hospital in 1919-21.

The St Kilda Street tram brought denser settlement to the 'gold coast', while market gardens retreated from the Hawthorn Road tram (1923) to disappear by 1960. Council seized the opportunity to add Dendy Park of 164 acres (66 ha) to earlier purchases of Landcox and Hurlingham parks. This provided for a population that doubled from 21 235 in 1921 to 41 033 in 1948. It declined, while also ageing, to 33 700 in 1981. By then, among middle-ring suburbs, Brighton had the lowest proportion of flats and women in the workforce, very high home-ownership and little industry. Council preserved the status quo through regulations to curb cheap and high-rise housing, and tried to restrict heavy vehicles to the Nepean Highway, widened dramatically in 1982. Protest saved the Esplanade from widening in 1929 and its foreshore from a bicycle path in 1996. But erosion northwards, exacerbated by the Yacht Club's breakwater, essential for the 1956 Olympic Games, led to massive reclamation.

Prominent Melburnians associated with Brighton during the 20th century were Margaret Baskerville, Elizabeth Bleasby (Bent's daughter), Marie Breen, Percy Grainger, Sidney Nolan, C.D. Richardson, Alan Stockdale and Jock Sturrock.

Weston Bate

Bate, Weston, A history of Brighton, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1983. Details