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(3047, 15 km N, Hume City)

A separate municipality until 1994, Broadmeadows is a residential and industrial suburb east of Moonee Ponds Creek and north of the Western Ring Road.

In 1850 a government survey laid out a township in an area along the Moonee Ponds Creek valley, the name Broad-meadows being descriptive of the plain country. After the relocation of shire offices and the suburban transformation of this area, the old township was renamed Westmeadows in 1964. Early European settlers were predominantly Presbyterian Scots who established a series of small farms in the district.

In 1857 the Broadmeadows District Road Board was formed. Apart from maintaining the district's roads it discharged a number of other municipal responsibilities and obtained funds in part by levying road tolls. On 27 January 1871 the District Road Board officially became a shire council and the tollgates on roads were eventually abolished in 1878.

In 1872 the railway line was extended from Essendon to Seymour, creating a station about 2 km east of the Broad-meadows township. In 1899 another railway line was opened from Coburg, joining the Seymour line at Somerton with a station at Campbellfield, but the Broadmeadows township was too far away from these stations to gain any commercial benefit. The agricultural character of the district was demonstrated through the local interest in competition ploughing, a pastime that diminished after 1900 following the introduction of broad disc ploughs. Suburban sections of the shire were poorly serviced, with no water supply, sewerage, few made roads and no gas or electricity. As a consequence the population of Broadmeadows increased very slowly. Broadmeadows Shire was enlarged on 1 October 1915, when the Shire of Merriang, to the north-west, was included within its boundaries.

In August 1914, following the start of World War I, an army camp was established at Mornington Park, a property loaned to the government by R.G. Wilson. Spartan accommodation facilities, combined with wet weather and poor drainage, resulted in a rapid increase in sickness among recruits in autumn 1915. Following public concern, fuelled by coverage in the Melbourne press, the main Victorian training camp was re-established at Seymour in May, but Broadmeadows Camp remained in use throughout the war, with its facilities progressively improved. During the depression years the camp was used as a shelter for single, unemployed, homeless men.

Residential subdivisions had begun in the shire's southern areas in the 1880s, but much of this land had not been built on by the end of World War I. More subdivision took place in the 1920s but the depression put a stop to any further growth. In the 1940s the Broadmeadows landscape remained one of small farms and 17 000 allotments on the derelict, undeveloped subdivisions.

In 1951 the Housing Commission announced its proposal to take over 2270 ha of land in Broadmeadows for a housing estate. The Commission's housing construction proceeded apace, but the increase in population was not matched by the provision of services such as schools, infant welfare centres and shopping precincts.

On 31 May 1955 the rural parts north of Somerton Road were severed from Broadmeadows and attached to the adjoining shire. In 1956 Broadmeadows was proclaimed a city. Six months later the Housing Commission sold 100 ha to the Ford Motor Co. of Australia for a new factory site. The government reactivated the railway, which had been closed the previous year, restored and electrified the line and built a new terminus station at the Ford site, which was to be named Upfield. Other substantial factories followed the Ford factory that opened in August 1959, creating hundreds of job opportunities and encouraging more people to move to the district.

The decline in manufacturing from the 1970s increased levels of poverty and disadvantage. In 1979 the Strathmore area was transferred to the City of Essendon. On 15 December 1994, Broadmeadows city was united with most of Bulla Shire and parts of Keilor and Whittlesea cities to form Hume City. By the end of the 20th century nearly 40% of the Broadmeadows population were overseas-born, including Turks, Iraqis, Lebanese, Vietnamese and migrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Peter Christiansen

Lemon, Andrew, Broadmeadows, a forgotten history, City of Broadmeadows & Hargreen Publishing, Melbourne, 1982. Details