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(3144, 8 km SE, Stonnington City)

Malvern is a residential suburb bounded to the north and east by Gardiners Creek and in the south by Dandenong Road. John Gardiner pioneered an overland cattle route from New South Wales to the Port Phillip District in 1836 and established a station on the banks of Kooyongkoot, as Gardiners Creek was then called. Other graziers soon followed, but it was Gardiner's name that was eventually given to the creek, the Roads District (1856), and the Shire (1871) until the name was changed to Malvern in 1878. In the 1850s the route to Gippsland, roughly following the line of Dandenong Road, attracted the inevitable travellers' hotels. At the first Crown land sales in 1854 most of the land was purchased by speculators, including barrister Samuel Skinner who planned a village called Ledbury, after his ancestors' town near Malvern Hill in England. His Malvern Hill estate, located between Toorak and Malvern roads near Glenferrie Road, was one of a handful of commodious mansions in the area, but the major land uses were brick-making, dairying and market gardening, with the nucleus of a village centred near the crest of the Malvern Road hill.

In 1878, just as Melbourne's land boom was beginning, the railway line from Gippsland to Oakleigh was extended via Malvern and Armadale to South Yarra and the city. In the 1880s suburban villas were constructed around the railway line encouraging the Council to build its handsome town hall. The merchant and professional classes established homes around Armadale and in the north-west around the Toorak Road-Glenferrie Road axis, but many lost their fortunes when the economy collapsed in the 1890s. Estates were subdivided and mansions were demolished or converted to institutional uses, some now housing independent schools. Stonnington, on Glenferrie Road, built in 1890 for Cobb & Co. partner Robert Wagner, survived and was leased from 1901 by the State Government, serving as Victoria's Government House until 1931 and later becoming a teacher's college then a campus of Deakin University. The 1890s depression also stalled the development of subdivision. With only seven houses by 1891, the Gascoigne estate in Malvern East became the home of the Melbourne Golf Club until the club moved to Black Rock in 1901.

A legacy of the 1880s was the Glen Iris railway line, opened in conjunction with the Outer Circle Line to connect Burnley to Oakleigh via the Glen Iris valley. Stations were built at sparsely populated Heyington, Kooyong, Tooronga, Gardiner, Glen Iris and Darling. Although the uneconomic line was soon closed, irregular trains continued between Burnley and Darling until 1930 when the new Glen Waverley line was extended out from Darling station. The 20th century brought a boom in houses and population. When Malvern became a City in 1911, Glenferrie Road, between High Street and Dandenong Road, was filled with 'handsome drapery, grocery and fruiterers' stores' and 'whole streets of handsome villas' were erected. Malvern Council purchased and developed Central Park in 1907, and Hedgeley Dene Gardens and other parks along the flood-prone Gardiners Creek in the same decade. But the Council's major contribution to Malvern's growth was the formation, with Prahran Council, of the Prahran and Malvern Tramways Trust which, in 1910, opened lines extending along High Street, Glenferrie and Wattletree roads. The profitable Trust, which also opened routes along Dandenong and Malvern roads, was taken over by the newly formed Melbourne Metropolitan Tramways Board in 1919.

Early 20th-century Malvern has been described as a quiet, solid and leafy sea of red-roofed brick villas sheltering the comfortable classes. A tiny pocket, at Tooronga, was offered by the Closer Settlement Board to buyers with limited incomes in 1913 and in the 1920s, the War Service Homes Commission created the Villers-Bretonneux estate in the south of the municipality. By then, however, Malvern Council restricted wooden buildings to specified streets and insisted on minimum housing block sizes of 6000 square feet (557 m2) with 50-feet (15 m) frontages, and promoted the planting of street trees. Farms and estates were subdivided and the newly created curving streets and avenues filled with substantial villas, many of them designed by Victoria's best-known architects. After World War II development proceeded in the east of the municipality, at Chadstone, Malvern East and Holmesglen. The municipal swimming pool is named after federal MP, Prime Minister Harold Holt, who disappeared, presumed drowned, at Portsea in 1967. In 1995 Malvern became part of the City of Stonnington.

Jill Barnard

Strahan, Lynne, Private and public memory: A history of the City of Malvern, Hargreen in conjunction with the City of Malvern, Melbourne, 1989. Details