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Surrey Hills

(3127, 12 km E, Boroondara City, Whitehorse City)

Spreading down from one of the highest hills east of the city, and the site of a reservoir (1891) and telecommunications tower (from 1961), until the 1880s Surrey Hills was countryside, where the Royal Hotel was a welcome stop on Delany's Road, the route to the eastern goldfields. Christened by real estate agents, the suburb shared in Melbourne's intense land boom after the railway opened in 1883. English names abounded in new streets: Essex, Sussex and Windsor; Delany's became Canterbury Road. Blocks were generally small, with curvilinear street layouts in the easternmost subdivisions. Housing concentrated close to the station and public buildings followed. Speculators built grandiose hotels, including a new Royal (1886). After stagnating during the depression, Surrey Hills grew again. A patriotic stronghold, its Empire Night - inspired by estate agent Arthur 'Empire' Brooks - was Melbourne's largest from the Relief of Mafeking (1900) until World War I. Residents strongly favoured conscription in the war, and later voted for liquor prohibition, leading to the delicensing of local hotels in 1921. The area's elevated location ensured that it retained favour as an affluent suburban district throughout the 20th century.

Andrew Lemon