History of Ringwood
Ringwood Historical Society
See the Ringwood & District Historical Society facebook page for information.
The Parkwood Community Hub, which is the former Parkwood Secondary College on Tortice Drive, North Ringwood.
For more information call Russ Haines, President, onv0418 103 256
The original Ringwood village emerged in the mid to late 19th century, following the sale of land in the 1850s and the emergence of local grazing, fruit growing and brick making activities.
The railway line from Melbourne commenced its eastward development in 1861 when it reached Hawthorn. It was extended to Camberwell in April 1882 and the final section, from Camberwell to Lilydale, opened as a whole in December 1882. The line to Ferntree Gully followed.
The construction of the railway from Hawthorn to Lilydale (through Ringwood) resulted in a consolidation of township facilities, including local churches, banks and schools to accommodate for a growing village and regional population.
Reflecting the priorities of the time, the first main building at the station was a railway goods shed, built in 1887 to serve what would have been predominantly a goods, rather than passenger, railway.
In 1889, Ringwood Station was erected at a cost of 1374 pounds and as a symbol of the increasing importance of the township.
The borough of Ringwood was established in 1924, which coincided with the electric railway line and subsequent development of a major township.
Considerable suburban expansion during the post-war period gave rise to the declaration in 1960 of the City of Ringwood. At this point Ringwood gained formal recognition as part of the broader metropolitan region, emphasised by the erection of Eastland in 1967 as a major 'new format' retail Centre.
The clock tower
Ringwood is known for its clock tower. Conceived as a War Memorial after the Great War, the clock tower was built in 1928 on the corner of Whitehorse Road (Main Street) and Warrandyte Road. It was formally unveiled by the Mayor of the newly formed Borough of Ringwood, and not by military ceremony.
The Clock Tower became an icon and, increasingly, a traffic hazard. With the mooted development of Eastland Shopping Centre nearby, it was decided, after some controversy, to re-erect the Clock Tower at the site of the former Cool Stores on the corner of Whitehorse Road and Wantirna Road.
It was re-dedicated in December 1967.
For over 100 years, the major agricultural pursuit in Ringwood was orcharding. Dating from the 1860s, becoming more predominant over the following 40 years, orchards of plums, pears, apples and cherries could be found throughout Ringwood.
A Ringwood and Districts Horticultural Society was formed in 1897, not only to showcase the produce from the district but also to work toward improving methods of production and marketing.
The Ringwood Cool Stores, with capacity of 10,000 cases of fruit, were built in 1911 on the south-eastern corner of Whitehorse Road and Wantirna Road.
The Cool Stores operated for nearly 50 years until they closed in 1960 and were demolished shortly after. On the site is now erected the Ringwood clock tower.
Other early industries within Ringwood included:
- berry growing
- flower farms
- poultry farms
- horse breeding
Ringwood was a pioneer district and the landowners were the first white people to settle in the area. Some of the first families residing in the Ringwood area were Dickson, French, Kennedy, Maggs and Blood.
Subdivision of land
Subdivisions of land around Ringwood commenced with the first sales by the Crown in the 1850s often of parcels of 640 acres, which sold at one pound per acre.
Later, more intensive subdivisions took place from the 1920s, with speculative development capitalising on the prospects of growth in the district following the electrification of the railway in 1923.
Buyers were enticed out to the land sales with free rail tickets, car transport to the land and with bands playing to create a carnival atmosphere.
Much of that newly subdivided land remained vacant - and largely unsaleable - for almost 20 years following the Depression in the 1920s to early 1930s and because of severe curtailment of residential building during the Second World War.
It was only in the year following the end of the war that demand escalated sharply for vacant land and the old orchards of Ringwood again succumbed to subdivision. Early subdivision did not offer made roads, or reticulated water, sewerage and gas. These only became common in the 1960s to 1970s. The last orchards in Ringwood fell to residential subdivisions in the mid 1990s.
Mining of antimony
Mining of antimony commenced in Ringwood after its discovery in 1869.
Antimony was a sought after mineral in its time. It was used for making pewter, in the manufacture of vulcanised rubber, as pigment in paint, for the manufacture of medicines and in the printing industry. Today it is little-used and little-known.
Various mines operated generally south of Whitehorse Road and north of Mt Dandenong Road Ringwood East, most notably Boardman's Mine in Mines Road, now the site of the Karralyka Centre. Mining took place during the 1870s and into the 1880s although was generally discontinued after 1892.
Brick works and tile works also operated in the 1880s, producing bricks and terracotta roof tiles for an expanding Melbourne. That enterprise was brought to an abrupt end by the recession of the 1890s.
Due to Ringwood’s position as a junction between Melbourne, Lilydale and Ferntree Gully, and roads linking Warrandyte and Dandenong, it was inevitable that the area would develop as a centre of commerce.
Shops began to appear in Main Street Ringwood from the late 1800s. The advent of the railway, and the construction of the station concentrated development generally between Warrandyte Road and Ringwood Street.
The 'ribbon development' of Ringwood moved westward in the 1950s with development of the Olympic Shopping Centre on the site of the Old McClellands Ringwood Market and the Drive-In Shopping Centre (now Murray Place).
Development came back east with the opening of Eastland Shopping Centre on the former Ringwood Football Ground, although the later development of Ringwood Square, now Centro Ringwood, on the corner of Maroondah Highway and New Street, still stretched the centre out.
As well as being one of the dominant retailing centres of Melbourne, Ringwood has also had a prominent presence in the automotive trade and service businesses.
Ringwood was ceded from the Shire of Lilydale and created a borough on 22 October 1924. It was officially proclaimed a borough on 13 December 1924.
Ringwood was proclaimed a city on 19 March 1960. On 15 December 1994 the City of Ringwood was amalgamated to form part of Maroondah City Council.
Mayors - Borough of Ringwood and City of Ringwood(PDF, 183KB)