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  • ArtS1 Grove Estate Plan 1888

    Advertisement for auction sale of lots in Grove Estate, on Saturday 4th February 1888.
    AHS archive no - AHS146

  • ArtS2 Grove Estate map c. 1900

    Grove Estate plan, c.1900. 

  • ArtS3 Ashgrove scouts 1909

    Ashgrove scouts, 1909
    AHS archive no: - 915

  • ArtS3 Seils Dairy Delivery Van 1930s

    Seils Dairy Milk Delivery Van, 1930s, a 1926 Willy’s Whippet,  owned by Seils' Dairy, Toomba Avenue, Ashgrove.  Milk was carried in the Dicky seat. 
    Source:  Neil & Jeanette Seils.

  • ArtS4 Waterworks Road, 1924

    Section of Waterworks Road showing the rough condition of the roadway.  1924.
    John Oxley Library digital image #201390

  • ArtS5 Old St Finbarrs Church Hall 1926

    Old St Finbarrs Church Hall,  Scan, 1926
    AHS Archive No: AHS523

  • ArtS6 Padmore Butcher Ashgrove Crescent c.1946

    WA Padmore, Quality Butcher, Ashgrove Crescent, c. 1946. 
    Source:  Desley Drevins.
    AHS Archive No: 559

  • ArtS7 Tram at Ashgrove West terminus, 1951

    Toast-rack tram No. 65 at the Ashgrove West tram terminus, in front of the Ashgrove West Uniting Church. 1969.

  • ArtS8 Grantuly Ashgrove

    Grantuly, the home of John Killough Stewart, son of Alexander Stewart of Glenlyon House.

Ashgrove: An historical perspective

St John's Wood House, 1868










The name ASHGROVE, as "Ash-grove", is first known to have been used in the Post Office Directory for 1874 as the address of George Rogers Harding, then living in St John's Wood House.

It was used as the name for the first Ashgrove State School built two years later on land donated by Harding. Ashgrove was a postal address at least as early as 1884 and in all probability dates from the appointment of the first postmaster, the head teacher at the Ashgrove State School, in 1877. This debunks the popularly held but erroneous view that the name was derived from 'ash trees and the Grove Estate' which its first known use predates by ten years.

With the arrival of Europeans at Moreton Bay early in the nineteenth century, the balance of occupancy of the land by the Aboriginal people was fundamentally disrupted. This led to the eventual loss of access to tribal lands and a way of life that had developed over millennia. At this time Ashgrove was part of the range of the Turrbal people. The waterholes along Enoggera Creek and its tributaries, with their dense fringing scrubs met many of the needs of a hunter-gatherer society. Whilst the presence of Aborigines in the area in the early days of European settlement is well referenced, little tangible evidence remains of their occupancy.

Constance Campbell Petrie, in recording her father's reminiscences in 1904, noted that Ashgrove was known to the Aborigines as Killindarbin, but it is not clear whether this was a general name for the area or referred to a specific site or sites in Ashgrove as it was then known.


European influence in the area and thus the progressive displacement of the Indigenous inhabitants arguably gained momentum between 1849 and 1851 with the granting of short-term Crown Leases for pastoral use along the valley of Enoggera Creek. By the end of 1851 the northern and western parts of Ashgrove and all of The Gap were covered. The largest holding was that of The Gap Sheep Station held by Darby McGrath. McGrath held this land until at least 1856. The track that became Waterworks Road and which gave passage to Brisbane, was in use as early as 1856 and probably dates at least from the days of McGrath and the early cutters of timber from the scrubs along the upper reaches of Enoggera Creek.

map of St Johns Wood and Ashgrove property 1858

land map, St Johns Wood and Ashgrove 1858

The first steps towards modern Ashgrove were taken on 1st September 1856 with the sale of three blocks with freehold title, in total 117 acres. This land stretched along the south bank of Enoggera Creek upstream from the modern Mirrabooka Road bridge, including the Marist College playing fields, the Ashgrove Sports Ground and the adjoining residential land extending south to about the line of Cypress Drive.

Generally the post-Crown grant history of much of Ashgrove remains un-researched. It is sufficient to note however that it became the domain of the land speculator, dairy and other farmers, market gardeners, and well to do members of Brisbane's business and government fraternity wanting to live close by in a rural setting. This state of affairs was eroded, albeit slowly, by the progressive need for residential land by an expanding city, beginning at about the end of the 1870s. However it is reasonable to say that parts of Ashgrove retained their rural aspect up until the Second World War. The residential makeover was complete by about the late 1950s.

The best documented of the early residential estates in Ashgrove, but not the first, was the 90 acre Grove Estate offered for sale in 1884 and again in 1888. This was some forty years before the subdivision of the old St John's Wood and Glen Lyon Estates to the west. In 1924 almost all of the latter estate, of approximately 250 acres was subdivided and offered for sale by T.M. Burke as the Glenlyon Gardens Estate. At about the same time and in a similar move, F.M. Anglim offered his holdings at the core of the original St John's Wood Estate together with some adjoining land, under the banner of the St John's Wood Extension Estate.

With these moves, the focus of residential real estate shifted westwards and Ashgrove began to assume essentially its modern form. Glenlyon Gardens in particular brought with it a diverse style of housing contrasting with much of that which had come before, imparting a distinctive character to the suburb. Marketing of these two key developments was given impetus by the extension of the tram service from Red Hill along Waterworks Road to Devonshire Street in 1924. Before then, residents wishing to take a tram to the City had a choice of termini at Kelvin Grove, Red Hill or Paddington. The line was extended to the State School at West Ashgrove in 1935.

Tramdrivers and passengers in a tram at Ashgrove, Brisbane, 1923
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Parts of Ashgrove were served by public transport before this but details are sketchy. A horse bus service operated from Glen Lyon to the City via Three Mile Scrub Road as early as 1878 and there is credible anecdotal evidence of one operating along Waterworks Road from the present western limit of Ashgrove from 1899. In 1924 there was a motor bus service from The Gap along Waterworks Road to the tram at Red Hill via Jubilee Terrace. By 1927 this extended to the City (Albert Square). For a time prior to the 1924 tram extension a service connected the Grove Estate at Stewart Road with the Red Hill tram at Federal Street. With the extension of the tram service to West Ashgrove in 1935 the bus from The Gap travelled via Coopers Camp Road. Private bus services were taken over by the Brisbane City Council in 1947/48 and from August 1968, when the last tram departed the terminus at West Ashgrove, the area has been serviced solely by Brisbane City Council buses.

Progressive urbanisation brought with it the full panoply of institutions and services required by the residents of a growing suburb. Ashgrove had its State School from 1877 and the arrival of the Sisters of Charity in 1925 brought Catholic education to the area. The Marist Brothers founded their college in 1940. Correspondingly, demand and no doubt hard work by those involved brought the requisite range of churches.

For decades corner stores peppered the suburb and small shopping and service centres sprang up at key points along the tram route. In turn, the advent of supermarkets made corner grocery stores largely redundant; many remain, some retaining their distinctive character but recycled to serve a different purpose.

This is but a passing glance at the story of Ashgrove. Many elements are missing: the passage of two world wars, the great depression and flood, fire and drought to name a few. There is an almost endless challenge for those prepared to search the dusty records and to harvest the fading memories of many who shared its passage through the years. Ashgrove today is there for all to judge, the product of more than 150 years of triumph and tragedy, action and indecision, prejudice and tolerance.

Whilst the Ashgrove of today is clearly part of a continuum with its roots in actions taken in 1856, modern Ashgrove largely reflects interrelated events of some 70 years later. These were the extension of the tram service from Red Hill and the residential subdivision of former landed estates in West Ashgrove and St Johns Wood. For this account "Ashgrove" is taken to refer to the land lying within the area of post code 4060 and for convenience, the term is used as though it applied throughout its history.

[Extracted with amendments from: Paten, Dick (Compiler), 2006:
'Ashgrove Heritage Tour', Brisbane History Group Inc., Tours no 25, pp1-3.].