This evening I was invited to speak to the Croydon Historical Society about my family history and my role as a local Councillor for the Mullum Ward in Maroondah.
Maroondah’s historical societies document the history of the suburbs located within the municipality. This local history helps foster civic pride resulting in stronger community awareness and inclusion.
While Ringwood and Croydon may appear to be largely homogeneous, they do in fact have unique histories. While the Borough of Ringwood achieved severance from the Shire of Lillydale in 1924, the Shire of Croydon was not proclaimed until 1961, one year after Ringwood was declared a City.
The fact that Croydon did not achieve severance until forty years after Ringwood, demonstrates the differing pace of urbanisation. The City of Croydon was proclaimed in 1971 and was merged with the City of Ringwood to form the City of Maroondah in 1994.
An appreciation for local history is something I view as important for local Councillors. Just as the decisions of the past influence the choices we have today, the decisions we as a council make will continue to be felt into the future.
As an example, Ringwood’s initial growth was largely due to the railways, with the opening of the Lilydale rail line and Ringwood Station in 1882. Due to the station requiring flat land it was sited in its current location between Ringwood Streets and Warrandyte Road. This was despite the fact that the township of Ringwood was largely formed around the antimony mining of Ringwood East.
As a result the centre of Ringwood shifted around the rail station, with substantial residential subdivisions taking place from the 1920s due to the electrification of the rail line.
This decision made well over 100 years ago still has ramifications for Ringwood today. The location of Ringwood Station, as well as serving as the junction for the Belgrave and Lilydale lines shaped Ringwood into a major commercial precinct. The challenge now is to improve its walkability and accessibility through improvements to pedestrian crossings and better linkages between the residential and retail parts of Ringwood and the station.
Not all decisions made in the past are of benefit to us today. The decision by the former City of Ringwood to demolish the former Ringwood Town Hall in 1970 removed a prominent civic building from the heart of Ringwood and denied future generations with the possibility of utilising community space within the centre of Ringwood.
This decision is one that is still felt today, with a shortage of community space within Ringwood and a lack of an historic building to create a sense of identity. The redevelopment of Eastland and the creation of a new town square provide a once in a generational opportunity to correct this mistake and enable us to restore a civic and community heart to Ringwood.
In contrast, Croydon will be celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the Croydon Town Hall, which is located on Mount Dandenong Road and now houses EV’s Youth Centre.
I have lived in Ringwood since I was two years old, previously in Carruthers Court in Heathmont (near Wantirna Road) and then in Mundara Drive in Ringwood North and now in Bond Street within the middle of Ringwood.
Over these years Ringwood and Croydon have still experienced significant changes, such as the development of Croydon Hills which was still taking place during the 1990s while I was a high school student.
Ringwood and Croydon have unique and detailed histories and as a Councillor it is important to be mindful of the past so that we make the best decisions for the future.