Geelong West

Geelong West is a residential suburb immediately adjoining Geelong on Corio Bay, which is on the western side of Port Phillip Bay. Between 29 May, 1875, and 18 May, 1993, Geelong West was also a municipality, which included Herne Hill and Manifold Heights.

In 1839 blocks of land of about 10 ha. were sold by the Government in Geelong West between Pakington Street and Shannon Avenue, northwards from the Barwon River to Church Street. Smaller blocks of about 0.6 ha. were sold two years later. Within a year a contemporary almanac referred to the Ashby Village.

The reason for releasing the land was probably the high speculative prices being paid for land in Geelong central. Between 1843 and 1846 the empty land between Geelong and Geelong West, i.e. between Pakington Street and Latrobe Terrace (later the municipal boundary), was sold as suburban allotments. An area south of Ashby became known as Little Scotland, although in the 1857 census it did not have a particularly high population of residents with a Scotch or Presbyterian religious affiliation.

There was also a Kildare Village east of Shannon Avenue and north of Ashby, and census data does not reveal a particularly large Irish population despite the village’s Irish name.

The churches opened several schools: Anglican at Kildare (1851); Presbyterian at Ashby (1852); Catholic at Ashby (1853) and Kildare (1855); and Methodist at Ashby (1855). None lasted much beyond 1874 when the Ashby Public School – later Geelong West primary – was opened.

The Geelong railway station (1857) was in Ashby and the Geelong Gas Works (1858) were in Kildare.

During the mid 1850s there was local agitation for municipal separation from the Geelong town council. Twenty years of effort were rewarded on 29 May, 1875, when the Geelong West borough was proclaimed. Its western and eastern boundaries were McCurdy Road and La Trobe Terrace respectively, and the northern and southern boundaries more or less Church Street and Aberdeen Street.

Several industries were established in Geelong West, the largest being Donaghy’s Rope Works (1873) in Pakington Street. The Newberry foundry (1886) in Lupton Street was a source of both local employment and cast-iron building materials used for the many timber houses to be found in Geelong West.

Shopping in Geelong West had begun in Pakington Street in the 1850s, and it became the main shopping strip in Geelong West. It was served by a tram line (1912). Other tram lines ran along Church Street and Latrobe Terrace, confined to the eastern side of the municipality. This left nearly two-thirds of the municipality to be served by buses which came in 1926 with Benders Busways.

Commercial and industrial buildings in Geelong West are sometimes two-storeyed and made of brick, but the vast majority of houses are single-storey timber structures, varying from cottages, double-fronted Edwardian or Federation style and through to Californian bungalow.

In 1924, two years after Geelong West became a town, the Victorian Municipal Directory described it as –


Geelong West was proclaimed a city on 17 April, 1929.

After the 1939-45 war the timber houses fell in popularity as families preferred newer, brick residences. Some cottages were knocked over for car-parking space. Not until the 1980s were the timber houses seen as desirable, from the points of view of price and restoration.

Pakington Street remains the civic and commercial centre with Baptist, Uniting and Presbyterian churches, the former Geelong West town hall (rebuilt 1923), library, nearby Ashby and St. Patricks Catholic primary schools and a long shopping strip with off-street parking. One of Victoria’s oldest buildings, the former Harp Inn, is at 22 Pakington Street. Shannon Avenue has a smaller shopping area, but with a large supermarket. Geelong West has four reserves (three with ovals), and there are more reserves in the former municipality’s suburbs of Herne Hill and Manifold Heights. The technical school (1954), later Western Heights secondary college, is in Herne Hill.

A small bayside suburb of Drumcondra, in the former municipality’s north-east, had part of Corio Bay’s Explanade foreshore park. The Drumcondra Estate subdivision was released during 1910-20, and contains Luran House (1849-50), of a Georgian design by an early Port Phillip architect and surveyor, Charles Laing. It is on the Victorian Heritage register.

Geelong West’s median house price in 1987 was $52,750 and in 1996 it was $78,000. (House prices in Herne Hill and Manifold Heights showed a stronger improvement over the period.)

On 18 May, 1992, Geelong West city became part of Greater Geelong city.

The name continues, however, as a suburb and as a football club. Geelong West Football Club won its first premiership in 1881, moving through the Geelong District, Ballarat District and Victorian Football Association competitions. Its home ground is the West Oval, incidentally home for Geelong cycling and gold-medal Olympian Russell Mockridge (1928-58).

Geelong West’s municipal census populations were 4,845 (1881), 5,871 (1901), 9,641 (1921), 15,763 (1947), 17,538 (1966) and 13,448 (1991).

Further Reading:

  • Cahir, Anne, “The Bay, Barwon and Beyond: Heritage Places of Geelong, Heritage Council”, Victoria, 1997.
  • Seaton, Gladys, “The Ashby Story, A History of Geelong West, Geelong” West City Council, 1978.
  • “Timber Houses in Geelong West”, Geelong Regional Commission, c.1986.

31 thoughts on “Geelong West”

  1. Can someone be able to tell me the location of Aberdeen House, Aberdeen Street. I believed the house has been demolished. As a student in Geelong in the 60s I used to attend many social functions at that premises

  2. Aberdeen House was where I had my wedding breakfast in 1956. At this present moment I can’t quite place the exact spot but if you will bear with me I will follow it up and let you know exactly where it was.

  3. My great grandmother Mary GISSANE ran a Boarding House at no 11 Mercer Street Geelong in the 1910-20’s, Can anyone tell me if this is in Geelong West? I have been told that it is now where Lukey Mufflers are. I live in SA so its a fair way from here to check out. Thanks for any assistance. I know all the family used to go to the Ashby church.

  4. Can anyone tell me where Government Road in Ashby would have been located and what it may be called now. I am wodering if it is where the government originally sold 10 acre lots along what is now Pakington st

  5. My great grandfather’s marriage cert. lists Geelong West as his home in 1882. I am actually researching what happened to him after his wife Elizabeth McBride (a daughter of William Wilkie Foulds) died, leaving 4 children. Which resource would be preferred for pioneers at this time? His name: Joseph Ronalds LUKEY

    1. I see no-one has replied..Alas! I wonder if he just changed his name and moved off…???? His grandson, my father who is almost 90 would really like to know.
      Robin 29/5/2013

      1. Have you tried ‘googling’ it, I found a reference to Joseph Ronalds LUKEY marrying Elizabeth McBride in 1882 and that they lived in Stawell, Vic. Sometimes it is easier to search backwards too by starting with a death certificate

  6. Jodie,

    Thank you for response..It’s hard to know who is connecting to this. I can’t find death of Joseph Ronalds Lukey online, my great, great grandfather but I may apply to Vic. for death certif. He disappeared after Elizabeth McBride FOULDS died in approx. 1907, leaving his 3 children (one of whom was my grandfather)with Elizabeth’s sister Sophie. I hope to visit Geelong West this year. Footwork and meeting people often seem to beat the computer! The children attended Marcus Hill Prim. School. ( now gone..)The Lukeys and Foulds were early pioneers of that area. I live in Gosford NSW but my roots are Victorian, including all my prim. and secondary education. Thank you for trying!

    1. Robin
      Ronald Joseph LUKEY, Died 1952 Age 61 Digger Ref 13022 His father was Jno Davis LUKEY mother Annie Sophia HUNT this is the only Joseph in the Digger BDM for 1921-1985. Also found a birth for Ronald Joseph born 1892 in Benalla, Vic. Ref 10353. He may be a bit young but there are not a lot of LUKEY’s listed. Go to a library and search Digger BDM’s
      Hope this is of some help Ken M

      1. Hi Robin
        A bit more digging.
        Found a birth for Joseph Reynolds LUKEY, b 1857, Father Reynolds, mother Mary Davis, b Geelong ref 15439. He married Elizabeth McBride Geelong in 1882 Ref 875.
        Good luck Ken M

  7. Am still looking for Joseph Ronalds LUKEY!! My brother-in-law has already failed in finding death certif. for him. Alas! – may have changed his name and moved off!

    1. Hi Robin,
      Came across your questions re William Wilkie Foulds yesterday and the name “rang a bell” . I had a relative of the same name born in Scotland who died in Marcus Hill (Queenscliff, Vic) Early 1900’s.
      Happy for you to contact me and via e-mail and we can go into more detail.
      Pam Gibbons

  8. Pam Gibbons – Yes, sharing information would be great….There is quite a lot available on the Foulds and I contact a second cousin in Canberra related to that line

    1. Pam Gibbons.. Are you still doing family history in regard to Foulds? Have been overseas and logged in your comment and we did not seem to be able to communicate. now i have another email address.

  9. re Ann Morrison,
    My G G Grandmother purchaced several shops in Pakington street between Candover and Preston St’s plus a cottage in Clarence St. These were purchaced between 1855 to 1870. Can anybody shed any further light on where these properties are or what they were used for as rate notices do not give street numbers back then.
    With thanks Ken Morrison

    1. hi,
      to answer your question as best I can, the strip of shops between candover st and preston st on the south side are now a Westpac bank which resides on the corner of candover st, a mens clothing store next door, a handful of cafe’s, dress shops etc, and a seafood store on the corner of preston st. if you use google earth at street level you can see these properties as they stand today.

    2. My Grandmother and step grandfather had a fruit shop in Pakington street in 1958. Shops are still there just different shops most coffee or dresses fish shops is the the same. As most of the house in those street. Went back to walk down memory lane.

  10. Pam Gibbons.. Are you still doing family history in regard to Foulds? Have been overseas and logged in your comment and we did not seem to be able to communicate. now i have another email address.

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