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The History of Brighton

Brighton is one of Bayside’s most exclusive and popular suburbs, located on the Port Phillip Bay coastline and just 20 minutes from the CBD.

In England, on 29 August 1840, Henry Dendy (180081) purchased the land that is now Brighton for 1 per acre, site unseen. Dendy arrived on 5 February 1841 to claim his land. Unfortunately, the land did not have any ready sources of water and Dendy’s scheme for land sales failed. Dendy died a pauper. Later, sales of land resulted in Brighton becoming the third most populated town in Port Phillip by 1846. Today, Brighton houses some of the wealthiest citizens in Melbourne with grand homes. Dendy Street Beach, just south of Middle Brighton, features 82 colourful bathing boxes, which are one of the tourist icons of Melbourne In England, on 29 August 1840, Henry Dendy took advantage of New South Wales land sale regulations when he “paid the Commissioners for Land and Emigration £5,120 at £1 per acre, for a ‘Special Survey’ of eight square miles of Port Phillip land (Bate, 1983)”. Unlike any other Englishman he sought his land order of 2,072 ha or 20.72 sq. km sight unseen. Professor Weston Bate’s A History of Brighton describes the consternation of the squatters when Dendy arrived on 5 February 1841 to claim his land. Both Dendy and his agent J.B. Were encountered hostility and administrative problems before procuring and developing a land grant outside a five mile (8 km) radius from Melbourne in the Parish of Moorabbin, County of Bourke. Dendy later became insolvent but “the land was resold privately without being surrendered to the Crown (Public Record Office, 1991)”.

In the late 1840’s stately homes were built in an area known as ‘The Terrace’ now called the Esplanade overlooking Dendy Street Beach which at the time had few if any bathing boxes. Local residents included Henry Dendy, J.B. Were, J. Hawdon and H.B. Foot. Elsewhere, bathing boxes existed in Brighton as far back as 1862. Most of the bathing boxes were built on the waters edge at the end of Bay Street and between Park and Wellington Streets. Numbers are uncertain but the Borough, Town and then City of Brighton may have allocated between 100 and 200 sites before the Great Depression.

The Brighton foreshore continued to be the focus of private and public attention during the transition from early settlement to rural suburb. Preserving public decency was an issue for the council but minor compared with foreshore ownership and bathing box disputes between 1862 and 1874.

The completion of a single line railway tram from St Kilda to Brighton Beach in 1906 triggered a significant increase in applications for Brighton bathing box permits and construction 1908 – 1911. The railway tramline was duplicated in 1914. By the time Brighton became a City in 1919 the rural suburb had largely given way to being residential. Roads were well developed including Beach Road (the Esplanade), and electrified trains ran from Melbourne via Brighton Beach to Sandringham.

Surrounding suburbs to Brighton

  • Bentleigh
  • Elwood
  • Glen Huntley
  • Sandringham
  • St.Kilda
  • Ripponlea
  • Gardenvale
  • Hampton
  • Elsternwick
  • Moorrabbin

Accommodation for nearby hospitals

  • Cabrini Hospital
  • Sandringham Hospital

Accommodation  for nearby venues

  • Royal Brighton Yacht Club
  • The Middle Brighton Baths
  • The International of Brighton
  • Sails on the Bay
  • Sandringham Yacht Cub
  • Riva St Kilda
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