One of the more pointless money-making endeavours in the city’s history, Frederic Abbot’s plan to make a small fortune charging a toll to cross the river at his ford (near Dight’s Paddock) was doomed to failure from the beginning. While there was indeed a ford there – the lowest one still remaining on the Yarra at that time – it wasn’t going to do anyone much good.
The Kew side of the bank, opposite, was characterised, then as now, by the steep sides of the ridge line. In some places, they were actually cliffs, in others, merely sheer hillsides. The latter could be navigated on foot, but not by horse or oxen drawn carts. Frederic Abbot died a broken man. Although a wealthy landowner (he owned most of what was now called Abbotsford east of Nicholson Street), he was tormented by the failure of his toll ford plan – and every time he heard the name of the suburb, he winced once more. (Abbot always referred to the area as East Collingwood.)
In death, he left three legacies: a large tract of land that he left to the church (where Abbotsford Convent and the Collingwood Children’s Farm now stand); a similarly sized tract that was sold off to a become a brewery; and a mystery for the scholars, who could never agree on where exactly along the river his ford had been located (it having been washed away by floods in the intervening years). At the current time, the consensus is that it was located near where Dights Falls now stands – other suggested sites include the locations of the bridges at Johnston and Victoria streets, as well as a site about midway between Victoria St and Bridge Rd. If this last site were in fact the actual one, it would seem to be the case that Abbot’s Ford was not located in Abbotsford at all.
Suburbs near Abbotsford: