The name Chelsea derives from an Old English word meaning “chalk wharf”. Chelsea in Melbourne has a pier, but no wharves, and its chalk supply exists primarily in school rooms. The original Chelsea had the chalk wharf – Melbourne’s Chelsea is named for it only indirectly.
In fact, it is named after the Chelsea Football Club, legendarily one of the least successful teams in the Premier League (until recent decades, at any rate). And much like the team it was named in tribute to, Chelsea is a study in good intentions and sturdy efforts amounting to little. Chelsea’s most famous son, who played in Chelsea’s football club (albeit in an entirely different code of football from that which gave the club its name), is much better known for playing in far away Hawthorn than in Chelsea. (It is possible that his nickname, “Lethal” Leigh Matthews, refers to the death of the Chelsea football club’s premiership hopes after his departure.)
Chelsea itself is a flat, beachside plain, occupying primarily by small, low buildings, whose primary residents are the elderly and childless. Before it was a plain, in fact, it was a swamp, and one frequently invaded by the ocean during storms. The Chelsea Heights region of Chelsea is named for the highest part of the suburb, an island in the swamp that towers fully five feet above sea leavel. The Bunurong people who occupied the land prior to European settlement called this island Wannarkladdin, a word which loosely translates into English as “so what?”.
Chelsea’s golden era was in the 1920s and ’30s, when the expansive local cinema building was the social hub of the surrounding region, hosting theatrical performances and screening films and newsreels. Today, the building still stands, but no movie has screened there since the 1970s, and it makes its way in the world as a bingo parlour.
Suburbs near Chelsea: