Hadfield

Of all the localities of the Greater Melbourne area, perhaps none has as an name with as sad an origin as Hadfield. Originally a part of Glenroy, and owned, like the majority of that region, by Glen Hollister, it became an independent region in the 1940’s. To understand why, however, it is necessary to look a little further back.

The Glenroy region was settled by Glen Hollister and his family in the late 1830s. This was very early in the settlement of Victoria, and large tracts of land could be claimed by anyone, ahead of actual regulation of the settlement. Hollister laid claim to a huge allotment, covering all of modern Glenroy, Fawkner, Hadfield and Gowanbrae, plus parts of what is now Pascoe Vale, Campbellfield and Broadmeadows. However, Hollister proved singularly unable to hold onto the land he had claimed. It was too great an area, and he had too few men working for him to hold onto it. Bits of his claim were nibbled off the edges by other settlers, but his pride and joy was the wide flat plain that ran west from Sydney Rd, which he named (with typical modesty) Hollister Field.

This area was used a grazing paddock by the Hollister family for decades. First sheep, then cattle, then horses were all grazed here, and by the 1880s, Hollister Field was the home of a respected stud, from which several early winners of Melbourne and Caulfield Cups originated. It was the pride of the Hollisters well into the 20th century, although its fortunes slowly faded with those of the Hollisters.

Increasing government regulation and stricter enforcement of said regulations saw the Hollister family lose many of its possessions, but Hollister Field they kept as the rest was slowly whittled away, claimed by the government under eminent domain or sold to pay the increasing gambling debts of Terry Hollister. The youngest of the Hollister brothers, and thus, the only one not to serve (and die) in World War One, Terry’s survivor expressed itself in drinking, drug-taking, womanising and gambling. Terry’s favourite game was Faro, which he had read about in a Wyatt Earp dime novel. Unfortunately, he was extremely bad at it.

In 1938, he played his last game, and lost everything to his meanest rival, Richard Kelly. When Hollister tried to welsh on his debts, Kelly took him to court, and won it all. Including Hollister Field. Kelly demolished the Hollister family mansion, and later turned the grounds upon which it had stood into the Fawkner cemetary. And the rest of the land he turned into a new housing development, which he named in such a way that Terry Hollister would never forget his loss: each time he heard the name, he’d remember when he had the field.

Suburbs near Hadfield.