In the late 1850s, the people of Melbourne were beginning to get over the initial rush of money into their city from the goldfields, and wiser heads were starting to plan for a future. The 1860s would see the beginning of four decades of infrastructure constructed and insititutions founded, and by the end of that time, Melbourne would be the second largest – and second richest – city in the British Empire. Many of the projects undertaken in that time are still extant today, although the reasoning behind them has often been forgotten. The tenor of the times was not as peaceful as it may look a century and a half later.
In 1857, the Sepoy Rebellion – the single largest rebellion in a British colony ever, at the time – broke out in Britain’s Indian territories. Eager to show that they were more loyal than the Indians, the colonists of Victoria looked for ways to demonstrate their own loyalty. Some of them volunteered to go to India, although those who did got there too late to do more than help consolidate the establishment of the British Raj. Closer to home, one expression of this was the creation of a new area, set aside as an estate for the Royal Family of England: originally to be called Queensville, it was renamed Kingsville in 1862, when it appeared that Queen Victoria’s grief would soon lead her to follow her spouse, the Prince Consort Albert, into the grave. As it happened, it would be another forty years until Edward VII ascended the throne, but the name stuck.
Originally, Kingsville was a huge area, spanning the lands from the banks of the lower Yarra in the east, stretching back almost to Geelong Road in the west. It covered the land between Footscray and Seddon in the north, to Newport and Spotswood in the south. It was a huge area, bisected by the railway between Footscray and Newport, but otherwise largely undeveloped. It was set up largely as a hunting preserve for the future monarch, who was known to be a keen hunter – although no record of him ever hunting in it exists.
Kingsville did slowly develop some settlements, as the townships around the edges of it slowly encroached on the ill-defined borders of the area, reducing the size of the royal hunting preserve as it became clearer and clearer that Victoria would not be leaving the throne any time soon (indeed, she still holds the record for the longest reign of any British monarch). But more than anything else, it was the digging, and more, the opening of the Coode Canal on August 11, 1886, that would spell the end of the great range of Kingsville.
Today, the suburb exists as two separate areas: Kingsville (in Footscray) and South Kingsville (In Newport), that are not even physically adjacent to each other.
Suburbs near Kingsville: