Tottenham

Historically, very few places have been named after trains. I mean, sure, there’s Great Southern, in Cornwall; Ol’ 97, in Ohio; and of course, Murder, outside of Budapest (on the route of the Orient Express). But rare those these places are, Melbourne has one. It is, of course, Tottenham. The famed Tottenham of England was in fact named after the one in Melbourne – although no one’s really sure where they picked up the name Hotspurs from.

The railways came early to Tottenham, although it was a while before there was actually a station of that name. The main line connecting Melbourne with the goldfields of Ballarat, and later, with the neighbouring state capital of Adelaide (and from there, to Perth and Darwin), passed through Tottenham, which was at that point a mixture of farms, warehouses and slaughterhouses.

It was this latter – which in time came to predominate over the first listed item, to such an extent that no farms remained in Tottenham by 1890 – which would lead to the naming of the suburb. You see, each Friday afternoon, a particular train would arrive in Tottenham, filled with a sweating, grunting load of flesh from the wide plains to the west of Ballarat, and be shunted down a siding the lead to the largest of the slaughterhouses, where its load of livestock would rapidly become dead stock.

This train had many a nickname, mostly based on its cargo – the Porkchop Express, the Pig Train, the Suidae Special – but it was the one that also referred to its time of arrival that would give its name to the suburb. It is a reflection of how little standardisation there was in education in the time that the simple name of the Two Ten Ham came to be rendered as Tottenham.

Suburbs near Tottenham: