Janefield was an area 18 km north-east of central Melbourne that is now part of Bundoora (see separate entry).

In 1842 a flour mill, powered by the Plenty River, was built at Janefield, although the locality was not known by that name at that time. It seems that the name Springfield was used in the late 1840s, after a Springfield homestead, and this was changed to Janefield possibly upon the death of Jane Brock in 1847. She was the wife of James Brock, a local landowner and son of the purchaser of the flour mill.

The early presence of a flour mill is indicative of the condition of the original landscape, with fertile soil and relatively sparse tree cover. It readily attracted farm settlers. A Church of Scotland and a school were established in the late 1840s, and an inn and a post office were opened on Plenty Road in the 1850s. The bluestone Janefield Presbyterian church, Plenty Road, was built in 1861.

The flour mill closed, probably in 1858 and certainly by 1862, and the school was closed in 1877. A replacement school, named Bundoora and closer to that village, was opened the same year. The name Janefield faded until about 1914 when the State Government acquired land for an institution for intellectually disabled children. The site was east of Plenty Road extending to the Plenty River, immediately north of the metropolitan Ring Road. The intervention of World War I led to the site being used for military purposes and a postwar sanatorium, the latter use lasting until 1933. It then became the Janefield Colony for Mental Defectives, with a Special School opening in 1937.

Janefield had accommodation for 300 residents, and despite community unease with standards for such institutions, it experienced continuing demand during the postwar years and the next few decades. By 1978, when it had been renamed Janefield Training Centre, there were 493 residents.

Throughout the 1980s residents were moved to community housing and a residential facility was built at Janefield for about 100 residents. The Special School was closed in 1993. Apart from Janefield Drive, the name has again faded from the landscape.

Janefield’s census populations were:

census date population
1871 127
1921 25
1954 254

Further Reading

Mary Lucille Jones, Colony to community: the Janefield and Kingsbury Training Centres, Janefield and Kingsbury Redevelopment Project, 1977

J.W. Payne, The Plenty: a centenary history of the Whittlesea Shire, Kilmore, 1975

L.E. Richards, History of Janefield, Swinburne College Press, 1984