Reservoir is a large residential suburb 12 km north of central Melbourne and 2 km north of Preston. Its named derives from three reservoirs built in 1864, 1909 and 1913, north of Preston to hold the metropolitan water supply from the Yan Yean reservoir. The reservoirs helped to settle sediment carried from Yan Yean and to reduce pressure on water mains which were prone to bursting.


When the first reservoir was built the population of the whole of the Preston district was about 700 people, mostly concentrated in the southern parts around High Street and Plenty Road. When the railway was opened between Collingwood and Whittlesea, with a station at ‘Preston (Reservoir)’, in 1889, there were still many unfilled residential allotments southwards in Preston before home builders needed to move to Reservoir. Settlement in Reservoir was confined to High and Edwardes Streets and the remaining land was farmed. Merri Lands, in the north-west of Reservoir was originally a dairy farm, and the Merrilands Estate (1918) at Hughes Parade and Botha Avenue was a garden city inspired design by Saxil Tuxen.

An Anglican church was opened near the railway station before 1914 and a Presbyterian church in the early 1920s. The primary school opened in the Anglican church in 1917 and moved to permanent premises in 1924. A supporter of the Anglican church, Dyer Thomas Edwardes, donated 14 hectares of land to Preston Council for a park, now the Edwardes Lake Park. In 1921 Reservoir's census population was 451 people.

Being on the metropolitan outskirts and comprised mostly of small farms and low income families, Reservoir's residents experienced more than usual hardship during the 1930s Depression. Childhood illnesses reduced school attendances and economic hardship lasted until the outbreak of World War II.


Residential development happened quickly in the early postwar years. The Housing Commission built large residential estates in the east of Reservoir and residential development moved northwards through Reservoir. Reservoir has Kingsbury adjoining it on the east and Keon Park on the north. Ruthven, with a railway station (1963). A primary school (1968) and secondary college was named after William Ruthven, Victoria Cross winner, France, 1914-18, and local State parliamentarian (Australian Labor Party) 1945-61.

Reservoir and Keon Park are suburbs of the 1950s and 1960s and their growth is traceable from the opening of Government schools:

School and year opened enrolment, 2014
Reservoir East Primary (1953) 137 pupils
Reservoir West Primary (1954) 456 pupils
Reservoir High (1954)           560 pupils
Keon Park Primary (1955) Reservoir Views Primary, 235 pupils
Merrilands Primary, near Keon Park (1959) closed 1996
Merrilands High (1957) William Ruthven P-12 College, 469 pupils
Keon Park Technical (1959) closed 1992
Lakeside High, west of Edwardes Lake (1960) closed 2011
Lakeside Primary (1962) closed 1993
Burbank Primary (1965) continues as special school
Ruthven Primary (1968) closed 2011
Keon Park East Primary (1968) closed 1992

Reservoir has four Catholic primary schools: Holy Name, on border with Preston (1939); St Gabriels, near Reservoir railway station (1929); St Stephens Reservoir East (1957) and St Josephs, Reservoir North (1978).

Despite the spread of housing in Reservoir the only shopping centre of any size is the original one near the railway station, dating from the 1920s. Other shops are corner stores. Edwardes Lake Park is the largest area of open space with bowling, tennis and athletics facilities. In the east, adjoining the Darebin Creek, there is an extensive linear reserve with ovals and Donath Park in the north has several ovals. (J.C. Donath was Preston Council's Town Clerk.) A well known resident from Reservoir is Barry Dickens (born 1949), a writer and humourist.

In 1987 the median house price in Reservoir was 87% of the median for metropolitan Melbourne and in 1996 it was 82% of the metropolitan median.

Reservoir’s census populations have been:

census date population
1921 451
2001 45,319
2006 45,970
2011 47,637

At the 2011 census, only 49% of Reservoir’s residents recorded English as their language spoken at home (Australia 76.8%). Foreign languages spoken at home at the 2011 census included:

Language % of total population
  Reservoir Victoria
Italian 12.7 2.3
Greek 6.1 2.2
Arabic 5.1 1.3

Further Reading

Brian Carroll and Ian Rule, Preston: an illustrated history, City of Preston, 1985

H.W. Forster, Preston lands and people, F.W. Cheshire, 1968