Situated in the south-east of metropolitan Melbourne, near Dandenong, Springvale is on the Princes Highway, 23 km from central Melbourne. Until 1994 Springvale was also a municipal city.
The name Springvale arose from permanent water sources for stock and travellers between Melbourne and Dandenong. In the 1850s a Spring Vale hotel was built near a newly surveyed route between Oakleigh and Dandenong, and its proprietor chose that name because of the natural springs in the area and its association with a place near the Bog of Allen in his native Ireland. The inn was located on the road to Dandenong where it intersected the track from Brighton and another running north-south, the present Princes Highway, Centre/Police Roads and Springvale Road. Notwithstanding the superficially strategic location of the land a village did not eventuate until a primary school was opened in 1867 because other centres of settlement existed in the Mulgrave area and in the opposite direction southwards.
The Gippsland railway line (1879) had a Spring Vale Road stopping place, and in 1886 sales of subdivided land occurred after rail fares had been reduced by extending the suburban fares zone from Oakleigh to Dandenong.
The subdivided land adjoined the railway station, nearly 2 km south of the hotel and school on Princes Highway. In 1887 a Wesleyan church was opened near the railway station along with the Sandown Park racecourse next to the railway line in 1891. Another primary school, Spring Vale Railway Station (now Springvale) was opened in 1907. By the 1920s the Spring Vale community had a lodge, brass band, a recreation reserve, a mechanics’ institute (1914), a few shops and some houses in the township. Kelly and Lewis, engineers, opened a factory in 1922 and Rocla Concrete opened a factory two years later. A picture theatre opened in 1924. At the outbreak of World War II Spring Vale was a pastoral, residential and industrial township with market gardens in the surrounding areas. Sand extraction industries were active, lasting until the 1990s. The change of name from Spring Vale to Springvale appears to have happened when the shire of Springvale and Noble Park was created in 1955.
The clearest indication of postwar residential growth occurred in the early 1960s when Rockman’s Shopwell department store was built, and later when shops on the east side of Springvale Road were removed for road widening. Housing growth was rapid and estates with made roads and services replaced unserviced subdivisions. The new Sandown racecourse site was opened in 1961 for both horse and motor car racing.
On the north of the Princes Highway is the Springvale Botanical Cemetery (formerly the crematorium and Necropolis). Next to the crematorium is an area of housing and, until 1992, the original Springvale primary school (1875) near where Centre and Springvale Roads cross Princes Highway. The cemetery was the winner of the American Cemetery Excellence Award, 2013.
Springvale’s shopping centre is southwards at the junction of the railway line and Springvale Road. The city hall and library are nearby. The surrounding area’s street pattern is mostly in a grid, with a few neighbourhood reserves. There are three State primary schools and a Catholic primary school (1938).
In the late 1950s engineering firms such as Volkswagen and Robert Bosch opened factories in and around Springvale. German migrants settled there, and Lutheran church services began in 1959. The Lutheran church in Albert Avenue opened in 1962.
Between the Princes Highway and the railway line are Sandown racecourse and a smaller greyhound track, a primary school, the site of the former Springvale secondary college (1954-2010) and an Islamic secondary college (1992). The Catholic Killester College (1956) is in Springvale Road south of the city hall. A large linear park adjoins the racecourse.
Springvale’s housing prices have been lower than the average for metropolitan Melbourne, and have been a means for immigrants to obtain affordable family accommodation. In 1971 the Enterprise migrant hostel was opened in Westall Road, about 1 km east of the railway station. A combination of affordability and having the hostel as an arrival address has resulted in Springvale having a high proportion of residents born overseas. In 1992 about 37% of the population was born overseas, of which 23% were Vietnamese and 8.6% Italian. Springvale municipality had the highest number of migrants who arrived during 1986-91. Enterprise became a refugee hostel, and closed in 1992.
The municipal area of Springvale was originally part of the Dandenong shire (1873) which encompassed the area extending to Chelsea (on Port Phillip Bay). Severances from Dandenong shire were made in 1890 and 1920, resulting in a shire which extended from Springvale to Dandenong. On 31 May 1955, the shire was divided into Springvale and Noble Park shire (104 sq km) and Dandenong shire. Oakleigh city took 6 sq km from Springvale and Noble Park in 1959, and the resulting area was proclaimed Springvale city on 22 April 1961. In 1965 it was enlarged when a portion was taken from Waverley city.
On 15 December 1994, Springvale city was divided into three parts and amalgamated as follows: a small part was united with most of Frankston city and part of Cranbourne shire to form an enlarged Frankston city; another part was united with Chelsea and parts of Mordialloc, Oakleigh and Moorabbin cities to form Kingston city: and the largest part was united with Dandenong city and part of Cranbourne shire to form Greater Dandenong city.
The census populations of Springvale city were:
Springvale’s township/suburb’s census populations have been:
Springvale South (separate entry) extends from Springvale’s Heatherton Road boundary to Dingley. It is a suburb of the 1960s and 1970s and is a multiracial continuation of Springvale. The following table lists some characteristics as a proportion of the populations from the 2011 census:
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G.M. Hibbins, A history of the City of Springvale: constellation of communities, Port Melbourne, 1975
Don Chambers, City of the dead: a history of the Necropolis, Springvale, Flemington, 2001
Aspendale, Bangholme, Braeside, Chelsea Heights, Dingley Village, Harrisfield, Keysborough, Noble Park, Patterson Lakes, Sandown Park, Springvale South and Waterways entries