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Origin of the name


The Trentham area was once amongst the lands inhabited by the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal people.

Although pastoral runs were taken up in the area as early as 1838, Trentham was first settled by gold prospectors in the 1850s, and later developed for its timber resources from the surrounding Wombat State Forest. [1] In 1854 there were about a hundred people living in the area, mostly timber cutters, taking timber from the dense Bullarook forest. Gold was discovered in nearby Blackwood in 1854, and in the future Trentham township site in 1859,though the ground there was never particularly rich. (Peter Parsons (ed), G W Trewhella, Early History of the Trentham District, Trentham Historical Society 1989 [1957].)

The first land sale in the Parish of Trentham was held in Kyneton in 1857. This followed a survey by John Wrigglesworth of land in the southern section of "Woodside", formerly a pastoral run owned by Alexander Fullerton Mollison, then Thomas Clowes and subsequently by G. W. Johnston. Lots varying from 99 to 595 acres were offered for sale. It is presumed that the Parish name was given by Wrigglesworth during preparation of the sale plans and originated from the English town Trentham in Staffordshire. [2]

In 1864 the township of Trentham was surveyed into half acre allotments by A. F. Wrigglesworth. The first land sale of township allotments occurred in December of the same year. The first blocks were purchased by Graham and Donald McPherson, Patrick Murphy and John Wolff. The township of Trentham was proclaimed in April 1867, presumably by notice in the Government Gazette.[3]

By the end of the 1860s Trentham had a thriving business community, hotels, a brewery, a court house, churches and stores. The presence of Murphy's Commercial Hotel on High Street, already existing before he purchased the land in 1865, established High Street as the business precinct of the town. (Norm Darwin, Gold'n Spa. A History of the Hepburn Shire, Ballarat 2005, p 93.)

The following history of Trentham, written by Jack Sleeman, of Trentham State School, gained first prize offered at the Castlemaine Exhibition in De cember last for competition in Trentham district:
In 1856 some wood splitters and pit sawyers, who were the first settlers in the Trentham district, commenced their work among the timber in the ranges, where they lived in huts. These men, when they cut the timber, sent it to Kyneton to be sold. The forest known as "Clowes' Forest," proved to have immense quantities of valuable timber in it. This forest kept many sawmills working continuously for over forty years. The tim ber was very useful for building houses and bridges, making fences, and was also good fuel. The first steam sawmill in the district was erected by Mr. J. B. Enders in 1857. subsequently followed by sawmills erected by Messrs. McPherson Bros., Mr. Lyons, Laver Bros., Christian Bros., and others. Gold was first discovered in March, 1S59, at the site of the Trentham township, and although considerable quantities have been obtained over several miles of country no rich finds have been discovered. Newbury, Garlick's Lead, Barry's Reef, and Blackwood are mining dis tricts adjoining Trentham, and south of the Dividing Range. The township is situated on the River Trent, a tribu tary of the Coliban, on which are the Trentham Falls. The water going over the falls has a descent of 100 feet. The scenery at the Falls is very fine, it being a place of much natural beauty and also a popular holiday re sort, visitors from all parts of the State coming to see it. The district contains a considerable quantity of rich volcanic soil suitable for agricultural purposes, which has been the chief industry since 1860; the principal crops being potatoes, wheat, oats, rye, maize, and hay. The first farmers to come to Trentham were Messrs. Ogden, Bikley, Middlemiss, Glenn, Pearson, and Watson. Sheep raising and dairying are also caried on. The Carlsruhe to Daylesford railway, which goes through Trentham, was completed in 1880. and the first passenger train passed through Trentham on the 17th March, 1880.[4]

First People

Dja Dja Wurrung


Geography and climate

Trentham is in close proximity to Daylesford and Woodend.

Trentham Falls is the longest single drop waterfall in Victoria, plunging some 32 metres over basalt columns. Trentham Falls was formed some five million years ago from molten lava rapidly cooling as it flowed along the old Coliban River valley. At the base of the Falls, quartz gravel and the former river bed can be seen. The Falls Reserve protects one of the best remnants of original vegetation in the area, with stands of manna gum, messmate, stringybark and narrow-leaved peppermint. The reserve is ideal for picnics or barbecues, with picnic tables, fireplaces and toilets provided for visitors. The Trentham Cascades are a short walk further north from the Falls Reserve car park.[5]











Part of the charm and streetscape interest of the Trentham township arises from the rows of timber shopfronts, all with post supported verandahs, from last century or early this century . They are found on High and Market Streets. In 1925-1930 the shop at 18 Market Street was a Guest House. Later it became a butcher shop. The shop at 38 High Street was Wolff's butcher shop. Shop 40 on High Street was used as Wolff's grocery and hardware shop.Shops 50-52 on High Street are the the only double storied shops in Trentham. Built in the late 19th/early 20th centuries,this building comprises two shops and ends the line of shops on this side of the street. There is a marked contrast between this building and the remaining shops. Both of these shops retain their original timber shopfronts. The first floor windows of number 52 have been bricked up to three quarters of their height. The rendered parapet is the feature of the facade. Masonic symbols are painted on the two first floor windows of number 50 and the first floor wide window of number 52. In 1925-1930 number 50 was a bookshop and library operated by Miss Block and number 52 a drapers shop, with the Freemasons Hall above.[6]

In contrast to the surrounding buildings from the early years of the town's history, the National Bank Building at 46 High Street is one of Trentham's most substantial buildings. Its size, high parapet and brick construction are indicative of its original use as bank premises. [7]


The Old Commercial Hotel at 53 High Street is Trentham's largest nineteenth century building and a landmark in the town's main street due to its location on a rise. The early twentieth century verandah is different to the original one, which comprised a timber post and cast iron decorated first floor verandah above a wider ground level one. The size of this building contrasts with the old Cosmopolitan hotel.[8]. The building is presently used as an antiques store.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel was constructed in 1866 by the Tylden farmer Joseph Bickley on the corner of High Street and Cosmo Road. One of Trentham's oldest surviving buildings, it has made an important contribution to the Trentham streetscape. The building was extensively damaged by a fire in June 2005 but has been restored since. There are several adjoining buildings. The stable building in the north-west corner of the site is said to have been the Cobb & Co change station and stables. The buildings to the west along High Street were probably built as shops.[9]

Police station

There is an old weather-board police station, two lock-ups and a stable in Camp Street.The portable lock-up is a rare structure and was designed to be relocated when necessary. It is believed to have been moved to Trentham Police Station early this century from Blackwood. [10]


The old Trewhella residence on the corner of High Street and Blue Mountain Road was built in the 1920's - 1930's. This site was occupied by Frank Trewhella, part owner of the Trewhella Foundry. This is one of Trentham's most substantial houses and the town's largest residence from the 1920's and 1930's. The nature of the building reflects the original owner's social position as co-owner of the Trewhella Foundry. Built of brick and with an attic, this house contrasts with the other houses of this period in Trentham.[11]

The weatherboard house and garden at 9 Victoria Street was also a Trewhella residence, possibly built in the 1910's. William Trewhella and his wife lived there. The Trewhella Foundry pattern shop is on the eastern side of this house, with the original site of the town's electricity power house beyond nearer the creek.[12]

William's brother Benjamin Trewhella built the house overlooking the Trewhella Foundry on the corner of Victoria and Quarry Streets. Constructed in the early 1900', the house was called "Lelant" after Lelant in Cornwall where he was christened.[13]

The dilapidated weatherboard cottage situated next door to the Cosmopolitan Hotel is apparently an early 1850s or 1860s dwelling. [14]


Last century the churches played a major role in the everyday life of Trentham and the various surviving church buildings reflect their influence and the strength of each denomination in the community.

Constructed early in 1892, the old Methodist Church at 6 Camp Street opposite the old Police Station is the oldest church building in Trentham. Of timber construction, the the church is typical of many small three-bay churches built last century throughout Victoria. It is now a private residence. Although altered with new windows and rear additions, the original use of this building is still apparent. [15]

St. Georges Anglican Church is a 1920's small church situated on the top of the rise opposite the old Commercial Hotel. Its foundation stone was laid in May 1927. The small three bay church contains lead light windows and door lights of note. The polygonal front porch and side vestry are unusual features. [16]

The Sacred Heart Catholic Church in James Lane East Trentham is an example of a substantial Gothic, early English style Catholic church constructed in the late nineteenth century. The church was built in 1890 to a design by architect E. J. Henderson. The building was rendered in 1922, presumably to protect the insufficiently durable locally made bricks. The church has a rural setting, outside the township of Trentham, and was built by local farmers, descendants from Irish miners who settled in the district after the gold rushes. Its setting recalls the nature of the original community of potato growersin the area and their wish to have a church close to their homes, avoiding slow travel by dray and horseback to the nearest Catholic Church at Tylden. The church was built on land donated by two local farmers. The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne closed the church in 2001 It is now used as a private residence. [17]

St. Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church in Bridge Street was built in 1906. The site contains three significant buildings, the church on the corner, a large presbytery and a school (1938) beyond. The church is a well detailed, typically designed small church of the early twentieth century. There is a central projecting porch with side entry and other features are the windows and main gable. The all-glass rear wall and rear additions date from recent decades. [18]

The presbytery typifies a presbytery of the early twentieth century, with porch, encircling cast iron verandah, red face brick walls and roughcast details. The large size and conservative design of the building are also typical of the time. Use of red brick walls for both church and residence unifies both. [19]

Built in 1938, St. Mary Magdalen's School is a good example of a late 1930s style small school building. Use of red face brick for all three Catholic Church buildings here gives a common element to a building that is otherwise very different in design to the others. The central tower is the feature of the building. [20]

Railway Station

Trentham railway station is located on the Carlsruhe-Daylesford branch line, which runs through the northern parts of the Wombat Forest. The advent of the railway provided a stimulus for the economy of Trentham which was based on local rural industries, timber, potatoes and grain. The railway became the main centre for freight distribution. Essentials such as groceries and manufactured goods were transported by rail and it provided an all-weather, lifeline, especially in wet winters when the unsealed roads became impassible. It connected the area with Melbourne, Daylesford, and Ballarat.[21]

The station building on Victoria Street at the end of Market Street was opened in February 1880, with associated freight handling structures including a goods shed, parcel shed, and weigh bridge. Built by B Jensen, the station was one of the two largest consignors on the Carlsruhe-Daylesford line during the second part of the 1880s when more than 20,000 tons of timber were railed from it each year. The railway continued to be used for transporting timber into the twentieth century, although the level of loading decreased significantly as the timber was cut out. In the 1880's two tramways from the Hayden and McPherson's timber mills terminated in the Trentham Railway Station, at a spur siding on the south side of the station. [22]

The railway closed in 1978 and has been subsequently managed by local volunteer groups.



See also

Brodd's Battery


Countess Gold Mining Co.

McCashney Brothers Eucalyptus Still

RedBeard Historic Bakery

Trentham Brewery

Trentham Engineering Co.

Trewhella Foundry

Triumph Company

Mining in Trentham - Mining companies in Trentham - Mining gullies in Trentham - Mining gutters in Trentham - Mining leads in Trentham - Mining reefs in Trentham


  1.,_Victoria, accessed 28 October 2015
  2. Early History of the Trentham District, G. W. Trewhella, Trentham Historical Society, 2005
  3. Early History of the Trentham District, G. W. Trewhella, Trentham Historical Society, 2005
  4. Kyneton Guardian, 14 May 1918.
  5., accessed 21 October 2015.
  6. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  7. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  8. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  9. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  10. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  11. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  12. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  13. The Trewhella Brothers, From Cornwall to Victoria, Margaret Scala, 2003
  14. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  15. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  16. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  17. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  18. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  19. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  20. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  21. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015
  22. Heritage Victoria, Heritage Citation Report, 21 October 2015


Further reading

External links

--Christopher Caudle 14:46, 21 October 2015 (AEDT)

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