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Hughesdale began, not as a Melbourne suburb, but as a suburban area of Oakleigh along the railway line between it and Murrumbeena. In the 1880s, due to the presence of the railway the stretch of land attracted some professionals who established substantial homes on large estates. Many of its earliest homes are part of Oakleigh and Murrumbeena’s early history. The original township was laid out around Poath Road with small lanes, some cobbled in bluestone.
James Vincent Hughes, mayor of City of Oakleigh from 1924 to 1925 lobbied heavily with the Poath Road Railway Station League for a new railway station for the area. In 1924 the League suggested the station be called “Hugheston”, but in February 1925, shortly before the station opened, Victorian Railways decided its name would be “Hughesdale”. A decade later there was a move to rename Poath Road “Hughesdale Road”, but this was rejected by the then Caulfield City Council.
Following the opening of railway station on 28 February 1925 the suburb boomed with a commercial area rapidly springing up near the station along Poath Road and subdivision of sparse land between Murrumbeena and Oakleigh for residential development.
Hughesdale Post Office opened on 12 December 1927.
Rapid industrialisation and expansion of both Melbourne and Oakleigh in the 1940s saw Hughesdale become entrenched as a Melbourne suburb and commuter zone. Hughesdale inherited the modified grid plan of neighbouring suburbs and the original Victorian era estates were converted to greenfield land eventually making way for affordable working class housing developments.
With the opening of Chadstone Shopping Centre in the 1960s, Hughesdale completed its suburban expansion and became the main rail access point for the centre, however it also began a long steep decline in the local commercial area’s trading.
Hughesdale was defined as a Neighbourhood Activity Centre in the Melbourne 2030 strategy. This and the formation of a local traders’ association which rebranded the commercial area “Poath Road Village” has stimulated a revival in the commercial area. As a result, several mixed use buildings of 2 or more storeys have been developed along Poath Road near the railway station. It became a particular popular area with its mix of cafes and boutique shops.
Hughesdale has three schools – Hughesdale Primary School, Sacred Heart Girls’ College and St Anargiri Greek Orthodox College.
Hughesdale Primary School, No. 4176, opened in 1924 as Oakleigh South State School and was renamed Hughesdale Primary School in 1938. It had a peak enrolment of 1296 in 1953, at which point some classes held 65 students. The school was threatened with closure by the Kennett government in the 1990s as student numbers fell because of demographic changes, but was saved after a vote at an extraordinary School Council meeting in October 1996. Enrolments have risen steadily since then; in 2005 there were 322 students enrolled.
St Anargiri Greek Orthodox College opened in 1983, primarily to satisfy the educational needs of the Greek community of Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs. It was initially a Primary to Year 8 school, with 91 students; today it is registered for Primary to Year 12, with enrolments exceeding 740.
Sacred Heart Girls’ College was opened in 1957 by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, who came from the convent in Highgate, Perth, Western Australia. Enrolments for Year 7 are taken from surrounding Catholic Primary Schools. Subject to availability, places are then offered to other students, with preference given to Catholics.
The suburb was also the home of Oakleigh Technical School, at the corner of Poath Road and North Road, from 1946 to 1991. The school was demolished in 1993, with the site now occupied by a service station, McDonald’s restaurant, a housing estate and a sports ground.