Ascot is a residential suburb of Brisbane, six km north-east of the CBD. It includes the Eagle Farm and Doomben Racecourses, although the nearby Eagle Farm industrial precinct which lies south-east along the Brisbane River is a separate suburb. Ascot is regarded as one of Brisbane's exclusive residential suburbs, its property values consistently ranking among the highest in the state.
The earliest European settlement in the area was a farm for the Brisbane penal settlement in 1829, although the earliest record of the name 'Eagle Farm' is apparently on a survey plan dated 1840. The convict farm had also been a place where female convicts were assigned.
Land sales at Eagle Farm occurred in 1842. In 1863 the Queensland Turf Club acquired land at Eagle Farm for a racecourse and in 1864 a local school was opened, now the Hendra primary school. A Wesleyan church opened in 1869.
Eagle Farm was well out of town until the 1890s: a sugar mill opened there in 1874 and a powder magazine remained in the area until 1893 when it was moved to Fort Lytton.
The name 'Ascot' arose from Eagle Farm racecourse's association with the famed English track; probably the name was given light heartedly, as the venue was largely unimproved. It was nevertheless popular and prompted construction of a railway line from Eagle Junction in 1882 (the station was at first known as Hendra Siding and then Racecourse).
Not content with only a railway, race patrons secured a tram service in 1899 from Breakfast Creek Bridge to Eagle Farm, the line running along Kingsford Smith Drive (formerly Hamilton Road) and northwards along Racecourse Road to the track entrance. The tram service fostered residential development in Hamilton and Ascot, the district having been constituted as the Hamilton local-government division in 1890. A shopping strip grew along Racecourse Road, which by the 1920s had a retail catchment along tramlines in Lancaster Road to Oriel Park and Doomben.
Most of Ascot's housing stock is of the interwar period. A service reservoir at Bartleys Hill at the western edge of Ascot was built in 1907 in readiness for urban growth, and a second reservoir was constructed in 1920. Local schools were at Eagle Junction and Hendra, but continued population growth led to the opening of Ascot State school in 1920 with 52 pupils; a swimming pool was added in 1923.
The Brisbane Amateur Turf Club (now the Brisbane Turf Club) was formed in 1923 and acquired an area immediately east of the Eagle Farm racecourse. Ten years later the club had its first race meeting on the Doomben Racecourse, a venue since renowned as the 'Garden Racecourse'. Both Eagle Farm and Doomben tracks were used from 1942 as Camp Ascot, a US troop camp adjoining the US air base at the Eagle Farm airfield.
Most of the Ascot housing stock was Queenslander style on large blocks. A notable exception is Chateau Nous (1938) in Rupert Terrace, a 22-room house in the modern functionalist style, which resold in 1994 at about $1.6 million.
The Racecourse Road shopping precinct is today mostly comprised of boutiques and cafes. Planning controls reputedly required new developments to have an 'Ascot look'. An annual Racecourse Road carnival is run in conjunction with the racing calendar, the major event on which is the Winter Carnival held in June. Growth in recent years has been stimulated by the redevelopment of the old Bretts Wharf commercial port facilities at the south end of Racecourse Road, Hamilton, converted into a luxury residential high-rise and hospitality precinct.
The Eagle Farm racecourse and the Ascot railway station are listed on the Australian or Queensland heritage registers, along with Chataeu Nous and several other residences. The suburb of Eagle Farm, east of Ascot is described in a separate entry.
Ascot and Eagle Farm's census populations have been:
|Ascot, including Albion,|
Clayfield and Hamilton
Ascot-Hamilton life, monthly magazine, 1998
Brisbane News, 31 August - 6 September 1994
Noela Guy & Harold Sutcliffe, Ascot: a different school, Brisbane, Boolarong Press, 1995