Ashgrove, a residential suburb next to the Enoggera military camp, is six km north-east of central Brisbane.
The Ashgrove district included several genteel estates as early as the 1860s, within five or six kilometres of town but somewhat elevated to catch cooler weather from the north-east hills. Among the estates was Henry Holmes 'Grove', east of Stewart Road, a 200 acre area that was subdivided in the 1880s. The second release of Henry Holmes' subdivision was named Ashgrove Estate. Other estates included St Johns Wood (1869), Glenlyon (1874), which has become the Marist Brothers College, and Woodlands (1883). The last two are listed on the Australian and Queensland heritage registers.
In addition to the estates there was a straggling Waterworks Road, used for access to the Enoggera Reservoir (1866), and for droving livestock to Brisbane markets.
While Ashgrove was still rural a post office was opened at Ashgrove West (1877). Nearby, the first school, Ashgrove primary, opened in the same year. The village was separated from Red Hill and Ithaca by open but hilly country, some of it optimistically cut up into allotments that remained undeveloped. A small Catholic church was opened in 1921, closer to civilisation in Waterworks Road opposite the Ashgrove estate. Three years later a tram service along Waterworks Road was extended from Red Hill to Jubilee Terrace, inducing an immediate urban surge.
The Glenlyon estate was subdivided by T.M. Burke, a go-ahead Melbourne estate agent, and Ashgrove was recognised as a model suburb with parks and modern residences. By 1926 it housed around 2500 people. Shops were built near the tram terminus, with a post office superseding the one at Ashgrove West. A Presbyterian church was opened in about 1926. Glenlyon House was acquired by the Marist Brothers in 1925 for a monastery, and their boys' college was opened in 1940. The college was a good walk from the tram stop but the Mt St Michaels Catholic girls' college (1925) was within 200 metres. St Finbarr's Catholic primary school (1925) is also in Waterworks Road.
In 1935 the tram service was extended further along Waterworks Road almost to St Johns Wood, but not quite to the Ashgrove golf club (1939) near The Gap. Before reaching the golf club, visitors could call at the bowling club (1948) in the Ashgrove sports ground, near St Johns Wood.
Residential settlement moved north during the 1920s and the suburb of Oakleigh emerged (apparently named in commemoration of the marriage of a member of an early family, the Oakdens, to a Miss Leigh). Named in 1941, the suburb was renamed Dorrington in 1947 at the request of the Oakleigh and District Progress Association. Some distance from the Ashgrove and Enoggera tram terminuses, Dorrington's emergence was made possible by the advent of the motor car. The primary school (1934) has kept the name Oakleigh, while Dorrington has become a locality in Ashgrove and is the name of one of the suburb's parks.
Ashgrove was an early postwar middle-class suburb. Known as 'Nappy Valley', it played host to young families of the baby boom era seeking affordable housing in relative proximity to the CBD. Religious observance was kept up during this period, local churches upgrading to accommodate burgeoning populations. St Finbarrs Catholic church, originally a timber structure, was replaced with a brick Romanesque building in 1957, seating 600 people. The old Methodist church of the 1890s was replaced by a soaring A-frame building in 1962.
Today Ashgrove has local shopping centres in Waterworks Road, numerous churches, several reserves and linear parks along Enoggera Creek and above-average house prices. Its census populations have been:
Dick Paten, Ashgrove heritage tour, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane History Group Inc, 2006
Enjoying historic Ashgrove, Ashgrove, Ashgrove Bicentennial Community Committee, 2000
Glenlyon House centenary 1877-1977, 1977
Barry Shaw (ed), Brisbane: people and places of Ashgrove, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane History Group, 2010