Milton, an inner riverside suburb of Brisbane, is two km west of the CBD. It was named after Milton House (1854) built by Ambrose Eldridge on high ground on the northern shore of the Milton Reach of the Brisbane River, east of Cribb Street.
At the eastern edge of Milton is Suncorp Stadium (1994), formerly the Lang Park sports ground and before then the North Brisbane burial ground (1843). In the 1850s land sales for farms began beyond the burial ground, and the heritage-listed Milton House was one of numerous estates created. In 1857 several creeks running down to the Brisbane River were bridged for roadway purposes.
The Anglican Church established a mortuary chapel near the burial ground in about 1862, and a Congregational church was established in 1864. A hint of Milton's future mixed-use land practices came with a distillery on Milton Road in 1870, not far from the future Fourex brewery. Also not far away, the Bishopsbourne Anglican residence (1868) was erected. The Castlemaine Perkins (Fourex) brewery opened in 1878.
The Ipswich to Brisbane railway line and the Milton station were opened in 1875. The emerging urbanisation of Milton gave rise to concern regarding the proximity of the burial ground, and the opening of the Toowong Cemetery allowed burials to cease in 1875. During the 1880s Milton, like Paddington and Petrie Terrace, became packed with working class families. Open space was scarce and reverence for the deceased delayed changing the use of the burial ground until 1914. Named Lang Park in 1916, the area was used for athletics, circuses and the accommodation of trenches during the war. It was leased to the Queensland Rugby League during the 1950s.
In Milton a primary school was opened in 1889 and a proper Church of England (replacing the mortuary chapel) built two years later. The 1893 floods inundated most of Milton south of Milton Road, all of Lang Park and a large area beyond Gregory Park and into Rosalie. The district recovered, however, aided by the opening of the Milton Road electric tram to the Toowong Cemetery in 1903 and a ferry from Park Road, Milton, to South Brisbane, rounding off public transport services. Milton's population was put at 1308 in 1911.
While Lang Park was languishing as an unkempt reserve the Queensland Lawn Tennis Association formed its headquarters at Frew Park, across the road from Milton Park: as one moved away from the city open space became more plentiful, better landscaped and used for more refined forms of recreation. Frew Park hosted the Davis Cup in 1956 but was demolished in the 1990s, with proposals to develop housing on the site.
Interspersed with Milton's houses there were factories and undeveloped, flood-prone spaces on Western Creek and an outfall south of Lang Park. Western Creek included Helidon Field, a paddock for spelling the Helidon Spa company's draught horses. Flood-mitigation works upstream on the Brisbane River in the 1970s enabled the Western Creek area to be developed for the Milton Village industrial estate and shopping area. Park Road's shops have evolved into a fashionable café and eatery strip, and there is a drive-in shopping centre north of Park Road, across Milton Road.
Factories gave way to high-rise, signified by the Equitable Life Assurance building (1975) in Coronation Drive. Apartments and units emerged, in close proximity to the central city, South Brisbane or the university. In 1951 Castlemaine Perkins-Fourex, probably not foreseeing such demographic or occupational changes, rebuilt its brewery, positioning one of Brisbane's best recognised buildings on the western skyline. The Arnott's biscuit factory site on Coronation Drive, vacant for several years, was redeveloped as apartments in 2004.
Milton retains several early structures, now heritage-listed, including Milton House (one of Brisbane's few remaining pre-Separation houses), Bishopsbourne and chapel and Cook Terrace, a few doors away in Coronation Drive. Bishopsbourne has been an Anglican Theological College since 1936.
The passage of the floodwaters from the Brisbane River in January 2011 repeated the pattern of previous events. Developers appeared to have overlooked a basic law of hydrology – water runs down hill. Suncorp Stadium filled up nicely, riverside apartments ditto, and Oasis on Milton got wet feet. Floodwaters followed the course indicated by Milton Park and the associated watercourse. Nothing unexpected happened, having regard to flood records.
Milton's census populations have been:
John Pearn, Auchenflower - the suburb and the name, Herston, Amphion Press, 1997