Kelvin Grove, a residential and educational suburb, is three km north-west of central Brisbane. It was named after the house built by Dr Joseph Bancroft in 1864 near Enoggera Creek, at the suburb's northern boundary. 'Kelvin Grove' was also used as a hotel and pleasure garden, and Bancroft named it after a Glasgow resort.
Bancroft had chosen an outlying location, beyond the land reserved as Victoria Park in neighbouring Herston. There was also a reserve on a bend in Enoggera Creek which the Brisbane town council thought was sufficiently outlying to use as a manure depot. Within a few years there were complaints about it, but presumably the problem was not serious enough to stop Kelvin Grove being subdivided into semi-rural estates. Ballimore (c1867) faced the creek west of Clyde Street. Clydesdale (c1882) was west of Clyde Street, and others built in the 1880s were Fernyside (west of Ballymore Street), Rowanlea (east of Ballymore Street) and Invermay next door. The residences of the last two still stand. The Supreme Court ordered the council to close the manure depot in 1888 because it was a public nuisance, and the site is now Ballymore Park.
The Kelvin Grove post office was opened in 1874 and a primary school the following year. By the early 1900s there were stores interspersed with houses along Kelvin Grove Road as residential subdivisions pressed outwards with the filling up of Petrie Terrace and Red Hill. The local school called for the building of a railway through the suburb and on to Samford, but a tram line was instead opened, running from the city along Roma and Countess Streets. The following year (1903) another line fed into Kelvin Grove from Wickham Terrace and College Road.
A large section of Victoria Park at the south-east corner of L'Estrange Terrace and Victoria Park Road was set aside for the Colonial Governor's residence. When Fernberg was instead purchased, the land was reserved for a university. The Mayne family's gift of land at St Lucia cancelled that reservation, and the site was used for a teacher training college (1942). There had previously been a kindergarten training college on the other side of Victoria Park Road. Further south there were a Defence Force parade ground and drill hall (1864), sports ovals, the Lady Musgrave Home and aged persons facilities.
Away from these public uses Kelvin Grove developed a landscape of Queenslander houses, most of them within half a kilometre of the tramline. Those further away were closer to Ballymore Park. Kelvin Grove Road had shops and a picture theatre (1912). There were a couple of tanneries down Bishop Street near the creek, and the area is still industrial.
In 1961 Kelvin Grove high school was opened next to the teacher training college. Its student residences (1978) are on the Queensland heritage register. The college became a college of advanced education (1982) and then a campus of QUT (1990), spilling over Victoria Park Road to the site of the former kindergarten training school. The Defence parade ground expanded to become Gona Barracks, which in 2003 were surrendered and merged into a 16 ha site jointly developed by QUT and the Housing Commission variously dubbed 'urban village' and 'creative industries precinct'. Numerous outbuildings and facilities are listed on the Queensland heritage register. An early occupant was La Boite Theatre. The project appeared to concentrate attention on Kelvin Grove as a good prospect for real estate.
Kelvin Grove's census populations have been: