The suburb was named after the aviator Jimmy Melrose who competed in the 1934 England to Australia Air Race. Parts of Melrose Park were previously known as Chellaston, Edwardstown, and Cudmore Park. In that year the former State Bank Of South Australia offered a number of building allotments in the area. Names up in the Air
Residents attended a public meeting to debate changing the name of the suburb Edwardstown, which straddles two council areas of which the western side belongs to the City of Mitcham, bounded by South and Daws Roads, Winston Avenue and Edwards Street. Residents considered Edwardstown to be an inappropriate name.
Most of the several hundred residents who attended seemed emotionally persuaded towards the name "Melrose Park", which was formerly used for a pocket of houses in the area. They maintained this name sounded better and therefore contributed towards the value of their homes. In spite of potential postal confusion with several other Melroses in Australia including South Australia and a "Melrose Park" already in New South Wales and with other suggestions not even a compromise of Melrose Gardens was seriously considered
No historical evidence could be presented to associate Jimmy Melrose, the 21 year old aviator or any of his family to the area . It appears that the name was given to part of Edwardstown by a land agent or a zealous officer of the State Bank to promote blocks of land or war service homes being offered, possibly some time after 1936.
Jimmy Melrose was the youngest airman to take part in the air race between England and Australia in 1934 as part of Victoria's centenary celebrations, he arrived second, but two years later in July 1936 his plane crashed over Victoria and he was killed. His mother lived at Brighton, South Australia and for a number of years a model plane was mounted on the gate post. Later it was moved to his tombstone at North Road Cemetery, Nailsworth where his ashes were interred in 1968.
Three major developments influenced the name of Edwardstown being used for the area anywhere along South Road between Black Forest and St. Marys Church. William Edwards, a law stationer laid out the village of Edwardstown on the north west corner of South and Cross Roads in 1839.
In 1850 John Adams who lived where the Castle Plaza Shopping Centre is now, opened the original Edwardstown Post Office in conjunction with his shoe making business. During the next 120 years the location of the post office which served that end of the district zig-zagged across South Road in various places. Finally the Edwardstown Railway Station was opened in 1914 encouraging the development of the industrial strip as we know it today beginning with Pengelley's which became Hill's Industries, Rubber Works which has become Bridgestone's along with Horwood-Bagshaw, Ditters and DairyVale etc.
A name more synonymous with this side of Edwardstown is "Chellaston", a name which has an equally long and interesting association.
Hiram Manfull, who arrived in May 1839 was a saddler, and moved to the district in 1841. Two years later he added to his property which he named "Chellaston Grove Farm" after his his home village in Derbyshire , England.
During February 1845 a letter home was published in the "Nottingham Review" and over 12 months later reprinted in the S.A. Register. He described his recent harvest using one of Mr. Ridley's machines which covered an average of six acres a day saving considerable labor expenses.
On Thursday 20 December 1849 at noon, Nathaniel Hailes carried out an auction for the new township of Chellaston which was divided into eight, two and a half acre allotments, each with a frontage to the Great South road.
"The prospects are extensive and romantic, commanding diversified views of plain, sea and mountains. The excellence of the soil admirably adapts these allotments for gardens and farms... and the section has pre-eminence among its neighbours for sweet and abundant water, for a genteel and increasing neighbourhood, and for the presence of first rate building stone and lime…"so enthused the advertisement of sale.
Lalzeith, Manfull, Marion and Stephen Streets are remnants of this early subdivision.
A miner, Thomas Jose bought the remainder of "Chellaston Grove" in 1853 which he farmed for his sons, Sampson and Arthur. He planted a row of almonds around the house, several of these unbudded trees showed their superiority and became known as Joe's BI, B2 and Chellaston, the latter is still a popular variety amongst almond growers today. About thirty acres were planted out to almond trees by the turn of the century and by 1920 were producing over 20 tons of almonds annually, promoting Edwardstown as "the best almond growing land in the State".
Most of the area was gradually subdivided into building allotments between 1911 and 1927, but not many were built upon until the State Bank bought the unoccupied allotments for war service homes and evidently promoted some of the area as "Melrose Park".
A similar pattern of land use took place at the Southern end of Edwardstown where many colourful characters resided in a large two storey house in the vicinity of Emmanuel Court. At different times this property was known as "Humberville" , "Jordon Park", "Sidney Park", "Allan Park" and after subdivision "Cudmore Park". Bennett Avenue was a tree lined drive way which led to the house which was demolished in 1968.
This property has a story of its own worth telling, embellished with folklore which has lingered longer than that of Chellaston so recently forgotten perhaps when Arthur Jose died in 1944.