Pigs, bees, hot stuff?

• An 1895 map of Meltham Estate. State Library WA b4557728

PIG Stable, Beehive Town or Hamlet Where We Melt Things: The true origin of the word Meltham is lost to history.

Landgate presumes Meltham is named for a West Yorkshire parish that’s been occupied since prehistory.

Its name was recorded in William the Conquerer’s 1086 great survey as Melthā, with no final m, but that document was known for containing a few typos (or scribos).

But it’s likely far older. Like many British places, it could’ve been named by the Saxons: Melt has mostly kept its meaning from old Germanic, and Ham just means home or settlement.

The Saxons also named English towns after areas from their homeland: If this Meltham is named after the proto-Germanic Melsen, it could mean pig stable or marsh.

But the name could be older and nicer: A more common local tradition holds that it’s a corruption of a Roman word Mel-Tun, meaning honey hamlet, or Melliton, a place where beehives stand.

In the 1800s, the UK Meltham’s most prominent burgher was wool and cotton mogul Thomas Brook.

He saw wealth in the new colony down under, buying land in South Australia, Australind and Victoria, where he named a sheep station Meltham Estate.

Then in 1895, Scottish-born, Victorian-raised industrialist Mephan Ferguson built an iron foundry in Perth for CY O’Connor’s pipeline project, naming it Meltham Estate and the surrounding suburb Falkirk.

Ferguson was born in Falkirk, but his link to Meltham was not explained in papers of the day.

Over time, the land around the foundry was sold off.

For decades the Bayswater Road Board urged the state government to build a train station at Meltham, saying in 1934 that construction would be easy as it was a “working man’s suburb” with few cars to contend with.

Plans for a townsite named Meltham Heights were drawn up in March 1937.

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