Churchill began as a service centre for the Hazelwood Power Station and future replacement for Yallourn and Morwell townships. Construction on Churchill began in 1965. The town was planned with a well defined commercial centre, expansive park lands, a mix of government and privately owned quarter-acre (1,000 m²) town blocks and light industrial estates spaced from residential areas by a belt of parkland. The transport system was to be a network of restricted-access highways and a ring road fully encircling the town. Population was planned to reach 6,000 by 1971, and eventually 40,000 by 2000. However slow development of services and a slowdown of the state of Victoria’s power station construction program meant that Churchill was to never realize its potential, and population reached a modest level of 5500 by the 1991, before stabilising at around 5,000. Signs of renewed growth are appearing, with a new housing estate development opening in 2005, the first for some years.
Churchill was originally to be named Hazelwood, but was renamed after Sir Winston Churchill’s death. The change of name has not been without its critics, and residents who pushed hard to restore the Hazelwood name were finally heard in 1989, when the town was asked to vote on whether the town would be renamed to Hazelwood or stay as Churchill. The name Churchill won by narrow vote.
Some of the names in Churchill have a distinctly local flavour. Estates in the town were named after various early settlers. These include Silcock, Medew, McMillan, Glendonald, and Northways. Roads have also been named after people (such as McDonald, Canterbury, Philip, and Manning), flora (Acacia, Hawthorn, Blackwood and Birch), and Aboriginal names (Amaroo, Gundaroo).