Beamish Street, Campsie, has been in use as a public road since 1812, and probably since at least as early as 1804. It is much older than the section of Canterbury Road from Cooks River to Bankstown, but Punchbowl Road is probably even older than Beamish Street.
What is now Beamish Street was the access road to Mrs. Hannah Laycock's Kings Grove Farm. In August 1804, Hannah Laycock received a grant of 500 acres in a rectangular block between Kingsgrove Road and Bexley Road, from William Street to Stoney Creek Road. On the same date her son William received 100 acres between Canterbury Road and Harp Street and Northcote and Charlotte Streets. Another son Samuel, also received 100 acres on the northern side of Canterbury Road directly opposite William Laycock's grant.
Mrs. Laycock's farm was probably occupied in 1804 if not before, but it was certainly occupied in 1806, when the Sydney Gazette carried a notice that strayed stock was held at Mrs. Laycock's farm at King's Grove.
On Thursday, 13 December 1810, Governor Macquarie and his party visited Mrs. Laycock's farm at Kingsgrove and John Townson's house on Kogarah Bay. In his Journal, Macquarie says that they crossed Cooks River 'twice over a very slender bad bridge within two miles of Mrs Laycock's farm.' This would have been at the northern end of Beamish Street, as explained below.
The claim that Beamish Street is the road to the Laycock farm is based on the boundaries of the grants of land between the Laycock farm and Cooks River. On the parish map for the Parish of St George, there is a distinct area not granted to anyone, and this was along what is now Beamish Street from Evaline Street north to Cooks River. This indicates that the road was in existence before the adjoining land grants were made.
On the western side of Beamish Street, there were grants to John Redmond (or Redman) and Thomas Capon. On the eastern side, the grants were to John Bentley and W P Crooke.
The wording of the grant to John Redmond of 100 acres, which stretched from Samuel Laycock's grant at Evaline Street and to the present Campsie Street, stated that it was bounded on the east by 'the present Cart Road, when it was granted on 25 August 1812. The grant to Thomas Capon of 200 acres, from Campsie Street to the river, on 11 September 1817, states that it was bounded on the east by the 'road leading to Mrs Laycock's Kingsgrove farm.' John Bentley's 100 acres, from Evaline Street to Clissold Parade, granted on 30 June 1823, was bounded on the southwest by 'a road leading to Laycock's farm.' When the area from Clissold Parade to the river was granted to W P Crooke on 19 October 1831, it was said to be 'bounded on the west by the road to Sydney.'
Thus, as early as 1812, there is mention in the official land records of a Cart Road, where Beamish Street is now located. In 1817 and 1823, the road is described as leading to Laycock's farm. It was probably in use from at least as early as 1804, as it would be unlikely that the Laycock's would have changed their access route in that time as this would have involved the felling of trees and clearing of the stumps to open up a second road on land which they did not own.
It follows that the crossing of Cooks River would have been at the northern end of Beamish Street, otherwise the road would have been elsewhere. This is confirmed by a plan of Crooke's and Capon's grants, Cooks River (Canterbury Sub-division Boxes, Mitchell Library, undated but after 1877), which shows the old crossing place at the end of Beamish Street.
When coming from Sydney, the Laycocks would have travelled along Parramatta Road and Old Canterbury Road, through the Canterbury Estate at what is now Hurlstone Park and Ashbury, and crossed Cooks River by the bridge at the northern end of the present Beamish Street. It is not known why the Laycocks did not use what was probably an existing crossing at the site of the present Punchbowl Road - Georges River Road - Coronation Parade intersection, which would only have meant a short additional mileage, without the need for their own bridge.
It is believed that Hannah Laycock's farmhouse was near the corner of the present Homer Street and Rosemeath Avenue, and I have explained the reasons for my belief elsewhere. A check on a map will show that a track along the present Beamish Street through the grants made to Samuel and William Laycock and continued to Homer Street would be a direct line.
On the northern side of the river, William Faithfull's 1000 acres grant dated 1 January 1810, excluded roads including one to the Laycock and Townson farms. Part of this land was re-granted to Simeon Lord. No plans relating to Lord's land showing the road leading to Laycock's bridge and Beamish Street have been located. This suggests that the crossing remained in use for only a comparatively few years. Certainly a sub-division plan of Brighton Farm, being Simeon Lord's 800 acres and dated about 1838, does not include any road which leads to the present Beamish Street. By this time there was a punt at what is now the Canterbury Road crossing of Cooks River, as well as the old crossing at Punchbowl Road.
Liverpool Road was constructed in 1814, and it is possible that residents south of Cooks River found that Liverpool Road was a better access route to and from Sydney, and that the connection between Liverpool Road and Punchbowl Road (which is now called Coronation Parade) was made quite early. If so, the Punchbowl Road crossing of Cooks River would have increased in importance and the Laycock crossing or bridge gone out of use.
'The New South Wales Calendar and General Post Office Directory, 1832' (page 51) refers to this route as servicing the farms between Georges and Cooks Rivers and on Salt Pan Creek. When a dam was built across Cooks River at Tempe in 1840, this provided a convenient road crossing for settlers in the St George area, saving them the long trek to Sydney via Enfield and the Liverpool Road.
Small scale parish maps and other maps of the Sydney district show a mushroom like road pattern between Punchbowl Road and the Canterbury Estate, and a branch from this road to Beamish Street. Perhaps this was a perpetuation from one map to another of the very early road pattern, but the actual roads had changed to a new pattern.
Whilst the actual dates are uncertain, it is clear that Beamish Street has a very long history indeed.
B. Madden, "Beamish Street- A Very Old Road" (February, 1978). Canterbury and District Historical Society Journal Series 2, No. 10.