Canterbury Road

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Canterbury Road is a major arterial route, 11 kilometres long and the only vehicular crossing of the Cooks River within the suburb. The road connects the inner suburbs of Sydney with Bankstown and suburbs further to the south-west. Secondary routes, King and Holden Streets, connect the suburb to Ashfield in the north.

Canterbury Road has a varied history. The line we know as Old Canterbury Road was probably the road to Canterbury Farm in 1793. It was cleared and dedicated about the time the Canterbury Sugarworks was built, as the Sugar Company employees were kept busy shoveling soil to make the surface while they waited for the factory to be completed and their real job to begin.

The development of the road was hastened by the initiative of Cornelius Prout in operating a punt in the area to give him access to his property, Belle Ombre. In 1839 an agreement was made with Prout and Robert Campbell to build up an existing track across their private properties into a public road.

Before 1854, Canterbury Road was known as a reserved or parish road. After a series of public meetings, between interested residents in 1854-55, the Government decided to proclaim it a Government Trust Road; and appointed trustees to administer it. It was also agreed to continue the line of road from a point on William Laycock's 100 acres at Campsie through various properties to meet up with Punchbowl Road and continue over Salt Pan Creek to Bankstown.

It was to continue as a Trust Road till 1885, when Canterbury Council took over its administration. Part of it was known for some years as George Street, but early in this century it seems to have reverted to Canterbury Road.

In 1851, the people of Canterbury petitioned the Government for an easier route from Sydney to be opened; one which followed the ridges and avoided the deep gully of Long Cove (Gambling) Creek. This was cleared in 1854, and became known as the New Canterbury Road. The section past Prout's Bridge was the subject of much controversy. It was surveyed as a Parish Road in 1854 as an excuse for removing Cornelius Prout's right to charge a toll, and it extended to present-day Charlotte Street. The local people agitated to have the surveyed line continued as far as Salt Pan Creek, to join the old Georges River Road to Liverpool. This was done in 1855. The whole line of road opened as a Trust Road in 1956, when it's surveyor cautiously remarked "the road can be safely travelled in daylight by careful persons". A newspaper, probably more truthfully, described it as "a horrible admixture of stonequarry and bog". It remained that way for most of the nineteenth century.

Canterbury Road was proclaimed in April 1855 and opened for public use four months later.[1] Originally 11.6 kilometres in length, the road is now a major highway.[2]

From George Street to Canterbury Road

A large section of today's Canterbury Road was once named George Street. The cross streets the George Street line of road ran between differs in the various editions of the Sand's Directories but generally it ran between Hurlstone Park and Belmore/Punchbowl/Saltpan Creek.

The occupiers of properties in the Canterbury LGA (Local Government Area) begin to be listed alphabetically under street name in the 1884 edition of the Sands Directory. In the editions from when the Canterbury LGA first appears in the Sands (1880) to 1883 there are only alphabetical lists under occupier's names not street name.

In the 1884 edition there is also an alphabetical list under street name of the cross streets each line of street runs between. For example the entry under Canterbury Road reads: Canterbury Road, Belmore - Sharp Street to Saltpan Creek and the entry under George Street reads: George Street - Queen Street to Sharp Street Belmore. This list is provided at the front of the streets index the Canterbury LGA only in the 1884 edition. Mention of Canterbury Road being the new name for George Street does not begin until 1904.

In the 1904 edition of Sands the entry under:

George Street reads:

Canterbury new road to Bond's Road - and there are occupiers listed.

But there is no entry under Canterbury Road.

In the 1905 edition of Sands the entry under:

George Street reads:

George Street (now called Canterbury Road) and there are no occupiers listed.

and under Canterbury Road it reads:

Canterbury new road to Bond's Road and there are occupiers listed.

In the 1906 edition of Sands the occupiers of premises on some sections of the line of road are listed under George Street and others under Canterbury Road.

The entry under:

George Street reads:

George Street (from Floss Street to Cooks River) and there are occupiers listed.

and the entry under Canterbury Road reads:

Canterbury new road to Bond's Road and there are occupiers listed.

Have yet to check further editions to see when George Street becomes defunct.

Street Numbering of premises

Canterbury Road is now numbered continuously from the beginning at Hurlstone Park down to Revesby. This renumbering occurred sometime in the early 1940's. Before this time the numbering restarted at each suburb. Therefore the Sands Directories will list the old method of street numbering.


  1. NSW Government Gazette 1855, Vol 1, p 1130
  2. LARCOMBE, Frederick A. Change and challenge: a history of the municipality of Canterbury. [Canterbury, NSW]: Canterbury Municipal Council, 1979. p. 81-84

" Historic Sites of Canterbury", Canterbury and District Historical Society (n.d.).