Canterbury and District Historical Society s2 n04

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We should try to be relevant to the present day while retelling the story of the past. This issue coincides with the production in Sydney of the exciting "Godspell" and the controversial "Jesus Christ Superstar" - we have included the history of one of our church groups. We thank our research team, which includes two new writers, for their wide coverage of interesting historical events and places and anecdotes of pioneers of this area.

May, 1972.


In the grants of Moorefield and other similarly heavily-wooded districts was a clause that "all timber required for the maintenance of a Navy for His Gracious Majesty George III should be allowed to be taken off the estate”. The reckless burning of the magnificent timber we came into possession of little over a century ago is an instance of the prodigal way in which we have used up our splendid natural resources. There is a mournful dearth of trees in the Canterbury-Belmore district.

Moorefield, where the fine racecourse now is, a picturesque hamlet among beautiful sloping farm lands, was so called because Mr. William Henry Moore, Acting Attorney-General 1826, had a fine estate there. Mr. David Jones built the Tower House. The Rev. Mr. Crook had Burt Farm at Rosedale, Hannah Laycock's 400 acres was through the district. Mr. J. H. Goodlet built Canterbury Hall.

Mr. Samuel Hockley, of the 102nd Regiment, had a grant from Goulburn Street to Brickfields, where he grew some fine oaks, one of which might be seen till within recent years near where his butcher’s shop stood at the corner of George and Goulburn Streets. His farm at Belmore was known as Potato Hill, because the earliest potatoes grown in the district came from there, and the fine oaks still seen round Belmore are from acorns from the trees in George and Goulburn Streets. Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Miller, both well-respected early residents, were his daughters, and were earnest workers for others in the neighborhood. They helped to establish the Congregational Church, the first to preach there being Mr. Jo. Barling, Principal under Secretary for Public Works.

Belmore, which was originally made up of a series of soldiers' grants, has always been the region of small farms, and is a fine place for pigs and poultry. Dr. Tucker, of Cook's River, had many years ago a model farm there. At present there are over 30 duck and poultry farms in the district.

Among very old residents towards Moorefield, the large family of Chards must not be forgotten. They settled more than 70 years ago in the district, buying land for farming, and gradually adding acre to acre.

A year ago when Mr. Chard was buried in the little Wesleyan Cemetery at Moorefield, given by his father for a burial ground, 101 blood relations gathered at his funeral. Mrs. Chard, who still lives in the original farm house, at a venerable age, has descendants to the fifth generation, most of the sturdy young farmers round the district claiming relationship with the family, which may be looked on as the head of the clan.

A story is told how the original old Chard refused to pay toll on the Canterbury Road, and, finding the gate shut against him, hitched up his bullocks to the gate, and dragged it bodily away, throwing it into the river. For this he was fined £100. And, coming home to his wife, informed her that he must mortgage his farm to pay, or go to goal. But Mrs. Chard had saved from her fruit growing and her "bit chuckies” as she called them, a considerable sum, and drawing a knitted stocking out of a disused teapot, she paid her good man’s fine cheerfully.

They were a sturdy long-living race - those early settlers. "Tommy Doughboy" lived to be nearly a hundred. A Chard looked on 90 as a fair thing, but Bob Gardiner was a healthy man to 105. There were no doctors in the district, and the only physic used was "sweet" tea, made from the so-called native sarsaparilla.

Although the evolution of the Canterbury district is slow, and it may be said to be only in the secondary stage in evolution of farming, tanneries, wool washing and bacon-curing, it is, since the opening of the direct train service, on the way to being a residential suburb.

The undulating character of its position, and the fine sweep of country to be seen all round, makes it possess some perfect sites for fine homes of the villa- mansion order. The air over the buttercup blossomed fields and plains comes fresh and crisp as iced nectar, free from all moisture of ocean proximity. At present “kerosene-tin" town gives the country approach to the station a squalid air, but this temporary form of suburban residence will disappear as the land is placed on the market, and already the red-roofed villa is asserting itself, as elsewhere.

In 1866 the population of Canterbury was reckoned as 250 and when the municipality of over 12 1/2 square miles was declared in 1879 the population was calculated at 750, with 213 houses. This took in the neighboring districts of Belmore, Moorefield and Kingsgrove. Now the population is said to be between 6000 and 7000 with over 86 miles of streets. The racing element cannot be overlooked; and during the last 20 years has drawn a different set of residents into the district, also causing many to take to the hazardous game of living by the turf. The Canterbury Racecourse was opened in 1884 when Boniface, owned by Mr. H. Herbert, and ridden by Hanley, won the first race.

Moorefields is also a very popular suburban racecourse. Belmore has a finely-kept coursing ground.

In the days of the sugar works there was an attempt made to dig for coal, shafts still to be seen being sunk; being in the times when men were all afflicted with the "gold" disease miners could not be got, and the idea of a Cook's River coal mine fell through.

Woolwashes were carried on since early days, though the difficulties of carriage also impeded these. A storage for bacon now occupies the disused Sugar Company building.

Among the bush industries that have quite gone out was the making of cabbage tree hats. A well-made, fine plait was worth about £2 and lasted for years. The correct costume for a young bushman was lavender grey bell-top pants, a Crimean shirt, and a bush-built cabbage tree, with a fine red-netted silk waistband. To keep the flies from the eyes a netted green veil with a fringe was sometimes worn round the inevitable "cabbage tree".

The above article was written for the "Evening News" by Mary Salmon being part of a series entitled "The Suburbs of Sydney".


"This is the Family Burial Ground of John and Pauline Fenwick"

The above inscription is on the Tombstone of large imposing grave in St. Saviours Church of England Cemetery in Canterbury Road, Punchbowl.

The story of the Fenwicks in Australia began in 1849 when Andrew Fenwick arrived with his family from Scotland.

Andrew Fenwick and his wife had four sons, James, Peter, John and Thomas. A memorial on the tombstone tells us that Andrew, the father, died at sea in April, 1866, and two of the sons, James aged 29 years, and Peter aged 22 years were drowned at sea in April, 1862.

They must have all been connected with ships and the sea. In 1857, John Fenwick was described as a “lighterman". Lighters were barges used to help unload ships; the Fenwicks were then living in Clyde Street, Millers Point. This street has now disappeared, but it was close to the wharves, right down at the Point.

By 1866 after their father and brothers had died, John and Thomas had commenced a Tug-boat Service operated from an office in Kent Street, Sydney.

In 1871 they bought their first Steam Tug and called it the "J and T Fenwick". They had also bought property on the waterfront at Balmain and built very substantial Storehouse and Wharf. The storehouse is still standing close by the Darling Street Ferry Wharf.

Later in the 70's they added more tugs to their Fleet, the "Alchymist", "Victoria", ”Francis Hixon", Sarah L. Hixon". Later still in the 80's and 90's they bought the "Charlotte Fenwick", "Leveret", "Newbugh" and the "Hero". Many more tugboats were to appear over the years, a story could be told about them alone.

As well as Sydney Harbour, they worked on the Richmond and Clarence Rivers and also Newcastle Harbour. They must have built a considerable business.

Thomas eventually decided to go north to Ballina. He built a home there and settled and carried on the Tug Service on his own account.

John stayed in Sydney and continued to expand the business known then as J. Fenwick & Co. And so the business continued on. John Fenwick was followed by his sons and his grandsons. Today it is now J. Fenwick & Co. Pty. Ltd. with offices in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. There are nine tugs and they go as far as Tasmania on charter.

John Fenwick married twice. His first wife Charlotte Woodward died at an early age and left him with three small children, two boys and a girl. James, Andrew and Charlotte. When Charlotte was three, John married again, Pauline Kaufman, a Swiss by birth. She had come to the Colony with her parents and two brothers. One brother, James, lived for many years with John and Pauline and was mainly responsible for maintaining their beautiful garden after they came to live at Belmore.

The first years of John and Pauline's married life was spent in Balmain, possibly in St. Anne's Street later renamed Weston Street. John had purchased still more property including two houses, No.1 and No.3 and also the Shipwright Arms Hotel on the corner of Weston Street and Darling Street. He lived in one of the houses and later his sons occupied them at different times, after he moved to Belmore.

About 1880 John Fenwick bought 100 acres at Belmore, as it was then called. Today it is known as Wiley Park. The property was bounded by Canterbury Road, Canary Road and Bonds Road. He built a slab house first and moved in with his family till he built a new home.

He called the new house "Belmore House". It was built in a commanding position on the rise to Canterbury Road with fine views over the countryside. It was a substantial two story brick house with large high ceiling rooms, and all cedar fittings which included a beautiful cedar staircase. The front door also of cedar had the name "Belmore House" carved into it.

It became a showpiece of the district and was known to many people. The "Fenwick Paddock" was always available for Charity Drag Picnics, Sunday School Anniversary and Sports Meetings.

The gardens surrounding the house must have been a joy both to Pauline and later to her daughter in-law Mary, particularly the Rose Garden. It was a farm also in the sense that they kept cows, pigs, fowls and there were also horses; of course these were the only means of transport in those days.

They had a small orchard and did all their own preserving, butter and bread making.

John Fenwick’s family continued to grow. Pauline bore him nine more children; six sons and three daughters. John, b.l872, Peter, b.1874, Beatrice b.l875, Adolf b.l877, Thomas b.1879 were all born at Balmain, then Bissett b.1880 Evelyn b.1882, Robert b.l884 and Jane b.l886 were born at Belmore.

His eldest son James went to England to study engineering. After obtaining his Degree he returned to Sydney and set up in business as a Consulting Engineer in adjoining premises to his father's City Office in 19 Bridge Street, Sydney.

His daughter married the Rev. George Dunkley, Minister at Canterbury Congregational Church for many ears and a prominent figure in district affairs. They are also both buried in St. Saviours Cemetery. His other sons, Andrew, Peter, Thomas and Robert all went into the tug service business with their father, two other sons John and Adolf died in their early twenties and are buried in the family plot, together with the three little girls who hardly survived infancy.

Somewhere about 1900, Peter Fenwick married Mary Turner and returned to Balmain to No.1 Weston Street to live. They had 9 children, 5 girls and 4 boys. It is to their eldest daughter Margaret Elliott Griffin we must hank for much of the information on the family. Thomas (Jnr.) married Anne Lovell and had one daughter and Robert married Elsie Noble and had two sons.

John Fenwick (snr.) died in January 1901, aged 64 years. In the Sydney Morning Herald of 30.1.01 it says:

"The funeral of the late John Fenwick took place it Belmore Cemetery, the remains being interred in the Church of England section. The casket in which the body was placed was all cedar with silver mountings. A short service was conducted at Belmore House by the Rev.T. Jenkyn assisted by Rev. Kay and Rev. Dunkley and a continuation of the service took place in the Church at the Cemetery".

Pauline Fenwick continued to live on at Belmore House, where the grandchildren from Balmain periodically came to visit and spend their school holidays.

Peter Fenwick and his wife Mary came to live at Belmore House in 1917. His children were educated at Nicholson Street, Balmain East and Lakemba Public Schools.

They were Margaret (Mrs. G. Allman Griffin) Pauline (Mrs. P. Vandyke) Thelma (Mrs. R.Hilton) Charlotte (Mrs. W,Wood) and Hazel, William, Peter, John and Reginald the last named, son died in infancy.

Pauline Fenwick died in 1924. Her daughter in law only lived a few years longer. She died in 1927. Peter Fenwick continued to live on at Belmore House, he passed away in 1941. He is buried in St Saviours Cemetery not far from his father's grave with an almost identical tombstone mounting it.

After his death Belmore House was taken over by the Army and became Headquarters for the 1st Battalion, and some troops were camped on the property. After a year or so, it was handed over to the Red Cross. Very little maintenance was done all this time and the house fell into disrepair.

In 1943 the Estate was sold to the Hon. Stanley E. Parry C.B.E. He was then Mayor of Canterbury and had been for the past fifteen years. He envisaged turning the Estate into a Municipal Golf Course after the War. Meanwhile Mr. Parry handed the property to the Canterbury Council to grow vegetables under a contract with the Commonwealth Government, until wartime building restrictions were lifted. Meanwhile he lived in Belmore House.

The Canterbury Council were not able to agree to forming a Municipal Golf Club, so in 1944 an assemblage of people met and formed Roselands Golf Club. Mr. Parry supervised the laying out of the Golf Course, nine holes first, later extended to eighteen holes. Once again Pauline Fenwick's beautiful Rose Garden came to life, and in the Press at the time much publicity was given to the beautiful gardens, Belmore House was extensively altered and became a very commodious Club House.

It opened for play on 1st July 1946, it was under Mr. Parry's control at first but later a Company was formed to comply with the rules of the Golf Union of Australia which debarred privately owned clubs partaking in their competitions.

By then Mr. Parry had built a new home for himself not very far from Belmore House, close by the present day Roselands Bowling Club. The Golf Club flourished for ten years. As the value of the property increased so did the rates and taxes. Mr. Parry had subdivided and built homes on part of the property and some of Sydney's large firms became interested in the property and made offers to Mr. Parry. He finally accepted Grace Bros. offer to purchase all but a small part of the Estate which he retained till just about 12 months ago.

And so the old home then known as Roselands Club House and Mr. Parry's more modern home were both demolished to make way for the Roselands Shopping Centre. Mr. Parry tells me that Belmore House would have stood just about in the same position as the Roselands Centre.

My grateful thanks to Margaret E. Griffin for much information on the Fenwick Family. Also to the Hon. Stanley Parry C.B.E. for information regarding the Fenwick Estate and also the Mitchell Library for access to maps and papers to help in compiling this story.

N. K. Peek.


Research to the dedicated and experienced professional is probably what is known colloquially as "a piece of cake”, but to the stumbling amateur with little time at his or her disposal it can be both time consuming and frustrating.

Take the case of William Sparkes, a champion Bare Knuckle fighter of the 1800's. Several of our older citizens have claimed that this doughty sportsman and well-known identity of his day was domiciled in Earlwood, and, in fact that the area "Parkestown" was named in his honour. Their contention being that he later changed his name to "Parkes".

Armed with this information I sally forth to "The Mitchell" to either prove or disprove this theory. Clutching my precious reader's ticket, I attack the mountainous array of files and catalogues and after sifting through innumerable "Parkes" and "Sparkes" finally "strike oil" with several newspaper accounts of his prowess as a Bare Knuckle fighter.

From the mass of information available, the following facts emerge, and I quote: "With the advent of the 1840's the rising star was William Sparkes who was to dominate the bare knuckle ring for the next 10 years. Among the treasures of the Mitchell Library is a rare broadsheet that gives a lively account of his meeting with Dick Green, a Tasmanian for £100. When "a numerous body of the right sort" congregated to partake of the excitement of a slashing mill." By the mid 1840's Sparkes seems to have been undisputed champion of the colony.

On March 19th, 1845 he knocked out, one Davis, a native of Liverpool at” Onions" old farm on the Lane Cove River. The contest lasted 67 rounds but after the 48th Davis stood up only to be knocked down. The Gazette recorded that he was "so battered that it will be months before he is able to resume his trade as a carpenter". More than 600 spectators watched the slaughter. To elude the police, the "sporting fancy" bartered two steamers to convey them up into the quiet backwaters of Lane Cove.

Sparkes arrived in London early in 1847 where he was taken in hand by an old pug named Johnny Broom. On lay 1847, Sparkes met his Waterloo. He was matched with Nat Langham a London Champion who was later the only man who ever defeated the famous Tom Sayers.

They fought for 62 rounds with bare fists until Sparke had the misfortune to break his right arm. He fought on for another 5 rounds in agony until Broom flung his hat into the ring in surrender.

He arrived back in Sydney in 1847, his arm healed and looking for more fights. In 1848 he fought a man called Tom Davis who was called the "Derwent Slasher" for a. purse of £100. The contest took place on the shores of Middle Harbour. Several boats loaded with spectators capsized on the return journey and were rescued by Polynesian sailors from Ben Boyd's famous yacht "Wanderer".

New contenders were rising by the end of the 1840's and Sparkes' star was beginning to wane. He did fight occasionally but age was catching up with him. In December 1853, he tasted his worst defeat when he fought a Joseph Teale from Windsor, at a spot called "Frog Hollow" near Georges River. He fought for 45 rounds and was severely injured and was beaten quite blind. There is only one more recorded fight by Sparkes when Paddy Sinclair took only 7 rounds to dispose of the old champion.

Bare knuckle prize ring fighting ended in Australia in April 1884 when an American Jimmy Lawson killed Alex Agar of Victoria at Randwick. Lawson was sentenced to manslaughter and served 6 months in goal. There was such a public outcry against the sport that all boxing encounters were banned by the N.S.W. Government.

However, it was not difficult to elude the meagre Sydney Police Force. The rings were formed under the gum trees, in the secluded reaches of Middle Harbour, Lane Cove and Cooks River. Purses of up to £500 tempted the contestants. Sometimes the combats ended in pitched battles between the mob and the police who tried to break them up.

The first Australian heavyweight Championship under Marquis of Queensberry rules was fought in Melbourne in 1894 between Australian Champion Bill Farnan and challenger Peter Jackson.

So ended the saga of William Sparkes and Bare Knuckle fighting with not one word as to where he was born, where he lived, or whether he ever changed his name. I have no doubt that the information is hidden away somewhere among the archives, but for the present it still remains a mystery. However, the facts which did emerge proved so interesting it seemed a pity not to share them.

Compiled from newspaper cuttings held in the Mitchell Library.

By T.M.Roberts


William Pascoe Crook was a native of Devonshire, England, and was born at Dartmouth, on April 29th, 1775. He offered his services to the recently formed London Missionary Society, and after a period of probation and training, he left London with the first band of missionaries for the South Seas, in the ship "Duff” in 1796. On June 1797, he landed at Santa Christiana in the Marquesas Group. For two years he lived a life of privation and danger. At the end of this period a chance vessel bound for London called in at the island and he deemed it advisable to return to England to consult the directors as to future action. He was detained in London longer than he anticipated, but returned to the southern hemisphere with his wife in 1803.


The British government had decided to establish a second penal settlement in Australia and two ships, the 'Ocean" and the "Calcutta" were put into commission, bound for Port Phillip. They were full ships, having on board many prisoners and a number of free settlers, who had their children with them. Mr. and Mrs. Crook were, on the "Ocean". When their destination was reached, a camp was pitched at what is now known as Sorrento, After three months the commander abandoned the site as unsuitable and proceeded to Tasmania. When the vessel left for Tasmania, Mr. and Mrs. Crook proceeded to Sydney. News from the Pacific awaited them there, which made it impossible for them to go on to the Islands.


Thus blocked in his purpose, Mr. Crook opened a school in a building in Bligh Street, Sydney, close to the spot on which the Rev. Richard Johnson's first church had stood. Here he preached on Sundays as well as conducting his school during the week.

It was in this building in 1810 that a little band of missionaries elected Mr. Pascoe Crook to preside over a meeting called for the purpose of forming a Congregational Church. After a service, they observed the ordinance of the "Lord’s Supper".

At this point, trouble began. Mr. Crook had not been ordained to the Christian ministry before he left England and the Rev. Samuel Marsden, who was Australian representative of the London Missionary Society, reported the matter to the directors and to Gov. Macquarie. The Governor sent out instructions to Mr. Crook that he was not to administer the Sacrament of the "Lord’s Supper" on pain of being imprisoned and deported. Mr. Crook, however, had answered the question long before this, whether he should obey God or man. He held his ground and went on his way and in the end overcame all opposition.

In 1816, Mr. Crook went to Tahiti, there he stayed among the Islands and their people for just on 16 years. He then came back to N.S.W. in 1831 and took up residence in Jamieson Street.


It was on the 19th October of this 1831, that William Pascoe Crook was given a grant of 100 acres of land in the Canterbury district. The grant was in what is now the suburb of Campsie, in the area of Brighton Avenue. Mr. Crook called his grant "Bramshott".

He still continued to preach, and at places far apart. Sometimes Sunday morning service would be at Parramatta and the evening at South Head. The need for a place to worship at South Head called forth his active help. At first services were held in a small room at the Lighthouse. This being only a temporary arrangement, Mr. Crook devoted himself to an effort to erect a building which could be permanently set aside for worship. In due course, South Head Independent Chapel was erected at a cost of £800.

By this time his health was beginning to fail and in 1839, he went with his son, Samuel, to Melbourne. Here he died on 14th June, 1846. Later Samuel had his body exhumed, and placed in a leaden coffin and brought to Sydney. There it was placed in the family vault in the old Devonshire Street Cemetery. Mr. Crook had only the one son, Samuel, and eight daughters, all with the exception of two, who married.

Of his farm, "Bramshott", we know that it passed into the hands of Abraham Polack, an auctioneer of early Sydney. Under instructions from Polack’s trustees the farm was advertised for sale in 1841. On the farm stood a weather board verandah cottage. The whole property was divided into paddocks, it had a good garden, a small orchard, and a group of ponds, which provided an unfailing water supply. Bramshott Farm was sold for £2,050.

Compiled by Mrs. I. E. Currey from a "Memoir of Rev. William Pascoe Crook", and exerpts from a short article written by William Pascoe Crook's grandson, Thomas Ware Smart Crook. For the story of "Bramshott Farm", I owe thanks to James Jervis' History of Canterbury and maps from the Lands Department.


It sounds rather like Westminster Abbey, London, but it’s not. The name is given to a group of streets in our municipality, running off Brighton Avenue, Campsie. This group of streets forms a rough triangle, bounded by Clissold Parade on one side and Beamish Street, the other side of the triangle. The base is the curved bed of Cook's River.

Each street which criss crosses the triangle is named after a poet (with the exception of Brighton Avenue) which roughly cuts the triangle from the apex to the center of the base. In early maps of our district, Brighton Avenue was called Beamish Street. The history of the romantically named corner goes back to the 1830's, long before our municipality was formed. It originally was part of the grant of land, given to William Pascoe Crook in 1831. Then it passed into the hands of the trustees of Simeon Lord's Estate, in 1841. Many years later it appeared on a map of the area as the Mildura Estate.

This estate gave its name to the surrounding district and early maps show the name suggested for the station on the hoped for railway line (Marrickville to Burwood). Indeed, the Recorder, in 1899, lists Mildura as a postal district, about one mile from Canterbury Post Office.

The first sales in the sub-division of the Mildura Estate took place on Saturday, 24th September, 1892 at 3:30p.m. The auctioneer was E. Broughton of 301 Pitt Street, Sydney and the solicitor for the sub-division, was Ickerson, of 36 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Prospective buyers could command a free bus ride from the auctioneers place of business to the estate. The terms for buying a block of land were 10 per cent cash deposit, the balance being paid in 18 equal monthly payments, bearing 6 per cent.

The streets formed by this first sub-division of the estate were Tennyson and Shelley, Byron Street having been in existence before this time, together with Beamish Street, (now Brighton Avenue). Altogether there were four sub-divisions of the Estate, with poet's names being given to every street. the Sand's directory for 1897 shows Browning, Dryden and Shakespeare Streets, so these must have been named during the second sub-division.

The three streets of the last sub-division were called Adam, Lindsay and Gordon. This took place on 24th February, 1912, the terms for this sale being 5 per cent deposit. The solicitor was Henry N. Collins. By this time the railway had come through the district, although not as originally expected, to Burwood. The station which at one time was designated Mildura, was instead called Campsie.

As to why poet's names were given to the area, the answer has been lost in antiquity. Perhaps the man responsible for the sub-division had a great love of poetry and included the names of those he thought of as the greatest of the English, Scottish and Irish balladists. Then again, perhaps he was inspired by the fact that Byron Street was already in existence at the time of the sub-division and decided to give poet's names to the rest of the streets.

With the exception of Shakespeare and Adam Lindsay Gordon, the period of time of the poet's births late from 1731 to 1812 and was known as the romantic period of British poetry. Adam Lindsay Gordon, although always looked upon as an Australian poet, was only that by adoption. He was born in Fayal in the Azores, in 1833 and arrived in Adelaide on 14th November, 1853 and until his death (by suicide) remained in Australia.

There are nine poets represented in our literary corner, Byron. Shelley, Cowper, Tennyson, Browning (all English poets), Moore (Irish), Burns (a Scot), Adam Lindsay Gordon (Australian), and the greatest of them all, Shakespeare. We are not unique in having this corner of our municipality dedicated to the poets. At least two country towns in N.S.W. share this honour with the Canterbury Municipality.

By I. E. Currey


In the old graveyard of St. Paul's Church of England, Canterbury, lies the headstone and grave of Police Constable William Hird, who was murdered whilst carrying out his duties, on 13th August, 1885.

Police Constable Hird was 32 years of age and a native of Aberdeen, Scotland. He had joined the police force in July, 1882, and left a widow, with two young sons and three daughters.

At the time of its happening, nearly ninety years ago, this crime caused a considerable disturbance in the then small village of Canterbury. The murdered constable's body was found between 2.30 a.m. and 3.00 a.m. on Thursday, 13th August, 1885, laying on the Canterbury Road, near the bridge over Cook's River (Prout's Bridge).

News of the crime was brought into the village by two market gardeners who discovered the body, probably on their way to work. At the coroner's inquest, which was held on 14th August, 1885, at the Rising Sun Hotel, Canterbury, it was established that P.C. Hird was killed by savage blows to the head. The proverbial blunt instrument was used (later found to be an axe) and also a large stone. This stone was found, bloodstained, laying near the body, but the axe was gone.

Later the axe was handed into the police, by a man named Cameron, who had lived in a tent at Kempsey Park, near the man who had given him the axe. Two men were later arrested for the murder. Both were young; one was 22 years old and the other 25. They were named Joseph Thompson and Ellis Birch. They had been employed at Kempsey Park, clearing undergrowth.

Evidence given at the inquest, at which the jury foreman was Mr. Thomas Austen Davis, stated that on the day before the murder (Wednesday) both men had gone into Sydney, where they purchased an axe. Both had a considerable amount to drink at the Haymarket Hotel. Later in the evening, both men had been in an oyster saloon in George Street, Sydney. The owner of this shop testified, that about 11.15 p.m. the two men had created a disturbance in the shop and were very drunk.

They were again recognized on Ashfield station, about 11.15 p.m. by Edgar Taylor, clerk in charge of the station, after asking him the time when leaving the train.

It appears from further evidence that both men proceeded to walk home from Ashfield station towards their camp at Kempsey Park. While going through the village of Canterbury, they were noisy and creating a disturbance. This apparently awoke P.C. Hird and although he was officially off duty, he decided to investigate the nuisance and thus was struck down by the two men.

When they arrived home at their camp, about 2.00 a.m. they spoke to several men, who noticed the condition of their clothing and Birch admitted having a struggle with a constable and said that he had better clear out. It was at that time he gave the axe to Cameron who had no idea then for what purpose it had been used.

Later in the morning, after sobering up, the two young men, appalled at what had happened, took to the road. Search parties were formed and the two were apprehended at the settlement of Bankstown, on the Liverpool Road. They were arrested on the suspicion of murder.

At the end of the Coroner's inquest the jury brought in a verdict of murder and the two men were committed for trial and lodged at Newtown Police station. Some weeks after, a public meeting in St.Paul's schoolroom was summoned by the then Mayor, Mr. Ben Taylor, to express sympathy to the widow of Constable Hird and to commend him as a man who had always done his duty. At this meeting a fund for Mrs. Hird and her children was opened by the Mayor. The people of Canterbury were asked to give generously. This fund was later enlarged by people outside the district and added to by the police force. The people of Canterbury also decided to make themselves responsible for the education of the five children.

Compiled by Mrs. I.E. Currey from research carried out by Miss Berriman. Most of the facts came from early copies of "The Sydney Morning Herald". We also thank the N.S.W Police Force for their cooperation and help.

HISTORY IN STREET NAMES Earlwood - Undercliffe

The history of an area takes many forms. Perhaps it is represented by fine old buildings, maybe the memory people whose deeds are well-remembered or even some event which sets it apart from other. Just as important are the so-called, "little people" who live out their lives, making no great impact on the outside world, but who, nevertheless have their position in the overall scheme of things and by their very presence contribute to history. All these factors are represented when we study the origins of street names and in the following article have selected a few names in the Earlwood - Undercliffe area to demonstrate how interesting a study it can become.

The early settlers of the district were mainly gentlemen farmers, and so we have WARDELL ROAD called after Dr Wardell whose fine property was situated on the opposite bank of Cooks River. His estate covered about 2,000 acres. He was associated with William Charles Wentworth in the publishing of "The Australian" the first independent newspaper in the colony. Dr Wardell was tragically killed while riding over his property near Cooks River, by three escaped convicts.

HOMER STREET which runs through the main shopping centre at Earlwood was called after a certain Mr Homer. His land was situated on the opposite end of Earlwood near Kingsgrove Road. At one time St Albans church of England held church services in a coach house on his property.

BAYVIEW AVENUE is shown on the old maps as UNWINS BRIDGE ROAD. This was named after Frederick Wright Unwin, a Sydney Solicitor. He built his home on that part of his property known as Unwin's Hill and named it "Wanstead House", after his home in Essex, England. He became one of the directors of the Sugar Company. Two other streets perpetuate his memory, UNWIN STREET and WANSTEAD AVENUE both situated on part of his estate.

NICOLL AVENUE, although the spelling has been changed is said to have been called after Mr. G. W. Nicols. His home, built about 1882 and still standing, was called ’Blink Bonnie". He was very well known in the district and his descendants are still living in Earlwood.

HOCKING AVENUE was named after the Hocking family. Mr. Hocking senior was a builder and was responsible for much of the building and progress in Earlwood. One of his sons became Mayor of Canterbury in 1913. His house stood where the Roman Catholic Church now stands at the Earlwood terminus.

SPARK STREET is said to have been named after a Mr. Tom Sparks. He was the N.S.W. bare knuckles champion fighter and went to England to defend his title. According to one of our old identities, he later changed his name to Parkes and it has been said that the original name of Earlwood (Parkestown) was in his honour. This is hearsay evidence, only, as research has failed to either substantiate or disprove this fact.

At the conclusion of World War I (1914-1918) when the troops were returning and the Government was called upon to honour its promises to provide some kind of future for these gallant men, Earlwood was one of the areas selected for a Soldier's settlement and it is not surprising that the streets bore names reminiscent of the men and places made famous by the Australians during the various campaigns.

FRICOURT AVENUE FLERS AVENUE and GUEUDECOURT AVENUE were named after towns in which battles were fought, while HAMEL CRESCENT called after Hamel Ridge, VIMY STREET called after Vimy Ridge and POLYGON CRESCENT called after Polygon Woods, all bring back memories to the "Diggers".

Those men whose names were household words at that time are also represented. HAMILTON AVENUE was probably named after General Sir Ian Hamilton G.C.B. D.S.O. who was born in 1853. He was one of the successful generals of the Boer War, having had previous experience of active service in the Soudan and Burma. During World War I he took command of the attack on the Dardanelles in the early part of 1915. He retired from the army in 1920.

KITCHENER AVENUE was called after probably the best known figure in World War I, Earl Kitchener of Khartoum. Born in 1850, he entered the army in 1871 and had a brilliant career serving in Cyprus, Egypt, India and South Africa. He was raised to the peerage in 1898, and for his vigorous work during the campaign against the Boers received his Viscounty. On the outbreak of war with Germany in 1914 he was made Secretary for War and his splendid work in building up the army won universal admiration. He was drowned in 1916 while on his way to Russia when the ship in which he was travelling, the "Hampshire" was torpedoed.

Many suburbs in Sydney have named their streets after those two famous men, Bass and Flinders and Earlwood is no exception. We have a BASS ROAD and a FLINDERS ROAD. George Bass an English Naval Surgeon and Matthew Flinders are best remembered for their epic voyage in the little "Tom Thumb" when they explored Botany Bay and Georges River. Later in another vessel of the same name they discovered and named Port Hacking and went south as far as Lake Illawarra. Bass in 1796- 98 explored the Strait that bears his name between Tasmania and Australia. Flinders was in 1801-03 commissioned to circumnavigate Australia. On his way home to England he was wrecked and detained as a prisoner by the French Governor of Mauritius until 1810.

One of the best known of our early Governors was Lachlan Macquarie and many streets have been named in his honour. Not to be outdone, Earlwood has a MACQUARIE ROAD. He was appointed Governor of N.S.W. following the deposition of Bligh. The colony was raised by his firm rule and energetic administration to a state of prosperity, its population trebled, extensive surveys were carried out and many miles of roads were built.

LANG ROAD Undercliffe was probably named after the Rev. John Dunmore Lang a Presbyterian minister who also dabbled in politics.

The female of the species is well represented in the area and we have such names as ANN STREET, ELSIE STREET. CAROLINE STREET, LOUISA STREET and DORIS AVENUE. In early times ADA STREET and JUNE STREET also appeared, but seemed to have vanished from present day maps.

The once delightful Wolli Creek, now sadly polluted, has been perpetuated in WOLLI AVENUE and Cooks River has been honoured by such names as RIVER ROAD, WATERSIDE CRESCENT and RIVERVIEW STREET. Our area is said to be the highest in the municipality and so we have a VIEW STREET and HIGH CLIFF ROAD while under the frowning cliffs of Undercliff we have BANKSIDE AVENUE. BAYVIEW AVENUE as its name implies affords a clear view to Botany Bay.

The small animals who made their home in the beautiful bushland which once surrounded the Wolli Creek area have been remembered, by FAUNA STREET, and the aborigine is not completely forgotten with BOOMERANG AVENUE although I must confess that its shape probably influenced the choice of its name.

The aldermen of the district have not been forgotten in HARTIL-LAW AVENUE and BRAY AVENUE, and SUTTON AVENUE is called after a former Town Clerk.

WELLINGTON ROAD calls to mind the Duke of Wellington who was the most famous British general of the 19th century. After the escape of Napoleon from Elba and his final defeat at Waterloo, Wellington became the lost prominent man in the Empire. His funeral at St.Paul's was one of the great pageants of last century.

Another well-known name was that of Horatio Nelson. His successes at sea against the French made him equally famous. He is best remembered when in 1805 he fought the Battle of Trafalgar in which the French fleet was destroyed and Nelson himself was killed. He also was buried in St.Paul's Cathedral. NELSON ROAD keeps his lame alive in Earlwood.

The list goes on and on and where facts are lost, fancies take over; and whether such streets, were in fact, named after famous figures of the past or just in remembrance of people who happened to have the same name and to own land in the area when it was subdivided. It makes the subject no less interesting and absorbing.

by T. M. Roberts.


In May, 1924, seventeen businessmen gathered in Payten's Photographic Studio in Lakemba to be photographed as the group responsible for the erection of the "White Way”. This magnificent string of electric lights suspended down the centre of Haldon Street, was brought into being by the members of the young Chamber of Commerce. The photo mentioned above is now in the custody of our society having been presented to us by Mr. J. E. Davidson who founded in 1921 the popular hardware store which today is still in business.

Mr. Davidson, a first World War veteran, possesses a fine memory and relates how the White Way was erected by McIlveney & Company of Rockdale; a Mr. Stibbs (also on the photo) being in charge. It was financed by the Chamber of Commerce who also paid for the electricity used.

Earlier, Rockdale shopping centre had been similarly lit. In those days Lakemba was a rapidly expanding centre, with a mild building boom and Mr. Davidson remembers travelling from Dulwich Hill Station to Lakemba Station by steam train and remembers also the bus service to Shorter Avenue from Lakemba.

The White Way was later removed, probably late in the depression period, and substituted by a further line of lamps, one over each footpath, but this scheme did not meet with the full co-operation of the shopkeepers.

By R. Lloyd.


In the 19th century, the denomination that we now know as Congregational were known as Independents. Earlier still they were known as the Puritan Sect. As early as 1798, one such Independent minister, a missionary who had been to Tahiti, preached to congregations in Sydney and Parramatta. This was the Rev. J. Cover. Others followed him but none took up permanent ministry. It was not the policy of the London Missionary Society to send out missionaries to European people under British rule. Missionaries sent out to the South Sea Islands by the L.M.S. used to stop over in Sydney occasionally.


In 1810, a group of Independent laymen met and held services in William Pascoe Crook's schoolroom. Mr. Crook was a missionary sent out by the L.M.S. to the South Seas and had returned to Sydney, After his first service in 1810, he was in trouble with the Rev. Samuel Marsden and Governor Macquarie, for administering the "Lord's Supper", while not being an ordained minister. However, he continued these services and others in Sydney as well.


The first Congregational churches in Australia were set up between 1830 and 1833. One was in Hobart and the other in Sydney. This trend was started by Mr. H. Hopkins, a wealthy merchant and wool buyer, who together with a small group of people brought out the Rev. Frederick Miller, who settled in Hobart in 1830. In 1832, the Congregational fellowship was founded. Meanwhile Pitt Street Congregational Church, Sydney, had started (1830) and although it was completed in 1831, it was not opened until 1833, when a minister became available. This was not the Pitt Street church which we have all known for so many years, and which shortly is to be demolished. It was the earlier church.


The Lakemba Congregational Church was founded in 1872, but its roots go deeper into the past of N.S.W.


The opening of the railway from Sydney to Parramatta in 1855 appears to have given a great boost to this area, also the outlying districts, thus in 1860 the Burwood Congregational Church was formed. It was not long after that the influence of this church was felt in other areas, so that two branches were started - one at Bark Huts, known as Pruitt Town (now South Strathfield) and the other at Enfield (Essex Hill - now Lakemba).

As far as records show, on November 16th, 1864, the minister reported that people at Enfield were anxious to have a service there on Sabbath afternoons, on which it was resolved "that the Enfield congregation be considered a branch of Burwood, thence all needful supplies be found and expenses defreyed by the Burwood church, and that a collection be made in return by the Enfield congregation every Sabbath, and Mr. Bartlett be appointed to receive such collection and pass it over to Mr. Roche, Treasurer".


On January 7th, 1872, the first evening service was held at Punchbowl - Essex Hill branch church. The organizing of this new church group was under the ministry of the Rev, G. G. Howden of the Burwood church. Records show that on 7th January, 1872, the first service was held "at this place" under Mr. Vernon Senior, with an attendance of 8.

The churches of Burwood, Essex Hill and Druitt Town were under the supervision of one minister at this time. At his request, the congregation of these churches were urged to unite in providing and keeping a horse for the minister's use. This request was granted and on 31st July, 1872, Mr. Barling was appointed to carry out the Minister's wish.

This newly formed Congregational church in the district was known as Punchbowl for the first nine months of 1872, then as Essex Hill from 1872 to 1899 and as Belmore from 1899 to 1912 and finally as Lakemba from 1912 onwards. On each Sunday following, a service was held, except when the weather was very wet. It was usually conducted by two people and on occasions by the Rev. G.G. Howden and it appears the services were held at 3.00 p.m.


Sunday school classes were also commenced on this Sunday 7th January, 1872. The first attendance being 15 but by the end of February there were 30 names on the roll.

Prior to building the "School House", a weather- board building, 25 feet by 15 feet by 10 feet high, it is not clear where services were held, but in a memorandum it is noted that on 5th May, 1872, "service at Mrs. Trittons" and on 7th July, 1872 "service at Hockley's". These two families were early settlers in the district.

This school house was first opened for worship on 5th August, 1872 and there is a record that William Ewan filler was baptised by Rev. G. G. Howden on this day.

Records show that this building was erected for the purpose of a day school and negotiations were made with the education authorities to employ a half time teacher, in conjunction with the school at Belmore, (this school was situated on what is now the corner of Ada Street and Moorefields Road, Belmore).

The building was erected, on half an acre of land, given by the Miller family, for this purpose, the location being what is now between Colin and Fairmount Streets, Lakemba. This site was part of an original grant given to Samuel Hockley by Governor Macquarie on 1st January, 1810. He named the grant Essex Hill, after the county he came from in England. Mrs. Miller was one of his two daughters, and Mrs. Tritton was his granddaughter. The first church members at Essex Hill were Mr. and Mrs. John Tritton proposed on 2nd December 1874.

Mr. Jo Barling was secretary of the committee to build the "school house" and was in charge of the work at Essex Hill until 1877, when the work was taken over by Mr E. H. Williams.

For some years the three churches were under the Rev. J. Dinning, but in 1890 the Rev. W. West accepted the oversight and his ministry continued for 20 years. It was during his ministry that the school church building was mounted on wheels and with a team of 20 horses, moved to its present site in Lakemba Street, completing the journey on eight hour day 1899. The name of the church was then changed to Belmore.


This new church site is part of an early land grant given to James Bull in 1810, which he called "New Hall Place". The estate was later known locally as "Boorea Park" and was subdivided about 2nd December, 1896. The church congregation apparently realized at the time, that the Essex Hill site was unsatisfactory and prevailed upon the Congregational Union to negotiate with the "Sydney Permanent Freehold Land & Building Co. Ltd." for the purchase of the land. This purchase was completed on 26th November, 1897. The new site for the church was reasonably close to the new Belmore station, which had been opened on 1st February, 1895.

The original old "school house" church served the district for some thirteen years on the new site and is still part of the church hall, an ever present and direct link with the early history of the district. However, by 1910, the need was felt for a new building and the foundation stone was laid by Mrs Palmer. The building of this new church coincided with the new railway line being extended from Belmore to Bankstown. Lakemba station, which was officially opened for traffic on 14th April, 1909 was only a short walk from the proposed new church.

Then came the war of 1914-18 and it was after this that Lakemba as a suburb, developed and the church membership grew with it.


This second Congregational Church served the people of the district until 1960, when a modern building was opened on 15th October. The minister at this time being the Rev. Fisher. So in 1972, another church group joins that small band in our district of those churches who have reached the century mark and beyond, in some cases. May the Lakemba Congregational Church and its people carry on their work and serve the spiritual needs of our community into their second century.

Condensed from articles on the Lakemba Congregational Church by the late P.C.Williams & Mr.Victor Bell, with my own additions where the history of the district warrants it.

Mrs I.E.Currey