Dennis Street Reserve

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Jeffrey Denniss was a prominent businessman who established a successful tannery on Cooks River from 1886 to 1917 which employed many workers. He built a stone house at 37 Fore Street Canterbury, which is still standing. He was an Alderman on Canterbury Council from 1895 to 1908, and he served as Mayor from 1900 to 1903. Dennis Street was named after Jeffrey Denniss, and was part of the Belmore Township Estate subdivision in 1906. The street is first listed in the Sands Directory in 1908, but settlement was slow until the railway was extended from Belmore to Bankstown in 1909.

The Reserve was designated for parkland by the subdivider, but it is actually part of the roadway, rather than being classified as parkland. When the subdivision was new, there was only grass in the park, and no garden. Older residents remember the Reserve was planted by a group of local residents who lived near the Reserve, and that it was Mr Harry Holt who instigated the design and planting of the shrubs and trees which largely remains today. His neighbours were involved in a voluntary capacity in the planting, but their children remember Mr Holt as being the leader. Amongst the other volunteers were George Purdon, Mr Snodgrass, Mr Allen and Mr Bond.

The Holt family moved to 97 Dennis Street in November 1925. They named their house Dennis Cottage. Mr Holt was employed as a gardener at the Botanic Gardens from 1928 until his retirement in 1945. His daughter Gladwys lived in the family home in Dennis Street until 1996. Dennis Holt lived at his grandparents home at 97 Dennis Street for two years while he was young, and remembers his grandfather Harry (dressed in his overalls) taking plants to the Dennis Street park to work in the garden, probably until near his death in 1950.

Older residents remember a white wooden fence was erected by local volunteers on three sides of the reserve before the planting of shrubs. This fence was replaced by Council with the current sandstone border in the 1930's, and the Canterbury Heritage Study mentions that employment schemes in the 1930's "created a number of park areas with a distinctive pattern of sandstone edging which appears to have been a local trademark".

The significance of the park from a landscape viewpoint is in the 1900's design of the subdivision with the central park. The design of the park is quite geometric & trees have been symmetrically arranged. It shows evidence of post WWI planting with the palm planting reminiscent of Egypt. It probably would have contained lots of variety in form of planting with some novelty choice of plant species. The planting in the garden beds at the front of the park would have been seasonally arranged like a parterre garden and contained annuals and probably succulents too. The fact that the planting and design is still intact is of significance, and for this reason the reserve is listed on Canterbury City Council's heritage list.

References

Larcombe, FA Change and challenge: a history of the municipality of Canterbury, NSW Canterbury Municipal Council: Campsie, 1979.

Madden, Brian J and Lesley Muir Earlwood's past: a history of Earlwood, Undercliffe and Clemton Park, NSW Canterbury Municipal Council: Campsie, 1989.

Muir, Lesley and Brian Madden Heritage investigation Belmore Township Estate: residential 2(c3) and 2(c4) zones, Belmore and Lakemba, Canterbury City Council: Campsie, 1997.

Kass, Terry in association with Meredith Walker Canterbury heritage study: final report Campsie: Canterbury Municipal Council, 1988.