Ewen Park

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History of Ewen Park

The area where Ewen Park is located lies on the southernmost boundaries of two properties originally granted by the government to two early settlers of the district. One property consisting of 700 acres (283.3 ha) was officially granted to Thomas Moore on 1 October 1803. The other of 177 acres was granted to Robert Campbell, Senior, on 7 January, 1842. At the time of the grant, Robert Campbell claimed he had continuously occupied the land for forty years. The boundary between the grants, on a modern map of Ewen Park, would have been in the vicinity of the car park - with the children's playground, bowling greens and club house on Thomas Moore's grant and the football fields on Robert Campbell's grant.

Robert Campbell was born in Scotland and became a very successful merchant in Sydney. In 1840 he was approached by two entrepreneurs, William Knox Child and Francis Kemble, to sell part of his land at Canterbury for a site to construct a sugar processing factory. This factory, The Sugar Mill, opened in September, 1842 and provided work for many in Canterbury both directly and indirectly. The Sugar Mill still stands and is the earliest example of a privately constructed industrial building in Australia. It is on the river near Ewen Park.

On Robert Campbell Senior's death in 1846, his daughter, Sophia Ives Campbell was left the north-eastern portion of his Canterbury Estate. This property totalled 673 acres and included the area of Ewen Park. Sophia Campbell contributed much to the small community of Canterbury, particularly through the slumps in the economy. She was one of the first landowners to agree to donate her land for the Sydenham to Belmore railway line, a factor contributing to the decision to construct the line along the current route.

Formerly known as Hurlstone Park Recreation Reserve, Ewen Park was gazetted as a park on 19 August 1921. The park was later named after Mr John Henry Ewen - an Alderman on Canterbury City Council from 1920 to 1925, and Mayor from 1923 to 1925.

To prevent the grass from overgrowing, Council allowed horses to be kept in the park, in return for fees paid to the caretaker. In January 1940 it was reported twenty horses grazed in Ewen Park. These horses kept the grass at a manageable level, particularly the paspalum, which was apt to grow very long if not kept under control. From 1946 horses were no longer allowed to be kept in the park, as Council had purchased its own tractor mower.

The original boundary of Ewen Park followed the boundary between the grants of Robert Campbell and Thomas Moore. In 1950, Marrickville Council advised Canterbury Council that, in order to develop Riverside Park (which borders Ewen Park), into an 18 hole Golf Course, it would be necessary to place one tee and one green on a small portion of Ewen Park within Canterbury's boundary. Canterbury Council agreed to this land becoming part of the golf course.

Kilbride Street originally ran from Church Street to Cooks River. When the railway line was constructed (1895), the section of Kilbride Street from the railway line to Cooks River was renamed Burnett Street.

In 1960, Canterbury Council agreed to lease the east end of Ewen Park to the Independent Order of Oddfellows for the construction of 3 bowling greens and a club house. The section of the park was low lying, underdeveloped and next to Marrickville Golf Course. The agreement between Council and the Independent Order of Oddfellows involved the latter re-routing the pathway and constructing a children's playground in Ewen Park.

At this time, Council applied to the Department of Lands to close a section of Burnett Street between the intersection with Tennant Parade and Cooks River, to incorporate that part of the street into Ewen Park. It was gazetted in 1964, in an agreement which involved the Independent Order of Oddfellows ensuring access to the footbridge over Cooks River to Lang Street. The wooden footbridge had been constructed during the mid 1930's to provide access from Tennent Parade to Lang Road and Wardell Road and had always been open to the public.

Records show the Department of Public Works erected steel sheet piling along the banks of Cooks River during July 1965 and October 1966. There had been problems over the years with sea water inundating low lying areas of Ewen Park at high tide, and this work was to solve the problem. Canterbury Council took advantage of this work to raise the level of the park, and particularly the riverbank, by up to 4'6". JA Bradshaw (loaders) Pty Ltd was selected via tender to fill the area, and work began in 1968. Later Council took over the tip. Once the bank was stabilised and the level raised, the playground equipment was finally installed on 13 July, 1970.

REFERENCES

Madden, Brian and Lesley Muir (1993), Canterbury farm: 200 years, Canterbury and District Historical Society, [Canterbury].